Up the WAS-ZOO

The final piece of the IBM “it’s broke please fix it” list was getting Websphere Application Server Express Edition V7 installed and running.  What triggered this “simple” activity was that there was some discussion of source management and version control  tools on the midrange.com list and Rational Team Concert was mentioned as something folks didn’t have much experience with.  So I decided to check it out, especially since RTC is free to use for Open Source projects which was exactly what I had in mind.

However, RTC relies on WAS and my past experiences with WAS have been anything but pleasant.  I have run Tomcat and Glassfish as servlet containers and they install smoothly and run great. WAS, on the other hand, has always been a challenge to install and run.  But, if it is required it is required, so I started down the simple path of getting WAS 7 Express installed.

WAS on i installs multiple ways.  I first took the approach of running the installer from Windows, which *seemed* the easiest.  The installer ran until about the 40% mark on the configuration step, and, 8 hours later, still hadn’t progressed but had not errored out either.  So I shot the installer and restarted.  I quickly learned that it wasn’t quite so simple to end and restart the install.  The installer complained about a .lck file in the ‘tmp’ folder that had to be removed.  However, the installer wasn’t intelligent enough to give me the full path as to where to find this file (as an aside, this ALWAYS aggravates me about installers.  They rarely tell you where they are stuffing things even though they may ask you where to install the software).  After a full scan on my laptop hard drive looking for the mysterious file, it occurred to me that since the installer was installing to the i, perhaps I should look there.  Voila! So I cleaned up the installer files in the IFS and restarted the installer.  Same result. So I cleaned up after install #2 and decided to do some more reading and perhaps download the CD images from the IBM web site to make sure I had the latest and greatest.

And yes, I DID review the prerequisites and made sure I was current on PTF’s and groups.  I had downloaded the WAS Group as well, ready to install it once I had the product installed.  I tried the GUI install one more time with the new CD’s I had downloaded, same result (#3). The next approach I tried, this time using the new CD images, was to attempt an install from PASE.  Although not as sexy as the GUI, I was hoping I would get better feedback on what was going on.  This install (#4) again reached the 40% mark on the configuration step and, after about an hour, dumped an error message to the console (at least I got an error!).  Install fails on configuration action 80Fos400.

Googling turned up very little.  I again revisited the requirements and double checked them.  After one more try (#5) I then submitted a PMR and began  to work with IBM trying to solve the problem.  I will spare you the details, but the next 5 attempts also failed (so now we are up to 10 install attempts).  Finally, an IBM’er jumped on the box which led to a couple of revelations:

1) Even though all the licensed programs indicated that they were happily installed, a command called CHKPGMOPT indicated otherwise.  That lead to two PTF applies that wouldn’t have been uncovered any other way.

2) Although I had downloaded the WAS group PTF, my attempt to apply it resulted in a error about the product not being installed (DUH – I hadn’t been able too).  However, it turns out I was taking the wrong install approach on the group.  I need to take option 8 on the PTF  menu.

3) My path environment variables weren’t correct.  I sorted them out and I doubt it contributed to the fix but, what the hey…

With those actions taken, the install just zippity-do-dah’ed along.  WAS is now installed and happily sucking up memory and CPU cycles.  I guess that the lesson here is that even if you RTFM, the devil is in the details of carrying out the steps.  Counter intuitive as it was, installing the WAS group BEFORE installing the product was the way to go.

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