Ramblings From The Litter Tray of Life

The Trouble With WSUS

Posted by graycat on 18 June 2008

Now I love WSUS 3.0 and think it’s a great service to add to even a small business. In fact, once I’d got a test version going, I couldn’t believe how good it was and quickly rolled it out across the company.

But there is a flaw. The one single issue I have with it ….. is it’s a complete bugger to troubleshoot when it doesn’t work properlly! This is especially annoying as it is so easy to install, configure and get running usually. It’s just when it dies then it’s a nightmare.

Ok, well maybe that’s not entirely true. There is a pretty robust logging side to it so you can see what’s going on and hopefully where it’s failing. However, when you get beyond this then you’re in for an interesting time. And I don’t mean involving 4 rolls of cling film, two midget strippers and a waffle iron!

My most recent run in with a wayward WSUS system was when I was called in to consult on a small business who were having some networking issues as well as WSUS seemed to be playing up. As I knew these systems pretty well already, I wasn’t overly concerned and set about my usual recon to see the lay of the land. Unfortunately I had an internet connection that made Amy Winehouse look stable and well balanced so this took some time. After a while I tracked down a few DNS, DHCP and AD replication issues if not their causes. The WSUS issue was a great one though – for all intents and purposes the whole damn thing had disappeared!

After much searching it was kind of located and I set abut trying to connect to it through the console as per usual but no dice. With some more time searching I decided it was time to reinstall the application (but leave the database and files) and see if I could breath some life into it.

My messiah like skills failed me and the server did not rise live JC on Easter Day.

The situation was now that the application would install but just as the configuraiton wizard was about to kick off it would die with a nice message saying “the console can’t connect to the server” and basically asking to make sure it was even there. Not all that much use but at least I could say the application was installed.

Google proved to highlight that this was not an uncommon situation and that there are numerous causes and solutions to match. After running through the first few and discarding those that don’t apply to this install I was left weaving the finger of blame towards .NET runtime 2 causing some issues with file permissions. A quick reinstall of .NET 2 and resetting the local file permissions and I was feeling good.

Until the console would still not connect!

A palm to the forehead and I realised I’d have to restart the services at the very least. So a few clickety clicks later and the services were reset and the console was firing up….. all the way into a successful connection to the WSUS server.

Simple in hindsight but all the possibilities meant that everything had to be crawled through one step at a time. In the future, just remember anything to do with websites (that’s how the updates are served I believe) then there’s going to be .NET of some kind in there as well as the networking service if it’s permissions based too.

Ok, not sure if any of that made sense but it’s heading towards 1am and I can definitely hear my bed calling me. The rest of it can wait until the morning.

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