Monthly Archives: February 2009

Changing Hostname on CentOS

I needed this information earlier for CentOS (which Trixbox uses) and found it on this page: http://rutmandal.info/infotalk/2008/07/10/change-host-name-for-trixbox-shell/

Re-posting here so I don’t forget…

Changing hostname commands —

[trixbox1.localdomain ~]# sysctl kernel.hostname

kernel.hostname = trixbox1.localdomain

[trixbox1.localdomain ~]# sysctl kernel.hostname=veejansh.ivr

kernel.hostname = veejansh.ivr

You also need to edit your network file to make this change permanent i.e. persistent across reboots.

[veejansh.ivr ~]# vi /etc/sysconfig/netowrk

Here, edit “HOSTNAME” to “veejansh.ivr”, and save the file.

Now, restart your shell and you will have new name for your shell prompt or HOSTNAME.

MOSS Farm Monitoring – Everybody online?

Before a deployment, I’m working on a “health check” to determine whether or not some common ‘gotcha’s in a farm are going to be a problem. One problem in particular that I needed to solve is determining whether or not a MOSS Farm Member server is actually online and functioning – specifically its Timer Service.

(Slight detour – Solution Deployment in a farm environment totally relies on Timer Jobs – when you deploy a solution, MOSS creates a Solution Deployment Timer Job that every server in the farm executes. If a server is offline, that solution deployment job will hang indefinitely until the offline server comes back – by design, so that you don’t consider a solution deployment “successful” without all servers receiving the deployment.)

There are obviously the normal “Windows” ways to figure this out – can you ping each member, access a file share, etc. But I actually wanted to know that the member was not only running, but actively communicating with MOSS.

My goal was to come up with, for lack of a better term, a “Farm Ping” — Whereas I would kick off some kind of “dummy” timer job that all farm members would need to run in order to consider the “ping” completed. If I queued this job, and all member servers ran it fine, then I would know everybody was online. If it didn’t finish, then I’d know I have a problem.

The only issue with this technique is that I would need to create some type of custom timer job, package it up in a solution, and deploy it whenever I wanted to test this. But really, that just adds another moving piece to my equation. However, looking around, I found a great alternative that MOSS already does – the Config Refresh Timer Job.

After watching my Timer Job Monitoring Utility for a couple minutes, I noticed a pattern. Every farm member that runs Timer Jobs runs the “Config Refresh” job every 30 seconds or so. If I stop the Timer service on a member server, the Config Refresh job will continue to age. Start the Timer service again, and within a minute or so the Config Refresh job gets run and back on its 30-second schedule.

What’s this mean? Well, we can simply get SPFarm.Local.TimerService.RunningJobs, take a look at the “Config Refresh” jobs in that collection, and if they’re more than 30 seconds old, we know that the server it belongs to is not online. Simple, easy, and surprisingly accurate.

SQL Server Connectivity when Configuration Manager is broken

An awesome admin told me about a cool trick today… Needed to add a SQL Alias to SQL 2005 via SQL Server Configuration Manager. However, upon starting SQL Server Configuration Manager, received the following error:

Cannot connect to WMI provider. You do not have permission or the server is unreachable. Note that you can only manage SQL Server 2005 servers with SQL Server Configuration Manager.

Invalid Class [0x80041010]

Well, removing and reinstalling the SQL components was not a good option in this case. The solution?

Run c:\windows\system32\cliconfg.exe

This is a SQL Server Client Network Utility that allows you to access some of the basic SQL Server Configuration options.

Sometimes the ancient way just works better

For an application in .NET Compact Framework, I need to load about 10MB worth of data stored in XML files into datasets. On a desktop, it takes approximately no time to load that data into a dataset, or write it back out to a XML file.

I thought to myself, “since this worked in less than 1 second on a PC, I should be able to do this on a mobile device in maybe 5-10 seconds” – acceptable for an application startup time. Right? Wrong. Try over 4 minutes. Nothing fancy, just a DataSet.ReadXml() and then iterating through and validating data.

Right now, you’re thinking to yourself (because I’m writing this I get to choose), “why not use SQL CE or something?” – because the sole purpose of this data is to get enough data loaded into memory to get a head start on synchronizing it with the server, and SQL CE is not worth getting into as a dependency for this task. It’s supposed to be as simple of a process as possible.

“Oh, that makes sense,” you think. Thank you.

Knowing that 4 minutes for an applicaiton startup was a little bit excessive, I spent a few minutes turning it into a tab-delimited file instead.

The results? All the data loaded in 20 seconds. It’s not fancy, it’s not flexible, but it works. And that’s what I care about at the end of the day.

LINQ to SQL – Update Issues

This morning was a rude awakening.

Suddenly an application that has been running pretty solid using LINQ to SQL for basic CRUD operations for the last few months was throwing errors this morning about “Row not found or changed.”

Resolution? Manually retrieving another context copy of the object and ‘manually’ copying properties from one to the other, then calling .SubmitChanges().

I think I could do without many more of those!

MOSS Object Guids – Case Matters

Learned something today – the hard way.

In my deployment utility (which is a glorified way of simply deploying a solution by using the MOSS API), when I do an upgrade, I get the existing solution by ID via GetSolutionByID(string id) so that I can use the SPSolution object to perform the necessary actions.

However, in the middle of deployment, to my surprise, MOSS started yelling back at me, saying “Can’t find solution with ID <solutionID>”, but then declares “A solution with the name <SolutionName> already exists”.

It appears that MOSS cares whether or not the ID you pass into GetSolutionByID() is lowercase. Otherwise, MOSS won’t find the solution. I would have thought that this would be case insensitive, but it is apparently not.

Timer Job Monitoring Utility

One of the problems that seems to repeat itself over and over again in MOSS deployments / pushes, is that eventually you have trouble with Timer Jobs. The way to know if something is working or not is to keep refreshing the Jobs list in Central Administration, which gets to be a really clunky task, especially with more than a couple servers in the farm.

Soren Nielsen again has written an excellent post about how to fix them.

So yesterday I put together a little utility in Windows Forms that is designed to just give a little better visualization over what’s happening across the MOSS farm with Timer Jobs and SharePoint Services.

Timer Job Monitoring/Dashboard Utility

This utility simply connects to the local farm, categorizes all the running timer jobs (from SPFarm.Local.TimerService.RunningJobs) and puts them into one of 3 lists – Running / Incomplete / Idle. Also, I’ve tried to take an additional step out of problem diagnosis by showing the status of all SharePoint services across all servers in the farm. This is done through WMI by querying the Win32_Service class.

Everything is updated in 2-second intervals (since the point of this is to detect problems quickly in a deployment process).

If you’d like to try this out, you can download it here. (Just make sure you have the .NET Framework installed – which you should, if you’re running MOSS – and run from one of the farm servers.)