Author Archives: Mikhail

Convert Server 2016 Evaluation to Licensed – “This edition cannot be upgraded”

The other day it was necessary to me to convert from activated Windows Server 2016 Evaluation to Licensed. As I had a key I thought it would be matter of clicking Change product key in GUI ant entering a new key. So you either wade through GUI till you find this Change product key link:

Or directly run “slui” command. Both actions will open up this window for you:

But if you try to type license 100% correct and valid product key on activated Evaluation machine you will get this error:

“This edition cannot be upgraded?” And it might be confusing, especially if you did a quick check on edition installed and prepared appropriate product key… But check again, for Evaluation versions, edition value contains word “Evaluation”, so it is not “Datacenter”, but “Datacenter Evaluation”:

Now it is clear what is complaining about. But how to make it to accept full product key? You can use DISM for this:

This will require reboot and some waiting but will convert your Evaluation license to full, provided that you entered correct product key.

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“Method not found error” when attempting to add a new item into K2 Studio project

The other day I was about to build some tiny K2 test project using old-fashioned thick designer UI K2 Studio which I still prefer to use whenever I need to build some little K2 process. Unfortunately I bumped into this error:

Error message politely informs us about this:

Method not found: ‘Microsoft. Build. BuildEngine

BuildItem SourceCode. ProjectSystem. ProjectBuildItem

get_BuildItem()’.

That’s not very obvious, right? But, trust me it just complains that some DLL is not properly added to GAC, or there is a mismatch between DLL version in GAC and in some other location.

Solution? If you run K2 environment without coldfixes just run a Repair from installation media. But most likely you’ve applied some coldfix recently. Verify if files which supposed to go to GAC were added to that location correctly. Remember that some files go to K2 installation directory, while some others may go to “[Program Files]Reference Assemblies\SourceCode\v4.0\” and into GAC v4, i.e. into “C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\assembly\GAC_MSIL\”. In my case the error was caused by the fact that SourceCode.Workflow.Authoring.dll assembly was not updated in GACv4.

When something wrong with aforementioned DLL you will also see the same error when trying to deploy something with PnD:

So in case you getting this type of error you know what to check now.

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SQL Server: new instance installation frozen on “SqlEngineConfigAction_install_startup_Cpu64” step

I was installing additional new instance of SQL Server 2012 on a machine where other instance was installed earlier. In the process I run into the problem where Setup wuzard just frozen on about 99% on SqlEngineConfigAction_install_startup_Cpu64 step without flagging any errors and making no progress for hours, so that Setup window looks like that all the time:

I realized that I’ve seen it before but not made any efforts to fix it beyond starting process from scratch. This time I did some googling and found that there may be quite a few reasons for this problem, for example see this blog post: “Your SQL Server Setup may hang forever when it’s almost at the 99 %!” on MSDN Blogs. I tried a few suggestion with no luck but in the process I’ve noticed that Windows service for my new named instance has been already created but frozen in “Starting” state, so killing and restarting it manually revived SQL Setup Manager and it completed installation process with flying colors in a minute after this. So it seems SQL Setup Manager just endlessly waits for service started confirmation or something like this without any time out in place… Anyhow I’m just taking a note of my fix in case somebody else or myself run into this again.

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Do I need to restart K2 host service if I added “NewtonJson.dll into GAC?

Today I was asked by my colleague something on the lines “Do I need to restart K2 host server service if I added “NewtonJson.dll into GAC?”

This is quite an interesting question which I would re-phrase as “Do I need to restart K2 host server service if I added DLL X in location Y?” Unfortunately there is no easy answer, though you may assume that developer should know this for sure. That’s a bit of a myth that “developer as a creator of a program can predict any output from the app for any given input”, and explanation to that phenomenon has surprising parallels with much sought after in middle ages explanation of “how is free will possible in the light of the fact that there is an almighty and all knowing creator in this universe”, buy I guess I will save this philosophical topic for separate blog post.

I’ve split this question into some sub-questions and checked with one of the developers (only to confirm all that was said above).

How K2 service loads DLLs?

It all differs from DLL to DLL.

Little clarification (as I was pointed out that I’m using outdated terminology): DLL stand’s for Dynamic-Link Library and I employ it to refer to any files with DLL extension since my DOS gaming days, whereas modern official term commonly used by developers is assembly. Term comes from the new Global Assembly Cache (GAC) infrastructure. This is machine-wide CLI assembly cache for the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) in .NET Framewrok, which was designed to allow for specially controlled central repository which addresses the flaws of the shared library concept and helps to avoid DLL hell.

Getting back to the question above: some assemblies we may load in memory on startup and keep there till service restart, but some may be called as needed an then disposed (though again you can’t easily tell when they are disposed, except for service restart). Among those which “load on demand” some loaded by K2 service while others are loaded automatically by .NET. But we have two GAC repositories on modern Windows platform one for .NET v2 and another for .NET v4 and sometimes the same assembly exist in two versions and which one called depends on your application code.

As you can see things can be quite different and it all depends.

Just to illustrate: I remember an issue which may be reproduced in old (pre-4.7) versions of K2 when you erroneously place to GAC SourceCode.Workflow.Resolver.Data.dll. It should not be there in the first place, but if you place it there it is trying to call another DLLs (SourceCode.Workflow.Functions.dll) from current directory as both of them exist in K2 bin folder. Yet as soon as 1st DLL landed to GAC it takes priority over one from the Bin folder, but then errors out as it can’t see 2nd DLL in GAC. So on versions prior to 4.7 workflow will enter into Error state with the following error logged in Error profiles: Assembly ‘SourceCode.Workflow.Functions’ could not be found. In 4.7 workflow will enter into Error state with more actionable error message: “Please remove SourceCode.Workflow.Data.Resolvers from the Global Assembly Cache.”

Do I need to do K2 restart after I GACed NewtonJson.dll, for example?

Probably. NewtonJson.dll is a 3rd party dll K2 uses for JSON serialization and some other things. And whether restart is needed depends on what K2 DLL is using it, but the safest option is always perform a restart of the service. Even IIS sometimes keep a cached copy, and does not use the new one if you replace it until iisreset is performed.

Is there some (relatively) easy way to tell which DLLs can be safely replaced without K2 service restart?

Here we can think that some debug utilities should exist which may tell you which assemblies are used by specific process. I don’t know any of the top of my head and have to reseatch this separately. Normally, if you can overwrite the file, then it already means it is not being used at the moment. But, for example, IIS is different, as it keeps a cached copy in a temp folder somewhere. So it all depends on how specific DLL is loaded/used by each specific service – it may be loaded in memory or some sort of cache hence there is no easy way to determine if service restart is necessary after file replacement. Safe bet in most of the cases, is to perform a K2 service restart.

Just decided it is worth taking a note of this and share with other people who may potentially have similar questions.

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New-SPAppManagementServiceApplication : A SharePoint database named XYZ already exists.

I was configuring SharePoint app catalog service applications the other day using my old scripts for that, and there is one problem I often see when using PowerShell scripts for configuring SharePoint: those work much better as they save your time you may spend on wading through cumbersome GUI, but in case when you need to re-run this script once again (let’s say it failed in the middle as you not updated some of the variables with proper values, or forgot to adjust something in line with your naming convention), you are often in trouble as you need to clear up things created by the script before you will be able to re-run it without errors.

Normally (especially if you fully understand what your script actually does) it is not a big problem, but this time when creating App Management Service Application I run into this error:

New-SPAppManagementServiceApplication : A SharePoint database named SP2013_AppManagementSvc already exists. You must supply another
name for the new database.

Looks like straightforward error which prompts to fire off SSMS and drop DB in question and I think I did it before, but this time there was NO such DB on SQL server yet I keep receiving this error. A bit of Googling showed me that I just have a reference to this DB in Objects table of SharePoint configuration database. So we can use SQL script (GitHub link) to search and if necessary remove it:

Little quick fix, but as usual in case it is anything like production environment better take DB backup before messing with anything in it.

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Scripts for taking K2 service memory dumps

I’ve spent some time today improving “create K2 service memory dump script” (one which I already mentioned in “K2 MSMQ thread & MSMQ abort exception” blog post) and creating “collect dump support files”. Next step will be merging them into one and adding some nice to have things I have no time for right now.

Collect dump support files script (GitHub link):

Take K2 service process dump (GitHub link):

Be sure checking out GitHub links as I keep editing/updating these scripts there.

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Configuring SQL instance firewall rules via PowerShell

Doing distributed environments setups rather frequently these days I realized that I really don’t want wasting my time setting up SQL Server firewall rules via GUI (I described the process here) and luckily enough Ryan Mangan already created such script. All I had to do is try it (confirm that it works), save it on GitHub and share on my blog for the benefit of wider community:

Original blog post by Ryan/source of this script: PowerShell Script for SQL Firewall rules

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K2 MSMQ thread & MSMQ abort exception

There is one interesting fix included into K2 4.7 May CU which, as far as I know, is not mentioned in related KBs for some reason (KB001888 and  FP KBs). I just wanted to share some information about it as it may be useful for those who run older versions of K2 preceding to 4.7 May CU and additionally mention how to take K2 process memory dump conveniently.
First things first – the issue and related background information. Within K2 process there is a single thread which checks message queue, it is single thread and it process messages one by one (this is by design, as doing in a multi thread fashion is not necessarily best idea). Exception may occur in the process of message bus message processing and this dedicated K2 thread tries to abort this transaction to perform a retry which normally works just fine, but in rare scenarios MSMQ can throw another exception which causes K2 MSMQ processing thread to stop completely.
On the surface symptoms of this issue: suddenly your K2 users no longer receive any K2 task notifications at all, despite the fact that all relevant settings had not been changed and absolutely correct. Brand new test process confirms that task notifications do not work indeed for all usres while Email Events keep working fine. Quick fix/corrective action: restart K2 service – and all delayed task notifications should be gradually dispatched (depending on how long time ago MSMQ thread stopped, your delay for processing the piled queue may be quite big). Service restart resolves this because K2 starts MSMQ thread on service start up.
Good news is that 4.7 May CU has fix for this built in and when transaction abort is necessary MSMQ thread first checks if transaction in question is not already rollback/committed or completed status and only if this is not the case attempts to abort it. If even then K2 receives an exception then message moved into error queue.
I can imagine that when you run K2 version without this fix in production you may be reluctant to restart K2 service not being 99% sure that you deal with this specific issue, and there is a way to do that. To verify that your MSMQ thread within K2 process is still running you may follow these steps:
1) Take full memory dump of K2 process – for quick check on K2 threads either dump taken from Task Manager or procdump.exe will suffice.

In task manager you just have to locate K2HostSerever.exe from the list of processes, right click on it and select “Create dump file”, like that:

It will show you pop up indicated where dump file has been created once done, something like that:

Things gets more tricky with procdump.exe as you now need to obtain process PID, but it is way more configurable and allows you do more things when it comes to taking process memory dumps. As I work in support I really don’t like to repeat explanations on how to use it and where do I find PID and why PID is not displayed in my Task Manager and so on. So I created this tiny script for that (get it on GitHub):

2) Once dump is taken open it using DebugDiag and search for MSMQ, if MSMQ thread is running you should be able to find something like this:

If you unable to find this in memory dump of your running K2 process it most likely means that MSMQ thread had been stopped due to exception, and if you look under the Previous .NET Exceptions Report (Exceptions in all .NET Heaps) section, you most likely may see the aborted exception with MSMQ stack there.

On a side note DebugDiag also allows you to see if call which failed was made from K2 WorfkflowServer namespace or from something custom/external – that is also very useful to check in the very beginning of troubleshooting process.

I hope you may find this information useful and interesting for one reason or another 🙂 Stay tuned for new posts.

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SharePoint 2010: Unable to edit user properties

The other day I received a support case where customer complained that they “suddenly” lost ability to edit user properties in SharePoint 2010. As usual picture worth thousand works so the problem was that if you navigate to Site Actions > Site Permissions, locate some user and click on your user name you will be presented with user information page and if you click edit you will see this:

Sort of interesting Edit Personal Settings dialog where it is not possible to edit anything…

But it used to look like that:

You see more properties listed and they are editable. Now having that description you have to be really skillful with art of googling to get to the bottom of this in the form of some blog post similar to this one. Because to do a proper Google search (one which yields a solution) you have to employ the right terms/know the nature of this issue. But if you noticed word suddenly in quotes in the very beginning I had a background information on preceding changes which caused this “sudden” issue hence was able to fix it. I will go into detailed explanation below for the sake of knowledge sharing.

First of all 1st screenshot is normal for environments where UPS is up and running – as soon as you configure it, SharePoint assumes that all property modifications are being performed on AD DS side and synced from there on a regular basis by UPS. Once UPS is provisioned SP 2010 hides/modifies default forms (layouts/userdisp.aspx – the one where you may click Edit Item to change your properties on the _layouts/useredit.aspx form) and instead of them for users whose profiles are synced you supposed to see specific user profile page instead, which will look approximately like this:

If it does not shown and you see the same uneditable edit form as on the first screenshot, then it either means that UPA is not configured completely or user profile is not synced yet (are you sure that user in question is in right OU?)

So essentially first screenshot/problem shows us that UPS was partially configured/profile(s) not synced (as we still not getting user profile page) but default forms already modified in the process of UPS installation, because when you provision a UPA it will set the fields in hidden site user info list to read only and hidden. With this knowledge about the nature of the problem you may google for the right scripts/information.

In my case we worked on environment where UPS was failing to start/work properly (one of these cases where you need delve deeper into configuration of UPS and peruse something like this blog post) hence it was just mandatory to restore ability to edit user properties. And for that you just need to use the script below against your SP web app (grab this script on GitHub).

Once this script completes you will get your editable user properties back. Two potential problems you may have with this:
1) If Get-SPWeb part of the script complains about incompatibility saying something like “Microsoft SharePoint is not supported with version 4.0.30319.34014” just run new PS instance using -version 2.0 switch;
2) If script completes successfully but you getting user profile page instead of your old beloved form – delete user profile and try again (in case you are not keen or fully removing UPA).

And one last note with regards how we run into this in my specific support case. Client was using K2 and they lived quite happily without UPS provisioned in their SharePoint environment which is a bit strange as a UPS is a requirement for K2. But after upgrading to 4.6.11 the very strange issue crop up which had a bit obscure symptoms on the surface, but in the end was isolated to the fact that each time GetUserGroups URM call was performed to the SharePoint provider no SharePoint groups of which this user is direct member were returned. On the surface it looked like random losing of user’s group membership information and randomly failed K2 tasks which were assigned to SharePoint groups. Randomness stemmed from the fact that GetGroupUsers URM call returned all users for the same group just fine.

And knowing that sometimes it is difficult to find where it was told that XYZ is requirement for K2, I’ll clarify this for UPS specifically: you can find it in K2 blackpearl Installation and Configuration Guide > Prerequisites > Environment Configuration > SharePoint Server 2010 User Profile Service set up

“The SharePoint User Profile Service on any non SharePoint Foundation version must be set up correctly for the Identity Services Group Providers to function correctly with regards to User, Group and Membership resolution. It must be correctly populated with the user’s information and the service must be started.”

Posting rather a lot about SharePoint 2010 at the time of 2016 and cloud stuff I rather feel like author of The Old New Thing blog who at some point decided to blog about old stuff as there is less competition there – everybody busy blogging about new and shiny things (though I should admit I don’t go into really low level details as that blog does) 🙂 But I hope these posts may still be useful for someone.

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