Wednesday Jul 25, 2007

Searching for stuff on Sun sites

Fellow Sun identity writer Michael Teger, has just added a nice blog entry, Searching Collections on

This seems like a good time to point out some other search tricks. Hopefully, I can learn some, too, cuz I can just sense it: there's more to know about searching Sun sites than I've yet to learn.

The site (DSC) is new and improved. It's faster anyway. In most ways the search is better, too. But as Michael points out, searching collections is not available in the same way it used to be. Now, it can be done as a workaround, which Michael provides. Also noteworthy is the fact that DSC provides a link to Search Tips.

There are few nuggets of information in the tips. For example, Michael provided this example for a search: "Access Manager 7.1" load balancer. You could type this instead: "Access Manager 7.1" | load balancer. The pipe symbol, "|" doesn't get you that much since the search results look exactly the same through several pages of the search results. However, the search with the pipe symbol has 206 results while the search without the pipe symbol has 43,085. The pipe symbol means that you are first searching for docs with "Access Manager 7.1," then you're working from those results to search for "load balancer." This might not matter since the first 20 pages or so of these two searches are probably giving the exact same results. However, it's nice to know that there are only 206 results that are relevant to your search instead of over 43,000.

A couple of other tricks are that you can search in titles only and you can use wildcards (\* and ?) in your search. For this information, check out the search tips in Chapter 2.

Better yet, you can search beyond You can search all of Sun. Sometimes, that's better and sometimes it's not. Anyway, this can be extremely useful information. Here it is: SunSearch.

Why is this important? Because with SunSearch you can also search forums, blogs, articles, etc. It's very powerful. If this information isn't in docs, it might still be somewhere within the various sun sites. Using the example that Michael provided, I want to search on SunSearch. However, I'll add the pipe symbol to see what happens: "Access Manager 7.1" | load balancer.

The results on SunSearch are not exactly clear to me. To me it doesn't seem that the pipe symbol works and the number of results seems quite low compared to searching DSC. However, the tabs shown at the top are very useful. The default tab is All Results, which might provide too much info. The Community tab is good because it searches blogs, forums, and articles. For this search, at this time, I see 7 results in the Community tab. Seven results is quite manageable. The following image shows this search. Notice the pipe symbol is included. I tried the search without the pipe symbol and the results were the same.

A screen shot of SunSearch: Okay, so I don't get all the nuances. If anyone understands these nuances, such as why the number of results is relatively low, please do explain. All the same, this seems to make it easier to search for a topic across media types and such all over Sun.

Monday Jul 09, 2007

Access Manager Policy Agent 2.2 & OpenSSO

I blogged about the OpenSSO project a while back, thusly: Open Source: Access Manager and Beyond

Well, it's not going away. Open source at Sun is for real and identity management has been moving full force ahead into the open source community.

I'm not perfectly clear on the info in this entry. Therefore, I might come back here to change things if I have my facts wrong, which is quite possible. I could use the community's input here more than usual. Please comment on this blog if you think you can help. Thanks.

Introduction to Policy Agent 2.2 & OpenSSO

As goes OpenSSO, so goes Policy Agent: That somewhat cryptic sentence means a few things, but one thing it means is that new happenings with Policy Agent (same for Access Manager and Federation Manager) are showing up on the OpenSSO site first. Discussions, bugs ("bugs" are called "issues" in the OpenSSO project), hints and clues to what's coming up: if they're to be had at all, they are out there.

Let me go over some of the reasons why you might want to continue to read this entry:

  1. To find out what's up and coming in Policy Agent 2.2
  2. To find out about Sun Java System Access Manager Policy Agent 2.2 for Sun Java Web Server 7.0
  3. To get a sense of how open & transparent Policy Agent is, as part of the OpenSSO project
  4. To learn how to get basic (unofficial) Policy Agent 2.2 install instructions for an agent before it's released (or even after it's released).

Being the technical writer for Sun Java System Access Manager Policy Agent, I tend to pay attention to agents in the Policy Agent software set. Well, they've been going open source for a little while now. It seems that all new agents will be part of the OpenSSO project.

So, new agents in the Policy Agent 2.2 software set are open sourced. Conceivably, you could contribute code to these agents. Even those of you who are not interested in contributing code to any of the agents in the Policy Agent software set, might have some interest in seeing what's going on with the upcoming agents.

What's Up and Coming in Policy Agent 2.2

If your question is, "Will a new agent be coming out for the Jin Web Server 12.7 (this is a fictitious web server name)?" Chances are that if the Jin Web Server isn't mentioned on OpenSSO, an agent in the Policy Agent software set will not be available for the Jin Web Server anytime soon. More specifically, if you see agent for Jin Web Server in the Nightly Builds, you'll know that the agent's release is probably imminent. Now, if you will be contributing code to the agents, then you'll love this stuff; but even if you aren't, there's info to be gleaned from this nightly build stuff, so you should at least "like" this stuff.

Policy Agent Builds on the OpenSSO Site

First let me run through how to view/access Nightly Builds in the OpesnSSO project.

The link to the homepage of the OpenSSO project is as follows:

On the Nightly Builds page, in the left column you'll see Nightly Builds under the Downloads heading.

On that page you'll see the following downloadable items:

  • Access Manager
  • Open Federation Library
  • Open Federation
  • J2EE Agents
  • Web Agents

My interest here is in the last two items, "____ Agents." If you click J2EE Agents from that list, you'll get a list of builds. It won't take too many clicks to see, at this point in time, that it's all for "Agent for Sun Application Server." You'll often see a "V9." So, I think it would be safe to say that an agent is coming up soon named something like Policy Agent 2.2 for Sun Java System Application Server 9.SOMETHING, not to be confused with "Sun Java System Access Manager Policy Agent 2.2 for Sun Java System Application Server 9.0 /Web Services," which is an authentication agent specific to web services. So this will be another case where two agents have confusingly similar names.

If you were to look into Web Agents instead, you'd see a few web agents. For example, you could click "latest" on that page to see the latest builds. If you're doing this in July of 2007, one of the agents you should see is "Agent for Sun Java System Web Server 7.0." In fact, that agent is now available for download and I don't mean from the OpenSSO site. It's been promoted from the OpenSSO site (though, still available out there) to the official Sun download site, available from this page: Download Agent for Sun Java System Web Server 7.0

Getting Policy Agent Installation Notes From the OpenSSO Site

But wait a minute, I haven't finished the document for Agent for Sun Java System Web Server 7.0 yet. I guess that just shows how effective this whole open-source thing is. They're getting software out so fast, I can't even get the related official documentation out at the same time. Well, I'm not really sure if that's what it shows, but I do know that the product is officially released and the document isn't.

Fret not (not that you were fretting), I'm going to explain how you can access basic (unofficial) Policy Agent 2.2 install instructions from the OpenSSO site. I'll be specifying Agent for Sun Java System Web Server 7.0, but it won't take much imagination to figure out how to get to the instructions for other agents as they become available.

By the way, moving Policy Agent 2.2 into the OpenSSO world, has had some affect (though relatively minor) on the installation and configuration tasks. Hopefully, it will all be reflected in the documenation; that's the intention, anyway.

Now, let me provide an example of how to navigate through the OpenSSO site to get to the basic installation notes for Sun Java System Access Manager Policy Agent 2.2 for Sun Java Web Server 7.0 (other agents will be accessed in a similar but somewhat different way). This Web Server 7.0 agent example is especially useful (at this time) to those who want some sort of documentation on this agent before the official documentation is released.

  1. Go to
  2. In the left column, select Browse CVS
  3. In the list of files that are displayed, select products/
  4. In the list of files that are displayed, select webagents/
  5. In the list of files that are displayed, select docs/
  6. Select the appropriate platform: Linux, SunOS, SunOS i86pc, WINNT

For both the INSTALL.txt file and the README.txt file, select the revision in the REV column. At this time, the most recent revision is 1.2. The README.txt file is for would-be agent developers. The document explains how to build and compile an agent that you download from the OpenSSO project, with libary and other dependencies described as well. The INSTALL.txt is targeted to people who retrieved the agent from the OpenSSO site. However, the document could be used, in an unofficial capacity mind you, for an agent, for example Agent for Sun Java System Web Server 7.0, downloaded from the official Sun download site.

Though, I've provided the navigation above to these files, the following are direct links to the 1.2 revisions of the README.txt and INSTALL.txt files associated with Agent for Sun Java System Web Server 7.0:

More About Policy Agent and the OpenSSO Project

As more agents get developed through OpenSSO, there will be a greater need to get involved with the OpenSSO project to follow an agent that is of interest to you. This is a good thing. You can track agents better in OpenSSO than those developed prior to OpenSSO because it's open. Now, you have more ways of discussing issues and questions that come up around Policy Agent. You also can track issues (or "bugs" if you prefer that term, but I'm calling them "issues" from here on out) that are filed against an agent.

Viewing Policy Agent Issues in the OpenSSO Project

Can I get a little help here? Please add a comment if you can. It would be great if the community can assist here. Are people looking for issues related to Policy Agent in the OpenSSO project. If so, what works for you?

Issue Tracker is the tool used to file and track issues in the OpenSSO project.

I did the following to search for Policy Agent related issues in Issue Tracker (of course, pick the options that fit your situation. Any tips or suggestions here?):
  1. Visit the OpenSSO homepage.
  2. In the left column, click Issue Tracker.
  3. Click Reports.
  4. Specify options (Examples are provided)
    • View: Open Issues
    • Type: DEFECT
    • Containing: agent
    • Rows: Subcomponent
    • Columns: Priority
  5. Click Generate Report
    You'll see a list of subcomponents. One subcomponent is J2EE agents and one is Web agents. The issues are listed by priority. You can click the number of Total issues for a subcomponent or the number of issues at a certain priority. The following link shows the page generated when one selects the options shown above: An example report, where the goal is to list all Policy Agent issues.

Discussing Policy Agent Amongst the OpenSSO Community

You can get info in a number of ways, as listed in the left column of the OpenSSO homepage under the heading Discussions. There's a also a Discussions web page that provides a bit of a description of the various discussion types. Here's my take on these discussion types:

  • IRC Channel: I don't know much about IRC. The link didn't work for me in the Firefox browser. However, it did work in Mozilla. Nothing was going on at that time. So, I don't know much about IRC.
  • Mailing Lists: There are quite a few mailing lists. In my humble opinion is going to be the most used one. The description is "A general discussion list for the projects end users." I visited the "View mailing list archive" link. From there, I clicked around and saw that Policy Agent issues are discussed, mixed in with other topics.
  • Wiki: Well, there's something about an OpenSSO Setup out there. It mentions Apache agent. So, there's that. I don't have anything else to say about that.
  • Forums: At this time, the click you make into "Forums" basically just gives you the following description: "General discussion on opensso not covered by other forums." Actually, I've added a link to the OpenSSO forum in the right column of this blog. Anyway, back to the OpenSSO site, if you click General you'll see lots of "Subjects," some of them are about Policy Agent. This is good stuff.

Thursday Jul 05, 2007

How to get the Windows libraries, msvcp70.dll and msvcr70.dll?

In this recent entry of mine, Update to Sun Java System Access Manager Policy Agent 2.2 Documentation, I mentioned that I had made some changes to the Policy Agent 2.2 documentation. One of the changes was Windows specific across the web agent docs, specifically around libraries and more specifically around the files msvcp70.dll and msvcr70.dll.

If these .dll files are not in the system32 folder it seems that little to nothing works. Here's what one person encountered:

This appears to be an example of this problem as explained in the Sun Java System Access Manager forum

I'm not sure how similar the error messages for this issue are across web containers. I wouldn't mind hearing from anyone who has run into this problem about some of the specifics.

There are a few things that I wouldn't mind hearing, such as:

  1. Which applications automatically come with msvcp70.dll and msvcr70.dll? Visual Basic is one, no?
  2. Do Windows systems sometimes come with these files, but in the wrong folder?
  3. While these files seem easy to download, what are some reliable and official methods?

The following section is more or less directly from one of the web agent books. It now shows up as a pre-installation step. It was a troubleshooting step, but it turned out that way too many people were running into this problem. While the instructions do explain how to get these libaries, I'm wondering if there's a faster, but still official way.

Current Explanation (more or less) in the Policy Agenet 2.2 web agent documents:

Ensure that required libraries are available on the web container instance.

Depending on the Windows system you are using, the following libraries, msvcp70.dll and msvcr70.dll, might not be available. If these libraries are not available to the web container instance upon which you are installing the agent, you must make them available as described in the following substeps.

  1. Obtain these Windows libraries: msvcp70.dll and msvcr70.dll.

    These libraries come with certain Windows applications. You can also obtain them by contacting Sun technical support.

  2. Place the libraries in the system32 subdirectory.

    The following path is an example of a conceivable path to this directory:


Update to this blog entry: 07/12/07

I found the following Access Manager forum discussion that mentions msvcp70.dll and msvcr70.dll amongst other libaries:

Some good troubleshooting information is provided there. Still, you'll find this quote:

OBVIOUSLY - you're responsible for getting them from a "trusted source" - make sure you don't get any tainted/malware versions of these DLLs. You've been warned :-)

That's the same concern I have. Does anyone know of a reliable source for these and other libaries? If you ever find out, please do come back here and add a comment. Thanks!

Wednesday Mar 21, 2007

Access Manager, Federation Manager, Policy Agent: Questions/Forums

While most of you who might be interested in a forum for Access Manager, Federation Manager, and Policy Agent already know about it, I'm sure a few people don't and there are probably a few things that even experienced forum visitors could learn. First, here's the link to this forum:

The title of the forum reads like this:

Developer Forums

Directory Servers / Identity Management - Sun Java System Access Manager

The “Directory Servers” part is a bit confusing, but that's the organizational category it falls under (mine is not to wonder why).

Anyway, it's a forum; it looks like a forum, acts like a forum. Not much I can add about that. A visit speaks a thousands words. If you have questions about Access Manager, Federation Manager, or Policy Agent software, go there, register (free), and ask your questions. You might find that you get your questions answered.

We're always looking for ways to gather details about what information you are looking for and what went right or wrong in your search. Of course, it's a triple edged sword. Well, I don't know if it's actually triple edged, but it's darned sharp and dangerous. What I'm getting at is, add a comment to this blog entry if you couldn't find what you were looking for about Access Manager, Federation Manager, or Policy Agent in the forums or anywhere else. No guarantees that you'll receive an answer, especially quickly, but it's possible. The more obvious it is that the documentation is lacking, the more likely we'll provide an answer to your question.

The forums are all a part of the Sun Developer Network (SDN) site and include software and hardware. There are lots and lots of SDN forums. One could start here:

Besides forums, there's a lot of information out on the Sun Developer Network and it is NOT only for developers. A lot of non-developers would be interested in some of the info out there.

There's also a Sun Developers Network Channel, which is now accessible as a blog. Now, that IS pretty strongly developerish. It includes lots of videos of interviews with (would you believe it) Sun developers:

Consider yourself inforumed.


What does this box do?


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