RSA Archer | NuHarbor SecurityRSA Archer Upgrade – Fixing a GemStone.GemFire.Cache.DLL Error

By: Justin Fimlaid

If you’ve been working with RSA Archer long enough you know that upgrading or installing patches to you RSA Archer instance can be a pain. Even when you think you have everything perfectly planned the upgrade or patch installation can still have problems. Lately I’ve seen, and hear of, folks having problems getting their RSA Archer instance to launch again after an attempted upgrade. When these same people ask for help, the instruction they receive is to re-install the application to fix the application; this can take a long time and sometimes you can lose data by blindly doing so.

My advice – DO NOT acquiesce to an RSA Archer re-install until you’ve tried to properly troubleshooting the application. There’s a lot of things you can try to fix your application before succumbing to a re-install, and for busy Archer Developers and Administrators properly fixing the application versus re-installing can save you a lot of time.

Here’s how to fix what appears to be a generic error message and turns out to be related to a very specific DLL called the GemStone.GemFire.Cache.DLL (but this fix would apply to almost any DLL).

After an attempted upgrade, Archer returns the following error in a web browser:

Server Error in ‘/’ Application.
Runtime Error Description: An exception occurred while processing your request. Additionally, another exception occurred while executing the custom error page for the first exception. The request has been terminated.

This error doesn’t provide much information. Some things you should know – by default Archer doesn’t produce verbose error messages and therefore is not “troubleshooting friendly”. So you need to enable detailed error messages so you can start tracing the source of error.

To enable detailed error messages logging you need to turn “off” custom error messages. To do this, find your web.config file, usually found in a directory that looks similar to this, C:\inetpub\wwwroot\RSAarcher\web.config. Find where the files reads:

<customErrors mode="On" defaultRedirect="error.aspx" />

Edit this line to read <customErrors mode="Off" defaultRedirect="error.aspx" /> and save the web.config file.  You can try refreshing your browser but you may also need to restart the application pool in your ASP.NET installation in order to see a verbose error message. As a side note, once you are done with troubleshooting you should restore the customErrors mode=”Off” back to “On” or “RemoteOnly” for Security Purposes. Once you’ve made the web.config configuration change your browser might read something such as:

Server Error in ‘/’ Application.
Could not load file or assembly ‘GemStone.GemFire.Cache.DLL’ or one of its dependencies. The specified module could not be found.
Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

Exception Details: System.IO.FileNotFoundException: Could not load file or assembly ‘GemStone.GemFire.Cache.DLL’ or one of its dependencies. The specified module could not be found.

Source Error:
An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.

In this specific case there is an issue with the GemStone.GemFire.Cache.DLL file. Going back to the web.config file mentioned previously and searching for where the GemStone.GemFire.Cache.DLL is referenced in the web.config file, we can see where the DLL file is actually located.

Extract from web.config file:

    <assemblyBinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
        <assemblyIdentity name="GemStone.GemFire.Cache" publicKeyToken="<snip>" culture="neutral" />
        <codeBase version="" href="./gemfirebin/GemStone.GemFire.Cache.dll" />

From here we can tell the GemStone.GemFire.Cache.dll is stored in the gemfirebin folder. (You can search windows server for specific files or folders).

Upon further examination (in this case) the Archer GemStone.GemFire.Cache.DLL file was missing after the upgrade and therefore the file could not be loaded and the application would not launch. Once the GemStone.GemFire.Cache.dll was restored from a backup, the web server restarted, the application launched with no problems.  The tricky part now can be figuring out which version of the DLL you need and whether the existing DLL should work OR the DLL was updated in the new version of Archer — calling RSA Archer support or your trusted Archer Integration partner can tell you which DLL you need.

This is a common application troubleshooting process and the process of reading logs, tracing issues back to specific files/actions, making the an attempted fix per the error message you observed and restarting the server should be repeated until all error messages are resolved.