Support needed for easy java runtime roll-outs
On the cusp of Sun's newfound enthusiasm for Java everywhere I felt I had to post a few questions on the state of the runtime installers. We've been having awful problems getting the runtime installed on clients; Windows XP boxes are a particular problem as users have a very restricted set of privileges and write access - meaning that the runtime installation has to be run by someone with Administrator rights. This just isn't practical when we're trying to roll out a Java Web Start solution enterprise-wide.
In an ideal world I suppose the runtime would be delivered pre-installed and big pat on back for getting Dell & HP to agree to this; but even with their support they'res still going to be a lot of Java unfriendly PC's out there.. Anybody got any clever ideas on routes around these problems.. I've tried to document some of our frustrations in the first part of this document http://lopica.sourceforge.net/services/ . During the process of writing the same I stumbled across Microsoft's Windows Installer Service WhitePaper which states:
Operation in Lockdown Environments
To decrease support costs, many organizations have locked down their desktops by controlling people's ability to write to the file system and registry. While this prevents a person from accidentally or intentionally modifying their configuration, it also requires administrator intervention whenever a new application needs to be installed. Since the Windows Installer operates as a system service on Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000, it has the ability to run in one of two contexts:
- As the Local System account, which has greater privileges than the user
- As the user, which is the default behavior
In a Windows 2000 environment, using the Group Policy-based Change and Configuration Management, the administrator can approve certain applications, specifying that all configuration operations on those applications (installation, uninstall, and repair) run as the Local System account. In this manner, administrators can lock down the file system and registry as described above, and the Windows Installer service can still perform installations on the person's behalf. Only those applications approved by the administrator run with elevated privileges.
I've also run across "Provide .MSI file for Java, to deploy Java using active directory" http://developer.java.sun.com/developer/bugParade/bugs/4854974.html . It appears Microsoft Installer might be the answer to both enterprise installation and the admin rights installation bugbear which really prevents us from offering users an easy install path. Comments? Anyone?
..Also (can't resist a winge here) I find Sun's renewed interest in Java on the Desktop all very laudable; but the runtime support for Java Web Start and the Window ActiveX AutoDownloader is becoming a joke. Web Start users still can't access 1.4.1_01, 1.4.1_02 or 1.4.1_03 runtimes (http://developer.java.sun.com/developer/bugParade/bugs/4827788.html) and support for other versions is very limited and slow coming online (http://developer.java.sun.com/developer/bugParade/bugs/4836169.html) . I understand these are special installers and require development alongside the better known .exe versions (which have they're own chequered history with XP & InstallShield issues) . But come-on Sun, a little more forethought and support - please..