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Which GlassFish build to use?

Posted by ss141213 on May 5, 2006 at 1:45 AM PDT

Looking at some of the recent postings in the GlassFish forum, there appears to be some confusion in the GlassFish user community about which build to use. I will try to address the issue in this blog.

The main reason for this confusion is due to presence of two very active branches in the GlassFish CVS repository, viz: SJSAS90_FCS_BRANCH and the trunk (a.k.a. the main branch). They look something like this:

TRUNK__..._b41_b42__/____________________ TRUNK
               30 Mar 2006
(The numbers starting with b are build numbers)

As the name suggests, SJSAS90_FCS_BRANCH is used for release of Sun Java System/Application Server PE 9.0 as well as Java EE 5 SDK. As the diagram shows, this branch was forked from the trunk around 30 March 2006. It is a highly controlled branch as it is used to release a product and currently this branch is in high resistance mode as the final release date is fast approaching. As a standard product release process, not all kinds of bug fixes are going into this branch.

The situation is very different for the trunk. It is open for checkins. In fact a lot of bug fixes and quite a few enhancements have gone into the trunk since SJSAS_90FCS_BRANCH was forked. If I have to single out any one module which has changed most in the trunk since the 9.0 branch was forked, then it will be entity-persistence module, which is the Java Persistence API implementation module in GlassFish. Not all these fixes were back ported to the SJSAS_90FCS_BRANCH for obvious reasons. Be rest assured, a number of these bugs will eventually be made available in a subsequent Update Release(UR) for 9.0.

Difference between promoted builds and nightly build
As the name suggests, nightly build happens every night. Before a binary is posted in the nightly download site, it must pass a predefined set of test cases. So, you can use a nightly build during development phase of your project. Typically after a series of nightly builds, one of the nihgtly builds get promoted and is made available in the promoted builds' web site. The typical frequency has been 1 week in GlassFish project. This allows the delta between two promotions to be significant. The number of tests that are run before promoting a nightly build is much larger than what are run to test the nightly builds.

Build Numbers/Name:
Each promoted build has a unique name. e.g. b01, b02...,b48 are all names of promoted builds happening on different dates. The nightly builds also have a name. It has two components viz: the next promoted build number and the date on which it was built. e.g. glassfish-installer-b43-nightly-01_may_2006.jar.

What is the confusion?
If you look at the branch diagram, you shall see that the b41, b42 etc. were built using source from the trunk. After the FCS branch was forked, promoted builds like b43, b44, ..., b48 (this is the latest promoted build as I am writing this blog) were done using source code taken from SJSAS_90FCS_BRANCH. This has confused many users. When users see some bug being marked as fixed, it is natural for them to expect the fix to be available in the next promoted build, but that did not happen after b42. I feel it would have been better to call 9.0 branch builds as something like b43_90 and continue to use b43, b44 as build numbers for trunk builds.
To specifically address such confusion, IssueTracker has a field called target milestone, but at this point, it is not clear what should be used in this field when a fix is integrated into the trunk. I wish, we could just use 9.1.

Finally, there is no promoted builds happening on the trunk right now. If you look at the GlassFish promited builds download site, you can see that after b42, there are no promotions happening on the trunk. Only nightly builds are happening as GlassFish nightly build download site shows. If you choose the platform of your choice there, you can see that there are download bundles are available with names like glassfish-installer-b43-nightly-01_may_2006.jar. Look at the date encoded in the name. That conveys the date on which that binary was built.

When is situation going to improve?
Recently a P1 issue (#640) has been filed and very soon I am hoping to see promoted builds happening on trunk.

In the mean while, if you are waiting for a build which fixes one of the bugs you are encountering, then you may use the latest nightly build. Use the date to decide which one is the latest build, don't assume that since the name contains b43, it is an old build.More blogs about

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