Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How to run IBM Notes in Basic Mode on MacOS

Late last week a RockTeam client notified me that a user upgraded Java on his Macintosh to Java 9.0.1, then discovered that IBM Notes would no longer start on the machine. The client is a software publisher and the user is a developer. He figured out how to run Notes in Basic Mode (i.e., without the Eclipse wrapper that provides additional, Java-based functionality to the Notes client, which is known as "Standard Mode") and concluded that his upgrade of Java must have caused the problem.

My client asked me to help figure out what the problem was and how to get Notes running again in Standard Mode. With IBM's help (I opened a PMR) I soon discovered two things:
  • This IBM document states that 64-bit Notes running on MacOS does not support Basic Mode.
  • This IBM document states that 64-bit Notes will not run on MacOS if you upgrade Java to version 8 Update 152 (or later).
The first document above turns out to be inaccurate; Notes will in fact run in Basic Mode on the Mac. The second document is accurate; Notes will not currently run in Standard Mode if you install Java 8 Update 152 or later on your Mac. So the user has two options: Downgrade or remove Java; or settle for running Notes in Basic Mode. Running in Basic Mode, one loses the Open button, the full-text search field in the upper right corner of the Notes window, and the right sidebar and all the Java-based apps that it contains.  The subject user has decided for now to live with Basic Mode. The company isn't a big user of the "Social Edition" features of Notes, so Basic Mode probably meets all of this user's current needs.

What interested me about this was that, from the way he described the problem, it was obvious that our user was not a Notes guru, knowledgeable about Notes's different running modes. He is a developer, though, and knowledgeable about Java and Eclipse. So he was able to just figure out how to get Notes to run without Eclipse. I thought that was pretty ingenious of him and asked how he managed to do it. So far the only answer I've received from him is "by brute force".

But I did some testing myself and learned that you can indeed start Notes in Basic Mode on the Mac. Here are the two ways I found:
  • Set the variable UseBasicNotes=1 in Notes Preferences. Notes Preferences is the Mac equivalent of notes.ini, where one would set this variable on the other supported Notes platforms. When you set this variable, Notes always starts in Basic Mode, i.e., without trying to wrap itself in Eclipse. If you want to run Notes in Standard Mode, you have to remove this variable or reset its value to "0".
  • Issue this command in Terminal:
    "/Applications/IBM" -basic
    • NOTE: The quotes are necessary because of the space between "IBM" and "". 
    • Notice also (my fellow geek) that I appended "-basic" to the command. Under Windows you could append either "-sa" or "-basic", but "-sa" did not work for me under MacOS.
I know there's a way to create a script to run the above command with a mouse click (or two). I'm not a UNIX guru, so I don't know how by heart. When I find some time, I'll figure it out and post that information here.