X2100 IPMI Redux – success!

In hindsight I should have thought of it, but even if I had, others got there first.

You may remember my problems with IPMI on our X2100 servers from an earlier posting. Today I had cause to revisit the matter, as we’re having terrible issues with the Nvidia RAID on one of our servers.

The lack of a Windows version of IPMItool is still a pain, but I am leagues closer to a usable solution now, thanks to Cygwin. The solution, it turns out, whilst somewhat laborious, is fairly straightforward. Simply build IPMItool under cygwin. Result!

Instruction are available on the ‘net and the IPMItool man page is on Sourceforge.

I can now query the SMDC board on my X2100s from Windows.

Windows Home Server – something for my father

On Saturday I got the email telling me that I’d been accepted onto the Home Server Beta 2. I’m excited about this product in a way that I haven’t been about new software solutions for a while.

I’ve taken part in beta programmes before. I’ve been around a while, and as an IT pro you get desensitised after a while. Vista has some innovative features, but it’s evolutionm, not revolution.

Home server is different.

To explain why, let me give you a bit of background: Being a geek, you’d expect my home to have a few PCs and you’d be right. I had a purge shortly after I got married, which reduced the number of active systems from eight (don’t ask!) to four – my home desktop, my wife’s home desktop, a media PC and a Mac Mini (which I use for web site testing and development). On top of that, we have a Netgear SC101 NAS box for shared storage, a networked printer and a photo printer attached to my wife’s PC.

My Grandmother has firmly embraced the information age. She has a desktop and a laptop. She sends emails all over the place and is slowly scanning all the photographs that the family has collected over the years. The desktop stays on all the time with a file share for the laptop.

My parents have a computer each. They also have a Netgear SC101 and a coulpe of printers. In addition, my father has a laptop.

Particularly for my parents and grandmother, the Home Server will be a perfect match to requirements. A black box that can back up systems, is easy to manage and allows file and printer sharing – great!

Being the defacto tech support for my family, the opportunity to put one system in each home that can do automatic backups and store all the important files safely is extremely welcome. I’m looking forward to getting my Home Server beta up and running and if it works like the documentation suggests, there’ll be three customers lining up for a copy when it’s released.

Vista Upgrade – attempts 4, success 0

I have yet to succeed in upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Each time it runs through to the completing upgrade phase, gets about halfway through that bit whereupon I get stuck in a reboot cycle.

I have tried this now on three separate machines and two different installed partitions on one of them.

Two of the machines were Shuttle SN25G2 SFF boxes with Nforce 2 motherboards and the onboard nforce 2 (basically a geforce 2) video.

One of them was an Acer E360, an nforce 3 chipset box with an Nvidia 6600GT display card.

On the OS front, the Shuttles ran XP Pro SP2, fully patched; the Acer has the XP MCE that it came with, and an XP Pro SP2 install.

I’m starting to wonder if the common denominator here is Nvidia. In spite of the fact that I spent a long time with my Acer stripping off drivers and applications and repeatedly trying the upgrade I have not managed a successful upgrade. Has anybody managed to upgrade an Nforcex system?

What I will say, having now lost days of my life to failed upgrades, is that the Upgrade Rollback feature of Vista is fantastic! A no messing, works every time, put it back to how you found it option that takes only a few minutes. Wonderful!

So, now I’m going to look into the recently-release Windows Easy Transfer Companion as a way to get my applications across onto Vista.

Why do I need to do that? Because Acer, like so many other manufacturers these days, provides no installation media for the applications they ship with the computer. Unless I want to shell out again for things like PowerDVD and NTI CD-Maker I need to either upgrade (been there, tried that), hack the cached installed files (also tried, and failed) or use a magic bullet (see above). I’ll let you know how I get on with that one.

SharePoint 2007 on x64 – don’t try to run 32-bit web apps!

We’re slowly migrating services onto our new servers here at Black Marble. This morning we had one of those moments where significant amounts of wall kicking and teeth gnashing ensue.

Basically, we forgot that if you enable 32-bit .net support on IIS 6 it disables 64-bit support – you can’t run 32 bit and 64 bit apps concurrently.

We spent a long time the other week getting our release version of SharePoint 2007 installed on one of our shiny Sun X2100 x64 servers. We expect the site to be quite large, so it made sense to run the x64 version of SharePoint.

Unfortunately, when 32-bit .Net apps were enabled by mistake, SharePpint and the other 64-bit web apps all stopped. Removing .Net 1.1 and running the aspnet_iisreg -i command from the x64 .Net 2 framework folder got us back up and running, but SharePoint refused to allow anyone to login.

Fortunately the Central Admin site was still working, so I had a rummage. It looked like SharePoint was no longer talking to our AD, so I went to the Application Management site, and went to the Authentication Providers option in the Application Security section.

In here you can edit the settings for each Web Application. I went through each of ours, and clicked on the ‘Default’ zone which is listed in the Web Application page.

I didn’t need to change anything – simply hit the save button and SharePoint seemed to rewrite it’s settings. Once this was done, our SharePoint started talking to people again.

Now, I don’t expect you to hit the same crazy situation as we did, but it’s nice to know that you can coax SharePoint back into life without restoring stuff from backup.