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When the Install Goes Awry

I also intended to review AbleCommerce's AuctionBuilder 1.0 for Linux in this issue. I've spent a lot of time with Cold Fusion and MySQL on the Linux platform, and these happen to be the core components of AuctionBuilder 1.0. The first stage of installation was uneventful and merely involved unpacking a tarfile. The site initialization and final install meant logging onto an administration page, and that's when the problems began.

After I entered the requisite administrator login information, the application came back with an ODBC error. I emailed AbleCommerce's support desk, and was told to make sure that a radio button selecting MS Access as the datasource wasn't checked. Unfortunately, the template bombed out on me before displaying any radio buttons, and I relayed this information back to the support desk. The next day I received an email instructing me to rename a CFM template with a different extension so that the application wouldn't execute it. That led to a predictable error message: "Could not find template foo.cfm" and I began looking at the templates to see if I could fix the faulty one myself. No dice, they're all encrypted. Thus, another round of email ensued.

The tech support rep asked some good questions about what version I had, its revision date, and where I'd gotten it. He then sent a replacement login template that he expected would fix the problem. It didn'tĄthe problem now shifted to a missing query error after a single radio button displayed. In my subsequent email I asked if I could get an unencrypted source to speed the process, as my problems appeared to be malformed datasource handles. The rep, as he sent yet another patch, responded that he was unable to provide the source, because the login template dealt with the license key. I tried his patch, and was presented with SQL errors explaining that the application couldn't create necessary database objects. I then spent some time dropping the conflicting database objects into MySQL, rechecking permissions on the server, and trying several iterations of the login process. No go. After consulting with my editor, we decided to punt.

In summary, I'm nearly certain this is a worthwhile product and I just got a bum distribution. I'm a tinkerer at heart, and I don't mind replacing environmental variables or tweaking paths and permissions to make software happy on my systems. But to do that, I need access to those variables, and wrapping them in binaries makes access to them virtually impossible. AbleCommerce's support team put in a good effort to resolve my problem, but the solution they provided didn't allow me to tinker further.

—PS