The killing of old Blue

Hearing “Sir! Sir!, the printer isn’t working!” is never a nice experience only a couple of days before all the school coursework needed printing, but I imagined that the problem would simply be a paper jam, or even just running out of paper. The latter event is a constant source of irritation to me, and I’ve finally had to accept the fact that absolutely no-one else, ever, will bother to check whether there’s any paper before beginning a print job, and that to save myself lots of grief I’ll always have to ensure the printer is fully stocked myself. Unfortunately, the printer appeared to be doing nothing wrong, because there was nothing wrong with it. “Ready” said the LCD panel, and ready it certainly was. So I set off to see what the problem might be at the server end and felt a pang of slightly nauseous recognition when the sound of a problem issued from the opened cabinet – the grinding noise made by a failing hard disk is quite unmistakable.

The killing of old Blue

I threw the server (whose name is Blue) an angry glare as I switched over to its screen and took a look at what it was doing. The Windows Server 2003 operating system was still running, but only in wading-through-treacle mode, where everything happens in slow motion and you can get through several cups of coffee waiting for a single dialog to appear. I perused the System Event log, where I discovered that the operating system had decided the best way to announce this hard disk failure was by issuing a message to the effect that the drivers were out of date! Most helpful, if entirely typical. I fired up the Server Management dialog and prepared to remove a number of roles from the server and hand them temporarily over to the other domain controller (whose name is Green).

My problems really began when an attempt to remove Active Directory was thwarted because the server insisted it couldn’t talk to its friend, and presented a dialog with a checkbox I was supposed to check – it wanted me to acknowledge that it was now the last controller in the domain. It wasn’t actually the last domain controller, but nothing I could tell it made any difference and it was impossible to make Active Directory go away. Unfortunately, the two servers were still chatting about some matters, albeit intermittently, so I was forced to take Blue off the network entirely as it had started to cause problems for my Microsoft Office 2003 installations across the network.

Now there’s a lot to be said about running network installations of Office, but I can strongly recommend having multiple installation points if you want to keep any of your hair, because the clients get very stroppy indeed if they can’t find their source files – but that’s another story for another day. I fired up Green’s Event Log, had a look at what it was saying under System, and found an awful lot of Event ID 2092s and their various associates hanging around in there. Blue’s hard disk failure had apparently started to have an effect at around 1am, and Green was very unhappy about the FSMO (Flexible Single Master Operation) roles. Of course, any attempt to move the FSMO roles over in a peaceful fashion had now gone right out of the window, and I was faced with having to force them onto Green myself. FSMO roles are roles that exist in a particular domain and have to be performed by a single domain controller. If you have only one domain controller that isn’t an issue, but if you do have more than one, the roles are shared out, which is great until you find yourself where I now was – with an uncommunicative domain controller that wasn’t about to hand its roles over to anyone.

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