When Porting, Respect Platform

Porting an application is a lot of work. Sometimes you can port across hardware. At Digital Equipment Corporation the dubious task of porting the VAX 6300 [boot ROM] console to the currently-in-development VAX 6400 belonged to me. Both the existing console and console-to-be were written in Bliss-32 and Macro-32 (assembler). Aaah, those were the days.

You can also port across different flavors of the same OS. In 2005, my job was to port an home-grown tax collection/billing system from SCO Unix to Linux. The initial port took nearly eight months, and little things were still being fixed well after a  year.

And then, you can port applications across different hardware and OS. Such was the case with our school’s (commercially available) student administration system. Our system did not originate on Windows, and it is not hard to tell.

I spent over twelve years in the private sector developing Windows drivers, libraries, middleware, and applications. While I prefer Linux, I am a strong believer in respecting your development platform. That means developing Windows services, and respecting how the Windows environment works. In other words, you need to read the documentation.

That is clearly not the case with this application. In order for the main application to start, you have to log in as the privileged user. Booting the system is not enough. So, in order for the system to work, it must be booted, and then logged into from the console, and the logged in user must be the special user. So, you guessed it, other than Apache and Tomcat, there are no main system services involved.

To make matters worse, the installation program places the main application in the

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

folder instead of the special user’s folder.

By doing this, no one can log in using remote desktop. Why you ask? That is because the main process does not look to see if it is already running. It just launches itself and crashes the other instance of itself.

The vendor says you have to use a MAC program called Timbuctu to access the server, which to me is complete rubbish. This yet again another anomaly from normal business on Windows servers.

To add to this, this vendors’s support will not even broach the subject with me so that we might alter the configuration and fix this problem.

Okay. That is all for now. Please respect your target platform when you port. That is please respect it, if given enough time to do so.

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