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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Sun, Jan 18, 1998
WEBSERVER WARSTORY Jan 18,98
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
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<<< NTools E-NewsFlash >>>[tm] WEBSERVER WARSTORY Jan 18,98
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Hello Everybody!

As you know, this is the short update in between the full 
issues of NTools E-News. We have an interesting story this
time, our webserver went down, and _hard_.

**********************************************
1) WebServer Warstory
2) ANNOUNCE: Convoy Clusters for NT
3) New Version Print Manager Plus
**********************************************

1) WebServer Warstory

The history is interesting, and I think we all learned
something so I thought we'd keep you up to date. It started
with our Knowledge Base software not being able to get 
connected with SQL 6.5 on another server. Whatever we did,
the web interface kept giving errors after first having run 
successfully for months. So one starts to wonder, what was 
changed? 

Well, we installed some VB code to route data from download
webforms but turning that back off did not help. After weeks
of trying we finally decided to simply start clean and
reinstall NT 4.0 on top of the existing one. That seemed to go
just fine but two days later we had some hard disk errors
on the SCSI drive E: that needed CHKDSK to get fixed.

Then last Thursday morning we came in the office in the
morning and drive C: had errors as well and needed CHKDSK.
Well, after CHKDSK we got a severe error: NTOS kernel missing
or corrupt, - please reinstall. Doing that did not bring 
us much. Tried installing NT on drive E: but no joy. The 
error kept coming back and we were effectively locked out 
of our webserver completely: unable to boot, aaugh!

Tried ERDisk, no luck. Then started to look at our backups
made with Ultrabac. The hard disk errors had also compromised
the backups in the days before so unfortunately we were pretty 
much stuck. We decided, "Well, time to eat our own dogfood!" 
And we pulled out the EMT for NT and our old laplink null-
modem cable. (http://www.sunbelt-software.com/emt4nt.htm) 
This puppy bypasses everything and allows you to pump data 
from disks via the serial port. Handy to have around...

EMT allowed us to pull off the latest critical subdirectories
of our Lyris listserver database (http://www.lyris.com) with
your name in there, and the latest HTML pages. When we had our
precious data pulled off, we decided to reformat C: and then
reinstall. Even THAT got us the same error! Time to call
Intergraph. Then the mystery was solved. We had shot ourselves
in the foot ;-)

They told us the Adaptec driver on the standard NT 4.0 CD had 
problems with the chipset on the controller and we needed new
ones from the Intergraph website. We did not know that this
combination would cause disk corruption when we reinstalled
NT 4.0 again. Well that was one more lesson learned: make sure
you know inadvance you have the right drivers before you do
an NT reinstall.

We tried to swap the SCSI drives, and change the jumper to
see if the system would at least boot, but the server did not 
even come up any more. No hard drives found at all: flatlined.
Only one thing left. We took another brand new box and built 
the Sunbelt webserver up completely from scratch, that took 
about a day to get back up and running, and this newsflash 
comes from a completely different machine, a Dell Optiplex
with 200Mhz CPU and 64Meg RAM that is running like a charm.

2) ANNOUNCE: Convoy Clusters for NT

For us, this was a rude awakening so we decided to build in
full fault tolerance in the webserver. We are going to cluster
two machines together and have both "be" the same IP address, 
and serve the web as an IP cluster. If one goes down, the other 
takes over transparently. The disks will be mirrored with Octopus 
and the IP clustering will be done by Convoy Clusters for NT.

By the end of the coming week, we will have our website clustered
with Convoy so we will never be out of the air again. We also 
decided to sell that product. Here is the page, have a look 
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/convoy.htm and we'll talk about
this product more in the future.

3) New Version Print Manager Plus

- Print Manager Plus is out in version 2.0. This is actually
a great version. See it as a Print Quota Manager. It's a cool
tool and now supports dozens of new printers, Win 95 and a bunch
of other clients and can count the amount of copies someone
prints. The pricing is like a disk quota manager and it allows
you to do backbilling to departments and save money on printing.
Highly recommended: http://www.sunbelt-software.com/printmgr.htm

That's all for this NewsFlash, see you next week with the full
NTools ENews! :-)

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman

(email me with feedback: [email protected])