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Found a really hard problem in Domino 6 install, and a solution

By Andrew Pollack on 11/17/2003 at 07:29 AM EST

Well, I lost a day that I'll never get back. No, not through a drinking binge. I had to set up two identical IBM Wintel servers this weekend. Each is a quad-processor 3.8ghz machine with 4gb of ram running Win2k. They had IBM Director, CA Unicenter, and Oracle 8i configured.

The requirement was to set up with 6.02cf2 as that was the most stable version when the migration plan was approved (6.5 is waiting for the current servers to go live, then will be introduced to the test environment). The install went well on both machines, but I messed up on the Notes id's so I wanted to remove it and start over. I did that, and re-created the ID files then re-edited the server documents and tried again.

Each of these boxes will actually be running two partitions, so when I finished with the installer, I went to run the server setup program by kicking off nserver.exe on each box. On the second box, no problem. On the first box, I got an MSVC Runtime error.

Uninstalling & reinstalling did not help. I did it several times. I even tried it to a different directory. I tried searching the registry for any leftover information. I tried a lot of things. Nothing changed the behavior. Just as I was about to cheat, and copy the install directory from another machine and just change the Notes.INI file, I found a reference on-line to the problem. It was the JVM that comes with the Domino server -- particularly, JAVAW.EXE was crashing.

Further searching found references to two reasons why javaw.exe doesn't load (usually). The first is simple. It needs 256 colors and 800x600 screen resolution or it does not run. The second, is a bad FONT directory. Particularly, a font directory with links to other files in it. Neither seemed to be my case. I did a great deal of searching on the drive, on the net, everywhere -- and finally found that the same JVM when run from the IBM Director folder worked fine. No errors. That told me the problem was specific to the Domino server install. I solved the problem then, by copying the entire JVM directory (\lotus\domino\jvm\*) from another working Domino server of the same version. That step magically solved the issue.

So, whatever was broken was in that directory. Why then, would reinstalling from scratch not fix the issue? My only guess comes from the fact that the one difference I found on the two machines was the PATH environment variable. The two machines were otherwise alike. If I had to make a guess, I'd say the installer looks in the path to see if some file exists already, and if it does it will not load that file. That seems like a very dangerous way to do the install, since it makes your Domino server dependant on some other program not being removed from the machine. I have no idea if this is a 6.02cf2 only issue, or if installing a later version would avoid that dangerous assumption.

Anyway, I thought you all might be saved from wasting several hours the way I did, if I posted this. Have fun.

btw: Since the behavior of the Notes Client and the Domino Server clearly indicate that the JVM is loaded right from that directory, and the JVM installation in that directory (actually a JRE I believe) is clearly pretty standard -- I wonder what would happen if you REPLACED it with say, a JRE 1.4 version? Would it run? Would you get Java 1.4 functionality on the Domino server?

There are  - loading -  comments....

Thanks for the tip...By Sid Bagali on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
I used to use a different approach by renaming the existing notes or domino folder and installing a new one and copying all the databases, id files, address book, ini files over. It takes time... but you can plan ahead as to what needs to be copied over and have a batch file ready.
it is an IBM JVMBy Alan Bell on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
This is the SUN JVM java version "1.4.1_02" Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition (build 1.4.1_02-b06) Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 1.4.1_02-b06, mixed mode) and this is the IBM one java version "1.3.1" Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition (build 1.3.1) Classic VM (build 1.3.1, J2RE 1.3.1 IBM Windows 32 build cn131-20030329 (JIT ena bled: jitc)) I haven't tried replacing it but it is an interesting idea, I suspect that if you did then a crashing JAVAW.EXE would be the least of your problems, however it is worth a play sometime.
Adventures in JVM land...By Joseph Millar on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
In theory, it's possible to replace the JRE with another JRE, as long as it maintains the same structure, but in practice, that never holds true. Notes and Domino uses the JNI Invocation API's to start and control the JVM, and that API is implemented by the JVM itself, who's particular location inside the JRE varies from JRE to JRE and even from version to version sometimes. For example, without some moving and renaming of files and directories inside the JRE, and the use of some undocumented notes.ini settings, it's not possible to replace the IBM JRE in Notes/Domino with the Sun JRE. The IBM version uses the Classic JVM, whereas the Sun version uses HotSpot (both server and client flavors), each of these JVM's live in different named directories inside the JRE itself. And then you get into issues with the use of custom JVM options that work for one but not another. In order to make the JVM behave in a Domino environment, I was forced to use some of these "non-standard" options (I was the developer who used to integrate the JRE into Notes/Domino, although I no longer work for IBM). And then there might be further issues that no one knows about yet due to JRE/JVM differences in the runtime. The JRE in Notes/Domino is used extensively in many different areas of the product and if that one API that something is using changes, poof! Trying to replace the Domino JRE with an IBM 1.4.x JRE might work, but I haven't tried it. And you're opening yourself up to a whole range of very strange problems. It's not something I would recommend except as an experiment or if you are simply curious. --Joe Millar Brightline Technology
Ah Joseph...By Michael on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
I appreciate when some so experimented and so smart developper like you explain us that the "Standard stuff" we are beeing over told is nothing but not standard at all ;-)

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