Cold Fusion on the cheap

If looking for a Cold Fusion-compatible Web server, here's how to do it the open-source way on Windows Server

Open-source applications are available free of charge,, but that doesn't mean they won't cost you in other ways, a point I addressed last week. Without a vendor guaranteeing support and app stability, you may find that you need to invest countless hours learning how to work with all the little nuances involved in getting the open-source application up and running. Research, forums, installs, failures, troubleshooting; the time adds up, and as we all know, time is money.

That's not to say open source apps should be avoided. Quite the contrary; there are plenty that are well worth the time investment. But where does a Windows admin begin in trying to test out and play with some of these open source solutions? For assistance in answering this question, I turned to Alan Williamson, the original creator of BlueDragon. Chatting with me all the way from Scotland, he talked me through the benefits and procedure for working with Open BlueDragon. As you may recall from my post last week, Open BlueDragon is an open source version of BlueDragon, an alternative J2EE CFML engine to Adobe ColdFusion. It was released as a GPLv3 open source project just this past May.

My goal in working with Alan: To utilize a Windows Server 2008 Web Edition to display pages developed in ColdFusion through a Jetty Web service (not IIS, although it could have used IIS) with Open BlueDragon handling the CF engine side -- and MySQL (another free product) handling the back-end data source side.

Keep in mind that this type of solution is easily achieved online with plenty of tech support by hosting providers -- but what about you poor admins who have to do this in-house? Here is how you do it:

1. Install Windows Server 2008 Web Edition (perform a full install, not just the server core). IIS will not be installed by default and that is OK. Leave it uninstalled.

2. Download the OpenBlueDragon Jetty files and place them on your Web server.

3. Download and install the Java Runtime Engine (also a free application).

4. After you have Java installed, kick off the Jetty services using a java cmd with start.jar (i.e. java -Xmx512M -jar start.jar). Note: You can install Jetty as a Windows service too.

5. At this point you can (and should) change a file in the /etc folder to switch the Jetty server from the default port of 20080 to 80 (because it won't be competing with IIS). And you now have a fully functional Web server and CF engine running that will support your ColdFusion site.

6. Download and install MySQL and ensure your CF developer knows the databases you have set up for them (or at their direction). You will need to make some adjustments to your bluedragon.xml file to get the site to talk to the database -- but the instructions are all included in a file called bluedragon-commented.xml.

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