The installation failed with: This patch package could not be opened – Fixed.

I have been trying to install the KB958481 patch for Microsoft Dot Net Framework 2 for many hours. Each time the installation would fail with “The installation failed with: This patch package could not be opened. Verify that the patch package exists and that you can access it, or contact the application vendor to verify that this is a valid Windows Installer Patch Package.”

Of course the patch file exists (I am installing it after all) and the patch file came from Microsoft so I would hope it’s valid.  Most of the suggestions seemed to resolve around removing the dotnet framework and reinstalling. All of which I had done in a variety of ways. First by uninstalling the software through add/remove programs and then through Aaron Stebner’s dotnet cleanup tool – neither of which solved the problem.

Eventually I stumbled across a tech posting (made after my initial problem started) in the Microsoft forums (first and second posting that mentioned installing the Microsoft Installer 4.5 redistributable component. After an initial reboot before installing, a reboot after installing, installing the .net patch and another reboot afterwards I was up and running and able to install the other .net patches too.

When Genuine Advantage fails to work….

I’ve had two issues with Genuine Advantage since Thursday – both issues not currently resolved. The first was a server that was restored from a ShadowProtect backup to a virtual machine on ESXI. This is to try and sort out an issue on the original server without causing any more damage to the original server. The restored server boots up fine and allows me to enter my username and password. Immediately after logging in, it then detects it needs to be activated and gives me the option to activate or cancel. If I select Yes to activate with Microsoft it should then jump into the routine of providing a set of numbers and a phone number to call Microsoft (or via the internet). Instead, this server just logs me off. Very frustrating and not useful at all.

Initially the problem was made worse due to the fact that the initial restoration meant that a normal boot insisted AD was corrupt and to go into safe mode to repair but safe mode had the same problem with Windows Activation. After a re-restore I’m not getting the AD corrupt problem but I am getting the Windows Activation issue.  On a side note, it is essential that if you restore a server with shadowprotect that has a C,D and E drive with the NTDS files stored on the E drive, then you need to restore C, then D, then E. If you restore just C and E and specify the drives are C and E, when the machine reboots the E drive will become D and your AD will corrupt itself.

So as you can see I’ve had a troubling week at work doing some restores! The good news is I know how to recover from the above problem but not when Genuine Advantage gets in the way!

The other issue was with a friends Vista machine that had the hard drive fail. I suspect the MBR got corrupted as there was initially no operating system found and my initial repair worked when I told the machine to run diagnostics and fix them and about 5 seconds later the machine was booting. However on the next reboot the system failed again. He then used the HP recovery CD to restore Vista to the machine and then after login Windows (and Security Essentials) was complaining that the copy of Windows was not genuine. However going to the Validate Windows page, the webpage shows that the pc passes with no problems found (although the computer disagrees still). Running the MGADiag tool however returns Validation Status: Invalid License, Validation Code: 50. From the support forums – “Your copy of Windows 7 is using an OEM SLP key.  This type of key only comes win Windows that come pre-installed in a computer built by a large manufacturer.  When an OEM SLP key is in uses, Windows looks to the Bios on the computer’s motherboard for a OEM Bios Flag. An OEM Bios Flag is information found only in the bios of computers built by a large manufacturer that come with Windows pre-installed. An OEM Bios Flag is specific to the Manufacturer and the version of Windows it’s good for. So, If Windows is using an OEM SLP key and the Proper OEM Bios Flag is present in the computer’s Bios, Windows will self-activate”. Of course this is all well and good until the computer does not self activate…..

I’ll update on the both of these issues when I get time to work on the machines and solve the problems.

Preparing Network Connections message at startup of SBS – solved.

Today of all days we’ve had two clients that have had their server reboot for a couple of valid reasons but after reboot the server just sat at “preparing network connections” screen and would not continue. We’re not sure right now what caused this issue but the solution was to reboot the server, press F8 and choose the Last Known Good to be able to get into the server.

Today has not been a good day for this to happen as some clients have been closed so they’ve not been around to let us in to look at the server on site but at the same time we don’t really want to wait until Monday to get access to the server, yet this is a holiday weekend.

For me, it’s been a long week . I’ve started work at 4am twice this week and was working at 1am until 2.30am last night so I doubt I’ll be staying up for NewYear – but I think I can make it until 7pm when I’ll be able to watch BigBen strike midnight.

Happy New Year everyone and I hope 2010 starts off better than 2009 finished!

Microsoft Volume License site practically useless at the moment.

Microsoft “upgraded” their licensing site and in the process managed to break the functionality that allows you to request access back to the licenses that you could see before the upgrade. After wasting an hour trying to obtain our licenses online and 2 hours on the phone to try and speak to someone I eventually twittered my frustration and got a message back from Microsoft_VLSC to say they were aware of the problem and offered some help.  I’m currently still without access to my agreements but at least I now know someone is aware of my issue and is looking into the situation.

A note on the front page of the licensing portal would have saved lots of people a lot of time and a lot of frustration (and also saved the poor twitterer from having to message everyone who was having a problem).

To make matters worse when we called up on Tuesday night to activate a Windows 2003 server we were told the product activation systems were also unavailable. Interestingly this happened on Patch Tuesday, after a zero day exploit and I know that Microsoft were hit internally by slammer when that was launched, so the conspiracy theorist in me wonders……. If it’s not a worm, you’d have thought that Microsoft would be able to cluster together a couple of servers so their product activation system would stay up and allow customers to obtain a key so they could access the servers after product activation had crippled the server that the customer had paid for.

Performance monitor showing numbers instead of counters.

Had a weird error today with a machine only showing numbers instead of descriptions in the performance counters. Thanks to maximum asp this is solved by exporting the registry entries from hklm\ Software\ Microsoft\ WindowsNT\ CurrentVersion\ Perflib\ 009 from another machine and importing back into the affected machine. This kind of solution is great if you have another machine that you can export from – not too great if this is the only machine you have access too. If you don’t have access then “You could check the strings in the 009 key under the key described below and look for any garbled entries, entries that have two numbers, or entries that have two strings in succession (you should see ### string ### string, and so on in the multi-sz editor). This may not explain the different behavior between the local and remote cases because they both access the same registry values. (KB152153). Good luck with that!

Windows 958644 direct download locations.

I have spent all day patching servers, workstations and trying to find a direct download for the 958644 patch that got released last night. I was amazed when Microsoft even called us to join in a webconference for Microsoft partners about this patch – that is something new.
I was not so pleased when I called PSS to ask for a direct download to the patch as kb958644 does not have direct links, windows update services was timing out and the catalog website is badly broken. PSS informed me that as it was not a hotfix they could not provide me with the file and there was an 8-12 hour delay on callback from the server team. So instead I’ve been configuring wsus for servers (that were not already configured), approving patches and downloading by visiting windows updates – a VERY time consuming.
Anyway, without wasting more time – here are the download locations – I’d grab them before the server falls over too.

Thanks to Larry and Derek for the help in finding these.

Hyper-V has been released.

If you can’t wait 12 days for it to be released on Windows update, and lets face it, if you are running Windows 2008 you are likely to be an early adopter and keen to get your hands on the final product – you can download it from the Microsoft’s Hyper-v download page. I’d also recommend reading the description of Hyper-V release version- kb950050

When I installed it I shut down all my virtual machines and then ran the install program. You will need to reboot your host windows2008 server. Upon reboot your saved states will have been removed (this is in the readme). When the virtual machines are fired up they will be running the RTM version. Windows will detect new hardware, and as before you just cancel this routine and then go to Action, Insert Integration Services Setup Disk, let the installation proceed and then reboot the virtual machine (again). After this reboot the screen gets reset to 640*480 so this needs to be reset again.

One of the nice things for me is the support of XPsp2 as a guest OS. Previously this worked but there wasn’t an integration service disk available which meant that the keyboard/mouse integration wasn’t as good and I had to keep pressing ctrl alt and the left arrow to release the mouse which gets a pain as it didn’t work on my synergy kvm (I had to use the real keyboard).

The xp upgrade was a bit harder for me. I’d recommend copying the Integration disk to the desktop and then capturing your xpcd – I didn’t and had several disk swaps required – I had to unblock add/remove programs (I’m not sure why it was blocked – but delete HKLM \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Policies \Uninstall \NoAddRemovePrograms fixed that. I was then able to remove the virtual machine additions and reboot.Then I had to upgrade the HAL which meant putting the xp disk in the drive and rebooting, then inserting the Integration Services disk (switching back to xp disk mid way for hidusb.sys for the mouse) and then a final reboot. 

 

Phew – after all that I’m up and running with Hyper-V RTM, 1 client XPsp2, 1 W2k3 DC and 1 w2k3 SSE server.  My next project is probably going to be Windows Deployment Services

shhh – I’m studying!

As I found out that the 2nd chance exam offer runs out at the end of this month (for the initial exam – you have until the end of June to take the retake) I’ve decided to try and get my MCSE by the end of the month so I’m swotting really hard. I’ve finished the first half of the Microsoft Press book for 70-293 tonight – I started it on Sunday night and last night we were out for a couple of hours so it’s not bad going. I’ve scheduled the exam for Friday afternoon and after that I’ll only have 2 more to go.
I’ve also pushed the guys at the office to take advantage of the offer, so far I know at least 2 of them have booked exams and if the others are reading this – then just do it! With this offer I really don’t think there is any excuse for someone not to be an MCP at a minimum, especially when the exam fee is reimbursed on passing and the 2nd chance removes a lot of the pressure.

shhh – I’m studying!

As I found out that the 2nd chance exam offer runs out at the end of this month (for the initial exam – you have until the end of June to take the retake) I’ve decided to try and get my MCSE by the end of the month so I’m swotting really hard. I’ve finished the first half of the Microsoft Press book for 70-293 tonight – I started it on Sunday night and last night we were out for a couple of hours so it’s not bad going. I’ve scheduled the exam for Friday afternoon and after that I’ll only have 2 more to go.
I’ve also pushed the guys at the office to take advantage of the offer, so far I know at least 2 of them have booked exams and if the others are reading this – then just do it! With this offer I really don’t think there is any excuse for someone not to be an MCP at a minimum, especially when the exam fee is reimbursed on passing and the 2nd chance removes a lot of the pressure.

Triple boot management

5 if you include the couple of Dell partitions! The Dell pc comes with two hidden partitions – one is the diagnostics partition and the other is the system restore partition so you can get back to factory image if you ever need to. After I had installed Vista on the machine I then attempted to install Windows2008 but the installation process wouldn’t let me proceed as it couldn’t make a new partition due to the limit of 4 primary partitions on a hard disk. I therefore booted back into XP, blew away the Vista partition, created a new extended partition and within that created two drives – one for Vista and one for 2008. A quick reboot off the dvd and Vista was soon installed, then a repeat of the process, this time with Windows2008 and that was installed quickly too – I think Windows 2008 took about 20 minutes.

This evening I was preparing for an adminstrator password change that I need to do tomorrow on a Windows 2000 box so to check everything worked ok I created a new virtual machine in 2008, loaded the Windows 2000 cd and 26 minutes later I had installed Windows 2000 in a vm, rebooted, changed the password using the Offline NT Password cd and rebooted back into Windows 2000 and was able to log back in again. I suspect on old hardware it will take that long just to boot the machine up and change the password and log back in again!

I also really wanted the ability to select the Operating System that the machine would boot into after it was rebooted. The default installation of any OS is going to prompt you for the installation but that isn’t much use when the reboot is happening remotely.  I remember some software I used back in the NT4/2000 days that would do this but couldn’t remember what it was called. That wouldn’t actually help though as the boot structure in Vista and Windows2008 is radically different requiring the use of BCDEdit……  Alternatively EasyBCD could be used to edit the boot configuration. This is well worth downloading as it makes editing the boot configuration much nicer. I was able to use this utility to remove the extra Vista configuration as a result of the dual installations of Vista. What is even better is their iReboot software. Install this on all the OS’s and then you can select which OS to boot with from a Task Notifier icon and restart the machine – just what I needed. (Note this does require .net framework so I had to install this on the new xp installation as it didn’t have it already! Also note that the first result for .net framework 2 comes up with a page can’t be found on Microsoft’s site and the second hit is for the beta version! Use this link instead and don’t forget to check Windows Updates afterwards)