Random observations of a very experienced software artist.

    Domino/Notes fix pack installations fail on Temp directory

    John McCann  May 21 2018 03:02:30 PM
    In October 2015, we opened a PMR with IBM concerning the failure of Domino 9.0.1 Fix Pack 4 installation failing.  The log was this:

    Image:Domino/Notes fix pack installations fail on Temp directory
    The failure was attempting to launch an executable, in this case, java.exe from a temporary folder, i.e., one that had "temp" in its name.  Blocking such attempts stops many attack vectors that try to drop an executable in a safe folder and launch it.  What is sad is that the java.exe was put there by copying it from the <notes program directory>\jvm\bin folder the step before.  If IBM would change their script to launch it from where they just copied it, all would be copasetic.

    We started the conversation with FP4.  Then came FP5, FP5.1, FP5.2, and finally FP6.   You might not remember at the time, but Notes client install would ask you where to unpack the temporary files, but fix packs did not.  They just used the specified temporary directory.

    With FP6, SEVEN months after we opened the original problem, IBM finally told us about the hidden /P switch for the installation.  This solved our problem.  IBM opens an APAR, but does not provide the solution in the APAR: https://www-01.ibm.com/support/entdocview.wss?uid=swg1LO86833   They document an untenable solution as the "local fix", remove the security feature - ha!


    Now come to the present

    We have to install Notes 9.0.1 Fix Pack 10 on a system with only Notes 9.0.1 gold installed because it had been reimaged.  Notes is not on the base image.  Notes 9 install works fine, Fix Pack 10 fails.  Turns out to be the same error in the log from the 2015 problem - launching java.exe from a temporary directory.  Again, we are not disabling security.  Time to open another PMR.  First response back from IBM pointed us to the APAR that had been opened in 2016.  We had a good laugh.

    The IBM rep came back the same day with the suggestion to change the temporary folder location with the environment variables.  We had some miscommunication and issues because there are two variables that affect the install.

    The TMP environment variable is use to provide the default "where to unpack" similar to the following:
    Image:Domino/Notes fix pack installations fail on Temp directory

    IBM had suggested directly editing the TMP environment variable to change the location of the java execution.  All it did was change the default on the above dialog.  So, being the fool that I am, I decided to change the TEMP environment variable. to point to d:\ibm\installit.    

    Amazingly, it worked.  

    Then, I sheepishly looked at the very first line of the first log image above:  Get environment variable TEMP.    The clues had been in the log all along.  None of us involved in solving this problem were able to succinctly articulate the solution because of so many red herrings of where to unpack files and blocking software.  We could have saved more than NINE months of work if we had read a little more in the log.


    I also learned a neat trick from IBM along the way.   Take the Interim fix, that might not have a where to unpack; change the .exe to a .zip; open it with 7Zip and you can do the install unpack to where you want yourself.    Thank you Nelson C. DiƱo Jr..