Showing posts for tag "wildly-unsupported"

Carving Out A Workspace On Apple Silicon

Feb 17, 2021, 11:24 AM

Last month, I mentioned my particular computer trouble, in that my trusty iMac Pro has been afflicted by an ever-worsening fan noise problem. I'd just been toughing it out, since there's never a good time to lose your main machine for a week or two, and my traveler MacBook Escape wasn't up to the task of being a full replacement.

After about a month's delay, my fresh new M1 MacBook Air arrived a few weeks ago and I've been putting it through its paces.

The Basics

As pretty much anyone who has one of these computers has said, the performance is outstanding. For the most part, even with emulation, most of the tasks I do during the day feel the same as they did on my wildly-more-expensive iMac Pro. On top of that, the fact that this thing doesn't even have a fan is both a technical marvel and a godsend as far as ambient room noise is concerned.

For continuity's sake, I used Migration Assistant to bring over my iMac's environment, and everything there went swimmingly. The good-citizen apps I use like MarsEdit and Tower were already ported to ARM, while the laggards (unsurprisingly, the ones made by larger companies with more resources) remain Intel-only but run just fine in emulation.


For a good while now, I've had the iMac screen flanked by a pair of similarly-sized but far-inferior Asus screens. With the iMac's lovely screen out of the setup for now, I've switched to using those two Asus screens as my primary ones, with the pretty-but-tiny laptop screen sitting beneath them. It works well enough, though I do miss the retina resolution and general brightness of the iMac.

The second external screen itself was a bit of an issue. Of themselves, these M1 Macs, either for good reason or to mark them as low end, support only two screens total, the laptop screen included. So I ended up ordering one of the StarTech DisplayLink adapters. I expected it to be a crappy experience overall, with noticeable lag, but it actually works much more smoothly than I'd have expected. Other than the fact that it doesn't support Night Shift and some wake-from-sleep slowness that I attribute to it, it actually feels just like a normally-attached monitor.

I also, in order to regain my precious Ethernet connection and (sort of) clean up the dongle situation, I got one of these Anker USB-C docks. I've only had it for a day, but it seems to be working like you'd want so far. So that's nice.

Eclipse and Java

Here's where I've hit my first bout of jankiness, though it's not too surprising. In general, Eclipse and Java work just fine through emulation, and I can even keep running tests and web servers using the libnotes.dylib from the Notes client as I want.

I've found times where tests lag or fail now when they didn't before, though, and that's a little ominous. Compiling locally with NSF ODP, which spawns a sub-process that loads the Notes libraries, usually works, though now I've set up another Domino server on my network to handle that reliably.

I've also noticed some trouble in one of my Eclipse workspaces where it periodically spends a long time (10+ minutes) "Building" without explaining what exactly it's doing, and this is new behavior since the switch. I can't say what the core trouble is there. It's my largest active workspace, so it could be that file polling or other system-call-intensive work is just slower, or it could be an artifact of moving it from machine to machine. I'll probably scrap it and make a new workspace with the same projects to see if it alleviates it.

This all should improve in time, though, when Eclipse, AdoptOpenJDK, and HCL all release macOS ARM ports. IntelliJ has an experimental ARM port out, and I'm curious how that does its thing. I'll probably spend some time kicking the tires on that, though I still find Eclipse's UI much more conducive to the "lots of semi-related projects" working style I have. Visual Studio Code is in a similar boat, so that'll be good for the JavaScript development I do (under protest).

In the mean time, I've done some tinkering with how I could get a fully-native Eclipse environment running and showing up on my Mac, including firing up the venerable XQuartz to run Eclipse as an X client from a Linux VM in the basement. While that technically works, the experience is... well, I'll charitably call it "not Mac-like". Still, it's kind of neat and would in theory push aside any number of concerns.


Here's the real trouble I'm butting my head against. I've taken to using Docker more and more for various reasons: running app servers with a Domino runtime, running Domino outright, and (where my trouble is now) performing cross-compilation and other native-specific compilation tasks. For example, for one of my clients, I have a script that mounts the project directory to a Docker container to perform a full Maven build with NSF compilation and compile-time tests, without having to worry about the user's particular Notes or Domino installation.

However, while Docker is doing Hurculean work to smooth the process, most of the work I do ends up hitting one of the crashing snags in poor qemu, which crop up particularly with Java compilation tasks. Since compiling Java is basically all I do all day, that leaves me hoping either for improvements in future versions or a Linux/aarch64 port of Domino (or at least

In the mean time, I'm making use of Docker's network transparency to run Docker on an x64 VM and set DOCKER_HOST locally to point to it. For about half of what I need, this works great: I can run Domino servers and Notes-enabled webapps this way, and I just change which address I'm pointing to to interact with them. However, it naturally removes the possibility of connecting with the local filesystem, at least without pairing it with some file-share jankiness, so it's not a replacement all around. It also topples quickly into the bizarre inner Docker world: for example, I wanted to set up Codewind to work remotely, but the instructions I found for getting started with your own server were not helpful.

Future Use

Still, despite the warts, I'd say this laptop is performing admirably, and better than one would normally expect. Plus, it's a useful exercise in finding more ways to make my workflow less machine-specific. Though I still bristle at the thought of going full Eclipse Che and working out of a web browser, at least moving some more aspects of my workspace to float above the rough seas is just good practice.

I'll probably go back to using the iMac Pro as my main machine once I get it fixed, even if only for the display, but this humble, low-end M1 has planted its flag more firmly than a MacBook Air normally has any right to.

Weekend Domino-Apps-in-Docker Experimentation

Jun 28, 2020, 6:37 PM

  1. Weekend Domino-Apps-in-Docker Experimentation
  2. Executing a Complicated OSGi-NSF-Surefire-NPM Build With Docker
  3. Getting to Appreciate the Idioms of Docker

For a couple of years now, first IBM and then HCL have worked on and adapted community work to get Domino running in Docker. I've observed this for a while, but haven't had a particular need: while it's nice and all to be able to spin up a Domino server in Docker, it's primarily an "admin" thing. I have my suite of development Domino servers in VMs, and they're chugging along fine.

However, a thought has always gnawed at the back of my mind: a big pitch of Docker is that it makes not just deployment consistent, but also development, taking away a chunk of the hassle of setting up all sorts of associated tools around development. It's never been difficult, per se, to install a Postgres server, but it's all the better to be able to just say that your app expects to have one around and let the tooling handle the specifics for you. Domino isn't quite as Docker-friendly as Postgres or other tools, but the work done to get the official image going with 11.0.1 brought it closer to practicality. This weekend, I figured I'd give it a shot.

The Problem

It's worth taking a moment to explain why it'd be worth bothering with this sort of setup at all. The core trouble is that running an app with a Notes runtime is extremely annoying. You have to make sure that you're pointing at the right libraries, they're all in the right place to be available in their internal dependency tree, you have to set a bunch of environment variables, and you have to make sure that you provide specialized contextual info, like an ID file. You actually have the easiest time on Windows, though it's still a bit of a hurdle. Linux and macOS have their own impediments, though, some of which can be showstoppers for certain tasks. They're impediments worth overcoming to avoid having to use Windows, but they're impediments nonetheless.

The Setup

But back to Docker.

For a little while now, the Eclipse Marketplace has had a prominent spot for Codewind, an IBM-led Eclipse Foundation project to improve the experience of development with Docker containers. The project supplies plugins for Eclipse, IntelliJ, and VS Code / Eclipse Che, but I still spend most of my time in Eclipse, so I went with the former.

To begin with, I started with the default "Open Liberty" project you get when you create a new project with the tooling. As I looked at it, I realized with a bit of relief that there's not too much special about the project itself: it's a normal Maven project with war packaging that brings in some common dependencies. There's no Maven build step that expects Docker at all. The specialized behavior comes (unsurprisingly, if you use Docker already) in the Dockerfile, which goes through the process of building the app, extracting the important build results into a container based on the open-liberty runtime image, bringing in support files from the project, and launching Liberty. Nothing crazy, and the vast majority of the code more shows off MicroProfile features than anything about Docker specifically.

Bringing in Domino

The Docker image that HCL provides is a fully-fledged server, but I don't really care about that: all I really need is the sweet, sweet and associated support libraries. Still, the easiest way to accomplish that is to just copy in the whole /opt/hcl/domino/notes/11000100/linux directory. It's a little wasteful, and I plan to find just what's needed later, but it works to do that.

Once you have that, you need to do the "user side" of it: the ID file and configuration. With a fully-installed Domino server, the data directory balloons in side rapidly, but you don't actually need the vast majority of it if you just want to use the runtime. In fact, all you really need is an ID file, a notes.ini, and a names.nsf - and the latter two can even be massively trimmed down. They do need to be custom for your environment, unfortunately, but at least it's much easier to provide just a few files than spin up and maintain a whole server or run the Notes client locally.

Then, after you've extracted the juicy innards of the Domino image and provided your local resources, you can call NotesInitExtended pointing to your data directory (/local/notesdata in the HCL Docker image convention) and the notes.ini, and voila: you have a running app that can make local and remote Notes native API calls.

Example Project

I uploaded a tiny project to demonstrate this to GitHub: All it does is provide one JAX-RS resource that emits the server ID, but that shows the Notes API working. In this case, I used the Darwino Domino NAPI (which I really need to refresh from upstream), but Domino JNA would also work. Notes.jar would too, but I think you'll need one of those projects to do the NotesInitExtended call with arguments.

The Dockerfile for the project goes through the steps enumerated above, based on how the original example image does it, and was tweaked to bring in the Domino runtime and support files. I stripped the Liberty-specific stuff out of the pom.xml - I think that the original route the example did of packaging up the whole server and then pulling it apart in Docker image creation has its uses, but isn't needed here.

Much like the pom.xml, the code itself is slim and doesn't explicitly refer to Docker at all. I have a ServletContextListener to init and term the Notes runtime, as well as a Filter implementation to init/term the request thread, but otherwise it just calls the Notes API with no fuss.

Larger Projects

I haven't yet tried this with larger projects, but there's no reason it shouldn't work. The build-deploy-run cycle takes a bit more time with Docker than with just a Liberty server embedded in Eclipse normally, but the consistency may be worth it. I've gotten used to running a killall -KILL java whenever an errant process gloms on to my Notes ID file and causes the server to stop being able to init the runtime, but I'd be glad to be done with that forever. And, for my largest project - the one with the hundreds of XPages and CCs - I don't see why that wouldn't work here too.

Normal Domino Projects

Another route that I've considered for Domino in Docker is to use it to deploy NSFs and OSGi projects. This would involve using the Domino image for its intended purpose of running a full server, but configuring the INI to just serve HTTP, and having the Dockerfile place the built OSGi plugins and NSFs in their right places. This would certainly be much faster than the build-deploy-run cycle of replacing NSF designs and deploying the plugins to an Update Site NSF, though there would be a few hurdles to get over. Not impossible, though.

I figure I'll kick the tires on this some more this week - maybe try deploying the aforementioned giant XPages .war project to it - to see if it will fit into my workflow. There's a chance that the increased deployment times won't be worth it, and I won't really gain the "consistent with production" advantages of Docker when the way I'm developing the app is already a wildly-unsupported configuration. It might be worth it if I try the remote mode of Codewind, though: I have some Liberty servers that Jenkins deploys to, but it'd be even-better to be able to show my running app to co-developers to work on something immediately, instead of waiting for the full build. It's worth some investigation, anyway.