How to Make Drobo iSCSI Work Again on OS X Mavericks

2 minute read

TLDR; Install an older version of Java, found here.

Despite every registered 3rd party developer having early access to the unreleased versions, every new Mac OS release is bound to have compatibility problems with some existing 3rd party software. My Drobo Dashboard and its iSCSI initiator backend software seems to consistently have problems whenever upgrading OS's, and Mavericks was no exception.

The root problem is that on every new release, Apple removes all traces of Java from the computer. Without a Java runtime, the iSCSI initiator cannot work. Your first thought would be to go grab the latest Java Runtime from Oracle, Java 7u45. I did this off the bat and no-go. The iSCSI initiator would not recognize my networked Drobo. So, I contacted support and waited several days for responses.

Of course, even after making myself very clear to them about what I had tried, about my familiarity with IT, networking and computers in general, after I sent them full console logs and system config, they ask me to do things like "restart my computer", or "install java". Hey dummies, don't take a week to respond asking me to do something I just told you I tried.

By the time they got back to me again a few days later, they wanted me to try installing Java 6. Java 6, at the time of this writing, is no longer supported or recommended by Oracle. In fact, you cannot even download the Mac version from the Oracle site anymore. I was pretty sure this would work, but I made it very clear that installing an older version of Java which has already been exploited and is now unsupported by Oracle was not really a permanent solution, and furthermore, this should be something they have their engineers try instead of out sourcing the experimentation to customers.

The link the tier 2 support agent sent of course had no Mac version, further showing me that these guys didn't care enough about their customers to read through the whole support ticket, and that Drobo really just doesn't care about their support side of their product. To be fair, the iSCSI initiator that Drobo uses comes from a third party. They use a pre-made iSCSI module instead of rolling their own, but it makes them look like fools every time Apple updates the OS.

Pro Tip: You offer a premium product Drobo, start using software and support staff that reflects that.

It took awhile, but I was able to track down an older version of Java 6 from an old Apple support page, and once I installed, I am up and running with iSCSI again. I do look forward to the Drobo engineers getting their shit together and working on these problems before they arise, but I doubt that will happen. Hopefully they will see problems like this as a wake-up call and write a first-party iSCSI initiator to be able to address compatibility issues in a more timely manner.

Lastly, I run a small software company called Urban Apps. It pays the bills so I can take the time to write helpful posts like this one. If you found this page helpful at all, I would really appreciate it if you would check out my Apps on the iTunes App Store.

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