Frustration of the Day

Today was a horrendously unproductive day. I spent pretty much the entire day fighting to get IIS to work as a frontend for Tomcat for work. We basically got a hot potato and were told we had to get this working now (this being getting SSL working on our webapp server for one of our clients, but not a self signed cert, and a whole bunch of other details resulting in the end solution being using their existing (live) IIS server as a frontend for our Tomcat Web Application server). So with metaphorical gun to my head I worked on it.

In the beginning I wanted to get it working on my own workstation, as messing with clients live servers in the middle of the day doesn’t really make me feel comfortable. So after several hours of fighting, and much gathering of tips and configuration help, I finally got it working with my own workstation.

Now to get it working for them. They of course have a slightly different configuration than I do (separate servers and not both services running on the same system) so I do more looking, and testing. No one on the net has any clue about this and the Tomcat IRC channel is pretty empty. After more fighting I move the Tomcat server onto the same system, copy the known working configuration from my system onto theirs, and watch it not work.

Damn. Ok, try more things. Go back to the docs and start from scratch, go back to my configuration and start again. Re-download the DLLs (there are different ones for Windows 2000 and XP, joy oh joy. Deal with the “stop IIS” command not working at all, leaving me unable to delete the bad DLL. Fight more. Lots of restarting, lots of worrying about the fact I’m working on a live customer machine doing stuff that I really don’t know that much about what I’m doing.

The thing that probably pissed me off more than anything was the complete lack of some simple tools to help me make it work. The lack of a decent command line, or decent tools to help with debugging in windows pisses me off horribly. All I wanted was to “tail -f logfile” in a terminal the width of my screen so I could see the debug information flowing through. Nope. The file was big (and undeletable because IIS had it open of course, thanks for that great filesystem Microsoft, maybe WinFS will fix this?) so doing a ‘type logfile’ was a huge pain (especially through a VNC connection), notepad didn’t deal with some of the CR/LFs properly, and wordpad isn’t in the default command line path, all culminating in me getting really pissed off that such a simple task as watching the contents of a logfile should be so hard. Cygwin or other additional apps? Remember, live client machine, not the place to start randomly installing software. Oh, and don’t get me started on the so called “Event viewer” or the stupidities of IIS itself.

End result was it was still broken after a half hour or so of working after hours. Well, not broken, just not working. I’ll probably try to jump on from home tonight after I save this and see if I can figure anything out, the fact that we probably won’t be able to just restart at will tomorrow during the day won’t help get this done.