Linux ColdFusion Users Irate With Macromedia

Developer is taken to task for server crashes, other problems.

ColdFusion MX users who are running the rapid server-scripting environment on Unix or Linux said they feel theyve been left out in the cold by developer Macromedia Inc.

Problems with the San Francisco companys software on Linux have prompted hundreds of user complaints to the Macromedia Web site regarding server crashes and other anomalies.

Bruce Livingstone, president of Evolves Inc., a Web design and consulting company in Calgary, Alberta, said he is frustrated with both the problems hes experienced with the software and the companys response.

"Our experience with Macromedias support for Sun [Microsystems Inc.] and Linux systems has been shoddy," Livingstone said. "There are known, critical bugs in every version of ColdFusion for any flavor of Unix that Macromedia has either explained away or blamed on bad coding and nonstandard installations of CF. Our [partners] advised us not to upgrade to MX server because they said it would make our systems unstable. As a result, weve taken a wait-and-see approach."

That approach has included developing some new solutions in PHP, Livingstone said, such as open-source PHP, a server-side HTML-embedded scripting language; or JavaServer Pages, a syntax for creating platform- and server-independent Web pages.

"Weve had great success using PHP," he said. "It was a companywide decision to stop using CF on all our projects and only use PHP unless otherwise specified by our clients. For instance, we just completed the Jones New York Extranet, and the whole thing was built in PHP/MySQL."

Macromedia officials blame the problems on incompatible distributions of Linux.

In a statement responding to eWeek, Macromedia said it is "committed to providing ColdFusion customers with superior performance and stability across all the platforms we support, including Windows, Linux, Solaris and HP-UX. Since we have not yet been able to reproduce the reported problems on the certified hardware platform and Linux versions that we have comprehensively tested, we believe that the anomalies may be due to nonstandard distributions of Linux. We continue to actively work to identify the problem," officials said.

The company recommends that users follow the systems requirements guidelines published for ColdFusion MX as closely as possible.

But Ken Westin, Webmaster at Pacific University, in Forest Grove, Ore., said he thinks the company needs to do more. "I think Macromedia has a great product with ColdFusion MX, but they really need to work on stability of the platform on Linux," he said.

"I would like to see Macromedia reach out a bit more to the Linux community for help with issues such as this; we ended up finding answers to our questions in Linux forums and the fact that our systems admin is a genius," Westin said. "True, the ColdFusion language itself saves a lot of time, but those savings are lost if you end up having to spend more time tinkering under the hood of your server to get MX running."