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CF911: 'Help! I've updated the JVM which ColdFusion uses, and now it won't start!'

Has this happened to you?
  • You wanted to update the JVM which CF uses to use a new version
  • so you found some resource on the web showing how to update, and it seemed simple enough
  • and then you tried restarting CF and wham, it won't start
  • and now you're stuck wondering, "what happened? and how am I supposed to fix this?"

It's a tragic position to be in, of course.

There are several reasons why your attempt to update CF's JVM can fail.

And fortunately I can offer several things you can consider/look at, some of which may quickly recover from or be able to undo (depends on what you did). And all this applies to Lucee, Railo, and BlueDragon as well, though folder locations will differ.

In brief, here are the things you may have done wrong. See below for solutions or recommendations:

  1. You may have told the Java installer to install itself WITHIN the CF directory. You should not do that.
  2. You may have gotten the wrong kind of Java installer
  3. You may have gotten the wrong bit-level of Java for your bit-level of CF
  4. You may have gotten the wrong JVM for your OS
  5. You may have tried to use a JVM not supported by the version of CF you're running
  6. You may have pointed CF to the wrong JVM location
  7. You may have updated the JVM config for the cfusion instance, but not your other instances
  8. You may have forgotten to change the path's directory separator slashes on Windows
  9. You may have to copy the msvcr100.dll from the JVM's lib to CF's when updating older CF's to Java 7+
  10. You may have to copy the tools.jar from the JVM's lib to CF's when updating older CF's to Java 8+ (and delete some files compiled for the old JVM)
  11. You may find that Solr integration (and/or PDFG in CF11+) stops working, because you didn't realize you needed to edit *its* jvm config file

While I'm at it, I also cover:

  • Why you'll find that CF can't even STOP (let alone START) if you make a mistake with the JVM configuration
  • What JVM version(s) are supported by what versions of CF
  • Dealing with SSL Certificates you may have imported into a previous JVM
  • Beware leaving the Java installer to choose the "public jre" option

So this really became quite a compendium of resources on changing the JVM CF uses, but again the focus is on why CF may not start if you make certain very common mistakes.

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My reply to: 'The price for CF troubleshooting consultants is a joke. They're taking us for a ride'

Ok, so that's clearly not my sentiment but rather that of a certain "Simon" (no other identifying info offered) in a blog comment in one of the recent CF team blog entries.

After complaining about how poorly he felt CF had responded to his seeking help, he threw in additionally that "the existing private consultants prices are a total joke - they are taking us for a ride!".

Well, I just couldn't let go his comment go unremarked.

I started to write my reply there, but it grew long (as is my wont). So rather than post there (where most comments are brief), I decided to post it here instead and point to it there. Perhaps some of my readers here may appreciate it as well, as I also talk about some thoughts on CF troubleshooting in general.

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Hidden Gem: Importing CF Admin settings in ANY release via 'import wizard', even AFTER installation

Have you ever faced the challenge of needing to migrate the CF Admin settings (datasources, mappings, scheduled tasks, etc.) from one machine to another, and from one CF version to a newer one? Did you know that there is an "import wizard" that you can (with proper configuration) run at any time to import settings from one release to another?

Before I discuss that, you may know of a couple of other solutions for this challenge: the CF admin ColdFusion Archive/CAR mechanism, available in some but not all editions (more below), and this same "import wizard" which runs at the end of CF installation, importing settings from an older CF version if found on the same box.

But what if either of those solutions don't work for you, and you have dozens of dsn's, scheduled tasks, mappings, or other settings you want to get from one machine/version to another?

You are NOT stuck having to manually copy settings from one screen to another! (And you should be very careful about the common hack solution of copying neo*.xml files from one instance to another, which may not always work and may break things.)

In this entry I'll discuss how you CAN indeed import the CF admin settings from nearly ANY release of CF into nearly ANY OTHER release of CF, in a fully supported way, and which CAN be done even after installation of a new CF release. (I say "nearly", because I worked with someone wanting to do this import of CF7 settings into CF10, and that large a jump was was not supported.)

I'll also mention an important potential gotcha to beware, as well as how to to get around that.

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Hidden Gem in ColdFusion 11: ColdFusion Archive (CAR) support now in Standard

Here's a nice surprise for some about a change in CF11: you can now create and read CAR files (ColdFusion archive files, a CF Admin feature) in the STANDARD edition of ColdFusion 11. In prior releases, it was available only in ColdFusion Enterprise.

Read on for more, including a gotcha regarding importing from previous release Standard editions, but for many this news will be a delight and all they need to know.

For more on what the CAR mechanism is, finding more on it, the gotcha (and what NOT to do if you hit that gotcha), and info on still more hidden gems in CF, read on.

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Get a headstart on checking out Update 3 for ColdFusion 11

If you didn't catch it, Adobe has come out with a prerelease version of the pending Update 3 for ColdFusion 11, which (like update 14 for CF10) adds many things:
  • bug fixes (over 160)
  • support for new OS's, databases, application servers, and web servers
  • support for Java 8
  • as well as updates to underlying technologies like Tomcat (now 7.0.54)

Update: Adobe released yet another version of this Update 3 prerelease, on Nov 19. See the blog entry for more about that, but the info below still stands and you will want to keep reading here if applying update 3 for the first time (indeed, even after the update comes in "final" form). That said, do see the updated blog entry (or more specifically the link to PDFs offered there) for more on what is in that newer version of the update.

For more on this update, read on here.

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Finding ColdFusion installers, updaters, hotfixes, and docs for all recent releases

This won't be new info for some, but many folks remain confused by the fact, that after Adobe released ColdFusion 11 2016, they can seem to only find ColdFusion 11 2016 installers on the Adobe site. What if you need installers for 11, 10, or 9, or 8, and so on?

(Update: I wrote this post originally after CF11 came out, but it applies as well and still now that CF2016 has come out, so I have changed the references to that from here on.)

Find CF installers, updaters, and docs for past several releases

The good news is that if one wants to find ANY installers for most ANY version of CF, they can be found on an external repository setup by Gavin Pickin (and added to by myself and others, to include updates, hotfixes, and docs):

Gavin Pickin's CFML Repo

The name, CFMLRepe, may confuse some if they presume it's a repo of CFML. It's not. What it is is that originally it did originally have only CF installers (and updates, etc.) but then some contributed installers for Lucee and such, so he chose the more "generic" name.

(There used to be a longer and hard-to-remember URL, when I posted this originally in 2014, and I had created a shortened url, http://bit.ly/cfdownloads. It's now not "shorter", so I leave this here for posterity.)

Thanks so much to Gavin for creating the repo, and to him and others for maintaining it. Let's hope it remains a viable solution to find downloads for years to come.

New updates for Coldfusion 11, 10, and 9 (security update for 9, 11; still more for 10)

If you'd not heard the news, there were several updates released today, for CF 11, 10, and 9.

As for CF11 and CF9, it's mainly a security update. For CF10, it's got quite a bit more. (And there is another update for CF11 to come in the future which Adobe mentioned when it came out with its first update last month.)

For more on each, see below.

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My New Youtube Video on the Why and How of Using FR Stack Traces for ColdFusion Troubleshooting

As many of my readers know, I'm a big fan of the FusionReactor server monitor for ColdFusion (and Railo, BlueDragon, Tomcat, and indeed any Java server). I help people use it every day (just like I also help people leverage other CF monitors like the CF Enterprise Server Monitor and SeeFusion).

One of the most important features is the stack tracing feature, used to understand what's holding up a long-running request.

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My presentations at ColdFusion Summit, CFCamp, etc.

I wanted to share word here of the presentations I'll be offering at the upcoming Adobe ColdFusion Summit 2014 in Vegas on Oct 16-17, as well as CFCamp 2014 in Munich on Oct 20-21.

Also, sorry for the long delay in blogging. Just been so busy doing my CF server troubleshooting consulting.

As for my sessions at CFSummit (next week), I'll be doing the following (and you can follow the links to learn more about the talks, their dates and times, etc.):

At CFCamp, the following week, I'll be offering:

I had also presented the Hidden Gems talk at NCDevCon 2014.

These are all great conferences, and, in addition to cf.Objective 2014 (where I spoke also, on different topics), they are each great ways to keep up on what's going on in the world of ColdFusion and related technologies.

Finally, if someday you're visiting this blog entry and find that one of the conference links no longer work, you can find my own link to all my presentations, at all conferences the past 15+ years (as well as to any recordings made available) at my presentations page.

Come say hello if you're at any of these events.

CF911: High CPU in ColdFusion? Some common but perhaps unexpected causes

I often help people who are reporting that CF is "running hot on the CPU", maybe reaching 80 or even 100% of the CPU, whether in spikes or for extended periods. What might you propose people look at, when you've heard that? I've heard all kinds of things over the years, often focused on coding, or perhaps jvm tuning.

But as is often the case in a lot of the CF server troubleshooting consulting I do, I find the causes to be far less often what most people seem to suspect. So what would I look for when someone reported high CPU in ColdFusion (or Railo)? Read on.

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ColdFusion Lockdown/Security guides: there are several, and some you may have missed

While helping people with various problems in my CF server troubleshooting services, I often have the chance to help people identify security vulnerabilities, especially in their configuration of CF and/or their web server, and sometimes related to their code.

I was wanting to point out to someone the various ColdFusion security resources, and while I have a category on them in my CF411 site, I thought this was a list worth pulling out into its own blog entry and expanding a bit.

You may be surprised to find that there are more to CF security guidelines than just the venerable server "lockdown guide" (for those administering and configuring CF, the OS, and the web server, among other things).

Did you know that there have been "developer security guidelines" as well, focused instead on coding? This latter guide has gone through three iterations, including just recently, as I'll discuss along with the lockdown guides, below.

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proXPN users: a simpler soluton for "Connecting to proXPN has failed"

If you're a user of proXPN (a free/low-cost VPN service), and you get the error, "Connecting to proXPN has failed", here is a simple solution that you may not find offered elsewhere: just try restarting proXPN. For more information, read on.

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CF911: Solving problem in ColdFusion Admin getting "error accessing this page" on certain actions

Here's a real CF911 challenge (and solution): You may find that when using the CF Admin, especially in CF10 but it can happen in CF 9 or 8 depending on security hotfixes applied, when performing certain Admin operations (like making a change, or verifying datasources, or checking for server updates) you get an error:

"There was an error accessing this page. Check logs for more details."

And your operation fails. You're then prompted to "Click here to login", but even if you back up or client another link, you'll be prompted with the CF Admin login.

What gives? Why is it happening? And how can you fix things? Is CF broken? No, not in the sense that you need to reinstall or anything. The good news is that there is a quite simple solution. Well, there are several, depending on your goals.

The simple solution: delete the duplicate cfid/cftoken or jsessionid cookies that you will find your browser is sending to CF. But there is much more to this, as well as other solutions, which would be worth most readers taking a few minutes to read on here.

BTW, the same root problem can be the cause of your own application's users finding that they can't stay logged in. More on that in a moment.

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The State of the Online ColdFusion Meetup

As a follow-up to my previous blog entry today, on news of the CFHour podcast show ending this week, some have wondered (publicly) whether perhaps the Online ColdFusion Meetup, which I host, might help "fill the void" here.

I don't hold that out as a real possibility, for a couple of reasons, and I'd like to discuss them here.

Indeed, it's a good time to share a "State of the Online ColdFusion Meetup", to discuss what you might (and might not) expect to see in the future, and what you can perhaps do to help.

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CFHour going off the air. End of an era? Thanks, Dave and Scott

If you haven't heard the news yet, the CFHour podcast has had it's last show, it seems. Dave (Ferguson) and Scott (Stroz) announced the news at the end of their last episode (#213), quietly and without fanfare (or any advanced indications), citing time challenges, etc.

I'm holding a glimmer of hope that it's all an April Fool's prank, but if true it's indeed the end of an era and time to pause and reflect as if on the passing of a friend.

Update: I'm vindicated! :-) The guys announced in their next show that it WAS INDEED an April Fool's prank. Even so, I'll leave this entry, untouched, for posterity. Plus, most of the info is just as valuable to have shared, with them and with readers, whether they did or did not end the show. And like I said below, this gave them a chance like Twain and Nobel to see what folks thought when they thought they were dead. :-)

I also want to give some solace to fans of the show (and the general CFML community) with respect to where they may want to turn now to keep up on news, resources, etc. Fortunately, there are some places being actively updated. (And while surely some will see this as one more nail in CF's coffin, I don't and I'll address that briefly too.)

But first let's give credit where it's due about the podcast...

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Applying hotfixes to ColdFusion 9 and earlier? A guide to getting it right

I realize that title may seem anachronistic. Why talk about hotfixes in CF9 and earlier, in 2014, indeed as CF11/Splendor is in beta? But I'll tell you that I still help people daily who are still on those older releases, and often they have problems that may have long since been solved by a hotfix or a cumulative hotfix they never applied--or may be caused by misapplication of such hotfixes.

Of course, in CF10 it's easier now because of the built-in "server updates" feature of the CF Admin. But in earlier releases, it was all on you to both keep up on the updates and to apply them manually. And a lot of people either never bothered, or may have tried and failed, or did it but got it wrong.

What you need to know

So in this blog entry, I some key info that will help you, if you may be in need of applying one or more of those updates to CF9 and earlier. Indeed, I'll point to some past entries I've done where I shared a lot more detail that I find is vital and rarely mentioned when some people try to share just the bare minimum of info (often leaving people hanging).

For instance, I'll help you answer such questions as what hotfixes do you already have applied? How do you find out? And you need to know exactly what version of CF you have, whether 9.0/9.0.1/9.0.2, 8.0/8.0.1, 7.0/7.0.1/7.0.2, and so on. I'll explain how to tell and why that's important, and especially when it comes to finding and applying hotfixes. And if you have applied hotfixes, are you sure you have done it right? It's easy to get things wrong and botch things. I'll help you avoid several very common mistakes.

(That's why it's so great that CF10 finally handles things for us. But this entry, focused on 9 and earlier, is not the place to discuss concerns with the CF10 hotfix mechanism. If you have questions or concerns about that, see the substantial CF10 Hotfix Installation Guide from Adobe, a 50-question FAQ on all things related to that feature.)

I'll also point you to where to find hotfixes and installers for CF9 and earlier (not as easy as it may seem), and still more.

If any of that's of interest, and I hope it is if you're on CF9 or earlier, then read on.

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An interesting solution to problems with ColdFusion 10 and IIS 404 handlers

There was an interesting solution proposed today on the Adobe forums, to address a problem some folks are having with CF10, where they find problems using an IIS 404 error handlers set to pass to a CF page. I found it helped with one of my consulting clients, so I wanted to share the news with others readers here who may benefit.

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Note that ColdFusion 10 Update 13 is "needed" for OS X-only...and some confusion

Some of you may have seen that Adobe released a new hotfix for ColdFusion 10 last night, called Update 13. If you only read the text in the update (shown in the "Server Update" page of the CF admin), you might proceed to apply that update (which is ok).

But guess what: it technically only has changes related to Mac OS X (specifically adding support for its Mavericks version).

This is addressed if you read the technote that the update text points to, or the Adobe blog entry from last night which announced the update (more on these in a moment.) Those DO indicate that if you are not running that OS, you need not apply the update. (And the day after I wrote this entry, this indication was added to the update text itself.)

But what if you are on Windows (or another *nix variant besides OS X)? Should you apply it? What if you do? (there's NO PROBLEM!) What if you don't? And given that the update text says you need to reconfigure the web server connector, do you really need to bother on Windows?

And what if you are installing CF10 for the first time, since you DO need to apply updates upon installation? (you can either apply update 13 or 12, but you must apply at least one of them to be fully updated.)

As important, how might Adobe have better clarified this, and how might they make a simple change now related to that (they since did)?

I address in this entry these questions and a few other concerns I have, about confusion that may ensue.

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Four free tools I (nearly) always install on a new machine and use everyday

I'd like to recommend four free tools that I think everyone (running Windows) should consider installing on their machines, as they can help with day to day tasks that many (certainly I) hit every day.

They don't run in the background, only doing their job when you ask them to, so I find them safe to install and use on production servers, though of course any tool can be abused. I've never seen these to cause a problem in many thousands of uses.

I was reminded to share this list today as I was helping a customer, as I got on their server with them to help them solve a problem. I recommended we install these as I do on nearly all my engagements (and indeed on all my own machines). I think they really are fundamental tools, as I'll explain below.

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