Dear Sun Microsystems Software Group

Your software install pisses me off.

It is like walking on eggshells. You are provided with a million and one prompts to allegedly “customize” the Java Enterprise System install, but the truth is, if you stray in the smallest way from the defaults provided to you, you do so at your own, enormous risk. You need a bloody university degree in the components, what they do, and how they work together, in order to make sure that when you specify something to be non-default, you do it in EVERY relevant place, because as the JES install configures all of the zillions of components, you have to supply the SAME data over and over again, so that each component gets properly configured.

It is like navigating a minefield. There is strong, strong incentive to staying on the beaten path.

Here is an example: There is a base DN. The convention these days is to use domain components for your base DN that correspond to your internet domain, ie dc=company,dc=com. Okey Dokey no problem, turns out that is the default proposed by the JES install anyways. My preferred location for my corporate users is in “ou=People,dc=company,dc=com”. Great. Fine.

Except now, I try to configure delegated administration. And it asks, no demands an Organization DN. And what does it want as an organization DN?,dc=company,dc=com .


I’m not an ISP. I will never ever have more than one organization within my internet domain. I don’t want or need this extra data in my LDAP tree. Why am I being forced to enter this? And god forbid, what happens if I set my Organization DN to be equivalent to my Base DN? Do I want to find out? Will I have to start my install all over again because everything breaks?

So why, you may ask, if I am so pissed off with this install, why do I continue? Truth is, the software itself is great. I last went through an install in October of 2002 – the directory, mail server, and web server have run since then with no maintenance (other than my mail spool running out of disk space), and no downtime. The stuff is bomb-proof.

I know this because I have used it for a long, long time. But what new system admin, in their right mind, would go through this same hell, if they had no prior knowledge of the quality of the resulting system? In October of 2002, it took quite a few tries to properly install the Directory Server, Messaging Server, and Web Server. Now, I’m trying to install those 3 components, plus 3 more: Access Manager, Portal, and Calendar Server. We’re talking a lot of prompts, a lot of interdependencies, and a lot of opportunities to screw up.

It was tough in 2002, but the saving grace was that each component installed into a single directory. As soon as I realized that I had botched something, I tarred the directories up & moved them, or deleted them, and tried again. Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple anymore. Since some dim bulb at Sun Microsystems managed to deprecate self-contained installs, I now have to work with package installs. Package installs are a subject for another rant, another time, but suffice it to say that I am not a fan. They work beautifully for OS bits. Middleware, not so much.

So please Sun, smarten up. I love your software, but for crying out loud, you are murdering your own chances at success. Help us poor sys-admins to showcase your product. Please.