Windows Server 2003: taskmgr giving “Logon failure”

I had myself a lot of fun today. I ended up patching a Windows Server 2003 x64 SP1, where the Task Manager wouldn’t start anymore. It simply failed (or in case of right clicking on the task bar wouldn’t even appear), so I went downstairs and pulled a hard disk out of the RAID1 array, just to be sure.

Really weird Windows errorI went ahead, installed SP2 (as you can see on the above picture) while having the jitters. Also installed the VirusScan I was scheduled to install, and the system came back online. Phewww.

After my maintenance window was over, I looked into this issue a bit deeper. First tried copying over a taskmgr.exe (both 32bit and 64bit) from another Windows Server 2003 x64 SP2 system with no luck. The next step, was looking at PATH. As it turns out it has something to do with that ….

As you can see, after fixing up the PATH environment variable, it works apparently .. Weirdly though, this issue doesn’t come up on another (identical) system, same PATH modifications, main difference: calling taskmgr.exe from the Run dialog works .. while it doesn’t on this particular system.

*Shrug* Gonna have to talk to my SAP guys tomorrow … 🙂

VMware vSphere: Safely remove network controller

Well, it’s another day another fight. As we started migrating our VM’s from the old VMware ESX farms to the new environment, and upgraded the hardware suddenly the network devices were hot-plug-able, thus they did turn up in the “Safely Remove” dialog.

I myself don’t have any trouble with that. The trouble I do have is the people working with those VM’s and their possibly hazardous “uuuh, what’s this ? I don’t need this! <click-click, network-device unplugged>”

So I went googling (why isn’t that a dictionary term by now ?) and found something. Simple solution is to disable the hot plugging of hardware in the VM’s settings.

VBscript: Query remote OS and SP info (continued)

After some more crunching on my VBscript, I think I finally have a working script that runs through a csv-list I point it to and walk onto each system (by ip-address only sadly) and query the os and the Service Pack that is installed. The CSV may look like this:

After saving that one, and running a cscript //NoLogo win_sp_level.vbs you should find a completed list like this:

The final script looks like this:

The only thing I still need to improve is the error handling (as in notify when a system is being skipped due to RPC being unavailable).

Converting TIVSM RPMs to deb

We received a preinstalled customer server the other day, for which we had declared “as-is” support only, since it is running Lucid Lynx. Now today, I started getting the TSM client to work. Was kinda weird, since at first dsmc was reporting something like this:

# ./dsmc: no such file or directory

After fiddling with it a bit more, here are the control files, as well as the prerm and postinst-scripts for TIVSM-API, TIVSM-API64 and TIVSM-BA:










All that was left to do, was simply adding a -n to the dh_makeshlibs call in each packages debian/rules file, otherwise dh_makeshlibs would overwrite my shiny postinst/prerm actions!

Flying home with GermanWings

Last month I had this epiphany to fly home for a visit on my mother’s birthday. Well, the idea was great but the implementation kinda sucks.

I started my trip around 12:00 AM from work to Stuttgart. Initially I had much more fear of the trip down to Stuttgart, since I have to drive on the A8 (which is kinda infamous for huge traffic jams), but as it turned out; those fears were without reason. It took me an hour to get to Stuttgart, which is fairly normal.

I was at the airport at 2pm, which was still an hour till my flight would leave. So I waited another hour (I bought myself a book in preparation) until it was 2:55pm (that’s the original boarding time).

At that time, they announced that the plane would be approximately an hour late, since it got stuck in the snow in Warsaw. Okay, I waited another half hour, until they announced that the plane just landed and we could hopefully begin boarding within the next 15 minutes or so.

After another half an hour, finally everyone finished boarding and we were rolling to the runway. After about an hour in the air, the captain announced we would be over Rostock, but we’d be in a holding pattern, because the ground crew in Rostock is trying to prepare the runway for the landing.

After ten minutes, he announced yet again, we would be flying circles for another 15 minutes (which were like 40 minutes), after which he announced we’d be flying circles for another 15 minutes (which again were half an hour). He then explained that the ground crew in Rostock is yet again trying to de-ice the runway in order to make it possible, so the plane can safely land (I figure, a Airbus A319 needs one hell of a long strip to land and brake on ice with about 75t).

So after circling for another 15 minutes, he announced with regrets, that the ground crew wasn’t able to de-ice and de-snow the runway in order to make a safe landing. He also informed us, that we would be diverted to Berlin-Schönefeld and that we’d get more information once we are on the ground.

As we were touching down and rolling into parking position, he announced that we either had the possibility to be carried to Rostock via bus (that is a charter bus), or be on our own. For that, I do have to say the following: Berlin is about 190km afar, plus the autobahn was icy that night.

He also announced that we’d get more information at the check-in booth. So 159 angry people went bothering the people at the check-in booth (which were kinda stressed out). They handed every person a Deutsche Bahn ticket with another sheet of photo-copied paper, that did hold the travelling information.

In the end, I was home around 1:30 AM, where I planned on being home at 7:00 PM. Just nice. I’m just praying, that they’re actually gonna fly from Rostock today, since tomorrow just is another workday.

VBscript: Query remote OS and SP info

As I wrote on Thursday, I am battling with Windows Server 2003. Now I got a list out of our change management database, which sadly ain’t that accurate. So in order to get reliable information about the target systems (in order to do some accurate planning), I ended up writing a small vbscript which simply takes the hostname on the command line (cscript //NoLogo win_sp_level.vbs and returns a csv-like element.

We may have to tune the script a bit more for our use, but it should show the basic functions I need.

Windows Server 2003 SP1, WSUS and Security Updates

Recently, we found some systems (sadly, customer systems) that  weren’t getting any Security Updates anymore. Much more sadly, them is running Windows Server 2003, and as you know Security Updates are pretty important for Windows Systems.

At the time of finding this, I had no clue as to why the were not getting any updates. At first we thought it had something to do with the WSUS server, so I upgraded the WSUS 3.0 SP1 to SP2. Since that didn’t solve nothing, I went searching for a internal VM, that showed the same symptoms and I quickly found one.

After cloning said VM (since that one is running in the production environment), a bit of hacking on it (you know, disabling the network of the VM, switching IP and Hostname, running NewSID, …) I went cracking at the problem.

Stopped the Windows Update Service, cleaned the %WINDIR%SoftwareDistribution, and started the Windows Update Service again; triggered a wuauclt.exe /detectnow /reportnow. Yet again the same result. “0 updates detected”. Shite.

Went ahead, and tried what Microsoft in their “If you have trouble with Windows Updateknowledge base article, but then again. Same result.

Another try, was simply reinstalling the Windows Update Agent, which also resulted in the same old … “0 updates detected”

Due to some discussion with my co-workers, I ended up clicking through a Microsoft KB for a recently released patch. What I found, was that any newer update I looked at, only had “Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2” listed as download element. Shite.

Somehow, I stumbled over a link (in the same KB article) detailing the Support Lifecycle for Service Packs in general, as well as the Lifecycle announcements for each Service Pack.

End of the story and solution to my problem basically is, Microsoft terminated the Lifecycle for Windows Server 2003 SP1 on 14.04.2009, which is the target date after which Security and Critical Updates are no longer issued for systems running SP1.

In the end, I don’t really blame them, since SP2 was already released in 2007. But what I would’ve expected is some kind of press release or a public note, that Security releases are gonna end. Another construction area identified, more work for me!