I am trying to port a system from Jboss AS 4.x to Jboss AS 5/6.
The old system stored no jar files on the jboss servers (they were kept on a webdav dir and downloaded to the server at startup), with the exception of the jar files in the ear's (these jar files only have descriptors no classes). -- bottom line all classes were kept on webdav dirs in jars
In 4.x I just added classpath entries to the server, good or bad thats how it worked.
The main reason for doing this was to make code changes easier. If you need a change you build the jar push to webdav and restart all jboss nodes that use that jar. We never have to build an ear unless we are adding/removing ejbs.