Which GlassFish v3 download bundle is right for me?

(updated October 2010)

You may have read the (recently updated) page comparing GlassFish v2 and v3 and decided to go with v3. The next question you might ask yourself is which bundle should I download? Why is the zip archive bigger than it “installer” equivalent? Here is some data to help you decide.

Zip or installer?

The zip installer is new in v3 and the same for all platforms. As the name implies, unzipping is all you need to do. A default domain1 is already available. If you use the graphical installer (now open source, which makes the difference between community and Sun-branded version even smaller, but see later paragraph on that), you’ll be able to change port, JDK, install, etc. This “installer” bundle comes in two flavors – windows and Unix-like (an .sh script which works on Linux, Solaris, and the Mac). The installer also let’s you do silent installs with a statefile which can be produced without doing any actual install.

The IPS/pkg/updatetool feature of GlassFish (which I’ve been talking about it a fair bit on this blog) is quite unique for an appserver, and as you may already know this is written in python and thus ships with a “native” minimal python runtime. As a consequence, to avoid having lots of different artifacts (one per platform), the ZIP or installer bundles do not contain this by default. The zip version will require the user to install pkg and updatetool the first time the command is invoked (network access is required). The installer will offer to do that as part of laying out the bits.

You may also note that the ZIP bundle is actually bigger (25% to 30%) than the installer archive. This is because pack200 (un-)compression (much more efficient on JAR files than PKZIP) kicks in as part of the installer process.

Web or Full profile?

That’s an easy one since no matter which one you chose, you can install or remove packages to get the feature-set offered by the other profile. The download page (for instance on glassfish.org) has the details of what’s included in which profile. With only 30 MB, the smallest download is a Web profile installer. The largest is the zip archive of the full profile at 70MB.

GlassFish Open Source Edition or Oracle GlassFish Server?

Technically speaking, the differences are minimal. The license and the branding (a new feature in v3, the software is now fully and easily brand-able) are the two notable differences (another minor one is the different IPS repositories). Feature-wise, the two distributions are the same. Of course, the big difference lies in the fact that only the Oracle-branded version (Oracle GlassFish Server) is supported and usable in production only with a commercial license (otherwise the use is under the OTN evaluation license). It is also quite easy to upgrade an Open Source Edition installation into Oracle GlassFish Server.

Author: alexismp

Google Developer Relations in Paris.