Boswell's Q&A

The Name Resolution Game

In this Exchange 5.5-to-2003 migration, the admin is hung out to dry during setup. So, what gives?

Bill: I'm in the middle of a migration from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003. I went through the Forestprep and Domainprep and I've installed the ADC and everything seems to be replicating just fine.

But when I try to install the first Exchange 2003 server, the Setup program hangs right after it asks me whether I want to join an existing organization. I give it the name of the Exchange 5.5 server (we only have one) and it shows a Checking Prerequisites window, then nothing else happens.

Just before the Checking Prerequisites window, the set-up program warns me that I need to be logged on with an account that has admin rights in the Exchange organization. That is definitely the case because I'm using the same account that I used to configure ADC and it works just fine.

I have a single Windows 2003 domain. The domain and forest are set to Windows Server 2003 functional level. The Exchange 5.5 server is running SP4 with all the current patches. The Exchange 5.5 server is running on NT SP6a and it also has all patches.

I don't know if it makes any difference, but as I was about to post this question, I ran the SET command on my Exchange 5.5 server and noticed that the LOGONSERVER entry was the Exchange server, not a domain controller. Could that be part of the problem?
— Bill

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Bill: My initial reaction to problems like this is to focus on name resolution. DNS and WINS configuration issues can cause lots of strange problems. The key to finding name resolution errors is to get the configuration as simple as possible.

If you're running Active Directory integrated DNS, check the Event Logs to make sure you don't have replication errors are the causing differences in the resource record list.

If you're running multiple WINS servers, make sure that all the Domain Controllers and Exchange servers are configured to use the same primary WINS server for lookups and registrations. Try deleting all WINS records for the domain controllers and Exchange servers and using nbtstat -RR to register them again.

First, try to find out why the Exchange 5.5 server is logging onto itself rather than the domain. I'm tempted to think you have a WINS problem. When a computer boots, it checks for 1C records (domain controller records) in WINS then randomly selects one as the logon server. Open the properties for any 1C records you find listed for your domain and verify that all the IP addresses are correct. If they aren't, just delete that record then run nbtstat -RR at the domain controllers to register a new 1C record.

Once that's done, restart your Exchange 5.5 server so that the computer account can get a successful logon. Then see if you can do the Exchange 2003 setup.

If Setup still hangs at the same spot, then double check that the account you're using to run Exchange 2003 Setup has Service Admin rights in every legacy Exchange directory service container. You'll need to look in three places:

  • The Organization container at the top of the tree in Admin
  • The Site container, and
  • The Configuration container

If you don't have rights to all three containers, especially the Configuration container, then Setup can't establish a Configuration connection agreement and that could cause the prerequisite check to hang.

Hope this helps!

About the Author

Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.

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