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Setting JVM Arguments for Websphere server

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Setting the JVM arguments of the Websphere servers can be done through the Administration Console by performing the following steps:

1.       Expand from the left Menu “Servers” and select the WAS Server from the list.

2.       From the “Server Infrastructure” list, expand the “Java and Process Management” option and click on Process Definition.

3.       In the Process Definition screen, select the “Java Virtual Machine”.

4.       Once in the Java Virtual Machine screen enter the appropriate settings for the server JVM as  shown by the following screen:

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Changes in the JVM settings will be active next time you will boot WAS.

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How to find out Websphere Administration ports

When you install several Websphere profiles on your Machine, each installation will use a port offset in order to avoid conflicts between the server instances. The reverse side of the coin is that you might forget or lose the Websphere administration port used in each Profile. That’s not a big issue; you can find out the correct administration port in two ways:

1. By inspecting the endpoint addresses are which stored in <WAS_ROOT>/config/cells/<your cell>/nodes/<node name>/serverindex.xml.

2. By opening the Profile installation log which is located in the <PROFILE_ROOT>/logs/AboutThisProfile.txt. This file contains all the ports used by your profile.

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Entering Websphere Console

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The Websphere administrative console is a browser-based interface used to administer applications, services, and other resources at a cell, node, server, or cluster scope. You can use the console with stand-alone servers and with deployment managers that manage all servers in a cell in a networked environment.

In each administrative console, you can find a set of areas which are arranged as portlets, so they can be resized as desired. The actual aspect of the Websphere Console depends on the profile you are running; for example a Deployment Manager profile will display a wider set of options for managing the federated nodes. Independently from the server profile, any WAS profile displays the following basic structure:

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Following here is some detail about the single Console areas:

1. Navigation Tree

The navigation tree on the left side of the administrative console offers links for you to view,

select and manage components. Clicking a “+” beside a tree folder or item expands the tree for the folder or item. Clicking a “-“ collapses the tree for the folder or item. The content displayed on the right side of the administrative console, the workspace, depends on the folder or item selected in the tree view.

2. Workspace

The workspace, on the right side of the administrative console, allows you to work with your administrative configuration after selecting an item from the administrative console navigation tree.

3. Messages

When you perform administrative actions, messages are shown at the top of the workspace to display the progress and results.  When configuration changes have been made, the message area will contain links that you can click to review or save the changes. (See recipe “Saving Configuration changes”)

4. Help Area

On the right side of the administrative console, the help portlet displays the Help area.  As you hover the mouse over a field, help text will be displayed for that field. Besides this, this page displays an equivalent Jython scripting command for the action you just performed.  

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Connecting to Websphere Console

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In order to manage WAS, the core instrument you need to learn about is the Websphere Integrated Console which is reachable by default on the following URL: http://localhost:9060/ibm/console

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If you made a host-file modification on our desktop machine, we would be able to use a hostname or FQDN to access the admin console from your workstation as, by default, the hostname on the server will not be known to a client machine (unless you use DNS)

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How to start Websphere Administration Server

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In order to verify your Websphere installation let’s start the application server. To start our application server, you need to use the command as follows:

${PROFILE_ROOT}/bin/ server_name

For example in our WAS sample installation (C:\IBM\WebSphere\AppServer):

C:\IBM\WebSphere\AppServer\bin>startServer.cmd server1

Once you run the script, you will see the following output:

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Websphere configuration files

As we have just learnt, the application server configuration files are stored in a directory tree starting at the config directory under your Profile Root.

At the top of the hierarchy is the cells directory, which contains a subdirectory for each cell. Each cell contains a cell.xml file, which provides configuration data for the cell and files (such as security.xml, virtualhosts.xml, resources.xml, and variables.xml) which provide configuration data that applies across every node in the cell. Below the cells directory you can find the following directory structure:

  • The clusters subdirectory, which holds a subdirectory for each cluster defined in the cell. Each cluster subdirectory holds a cluster.xml file, which provides configuration data specifically for that cluster.
  • The nodes subdirectory, which holds a subdirectory for each node in the cell. Each node contains a configuration file specific for that node named node.xml and also security.xml, resources.xml and variables.xml files, which provide configuration data that applies only to the node and overrides the configurations specified in the containing cell level.
  • The servers directory which always contains a server.xml file that provides configuration data specific to that server.
  • The applications subdirectory, which holds a subdirectory for each application deployed in the cell. Under the application subdirectory is a deployments directory that contains a deployment.xml file with contains the relevant information about the application deployment.

The following is an example configuration file tree structure:

 cells    cell1       cell.xml resources.xml virtualhosts.xml variables.xml security.xml       nodes          nodeX             node.xml variables.xml resources.xml serverindex.xml             servers               serverA                server.xml variables.xml             nodeAgent                server.xml variables.xml       applications          sampleApp1             deployment.xml             META-INF                application.xml ibm-application-ext.xml ibm-application-bnd.xml 

As an administrator, you should rarely ever have to edit these files, and if you do feel at some point that you need to, remember that you can seriously damage your WAS installation if you do not fully understand the effect of changes to these files.

In some scenarios, however, such as application server migration your starting point are usually the configuration files therefore it’s important to know where the configuration is actually persisted.

Most of the time you could be interested to keep an eye on the server.xml configuration file, which contain information about:

  • Services
  • Components
  • Process Definitions



As you can see from the above example, this file can be located in the following path:


For example, in the profile we have earlier created it’s located at:


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Websphere file system

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Like other application servers, also Websphere ships with a file system which contains both the server configuration files and the binaries. Basically, the WAS Filesystem structure is split into two core sections:

  • WAS Product installation: containing folders used by different profiles
  • WAS Profiles: containing key folders which belong to a profile


The amount of directories contained in a WAS installation is quite large as the application server creates a bunch of folders for internal use. We will focus on the folders which are used across this book. If you need further information consult the IBM Infocenter at

The application server installation will create the following structure under your WAS_ROOT:

  • bin: contains the core WAS binaries, tools and scripts used to administer the application server.
  • java: contains the IBM SDK which is used to run WAS.
  • logs: contains the WAS installation and configuration logs. Useful to debug installation  issues.
  • scriptLibraries: contains a large set of Jython scripts which can be used to manage WAS using the wsadmin scripting tool.
  • profiles: contains the list of profiles which are installed in WAS. Discussed in the next section.
  • profileTemplates: the XML files in this folder are used by Websphere to create new profiles. Depending on the type of WAS distribution you are using (WAS, WAS ND) you can find out different templates in this folder.
  • properties: contains product-level configuration stored as properties such as the list of installed profiles. You should not attempt to modify the files in this folder.
  • uninstall: contains the scripts used to uninstall the application server.

The following picture depicts the core WAS file system structure:

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Digging into the profiles file system

A profile contains the actual configuration of an application server. Within this folder you will find all the server profiles that you have created so far. The following list outlines which are the key folders used by a WAS profile:

  • bin: contains the script to administer the server profile. Most of the time these scripts recall the server-wide scripts contained in the WAS_ROOT/bin folder.
  • config: contains the server configuration which is stored as XML files. WAS ships with a large set of XML files which reflect the available server scopes (Cell/Node/Server). We will discuss more in detail about the server configuration in the next recipe.
  • installableApps: contains the default WAS applications which (depending on the type of installation used) can be installed or not. Contains the defaultApplication.ear example application.
  • installedApps: contains the deployed applications installed on WAS.
  • logs: contains the WAS runtime logs. This is a key folder for administration of the server and of the applications deployed on it.
  • properties: Websphere supports setting server specific properties which are persisted in this folder.
  • temp: contains runtime temporary files. You might find useful digging in this folder if you need to debug JSPs, as it contains the converted Java classes.







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Websphere configuration

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The entire Websphere configuration is saved and persisted within XML files. These XML configuration files are arranged in a cascading hierarchy of directories which reflects the internal structure of the application server so, for example, the WAS top element, the Cell, reflects in the cell.xml file, which provides configuration data for the Cell. On the other hand, the server.xml file provides configuration for a server component.

Although you will rarely need to modify manually the XML configuration files, by looking at their structure you to understand which are the key components of the WAS infrastructure. The first recipe of this chapter covers these details. In the next recipes we will learn how to get started with the core Management tool which is the Web based Admin console.

Websphere core components

WAS is structured internally in a set of different components which allow a flexible definition of your configuration. The component that has the widest scope is the Cell.

A Cell is a grouping of nodes into a single administrative domain. A Cell contains a Deployment Manager and one or moreNodes.

In WebSphere terms, this means that if you group several Servers within a Cell, then you can use one admin console to administer them.

The Deployment Manager is a service that manages all Nodes in the cell.

The Deployment Manager is responsible for managing the installation and maintenance of Applications, Connection Pools and other resources related to a JEE environment. It is also responsible for centralizing user repositories for application and also for WebSphere authentication and authorization. You can manage all these resources from the Websphere Admin Console.

The Node is another virtual unit that is built of a Node Agent and one or more Server instances.

The Node Agent is a service that is used to communicate with the Deployment Manager.

The Node Agent is responsible for spawning and killing server processes and as well for configuration synchronization between the Deployment Manager and the Servers.

The last piece of the WAS configuration is the Server.

Servers are regular Java process responsible for serving JEE requests. The server name corresponds to the actual name of the application server JVM’s.

And to finish, Clusters are also virtual units that groups Servers so that resources added to the Cluster are propagated to every Server that makes up the cluster. The following picture depicts the Websphere core components giving an overview of the concepts exposed so far:

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