Tuesday Jul 19, 2011

Tip #-1 How Does GlassFish Pick the JVM to Run In?

 If you start a GlassFish Server by using asadmin, then you may be interested in precisely how the JVM that will run GlassFish Server is chosen.  Note that if you restart via the Admin Console (GUI) you are indirectly using asadmin to restart the server and the following rules apply as well.  If you start the Server some other way, like

java -jar glassfish.jar

then you are in charge of choosing the JVM yourself.

In order of precedence from high to low:

  1. The jdk location specified in domain.xml in the java-config  ("java-home")
  2. The contents of AS_JAVA in the asenv property file (in glassfish/config)
  3. Whatever the env. variable, JAVA_HOME, is pointing at.
  4. The java.home system property is used like so:
    1. Parent directory of java.home -- this is because sometimes the JRE's java is asadmin's JVM and the JDK may be in the directory above.
    2. Contents of java.home

In every case I guarantee a valid java.  E.g. you can set 1,2,3 to garbage and we'll still find a java to use.

Note that we never explicitly use java from the path -- if there is one.  It may be implicitly used though by using #4 above since asadmin itself is definitely running inside of a valid JVM.

p.s.  If you are wondering where the code is -- 90% of it is inside AsenvPropertyReader.java
10% is in GFLauncher.java

-- AsenvPropertyReader can't access domain.xml.  GFLauncher can.  GFLauncher's job is to see if (1) above applies.  If not he defers to AsenvPropertyReader.


Sunday Feb 27, 2011

Automatic Starting of Servers in GlassFish 3.1

Note: At the end of this blog are links to older blogs from V3.0 about this feature.  You may want to look them over as well.

The way we offer the ability to automatically start GlassFish servers is via "services" on the platform.  "Services" are an ancient technology, available on all of our supported platforms (and I would imagine is available on every serious OS).  Services allow applications to run automatically when a computer boots up.  Nobody needs to login -- the service just starts automatically.  A simple example of this is the FTP server.  When you boot up your computer you can access FTP from any other computer without touching the FTP computer.  This is very important in the event of a power failure.  On Windows you can setup automatic security updates and Windows will automatically reboot your computer.  If you have a Subversion server that is not configured as a service and you are halfway around the world depending on it -- you will become a Services Specialist in the near future when you return home!

GlassFish 3.1 Platform Services now supports all Linux versions, Windows and Solaris10/SMF

Services can be quite complex.  For instance you might want to have it do this:

  1. Automatically start a GlassFish server upon booting
  2. If the server crashes (no way!) restart it
    What if it crashes every time?  The machine will be in trouble with an infinite loop so:
  3. Try to restart 3 times and then give up.

Setting up this level of services-granularity is very difficult and expensive to implement perfectly.  For one - we are supporting several platforms and they all do these things completely differently. The hard part is setting up services at all to do the basic things.  Once that is complete you can easily use the platform's native tools for adjusting things just the way you like.  What we support is the classic services model -- which is to start the service upon booting, unattended.

I worked hard to make it easy to setup services.  Here's how you would create them for an installation that has one Domain:

asadmin create-service

If you want to make sure it would work but you aren't yet ready to pull the trigger, or you just want to see what it would do -- then run this command:

asadmin create-service --dry-run

If your domain is named, say. domain1 then the service's name will be domain1.  Simple.

 After the service is created you are greeted with a platform-specific message giving you the details on how to start the service.  We do NOT automatically start it.  I personally recommend rebooting immediately -- and it will start.

Windows is particularly easy and flexible to work with.  You can manage the GlassFish service(s) by:

  1. GUI -- right-click on Computer/Manage/Services
  2. sc.exe  very handy tool for querying/starting/stopping/restarting etc.
  3. In the bin directory of the domain or instance run the your-service-nameService.exe application that we put in there. 

How to setup automatic starting for an instance?

Easy!  Simply give the name of the instance as the final argument to create-service.  The following command will create a service for myinstance:

asadmin create-service myinstance

There is an undocumented, unsupported command that will delete a service for you.  It is very very easy to delete a service on SMF and Windows.  On Linux it can be tedious.  I've personally tested the command successfully but it has not been through the merciless testing of QA at Oracle.  Use it at your own risk.

asadmin _delete-service 

Important blog for making sure GlassFish doesn't stop when you logout.

I have another blog with implementation details if you are interested.

Some older blogs that pertain to V3.0:

V3.0 Platform Services for Windows and SMF

DIY Cookbook for Configuring Linux Services

How to Run on Linux as a Non-Root User

Automatic Starting Implementation Details for GlassFish 3.1

Process Nuts and Bolts

When you start a GlassFish 3.1 Server Service notice that there are 2 JVM processes running.  The 2 process are these:

  1. The GlassFish Server
  2. A JVM running asadmin start-[local-instance|domain] --verbose

Why?  We want to leverage the start command.  Asadmin does a great deal of work for you when you start a server.  The end-product of that work is mainly (but not only) the generation of a big complex JVM invocation command to start the server with.  I could have implemented the Services to call asadmin and have asadmin exit.  But then the Platform would see that asadmin exited and would report the service as "stopped".  It would not know in the future when the server really stops. 

When you start a server with the --verbose flag then the asadmin process waits for the server to die before exiting.  When the server stops -- asadmin stops and the Platform will update the state to "stopped".

Note that restart-[domain|instance] will still work perfectly.  In that case the server process dies but the asadmin process does not - not even for a moment.  The platform will not "see" anything happening.


I discovered that there seems to be a special way to create services for every different flavor of Linux.  And they are all different from each other.  Basically all of these different ways end up with writing out special files into a special area.  This one common denominator is to use the ancient UNIX way of setting up services which is, not surprisingly, editing lots of configuration files in a special area.  Even the exact details on the special area is different among the different flavors.  The code is flexible and will handle all known Linux flavors. The script can be found in /etc/init.d and links to it in the runlevel directories:  /etc/init.d/rc?.d

Sunday Apr 26, 2009

GlassFish V3 Remote Restart Now Available

GlassFish V3 is now sporting a brand new capability:  Remote Restart.

This feature is particularly handy for environments where the server machine is secured and difficult to get to.  With the right credentials you can now restart the server from anywhere in the world -- as well as from the same machine. 

It is very easy to use.  As of today there are two ways to call the restart-domain command with the third method coming online soon

(1) Use a URL in a browser: 


(2) Use asadmin like so:
   asadmin --host yourhost restart-domain

(3) Coming soon:  Admin Console GUI support for the command

The asadmin command, restart-domain, is what I like to call a "hybrid" command.  It is both a local and a remote command.  The local portion of the command's job is to block until it verifies that the server has completed its restart and is online and ready to go.  The remote portion does the actual restarting.


There are 3 main flavors of starting non-embedded V3.  Restart-domain works with all three:

  • Starting the server with the launcher (i.e. asadmin start-domain).  Restarting will stop the running server and once the JVM process is guaranteed to have exited the server will restart.  There are no special "watchdog" processes involved.  The server itself does the work itself in what I like to call "reincarnation".  This is easy to see by running jps during the restart.  You will see the process id change.  You can also watch the server log as the server restarts.
  • Starting the server with the launcher in verbose mode (i.e. asadmin start-domain --verbose).  The key point here is that we have to preserve the console that asadmin owns here.  So we do the restart a little differently.  Since the asadmin process is also running  on the server machine, we ask the already running asadmin process to restart the server for us.  asadmin does all the heavy lifting here.
  • Starting the server in implanted mode (e.g. java -jar glassfish.jar).  A new jvm will be started with exactly the same commandline arguments.  Note that if the server owns the console -- i.e. is running "in the foreground" and mirroring log messages -- the new server will lose control of the console.  We can not absolutely guarantee a clean shutdown without literally closing down the JVM itself.  Once that is done the console is out of reach.

Give it a try!

Tuesday May 29, 2007

Start and Stop Scripts

A little known fact: there are scripts for starting and stopping the 3 different kinds of Glassfish servers. The three kinds of servers are:

  • Domain Administration Server (the only server available in a development profile)
  • Node Agent Server
  • Instance Server

These scripts have always been there but were never officially supported.  They were difficult to use.  E.g. you had to know to type in username, password and master password into the void at the command window for strtserv to work.  The scripts were used internally in pre-V2 versions.  They are not used at all in V2.  They are there for your use exclusively now.

Where Are These Scripts?

They are named: 

   Start Script
 Stop Script
 Windows  startserv.bat  stopserv.bat
 Not Windows
 startserv  stopserv


In my own personal default environment, they are here:

 Domain Administration Server
Node Agent Server
Instance Server

How Do I Use Them?

To start a server run the appropriate startserv script.  It will ask you for the administrator's username, pssword and the master password.  If you don't know what a master password is -- just enter changeit.  This is not really needed for the Domain Administration Server in a developer profile, but the script does not yet have the smarts to know whether or not the server is secure.  A future release may fix this problem. 

To stop a server simply run the stopserv script.  No authentiction information is needed or asked for.


  •  The scripts are relocatable.  I.e., if you use asadmin backup-domain and asadmin restore-domain to clone a domain to a different location -- the scripts will still work.
  • Shutdown is very fast and efficient.
  • This is the only way you can start an instance with no running Domain Administration Server and no running Node Agent Server.
  • You can take over the lifecycle management of one or more Instance Servers.  If you start the Instance Server with the script then the Node Agent Server will not automatically stop it when the Node Agent Server is stopped.




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