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Sun Service Tags and Inventory Channel

Posted by mandychung on February 19, 2008 at 12:05 AM PST

Recently I have been working on a new Java SE project related to a Sun Connection Technology called Service Tags. I'd like to give a short introduction of the Sun Service Tags technology that you may find various interesting ideas of leveraging it.

Sun Service Tags

The Sun Service Tags enable automatic discovery of the tagged systems and softwares on your systems or a local network. The JDK and JRE 6 update 4 will become discoverable when installed on Solaris and Linux service tag enabled systems. The Sun Service Tags are not limited for Sun products. You can create the service tags for your own products (hardwares, softwares, or services) and leverage the discovery capability for your environment to use.

Discoverable products are registerable at Sun Connection Inventory Channel. I'll talk about the JDK product registration next in a couple of weeks.

What is a Service Tag?

Sun Service Tag is a XML-based unique identifer of a product instance containing a set of basic information about the product instance on a system. Below represents a service tag of a JDK instance.

Field Value Description
instance_urn urn:st:16f1e569-c583-4190-85ab-42339d984449 Unique identifier for the product instance
product_name Java SE 6 Development Kit Product name
product_version 1.6.0_04-ea Product version
product_urn urn:uuid:b58ef9a8-5ae8-11db-a023-080020a9ed93 Product identifier
product_parent_urn urn:uuid:fdc90b21-018d-4cab-b866-612c7c119ed3 Product parent ID
product_parent Java Platform Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6) Product parent name
product_defined_inst_id id=1.6.0_04-ea-b07 x86 Product defined instance ID
product_vendor Sun Microsystems Product vendor
platform_arch x86 Targeted product architecture
source Windows JDK i586 installer Source of the product instance
container global OS container (e.g. Zonename)

The product_urn field of Sun products is in this format "urn:uuid:" followed with a 32 character long UUID but is not required by Sun Service Tags. You can also embed additional information about a product besides the basic one in the product_defined_instance_id field.

Service Tag Enabled System

To enable service tags technology, you need to install the Service Tags Software that consists of:

  • Service Tags (ST) Registry: A XML-based registry that contains all service tags on a system locating at /var/sadm/servicetag/registry/servicetag.xml on Solaris and Linux or c:\Program Files\Sun\servicetag on Windows (or [ProgramFilesFolder]\Sun\servicetag if you have a different folder for program files).
  • A stclient utility: A command-line utility to add, update, and remove a service tag from the ST registry.
  • ST discoverer and listener: Two network services facilitating auto discovery,

Create your own service tag

Once you enable Service Tags on your system, you can add a service tag for any hardware, software or anything else you want to be tagged. For example, I have created a service tag for Skype just as an example by using the stclient utility (I installed Skype on my laptop for making international calls to my mom in Hong Kong) . You can do it in an interactive mode or with the -a option.

   c:\Program Files\Sun\servicetag>.\stclient
   > a
   Enter instance URN (optional):
   Enter product (e.g. Sun Web Server): Skype
   Enter version (e.g. 6.1): 3.6
   Enter product URN: A-unique-ID-for-Skype
   Enter product parent URN: A-unique-ID-for-its-parent
   Enter product parent (e.g. JES): Free software
   Enter product defined instance id:
   Enter product vendor (e.g. Sun): Skype
   Enter platform arch  (e.g. SPARC): x86
   Enter container (e.g. zone 0): global
   Enter source (e.g. genesis patch): SkypeSetup.exe
   Skype 3.6 added
   Product instance URN=urn:st:1f158110-de82-11dc-a0f1-000f1f14443e
   Press enter to continue

stclient will create an entry in ST registry containing the given information and it will assign a product instance URN if not specified. You can run the stclient -g -i command to get the service tag of a given product instance URN or stclient -x to view all service tags in the ST registry. Below is the XML entry in the ST registry I added for Skype.

    <product_parent>Free software</product_parent>
    <timestamp>2008-02-19 00:32:16 GMT</timestamp>


To discover the tagged products on your system, you can start the Registration Manager client tool (a Java web start application also available at

ST discoverer and listener services allow the system to be discovered via the Registration Manager client tool. These network services only communicate the service tag information with the Registration Manager client tool and do not communicate with any other services on your system.

These are the screenshots of the Registration Manager client tool looking up the tagged products on my laptop:

regclient.PNG regclient.PNG

The first screenshot shows that you can configure the Registration Manager client tool to perform the discovery on a local subnet or one or more specified systems. Note that the Registration Manager performs no communication with Sun until you decide to perform the "registration" step. I will blog about product registration later.

The second screenshot shows the list of tagged products on your system including my tagged Skype. Several Sun hardware and software products including JDK and NetBeans IDE are discoverable and more are being added over time. A service tag for the Windows OS is also created as part of the Service Tags software installation.

Inventory Channel

Sun Connection Inventory Channel is a free offering from Sun that provides a centralized repository to organize the deployed products on your systems and report on them using the report generation tool. My next blog about JDK product registration will cover more about it.

One of the most basic and difficult problems IT departments have today is to simply know what systems, softwares, and even services they have. Systems and softwares are installed by various team members at all times. Systems are shut down and new software is upgraded. Sun Service Tags and Inventory Channel give IT new tools to manage this complexity. For example, you can quickly determine what JDK and JRE instances (Java SE 6 update 4 and later releases) are installed on which systems in your environment.

For More Information

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Sun Connection team is looking into adjusting the privacy policy. There was no intent to publish customer's information. Hope this clarifies it. Thanks for the feedback.

Inventory for Java Apps is long overdue. Just gave it a try: The only thing that was inventoried was Windows, and it was flagged as "unregistered". Two issues here: 1. This version of Windows does not require registration. 2. Why do you want to check my Windows registration status in the first place? It would be better to make inventory customizable. Contrary to your example above, Java SDK 6uN-b14 was not found. Most important issue: Upon registering products online, your privacy policy requires people to accept that Sun has the right to publish that information. Why would I want my inventory to be published by Sun? I think you need to adjust your privacy policy for people to use the Sun Inventory service. Feature request: Integrate Sun Inventory with Java Web Start. Inventory tags and JNLP descriptors are a perfect match.