Thursday, January 26, 2012

Error Installing KB976462 during SharePoint Pre-Requisites Installer

I was running the SharePoint Pre-Requisites installer this week. Upon competition it failed to install KB976462 and then skipped the rest of the installers. It turns out a second running of the installer then successfully installed the rest of the pre-requisites. I could have just continued on my merry way, but having a weird issue like this hanging out there can usually lead to some very strange issues further along in the install process so I dug in to figure out what was wrong.

The first step was to figure out what the KB was and this lead me to the Microsoft kb article for it: It turns out this is a patch to the .NET framework 3.5 SP1, this seems like a crucial thing to have installed properly. Next I logged into one of the other servers provided to me and checked to see what versions of .NET was installed. In order to determine the .NET versions I navigated to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\NET Framework Setup\NDP\ upon viewing the versions installed in this key I noticed that only version 2 or .NET was installed.

On this other machine I then used the proper method to activate .NET v3.5.1 by adding the windows feature from the server management console. After the feature was activated windows update was run to make sure that all of the current patches for .NET were downloaded and installed. After the feature was activated and windows update was run the pre-requisite installer was executed and it ran without any errors.

To be on the safe side I had the first server rebuilt because installing SharePoint on a server with an improperly installed .NET v3.5.1 did not seem like a good path to go down.

The username is invalid. The account must be a valid domain account

Today while configuring a farm I stumbled across a weird error I have never seen before. Upon entering the credentials for our farm account and error message popped up stating: "The username is invalid. The account must be a valid domain account."

As part of our deployment we wanted to make our account names very descriptive of what they were used for. This policy led us to use a very descriptive and lengthy account name that was similar to SP2010_ServerFarmAccount. This seemed like a great idea at the time because it is very obvious what this account was used for. But as it turns out lengthy user names might be a bad idea in a Windows environment.

Those people out there who are Active Directory administrators might already know what is coming up as the root of this problem. It turns out that Active Directory will let you make very lengthy user names; unfortunately there is a second field that is kept around for legacy purposes that truncates the user name to 20 characters. So using domain\SP2010_ServerFarmAccount was not the proper thing to do because the account gets truncated for authentication purposes to domain\SP2010_ServerFarmAcc.

The solution to this problem is pretty easy. Login using either the legacy form domain\SP2010_ServerFarmAcc or if you prefer to use the whole user name you can use the more modern format SP2010_ServerFarmAccount@domain.fqdn.

Couple Installation Issues This Week

Lately I have been doing a lot of SharePoint 2010 installs and this has lead to a couple of unusual problems that others might run into so I will document them in the next few posts so if anyone else runs into these issues they can be a little bit closer to fixing them.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Authentication issues with the Microsoft CRM Outlook Plugin

The outlook plugin is a nice feature of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that enables users to view CRM information from within outlook. I have been a longtime user of the plugin but came across a significant problem with authentication once CRM Online became popular. The problem was that when running in IE everything seemed to work fine for the users but once they switched to the outlook plugin they will constantly get asked for a username and password. The root cause of this is because in some Rollup Microsoft decided that the plugin would add the URL it uses to access CRM to the trusted sites list upon startup and this is the root of the problem.

Adding the URL automatically to the trusted sites list is great for users of CRM Online or other third party hosted CRM. Back in the early days of CRM Online one of the most asked questions was why is CRM not loading properly in my environment and the most common answer was that CRM was not in the trusted sites list of IE. Unfortunately for those of us who use the on-premise version having CRM in the trusted sites list is a little less than convenient. One downside of having the site in the trusted sites list is that integrated authentication does not happen in the trusted sites zone, I don't condone enabling integrated authentication in the trusted sites zone just to get this working there is a better solution below. As you may know integrated authentication only happens in the Intranet zone with the IE default settings. So in order to get the plugin to stop asking for a username and password you will need to add the site to the Local Intranet Sites list.

Internet Options -> Security -> Local Intranet -> Sites -> Advanced

Be aware when adding your site to this list that adding a wildcard will not work in this case it needs to be the exact URL that you use to access CRM. So if I work at having * in the local intranet list will not work, if this is done the plugin will still add the specific site to the trusted hosts and authentication will still be broken. You need to add the exact CRM host ex. when the outlook plugin sees this in the local intranet list it will skip the step of adding the URL to the trusted sites list and authentication will work successfully. As an easy solution I suggest just pushing this change out to all hosts via group policy, if you do not use group policy then you will need to manually go and add this URL to the local intranet sites.

If you have yet to install the outlook plugin then you should be good and everything should work fine.  However if the outlook plugin is installed on the machine you need to uninstall (and double check to make sure the site is still in the local intranet zone) and then re-install the plugin.

I wish there was a better solution to not have the plugin add its URL to the trusted sites list but unfortunately this is the only solution I have been able to find that works.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

HTTP 503: Service Unavailable message from SharePoint 2010

I have been upgrading a number of SharePoint 2010 farms to the December 2012 cumulative update. During the install process I have experienced repetitive failures when running the SharePoint 2010 Products Configuration Tool. The tool would advance to some percentage of step 9/10 and then it will just mysteriously fail with no reason given in the dialog box or in the configuration log files. Fortunately recovering from this failure is easy, all you need to do is just re-run the configuration wizard. While I have yet to confirm this, and I'm not sure I can confirm it in any way, I believe this issue might be related to us running SharePoint 2010 on servers that only meet the minimum suggested requirements for memory and processor.

Unfortunately after successfully running the SharePoint 2010 Productions Configuration Wizard and starting Central Administration I was presented with an HTTP Error 503 Service Unavailable. Thinking that this might have just been an issue that affected our Central Administration site I next attempted to browse to a normal site and still got a 503 Service Unavailable message. So I started to scour the internet looking for an answer but couldn't seem to find any reported problems that matched the problems we were having, and there were no signs of a solution that seemed to make sense given the symptoms of our problem. So I began the task of trying to figure out the problem myself.

I started my search at the bottom and opened up the windows service console. Checking the related IIS services they all seemed to be started and running without errors. This lead me to start up the IIS Manager and search for something within it that would suggest it was the cause of these issues. Eventually I was looking at our Application Pools for SharePoint and noticed that the Application Pool for our Central Administration was stopped and in addition a number of other Application Pools related to SharePoint were stopped (You can see this next to #1 in the image below). I started up all of the stopped application pools and then went back and tried the Central Administration site and it was there and working. Just to ensure that this problem did not arise after a reboot I double checked the advanced settings for each Application Pool (#2 below) and ensured that the Start Automatically property was set to true (Pictured below).

The short version of the above for people like me to who hate reading and are just here for the solution:

Received HTTP Error 503 Service Unavailable when accessing SharePoint Central Administration and other sites after a failed execution of the SharePoint 2010 Products Configuration Wizard.

Found the problem was because our SharePoint IIS application pools were not started (1).

Started the application pools and double checked the advanced settings (2) to ensure that the application pool was set to automatically start. 

SharePoint was running fine after the application pools were started and all SharePoint requests were processed successfully.