General blog entries

Restoring Windows 2003 SBS R2 Exchange

Windows 2003 SBS was always a bit weird for me. I’ve been playing with computers all my life and I know Windows Vista and earlier versions like the back of my hand but when it comes to server software on Windows I always have this unnerving feeling.

You should know that most of the time my presence is required when a server is almost dead or acting strangely so my experience shows that an unstable Windows server is usually ‘fixed’ by a complete reinstall – something I have never had to do to my linux servers.

Right now I am installing Windows 2003 SBS R2 for somebody I know. Their previous administrator never felt the need for finishing the setup or actually buying the license so when I came in, all I could do was reinstall the whole system.

I created a backup using NTbackup from the Exchange Store (which was half disabled on their server) and now I am trying to restore it. Guess what: it won’t.

I hate Microsoft for its poor practices and this is one of them: supplying backup tools that work within a very very confined space. In this case a fresh install will kill the option of restoring it without extensive Google-ing.

To be exact: I unmounted the Mailbox Store, marked it for restoration in the properties and fired up NTbackup to restore the backup. After setting a temp path (C:\temp) I hit restore and immediately see the whole thing fail. Of course NTbackup can’t tell me jack so I need to dig in the Application Log and I find this:

Event Type:  Error Event Source:  MSExchangeIS Event Category:  Exchange Backup Restore Event ID:  9635 User:  N/A Computer:  WIN2003 Description:  Failed to find a database to restore to from the Microsoft Active Directory.  Storage Group specified on the backup media is 581cb7ee-5fec-4d93-8f71-dcfe55a73319.  Database specified on backup media is Mailbox Store (SERVER1), error is 0xc7fe1f42. 

After searching high and low I finally get a blog post from someone who solved this. The error is in fact so simple, they should execute the team that thought that this was a funny way to describe it.

The names don’t match. Seriously.

In the Server Console –> Advanced –> Exchange –> Servers –> Win2003 –> First Storage Group you will find a store called ‘Mailbox Store (WIN2003)’ – assuming your server is called win2003 – whereas the backup has a store called ‘Mailbox Store (SERVER1)’. NTbackup can’t fathom the possibility that we actually want to restore to a store on this server without the exact name match so it fails.

Solve this by right-clicking on the store, renaming it to the old name and restarting the restore. It will run now.

On a side note – this was not the end for me. I got event id 1088 after I managed to restore it: Distinguished Name is not the same for the Store and the server. I can’t grasp why them Redmond idiots haven’t made it possible to simply rename the DN of the store to make it work in case of a migration like now.

I tried renaming the legacy DN using the ADSI editor and the LegacyDN tool from the site. I couldn’t get it to work after trying 50 guides so finally I tried to uninstall the server software. This failed (of course) and left me with a system in which I couldn’t resume the setup. So after a new installation and 2 hours of waiting/babysitting I am back where I started, ready to restore my Exchange backup…

Japan Blog Study Tour

Byebye Kyoto, hello Toyota

IMG_2951 Today is the last day we started out in Kyoto. I will miss the Palace Side hotel with their staff that spoke decent English and their food which was decent every time (something you shouldn’t take for granted when you are in Japan, or so we found out). We started out by hoisting our luggage down using the elevators and sticking on a delivery tag so they would be delivered to the next hotel in Tokyo. After some problems with mislabeled addresses we finally got the right address and I started breakfast 15 minutes late which meant I had only 15 minutes left. After 10 minutes I walked outside to smoke and I found a big touring bus waiting there for us. For some reason if you rent a bus in Japan you get 2 stewardesses for free with the bus. Both of them spoke pretty decent English and besides translating for us they didn’t had to do much (makes you wonder what the Japanese make them do…).

IMG_2895 We left for Tokyo after everyone had showed up but first we would make a small detour to a Toyota plant. Just after we left I fell asleep and we started out in sunny weather but when I woke up a short while later we were suddenly driving in the snow and the weather was cloudy. After two quick stops where we got our lunch (I found some ichigo-bread, aka strawberry bread, at the freeway supermarket which made a nice lunch and once again an excuse not to try the local cuisine) and then arrived at the Toyota plant where we were told we couldn’t take pictures.

We started out at the assembly shop where they make all kinds of Toyota cars (3 types I think) including the Toyota Prius. Its pretty cool to see how the whole plant works. From assorting parts to putting the cars together. Toyota works with the JIT principle: Just In Time. Cars are ordered and build exactly to the specifications of the customer. This means that on each assembly line each car is different. Its fun to hear all the happy tunes and see all the (autonomous or manually driven) trolleys wiz around the plant delivering parts and components to each station at the time they are needed.

IMG_2900 Next we went to visit the body shop where the dangerous welding is automated by robots. You observe everything during the tours from suspended walkways high above the work floor but I would not like to be walking around the body shop while all the robots are doing their thing. The walkways are shielded from sparks and with colored shields from high intensity flames but still you get a warning to watch out for welding sparks that manage to jump over the shielding and not to look into the welding torches.

IMG_2915 After the plant tour we used the touring car to get to the Toyota demonstration building (we even used the bus to travel between the assembly shop and the body shop, go figure how large these facilities are). Most of the demonstrations were either old news or we had just seen it for real so we quickly skipped down to the showroom where they had some racing cars, new Toyota’s and even some Lexus cars. Which we ofcourse had to try ^-^.

I will summarize by saying that Lexus is pretty nice but with my length you have to set the seat all the way back to be able to fit in there properly. Once seated its pretty comfortable but when you compare this to a BMW I’d say the Germans have sized their cars a bit better (except for the Z-series but those a made for rich leprechauns anyway).

IMG_2924 After we had checked out the show room we assembled in a meeting room on the second floor to talk with someone from Toyota PR. Even though he didn’t specifically say he was from Public Relations we quickly fired a lot of technical questions which he wasn’t able to answer so he finally said he did PR so we would stop asking difficult questions (that’s what you get for having 25 IT students coming over).

Toyota has some interesting visions for the future but most of the visions are pretty practical: smart safety systems everywhere. Most of which we know from Discovery Channel but still pretty cool.

After the Toyota visit the bus brought us to Nagoya where we had reserved at a local restaurant but we had some spare time. As small group decided to find a Star Bucks or compatible and we finally settled for a Tully’s Coffee a few blocks from the rendes-vous spot. After we had gulped down the coffee we hurried back to the crossing where we found the rest of the group.

IMG_2958Someone from the restaurant came to pick us up and guide us to the restaurant. Once there we had to take off our shoes on the second floor for a traditional style meal. I was lucky enough to be sitting at the corner of one of the tables so I could sit sideways. The food consisted of some cold bowl of noodles, brown stuff, some funky sauce and a giant shrimp. It looked so good I decided to just eat the white rice and wash it down with beer.

IMG_2964After this delicious meal we went to the station where we took the Shinkansen to Tokyo. From Tokyo central we took the subway to Jimbocho where we walked to Sakura Hotel.

Well hotel, it was supposed to be Sakura Hotel if not for the fact that the hotel was not in Jimbocho but the hostel was. Once we entered the hostel and found our rooms we found out that toilets, showers and sinks where in fact all shared for each floor. The room I slept in with Roel, Guido and Jip was barely big enough to fit 2 tower beds, a door and a small table between the beds with a TV on it that didn’t work. Great.

After some bitching (and some irritation from some idiots who had deployed the fire exist from the 4th floor within 4 minutes after arriving) we found out that the committee had not booked this ho(s)tel directly and that every room was supposed to have its own shower and toilet. They would try to get it sorted and relocate us. The only problem is that the criteria are pretty hard: large group, cheap hotel and in Jimbocho otherwise the travel guide would be useless as all times and stations would change.

We finally decided to ignore the problem for now and head for bed as it would be an early start the next morning.

Japan Blog Study Tour

High up in the sky

While I’m typing this, I’m flying above Syberia somewhere at 36500 feet or 11125 meter altitude while flying at 927 km/hour (I need to get one of these engines for my car :-P). We still need to go 3181 miles which will cost us 6 hours and 41 minutes – gotta love in-flight information systems.

But lets start at the beginning, I woke up at 11 o clock in the morning with a steady 7 hours of sleep (needed to make sure I brought enough music and movies along for the flight and the stay in general, so I was up late). After getting dressed with a cup of coffee and a long shower I managed to recheck the packing list to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. By the time I was almost done, my parents and my youngest sister dropped in to bring me to the bus and to wave me off.

Once at the gathering point (its 14:30 by now), we found ourselves short one touring car. After a while the last people finally arrived and the bus finally showed up. Ofcourse the bus driver didn’t drive all the way up to the gathering point, instead he parked at the end of the street, making us walk to the damn bus. We finally headed off in the right direction: Schiphol Airport!