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Novice Flexera Deployment Hints & Tips! (Part 2)

In my blog entry from June, I wrote about being new to Flexera’s FlexNet Manager Suite (FNMS) and offered some novice tips for supporting it. Those tips focused on the logs and “getting some tail”.  With this month’s blog, I am continuing with that theme – taking my “learning experiences” and sharing them with you so you can be a faster learner than me! 

This week, I’m going to focus on the Flexera Inventory Beacon. An inventory beacon is a computer located within your enterprise that gathers software inventory and other information that you specify, and uploads the data to FlexNet Manager Suite. And like my last entry, this one is geared towards the support folks, so it will be more technical than ones submitted by my colleagues.

I call this “the case of the undiscovered computer”.

I ran into an issue attempting to run a simple discovery rule on the Inventory Beacon. To test my setup, I created a discovery rule that would discover one machine located at a specific IP address. I set that rule to run once and then ran the rule manually. While the rule itself ran successfully, discovery did not. In checking the Discovery logs on the Inventory Beacon at C:\ProgramData\Flexera Software\Compliance\Logging\InventoryRule, there was one log entry that listed an error. That error was:  “Failed to enumerate domains for windows browser device discovery: The list of servers for this workgroup is not currently available”. Just the fact that the Inventory Beacon attempted to run my rule was success in my book, but I wanted to understand what this error meant. It turns out that the Inventory Beacon could not see other computers, or itself, in its domain.

To make a long story short, this error introduced me to the Windows “net view” command. When used without parameters, “net view” is supposed to display a list of computers in your current domain. When I ran this command on my Inventory Beacon in my test domain, the response was “Error 6118: The list of servers for this workgroup is not currently available”. To correct this issue, I had to add a connection-specific DNS Suffix of xyz.com to the Inventory Beacon so it would match the Windows domain name of xyz.com. (It was initially set to blank even though the IP stack was working just fine otherwise). Once I did this, “net view” responded with the computer names in the domain, as well as itself, and when I reran the rule, I now saw the same result in the Discovery log. The error message was replaced with “Discovered 1 domains using windows browser service”, and then the list of computers in the domain was displayed as well. Even with this fix, though, the computer I targeted was not discovered. So what could be the issue now?

A discovery rule consists of three things: an action (what you want done), a target (the computer(s) on which you want the action done) and a schedule (when you want it done). The target was about as simple as it could be – a specific IP address. The schedule was also as simple as it could be – it was “run once” and I knew it was running. I decided to look at the action more closely.

The computer that I wanted to discover was not in the same Windows domain as the Inventory Beacon, so the “net view” command would not list my target computer in the list (this was a test environment). Therefore, the discovery scan would also never find it. When I set up the discovery action, I chose the option “Microsoft Computer Browser Service” (I don’t remember if I chose both that and the network scan). I decided to undo this choice and just stick with the network scan (where you get a series of default ports to scan and you can also add your own). I saved the action, updated the rule set on the Beacon and tried the scan again. This time, success! My target computer was discovered and its inventory was uploaded to the Beacon successfully. I was able to examine the Flexera logs on the Inventory Beacon to verify everything.

If I had not chosen the “Microsoft Computer Browser Service” method of discovery, I might never have run into the “net view” command, or the issue that I described at all … a real “aha!” moment for me!

If you have been working with Flexera for a while, what would you tell your novice self now that you wish you knew then? I’d love to hear your tales of “Huh? What?” and how you were able to make an “Aha!” moment out of that.