Monday, February 13, 2006

Evil JES Installer

I'm a glutton for punishment. Must be. I can't think of any other reason why I put myself through this.

I'm testing out the Java Enterprise System. Version 2005Q4 comes in the DVD kit with Solaris 10 Update 1, so I thought I would try that out, following these sample instructions.

The installer starts off OK, but then it complains that J2SE is obsolete. Say what? This is a brand new S10U1 install, and has a newer JDK than is supplied on the JES media. I selected manual upgrade (promising that I would upgrade it myself) in the hope that it wouldn't do anything stupid.

For what it's worth, Solaris 10 Update 1 ships with J2SE 5.0_06, while the JES media contains the older (and insecure) 5.0_04. There are two major issues here already:
  • JES ought to have its java version in sync with the version of the OS it's shipped with
  • It ought to detect a newer version and accept it as good

So I plug through the screens. (There's another one where it complains about the versions of JATO, JAXP, and JAF being out of date. Why? This is the latest all-singing all-dancing version of Solaris, hot off the press. Why aren't those components up to date?)

So I get to the end and tell it to go install. And what does it do? It downgrades the system Java to the old insecure version!


This is plain bad behaviour, compounding its previous errors with a heinous crime.


Jaimec said...

And, if you install a new JES component, the installer will *again* tell you that he will update the same components. Even if you have the exact same version that's on the install CD.

On the plus side, I've been working with those products since, like, forever and, I never, EVER saw someone unhappy with them (at least with the bulk of them). If only they had a decent installer, ...

Peter Tribble said...

But does JES work?

This is a serious question (and another blog entry to come), but having installed it following the instructions (and it's a long and tortuous road) it doesn't work.

The Calendar Server doesn't work. I can't access the access manager console, and the test user can't log in. Some of these were working in isolation at some point in the process.

I've spent half a day and have absolutely nothing functional to show for it. Is JES ever going to be widely used? I think not.

Philippe Plouffe said...

Not just the installer. The QA for this product suite is "ordinary".

On x64, the Communication Express doesn't work if you install Solaris 10 U1: A patch included in U1 make the mailserver coredump at startup when you enable Communicator Express (knowned bug now).

Another one, if I change the path for the LDAP directory install, it doesn't install.

Prabhat Hegde said...

The problems with the installer are humbly noted. The installer itself has the onerous task of presenting a uniform experience for products ranging from low level products such as Sun Cluster all the way to products at the top of a middleware stack (a.k.a Portal).

Without defending the current behaviour the Install experience has been dealing with a number of teething issues ranging from internal-process, dated Packaging mechanisms, non-uniform or lack of well known interfaces for install/config and such. Thanks to the million+ customers and others such as yourself, the gaps are well known. We are working towards pleasantly surprising you soon.

Prabhat Hegde
(For Sun JES Installer component)

Jaimec said...

Peter, let's be serious. Of course the products work. It's just that you aren't being able to put them to work and, that's the installer.

It's like I told you, most of the products are GREAT. Directory is simply the best LDAP server around, Messaging server is great and very powerfull, even Calendar server (that was very poor a few years ago) is now a very good product.

Suitespot 3.x had a bad(ish) installer and a so so admin interface and, those things went downhill since then but, when you overcome those issues, you end up with the best set of tools you could possibly have.

Will JES ever going to be widely used? I don't know. Of course that no one will put so much effort in testing a product but, truth is that they're really very good

Peter Tribble said...

Jaime, you say they work, but having installed and configured the products precisely according to the instructions, and without any errors or warnings, nothing works when I get to the end. I can't get to the admin console. Users can't log in to the applications. Some of the services don't start - with no explanation or diagnostic output. They may well be the best products in the world, but if a highly experienced admin following the instructions precisely can't get them to work at all - after multiple attempts - then there is something seriously wrong.

It's not the installer. I can get the products installed (even though I don't like how it does it); they just don't do anything useful. And there's no way I would ever risk deploying something that's so prone to failure, and so difficult to diagnose when it goes wrong.

Oh well, wipe and start over I guess.

Jaimec said...

Peter, Just to let you know that I'm at the Sun Software Summit right now and, this post of yours was discussed.
I can't really talk right now buut, Engineering is aware of this and, it's working on overcomming this issues.