WebSphere Application Server V6.1 Base edition installer shows "null" error when installing on a system that has WebSphere Application Server V6.1 Trial edition

Technote (troubleshooting)


The IBM® WebSphere® Application Server V6.1 Base edition installer throws an error which states "null". This occurs when WebSphere Application Server V6.1 Trial edition is also present on the system.


When attempting to install WebSphere Application Server V6.1, Base edition, with a Trial edition product present on the system, the installer throws the following error:

Installation Results

Failed: The following product was not installed.

  • IBM WebSphere Application Server - Base - null

For more information, refer to the following log file:
  • null/logs/install/log.txt

When this error occurs, it is not possible to continue with the installation. This may prevent the Trial edition from being upgraded to the production edition. It will also prevent the installer from installing a new instance of the WebSphere Application Server V6.1 product.

If the installer produces a log, it may show the following error:

com.ibm.ws.install.ni.ismp.actions.DetectCoexistenceAndUpgradeAction,err, com.ibm.ws.install.ni.framework.NIFException
at com.ibm.ws.install.ni.framework.registry.NIFRegistry.
at com.ibm.ws.install.ni.framework.registry.NIFRegistry.
at com.ibm.ws.install.ni.framework.registry.NIFRegistryPlugin.
at com.ibm.ws.install.ni.utils.DetectionUtils.

Special note regarding updating Trial edition with maintenance packs
This error is more likely to occur if the Trial edition had been updated with a maintenance pack at any time in its lifecycle. Note that Trial edition is not meant to be updated using any maintenance levels, as the Trial edition is intended to be used at version V6.1.0.0. The ability to update WebSphere Application Server products is reserved for the production (non-Trial) edition of the product.

Earlier versions of the updateInstaller utility did not make this limitation explicit, and may allow maintenance to be installed on the Trial product, leading to the corruption of the .nifregistry file. Newer versions of the updateInstaller will correctly prevent this issue.


The issue is related to the installer functions which locate other installations of WebSphere Application Server on the system. The installer relies on a file named ".nifregistry" to do this. The exception in the installation log indicates that the installer has encountered corruption in the .nifregistry file, and thus is unable to properly identify the existing installations of WebSphere on the system.

Resolving the problem

To resolve this issue, it is necessary to manually edit the .nifregistry file. Follow the instructions below to locate and edit the .nifregistry file.

  1. Locate the .nifregistry file on this system.

    If the trial product was installed as a user with administrative authority, the .nifregistry file is located in the main Windows directory. If the trial product was installed by a non-administrative user, the .nifregistry file is located in the directory:
    C:\Documents and Settings\User_name\.nif

    If the trial product was installed as the root user, the .nifregistry file is located in the directory:
    If the trial product was installed by a non-administrative user, the .nifregistry file is located in the user's home directory under the .ibm subdirectory:
  2. Create a backup of the .nifregistry file.
  3. Open the .nifregistry in a text editor. If possible, turn word-wrapping OFF because there are several very long lines of text in this file.
  4. Locate any line which follows this format:

    <product installrooturi="file://WAS_LOCATION" lastvisited="2007-08-15...
  5. This file should only have one <product... tag per installrooturi. However, due to a defect in the V6.1 updateInstaller utility, it is possible that the .nifregistry was erroneously updated resulting in a pair of <product... tags associated with one product. One product tag indicates BASE, and the other indicates BASETRIAL. The entire line which indicates productid="BASE" is redundant and should be deleted. The entire line which indicates productid="BASETRIAL" is preserved.

    For example, it may be necessary to delete a single line from the file, which looks like this:

    <product installrooturi="file://D:/WebSphere/AppServer1" lastvisited="2007-07-31 10:56:07+0500" productid="BASE" version=""/>

    There should be another line present in the file which shows the same installrooturi but productid="BASETRIAL". That line should not be deleted.
  6. After deleting that redundant line, attempt to install the product again. The "null" error should not appear.
  7. It is not necessary to edit the .nifregistry file further. The old .nifregistry file should not be restored if the installation was successful.

Regarding an automated solution
The solution outlined above requires manual intervention and file editing. No automated solution is available for repairing the affected .nifregistry file.

Please note that WebSphere Application Server V6.1 Trial edition is not intended for large-scale deployment. It is intended to be installed once, or a small number of times, for the purpose of evaluating the product. As this is the case, an automated, large-scale solution is not available.

Cross reference information
Segment Product Component Platform Version Edition
Application Servers WebSphere Application Server Trial

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