License Compliance

Overview

If you are using GitLab CI/CD, you can search your project dependencies for their licenses using License Compliance.

You can take advantage of License Compliance by either including the job in your existing .gitlab-ci.yml file or by implicitly using Auto License Compliance that is provided by Auto DevOps.

GitLab checks the License Compliance report, compares the licenses between the source and target branches, and shows the information right on the merge request. Denied licenses will be clearly visible with an x red icon next to them as well as new licenses which need a decision from you. In addition, you can manually allow or deny licenses in your project’s settings.

Note: If the license compliance report doesn’t have anything to compare to, no information will be displayed in the merge request area. That is the case when you add the license_scanning job in your .gitlab-ci.yml for the first time. Consecutive merge requests will have something to compare to and the license compliance report will be shown properly.

License Compliance Widget

If you are a project or group Maintainer, you can click on a license to be given the choice to allow it or deny it.

License approval decision

Use cases

It helps you find what licenses your project uses in its dependencies, and decide for each of then whether to allow it or forbid it. For example, your application is using an external (open source) library whose license is incompatible with yours.

Supported languages and package managers

The following languages and package managers are supported.

Language Package managers Scan Tool
JavaScript Bower, npm, yarn (experimental support) License Finder
Go Godep, go get (experimental support), gvt (experimental support), glide (experimental support), dep (experimental support), trash (experimental support) and govendor (experimental support), go mod (experimental support) License Finder
Java Gradle, Maven License Finder
.NET Nuget (.NET Framework is supported via the mono project. Windows specific dependencies are not supported at this time.) License Finder
Python pip (Python is supported through requirements.txt and Pipfile.lock.) License Finder
Ruby gem License Finder
Erlang rebar (experimental support) License Finder
Objective-C, Swift Carthage , CocoaPods v0.39 and below (experimental support) License Finder
Elixir mix (experimental support) License Finder
C++/C conan (experimental support) License Finder
Scala sbt (experimental support) License Finder
Rust cargo (experimental support) License Finder
PHP composer (experimental support) License Finder

Requirements

To run a License Compliance scanning job, you need GitLab Runner with the docker executor.

Configuration

For GitLab 12.8 and later, to enable License Compliance, you must include the License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml template that’s provided as a part of your GitLab installation. For older versions of GitLab from 11.9 to 12.7, you must include the License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml template. For GitLab versions earlier than 11.9, you can copy and use the job as defined that template.

Note: In GitLab 13.0, the License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml template is scheduled to be removed. Use License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml instead.

Add the following to your .gitlab-ci.yml file:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

The included template will create a license_scanning job in your CI/CD pipeline and scan your dependencies to find their licenses.

Note: Before GitLab 12.8, the license_scanning job was named license_management. In GitLab 13.0, the license_management job is scheduled to be removed completely, so you’re advised to migrate to the license_scanning job and used the new License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml template.

The results will be saved as a License Compliance report artifact that you can later download and analyze. Due to implementation limitations, we always take the latest License Compliance artifact available. Behind the scenes, the GitLab License Compliance Docker image is used to detect the languages/frameworks and in turn analyzes the licenses.

The License Compliance settings can be changed through environment variables by using the variables parameter in .gitlab-ci.yml.

Available variables

License Compliance can be configured using environment variables.

Environment variable Required Description
MAVEN_CLI_OPTS no Additional arguments for the mvn executable. If not supplied, defaults to -DskipTests.
LICENSE_FINDER_CLI_OPTS no Additional arguments for the license_finder executable. For example, if your project has both Golang and Ruby code stored in different directories and you want to only scan the Ruby code, you can update your .gitlab-ci-yml template to specify which project directories to scan, like LICENSE_FINDER_CLI_OPTS: '--debug --aggregate-paths=. ruby'.
LM_JAVA_VERSION no Version of Java. If set to 11, Maven and Gradle use Java 11 instead of Java 8.
LM_PYTHON_VERSION no Version of Python. If set to 3, dependencies are installed using Python 3 instead of Python 2.7.
SETUP_CMD no Custom setup for the dependency installation. (experimental)
PIP_INDEX_URL no Base URL of Python Package Index (default: https://pypi.org/simple/).
ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE no Bundle of trusted CA certificates (currently supported in Python projects).

Installing custom dependencies

Introduced in GitLab Ultimate 11.4.

The license_management image already embeds many auto-detection scripts, languages, and packages. Nevertheless, it’s almost impossible to cover all cases for all projects. That’s why sometimes it’s necessary to install extra packages, or to have extra steps in the project automated setup, like the download and installation of a certificate. For that, a LICENSE_MANAGEMENT_SETUP_CMD environment variable can be passed to the container, with the required commands to run before the license detection.

If present, this variable will override the setup step necessary to install all the packages of your application (e.g.: for a project with a Gemfile, the setup step could be bundle install).

For example:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  LICENSE_MANAGEMENT_SETUP_CMD: sh my-custom-install-script.sh

In this example, my-custom-install-script.sh is a shell script at the root directory of your project.

Overriding the template

Deprecation: Beginning in GitLab 13.0, the use of only and except is no longer supported. When overriding the template, you must use rules instead.

If you want to override the job definition (for example, change properties like variables or dependencies), you need to declare a license_scanning job after the template inclusion and specify any additional keys under it. For example:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

license_scanning:
  variables:
    CI_DEBUG_TRACE: "true"

Configuring Maven projects

The License Compliance tool provides a MAVEN_CLI_OPTS environment variable which can hold the command line arguments to pass to the mvn install command which is executed under the hood. Feel free to use it for the customization of Maven execution. For example:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

license_scanning:
  variables:
    MAVEN_CLI_OPTS: --debug

mvn install runs through all of the build life cycle stages prior to install, including test. Running unit tests is not directly necessary for the license scanning purposes and consumes time, so it’s skipped by having the default value of MAVEN_CLI_OPTS as -DskipTests. If you want to supply custom MAVEN_CLI_OPTS and skip tests at the same time, don’t forget to explicitly add -DskipTests to your options. If you still need to run tests during mvn install, add -DskipTests=false to MAVEN_CLI_OPTS.

Using private Maven repos

If you have a private Maven repository which requires login credentials, you can use the MAVEN_CLI_OPTS environment variable.

Read more on how to use private Maven repos.

You can also use MAVEN_CLI_OPTS to connect to a trusted Maven repository that uses a self-signed or internally trusted certificate. For example:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

license_scanning:
  variables:
    MAVEN_CLI_OPTS: -Dmaven.wagon.http.ssl.allowall=true -Dmaven.wagon.http.ssl.ignore.validity.dates=true -Dmaven.wagon.http.ssl.insecure=true

Alternatively, you can use a Java key store to verify the TLS connection. For instructions on how to generate a key store file, see the Maven Guide to Remote repository access through authenticated HTTPS.

Selecting the version of Python

Version history

License Compliance uses Python 3.8 and pip 19.1 by default. If your project requires Python 2, you can switch to Python 2.7 and pip 10.0 by setting the LM_PYTHON_VERSION environment variable to 2.

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

license_scanning:
  variables:
    LM_PYTHON_VERSION: 2

Custom root certificates for Python

You can supply a custom root certificate to complete TLS verification by using the ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE environment variable.

To bypass TLS verification, you can use a custom pip.conf file to configure trusted hosts.

The following gitlab-ci.yml file uses a before_script to inject a custom pip.conf:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

license_scanning:
  variables:
    PIP_INDEX_URL: 'https://pypi.example.com/simple/'
  before_script:
    - mkdir -p ~/.config/pip/
    - cp pip.conf ~/.config/pip/pip.conf

The pip.conf allows you to specify a list of trusted hosts:

[global]
trusted-host = pypi.example.com

Migration from license_management to license_scanning

In GitLab 12.8 a new name for license_management job was introduced. This change was made to improve clarity around the purpose of the scan, which is to scan and collect the types of licenses present in a projects dependencies. The support of license_management is scheduled to be dropped in GitLab 13.0. If you’re using a custom setup for License Compliance, you’re required to update your CI config accordingly:

  1. Change the CI template to License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml.
  2. Change the job name to license_scanning (if you mention it in .gitlab-ci.yml).
  3. Change the artifact name to gl-license-scanning-report.json (if you mention it in .gitlab-ci.yml).

For example, the following .gitlab-ci.yml:

include:
  - template: License-Management.gitlab-ci.yml

license_management:
  artifacts:
    reports:
      license_management: gl-license-management-report.json

Should be changed to:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

license_scanning:
  artifacts:
    reports:
      license_scanning: gl-license-scanning-report.json

Running License Compliance in an offline environment

For self-managed GitLab instances in an environment with limited, restricted, or intermittent access to external resources through the internet, some adjustments are required for the License Compliance job to successfully run.

Requirements for offline License Compliance

To use License Compliance in an offline environment, you need:

Note: GitLab Runner has a default pull policy of always, meaning the runner will try to pull Docker images from the GitLab container registry even if a local copy is available. GitLab Runner’s pull_policy can be set to if-not-present in an offline environment if you prefer using only locally available Docker images. However, we recommend leaving the pull policy set to always, as it better enables updated scanners to be used within your CI/CD pipelines.

Make GitLab License Compliance analyzer images available inside your Docker registry

For License Compliance with all supported languages and package managers, import the following default License Compliance analyzer images from registry.gitlab.com to your offline local Docker container registry:

registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/security-products/license-management:latest

The process for importing Docker images into a local offline Docker registry depends on your network security policy. Please consult your IT staff to find an accepted and approved process by which external resources can be imported or temporarily accessed. Note that these scanners are updated periodically with new definitions, so consider if you are able to make periodic updates yourself.

For details on saving and transporting Docker images as a file, see Docker’s documentation on docker save, docker load, docker export, and docker import.

Set License Compliance CI job variables to use local License Compliance analyzers

Override License Compliance environment variables to use to your local container registry as the source for License Compliance analyzer images.

For example, this assumes a local Docker registry repository of localhost:5000/analyzers:

include:
  - template: License-Scanning.gitlab-ci.yml

license_scanning:
  image:
    name: localhost:5000/analyzers/license-management:latest

The License Compliance job should now use local copies of the License Compliance analyzers to scan your code and generate security reports, without requiring internet access.

Additional configuration may be needed for connecting to private Maven repositories.

Exact name matches are required for project policies when running in an offline environment (see related issue).

Project policies for License Compliance

From the project’s settings:

  • The list of licenses and their status can be managed.
  • Licenses can be manually allowed or denied.

To allow or deny a license:

  1. Either use the Manage licenses button in the merge request widget, or navigate to the project’s Settings > CI/CD and expand the License Compliance section.
  2. Click the Add a license button.

    License Compliance Add License

  3. In the License name dropdown, either:
    • Select one of the available licenses. You can search for licenses in the field at the top of the list.
    • Enter arbitrary text in the field at the top of the list. This will cause the text to be added as a license name to the list.
  4. Select the Allow or Deny radio button to allow or deny respectively the selected license.

To modify an existing license:

  1. In the License Compliance list, click the Allow/Deny dropdown to change it to the desired status.

    License Compliance Settings

Searching for Licenses:

  1. Use the Search box to search for a specific license.

    License Compliance Search

License Compliance report under pipelines

From your project’s left sidebar, navigate to CI/CD > Pipelines and click on the pipeline ID that has a license_management job to see the Licenses tab with the listed licenses (if any).

License Compliance Pipeline Tab

License list

The License list allows you to see your project’s licenses and key details about them.

In order for the licenses to appear under the license list, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The License Compliance CI job must be configured for your project.
  2. Your project must use at least one of the supported languages and package managers.

Once everything is set, navigate to Security & Compliance > License Compliance in your project’s sidebar, and you’ll see the licenses displayed, where:

  • Name: The name of the license.
  • Component: The components which have this license.

License List

Policies

The Policies tab allows you to see your project’s software license policies and the associated classifications for each.

Policies can be configured by maintainers of the project.

Edit Policy Add Policy

Developers of the project can view the policies configured in a project.

View Policies