NT 4.0 Pre-SP7 Problems and Solutions

I found many articles with the keyword PreSP7fix when I researched today's column, so it appears that the long-awaited Service Pack 7 (SP7) for Windows NT 4.0 is nearing completion. In today's can of worms, we find a server service bug that limits user connections, a DFS client bug that generates unnecessary network traffic, a roaming profile bug that eventually causes a profile loading error, new versions of the password filter for Windows 2000 and NT 4.0, and a system hang.

  • Server Service Bug Limits Per-Server Connections. When you run multiple services that connect to the Server service on a remote computer and the services log on with a service-specific account (i.e., not the System account), a bug in the redirector doesn't properly log off some of the sessions. This bug poses a problem if you run servers in per-server licensing mode, but not if you run servers in per-seat licensing mode. Because each open session increments the connection count, the open server sessions prevent users from connecting when the connection count reaches the maximum number.
  • Microsoft article Q258837 indicates that the NT redirector doesn't log a user off when a service stops and the session is going idle. The redirector relies on a scavenger routine to remove a session, and the scavenger routine doesn't disconnect if the session is reused in the meantime. Call Microsoft Support for the bug fix, a new version of rdr.sys released May 12 and a new version of wkssvc.dll released May 16. The fix won’t take effect until you add a new workstationservice entry to the registry. See the article for details.

  • NT 4.0 Dfs Clients Phone Home Every 21 Minutes. Microsoft introduced new Dfs fault-tolerance features in Win2K and updated NT 4.0’s multiple provider, mup.sys, to let NT 4.0 systems connect to Win2K-hosted Dfs shares. Microsoft article Q271374 documents an important bug in the NT 4.0 multiple provider that causes NT 4.0 DFS clients to contact the NT 4.0 PDC at system startup and every 21 minutes thereafter to get a Dfs referral. The SP6 and SP6a versions of the NT 4.0 Dfs client first attempt to locate a Win2K domain controller (DC) for the DFS referral. When the client can't locate a Win2K DC, it contacts the NT 4.0 PDC. If several hundred of your NT 4.0 clients phone home every 21 minutes looking for a Dfs referral, you'll have a large volume of unnecessary network traffic on your hands. To eliminate the 21-minute phone-home cycle, call Microsoft Support and ask for the pre-SP7 fix for the NT 4.0 multiple provider released September 9.
  • Mixed Platform Roaming Profiles. When you use roaming profiles and you log on to Win2K and NT 4.0 systems, Win2K creates an ntuser.pol file with system and hidden attributes in the profile. NT 4.0 doesn't recognize the file and adds a .tmp file extension every time it loads the profile. As NT 4.0 repeatedly appends .tmp to the filename over time, the filename becomes extremely long and causes a profile load error. Microsoft corrected this NT 4.0 problem in a new version of userenv.dll released August 28. This update is also labeled a pre-SP7 fix. See Microsoft article Q271518 for details.
  • System Hang When Monitoring Open Handles. Do you ever run a program that monitors the number of handles a process has open? If so, you should expect the program to hang until you install yet the latest version of the redirector, rdr.sys, which Microsoft released October 18. Apparently, the redirector causes the hang when two threads wait on each other to release resources. Microsoft article Q276525 (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q276/5/25.asp) states that this problem occurs with programs that query handle information and display open files for a process.
  • Password Filter Now Accepts Backslash Character. Do you run the password filter passfilt.dll on either a Win2K or NT 4.0 system? If so, you might want to install the new version of the file that accepts the backslash (\) character as a special character. Microsoft article Q271862 indicates that an update of the password filter is available for Win2K and NT 4.0. Microsoft released the Win2K update on September 28 and the NT 4.0 update for Intel and Alpha platforms on September 8.
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