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Why you should think twice about leaving on the "public JRE" option of the Java JDK installer

This is a follow-up to a post I did in late 2014, CF911: 'Help! I've updated the JVM which ColdFusion uses, and now it won't start!'. In that post, I listed about a dozen common problems that befall people who try to update the JVM that CF is using (and it and this post apply as well to Lucee or BlueDragon, or indeed any Java application server).

In this post, I want to elaborate on one more common mistake. Well, mistake may be too strong word. It's about a default option when you run a Java JDK installer (see the other post for more on JDK vs JRE options).

In short, I make the case here for why you should NOT let the JDK installer implement its "public jre" option.

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How to solve common problems with applying ColdFusion updates (in 10 and above)

While ColdFusion 10 and later releases add a new automated update installation mechanism, what do you do if the update doesn't work? The answer may be simple on the surface, but not obvious to most. (And you'll likely be in panic mode.)

Many find after applying a ColdFusion update that either CF won't start at all, or they can't access the ColdFusion Admin, or some part of CF or their app doesn't work. The problem may be simply that there was an error in the update process CF did, and it may be rather easily confirmed and resolved.

In this post, I share several tips and observations to help resolve this, based on my years of providing remote CF troubleshooting support.

The TLDR version: check the ColdFusion update log (not logs in the normal CF "logs" folder. More detail below.) And if there are errors, try stopping CF yourself and then either try the update again, or if it still fails, try to manually apply the update from the command line. If that's enough to get you going, great--especially if you ARE in panic mode! (If the "problem" you need to solve, instead, is that you can't get CF to show you updates because you're behind a firewall preventing outbound internet access, I help with that also, toward the end.)

For most people, though, even those "simple things to do" can prove challenging (and understandably so). And you may find different resources on the web offering perhaps truncated discussions of the topics, which is why I elaborate on things in this post.

And even if you're in a panic, it may take only about 10 minutes to read this whole post. (You can also hire me to help instead, of course. See the link above.) Hope the info to follow is helpful for you.

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New whitepapers from Adobe on ColdFusion 2016: lockdown, migration, and performance

Continuing my series of posts on new things in CF2016 which some may miss,there are some new resources from Adobe about CF 2016, posted in recent days. (I suppose we may see a post from Adobe on their blog at some point, but I wanted to share it in the meantime.)

You can find them listed as "whitepapers" at the bottom of ColdFusion.com (as I view it today, at least), so keep an eye there to see if perhaps any others may ever be added.

Here are the docs, with some observations also about their size and version, if available:

  • Lockdown Guide (85 pages, currently version 1.0, released Feb 2) - An update to the classic document that Pete Freitag has been doing for CF for a few releases. Everyone should read this, and heed its recommendations. I'll have more to say on that in another post.
  • Migration Guide (22 pages, currently version 2.0, no date offered) - Focuses on a few things: how installation on a current server running CF already offers to migrate admin settings; how one can do that with the CF Archive (CAR) feature (available for CF Standard since CF11); using the Code Analyzer, and how to troubleshoot some server-level migration issues. For more on "what's new" in 2016, see the docs page on What's New in CF2016. For more on what's deprecated, see the docs or my other post discussing what's deprecated in 2016
  • Server Performance White Paper (9 pages, version 2.0, no version or date info offered) - Discusses specific performance improvements in CF 2016 (not performance of CF in general, nor performance-related changes in previous releases, nor all available optimizations in code or config). It's focused solely on changes in CF 2016 (or could be a huge document), whether regarding existing code/configuration as migrated or as impacted via new config/coding options available. Includes an appendix indicating the server and CF admin configuration for the testing they did.
  • API Manager Performance White Paper (18 pages, no version or date info offered) - Discusses load testing done against the new API Manager, and the rate of traffic sustained (very important as an aspect of the API Manager is to act as a gateway for performing, managing, monitoring, caching, and even throttling API calls, whether against CF or any server in your infrastructure). Since the API Manager is a new product, it's a larger document than that on CF, focused as it is only on changes in 2016 (in case anyone may comment that the CF Performance guide is only half its size)

There is also now a single page from Adobe listing all the CF2016 whitepapers (and datasheets).

Hope that's helpful. Check 'em out.

ColdFusion 2016: Changes in the CF Administrator

As folks continue to explore ColdFusion (2016 Release), aka CF2016, regarding what's new or changed, I thought I'd put together a listing of what has changed in the CF Admin specifically. This is another in a series of posts I started last week on CF2016.

In the past, I've tracked these Admin changes in each release, in the various "Hidden Gems" talks I've done about each release. (Somehow I never did a blog post about those earlier releases, at least 9, 10, and 11. The last such post I did was about Admin changes in CF8.)

So without further ado, here are the changes I've found.

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CF2016: What's deprecated and/or 'no longer supported' (note: nothing 'removed')

Continuing a series of posts I started last week on ColdFusion (2016 Release), aka CF 2016, I'd like to highlight the items that Adobe has chosen to deprecate and/or declare as "no longer supported", as of CF 2016.

(Note that for now, nothing is "obsoleted" or "removed" in CF2016, so this is just about our being made to know that certain features that DO work now in CF 2016 may NOT in future releases and won't be receiving any additions, enhancements, or modifications. )

While some of these features listed as deprecated will be things that most won't miss (and some may even wonder why they weren't deprecated sooner), some of the features listed as deprecated may really surprise some folks, as I'd not heard discussion of their deprecation myself until finding them discussed in the CF docs.

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Stuck running the ColdFusion 'Migration wizard'? Here's how to get past that

CF Admin migration wizard screenSomeone presented a problem on a discussion list where they found that upon installing CF, they got to the "migration wizard" screen, and though it offered the option to "continue" if it hung up, it did not continue for him.

In this post, I'll share how to get past that prompt, if this happens to you. (And despite that image on the right showing ColdFusion 11, this could conceivably happen in CF10, CF9, and so on, and this same solution applies to all.)

For the anxious folks who want to "skip the waffle" and context/setup, the solution is at the very bottom. :-)

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Great set of substantial, practical, but brief videos on IIS

This isn't "new" information, though it was new to me this week. I came across this excellent set of youtube videos, 50 substantial yet brief overviews of key IIS topics from IIS/.NET/Windows guru Scott Forsyth.

I offer the list of topic titles (and links to them) below, and have even created a YouTube playlist with them, but note that the links below go to pages that the author had created where he offered a helpful introduction to each video (more than appears in the Youtube description for each).

I had also wanted to offer here this brief overview of them, to set the context and encourage you to view them, so as not to dismiss them if other tech video series haven't impressed you. Whether you're new to IIS 7 or 8, or an old hat user, there really is something for everyone, including wonderful little tips he shares in passing during most videos (which average about 10-20 minutes each).

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CF911: Help, How do I connect sites to a new instance w/ the ColdFusion 10/11 webserver config tool?

This one causes a lot of heartburn for folks: you add a new instance in CF10 or 11 (in editions other than Standard, which do support adding instances), and you find that you can't seem to have the web server configuration tool (wsconfig) connect sites to that new instance(s). You never see the new instance listed in the UI of the wsconfig tool. What gives?

The solution is relatively easy, and the problem could maybe be fixed (or at least warned about) by Adobe (and I just filed a bug report for it). Until that happens, I wanted to share this. For more, read on.

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Solving slow CF startup: my elaborating on an Adobe blog entry on a possible solution

The fine folks at the Adobe CF blog posted a blog entry today, on "Sometimes ColdFusion services refuse to start normally post server restart" (by Rahul Upadhyay), which offers some helpful information on one possible solution to the stated problem of slow CF startup.

That said, there are some concerns I have, with respect to how I fear some may read and take action based on it (especially the notion of deleting the cfclasses files, as a possible solution to the problem).

I'm not contradicting Rahul here, just elaborating on some points, as someone who (like some on the CF team) helps people with CF server troubleshooting every day.

I started to write these thoughts as a comment there, and (as often happens) it grew long so I thought it better to be a blog entry rather than a long comment, and point people here. Once I did that I decided to go further still, hoping to really help those interested to consider the issue more carefully. (It also gives me a chance to highlight again the Adobe CF team blog, something I recommend EVERYONE reading this should follow!)

One quick point (and update) for the TL;DR cloud: My recommendation is that you move the cfclasses folder out of that location, as a temporary test, to see if it makes CF startup happen faster. If it does, I explain why and what the implications are in the choices of renaming, deleting, moving, or disabling the related "save class files" feature. Also, I add an update in E.1 below (since posting this) which you may really want to read: consider turning off your anti-virus software's real-time protection against the cfclasses folder to see if that alone helps with startup.

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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Don't forget to vote, for cf.Objective() 2014 topics, including 2 ColdFusion talks from me

By now you may have heard that the call for speakers for the cf.Objective() 2014 conference closed a couple of weeks ago and now it's time to vote among the posted topics using the conference Trello board.

I wanted to point out to my readers that I have proposed two talks. The first one I gave at the Adobe CF summit last month and was very well-received. You can see the description and VOTE button on each of the following pages:

CF911: Solving Frequent CF Server Problems in New/Better Ways (click to visit, then vote)

The second is one that I gave to the Atlanta CFUG earlier this year.

Updating/Hotfixing ColdFusion 10, 9 and 8: Tips and Traps (click to visit, then vote)

Both are full of surprising and helpful tips, based on my experience helping hundreds of shops with related issues in my CF server troubleshooting services. But the talks are not "sales pitches".

They're goal is to be just like my blog entries here, and my past talks: I just want to help people find, understand, and resolve problems with their CF servers. It's wonderful to be able to help people come away more confident and capable in managing their servers, whether from the consulting sessions, the talks, the blog entries, the cf911.com wiki of cf server troubleshooting resources, the cf411.com site of tools and resources of interest to CFers, and so on.

Anyway, if these talks sound interesting, please go add your votes using the link for each above, and click the vote option that then appears. And of course, vote for all the other talks you think ought to be invited. The board uses your votes, so every vote counts.

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