Here's a great story of a good installer gone bad. A colleague recently reported that a ColdFusion MX 6.1 Installation on Windows XP went awry, such that the installer launched when double clicked and a progress meter displayed as a GUI, but nothing more. Task Manager showed that a coldfusion-macr-win.exe was running as a process, and as soon as the progress meter reached 100% a process called cf_redsky.exe fired up and the GUI disappeared. The cpu cranked and cranked, and after a good while both processes just disappeared and ColdFusion MX was never installed. This was an update from 6.0, so there was already a C:CFusionMX directory, but that was never touched as all the date/time stamps remained the same. And the registry keys under HKLM/Sftwr/Macromedia weren't modified, and neither were the ones under HKLM/Sftwr/Microsoft/Windows/CurrntVersion/Uninstaller (where I would have expected 2 or 3 CFMX related keys).

This had us looking at other known issues such as spaces in the System or User Temp directory path, but there were none. We installed with debugging options, but no debug log was created under C:CFusionMX as expected. We were really scratching our heads over this one.

We then ran Process Explorer, which allows a real time view into exactly what a given process is doing. It shows files, pipes, and registry keys being touched. Repeating the install while running Process Explorer showed us that the cf_redsky.exe had been writing files to C:/opt/coldfusionmx and C:/var/www/html, which is really bizzare because those paths are typical Linux paths (sans C:), so why was the installer writing to those directories instead of C:CFusionMX and C:InetPubwwwroot? Further, why was it writing files at all while never having displayed the main GUI where you accept the license agreement and select the edition, etc...?

After this closer inspection of the cf_redsky.exe behavior, we realized that the installer must have found a silent installer file (""), and that properties file must have been one configured for a Linux install. A search of the C: drive turned up 3 different files. One of them was on the Desktop, hiding out among all the other cluttered icons, not too far from the coldfusion-macr-win.exe itself. Opening the rogue properties file confirmed that it was in fact configured for a base install to /opt/coldfusionmx/ and base docroot of /var/www/html.

While this scenario should be somewhat rare, and really I'd only expect someone in ColdFusion tech support to ever encounter rogue installers lying about, it certainly is one last thing to check if you find yourself with an AWOL installer GUI. Beware, should a file called "" be located in the same directory as the ColdFusion MX installer, the installer will read and comply with the file as best possible. In this case it actually created the directories C:opt and C:varwwwhtml, and that was where the installer debug output file was sitting after all. ColdFusion did in fact install into those directories as if it were a proper Linux machine. Moving the file to another location allowed the successful, Windows-specific CFMX 6.1 installation to proceed.