Friday Mail Sack: Get Off My Lawn Edition

Friday Mail Sack: Get Off My Lawn Edition

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Hi folks, Ned here again. I know this is supposed to be the Friday Mail Sack but things got a little hectic and... ah heck, it doesn't need explaining, you're in IT. This week - with help from the ever-crotchety Jonathan Stephens - we talk about:

Now that Jonathan's Rascal Scooter has finished charging, on to the Q & A.

Question

We want to create a group policy for an OU that contains various computers needs to run for just Windows 7 notebooks only. All of our notebooks are named starting with an "N". Does group policy WMI filtering allows stacking conditions on the same group policy? 

Answer

Yes, you can chain together multiple query criteria, and they can even be from different classes or namespaces. For example, here I use both the Win32_OperatingSystem and Win32_ComputerSystem classes:

image

And here I use only the Win32_OperatingSystem class, with multiple filter criteria:

image

As long as they all evaluate TRUE, you get the policy. If you had a hundred of these criteria (please don’t) and 99 evaluate true but just one is false, the policy is skipped.

Note that my examples above would catch Win2008 R2 servers also; if you’ve read my previous posts, you know that you can also limit queries to client operating systems using the Win32_OperatingSystem property OperatingSystemSKU. Moreover, if you hadn’t used a predictable naming convention, you can also filter on with Win32_SystemEnclosure and query the ChassisTypes property for 8, 9, or 10 (respectively: “Portable”, “Laptop”, and “Notebook”). And no, I do not know the difference between these, it is OEM-specific. Just like “pizza box” is for servers. You stay classy, WMI.

Question

Is changing LDAP MaxPoolThreads a good or bad idea?

Answer

MaxPoolThreads controls the maximum number of simultaneous threads per-processor that a DC uses to work on LDAP requests. By default, it’s four per processor core. Increasing this value would allow a DC/GC to handle more LDAP requests. So if you have too many LDAP clients talking to too few DCs at once, raising this can reduce LDAP application timeouts and periodic “hangs”. As you might have guessed, the biggest complainer here is often MS Exchange and Outlook. If the performance counters “ATQ Threads LDAP" & "ATQ Threads Total" are constantly at the maximum number based on the number of processor and MaxPoolThreads value, then you are bottlenecking LDAP.

However!

DCs are already optimized to quickly return data from LDAP requests. If your hardware is even vaguely new and if you are not seeing actual issues, you should not increase this default value. MaxPoolThreads depends on non-paged pool memory, which on a Win2003 32-bit Windows OS is limited to 256MB (more on Win2008 32-bit). Meaning that if you still have not moved to at least x64 Windows Server 2003, don’t touch this value at all – you can easily hang your DCs. It also means you need to get with the times; we stopped making a 32-bit server OS nearly three years ago and OEMS stopped selling the hardware even before that. A 64-bit system's non-paged pool limit is 128GB.

In addition, changing the LDAP settings is often a Band-Aid that doesn’t address the real issue of DC capacity for your client/server base.  Use SPA or AD Data Collector sets to determine "Clients with the Most CPU Usage" under section "Ldap Requests”. Especially if the LDAP queries are not just frequent but also gross - there are also built-in diagnostics logs to find poorly-written requests:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\NTDS\Diagnostics\
15 Field Engineering

To categorize search operations as expensive or inefficient, two DWORD registry keys are used:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\NTDS\Parameters\
Expensive Search Results Threshold

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\NTDS\Parameters\
Inefficient Search Results Threshold

These DWORD registry keys have the following default values:

  • Expensive Search Results Threshold: 10000
  • Inefficient Search Results Threshold: 1000

For example, here’s an inefficient result written in the DS event log; yuck, ick, argh!:

Event Type: Information
Event Source: NTDS General
Event Category: Field Engineering
Event ID: 1644
Description:
The Search operation based at RootDSE
using the filter:
& ( | ( & ( (objectCategory = <val>) (objectSid = *) ! ( (sAMAccountType | <bit_val>) ) ) & ( (objectCategory = <val>) ! ( (objectSid = *) ) ) & ( (objectCategory = <val>) (groupType | <bit_val>) ) ) (aNR = <substr>) <startSubstr>*) )

visited 40 entries and returned 0 entries.

Finally, this article should be required reading to any application developers in your company:

Creating More Efficient Microsoft Active Directory-Enabled Applications -
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ms808539.aspx#efficientadapps_topic04

(The title should be altered to “Creating even slightly efficient…” in my experience).

Question

I want to implement many-to-one certificate mappings by using Issuer and Subject DN match. In altSecurityIdentities I put the following string:

X509:<I>DC=com,DC=contoso,CN=Contoso CA<S>DC=com,DC=contoso,CN=users,CN=user name

In a given example, a certificate with “cn=user name, cn=users, dc=contoso, dc=com” in the Subject field will be mapped to a user account, where I define the mappings. But in that example I get one-to-one mapping. Can I use wildcards here, say:

X509:<I>DC=com,DC=contoso,CN=Contoso CA<S>DC=com,DC=contoso,CN=users,CN=*

So that any certificate that contains “cn=<any value>, cn=users, dc=contoso, dc=com” will be mapped to the same user account?

Answer

[Sent from Jonathan while standing in the 4PM dinner line at Bob Evans]

Unfortunately, no. All that would do is map a certificate with a wildcard subject to that account. The only type of one-to-many mapping supported by the Active Directory mapper is configuring it to ignore the subject completely. Using this method, you can configure the AD mappings so that any certificate issued by a particular CA can be mapped to a single user account. See the following: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb742438.aspx#ECAA

Question

I've recently been working on extending my AD schema with a new back-linked attribute pair, and I used the instructions on this blog and MSDN to auto-generate the linkIDs for my new attributes. Confusingly, the resulting linkIDs are negative values (-912314983 and -912314984). The attributes and backlinks seem to work as expected, but when looking at the MSDN definition of the linkID attribute, it specifically states that the linkID should be a positive value. Do you know why I'm getting a negative value, and if I should be concerned?

Answer

[Sent from Jonathan’s favorite park bench where he feeds the pigeons]

The negative numbers are correct and expected, and are the result of a feature called AutoLinkID. Automatically generated linkIDs are in the range of 0xC0000000-0xFFFFFFFC (-1,073,741,824 to -4). This means that it is a good idea to use positive numbers if you are going to set the linkID manually. That way you are guaranteed not to conflict with automatically generated linkIDs.

The bottom line is, this is expected under the circumstances and you're all good.

Question

Is there any performance advantage to turning off the DFSR debug logging, lowering the number of logs, or moving the logs to another drive? You explained how to do this here in the DFSR debug series, but never mentioned it in your DFSR performance tuning article.

Answer

Yes, you will see some performance improvements turning off the logging or lowering the log count; naturally, all this logging isn’t free, it takes CPU and disk time. But before you run off to make changes, remember that if there are any problems, these logs are the only thing standing between you and the unemployment line. Your server will be much faster without any anti-virus software too, and your company’s profits higher without fire insurance; there are trade-offs in life. That’s why – after some brief agonizing, followed by heavy drinking – I decided not to include it in the performance article.

Moving the logs to another physical disk than Windows is safe and may take some pressure of the OS drive.

Question

When I try to join this Win2008 R2 computer to the domain, it gives an error I’ve never seen before:

"The following error occurred attempting to join the domain "contoso.com":
The request is not supported."

Answer

This server was once a domain controller. During demotion, something prevented the removal of the following registry value name:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\NTDS\Parameters\
DSA Database file

Delete that "Dsa Database File" value name and attempt to join the domain again. It should work this time. If you take a gander at the %systemroot%\debug\netsetup.log, you’ll see another clue that this is your issue:

NetpIsTargetImageADC: Determined this is a DC image as RegQueryValueExW loaded Services\NTDS\Parameters\DSA Database file: 0x0
NetpInitiateOfflineJoin: The image at C:\Windows\system32\config\SYSTEM is a DC: 0x32

We started performing this check in Windows Server 2008 R2, as part of the offline domain join code changes. Hurray for unintended consequences!

Question

We have a largish AD LDS (ADAM) instance we update daily through by importing CSV files that deletes all of yesterday’s user objects and import today’s. Since we don’t care about deleted objects, we reduced the tombstoneLifetime to 3 days. The NTDS.DIT usage, as shown by the 1646 Garbage Collection Event ID, shows 1336mb free with a total allocation of 1550mb – this would suggest that there is a total of 214MB of data in the database.

The problem is that Task Manager shows a total of 1,341,208K of Memory (Private Working Set) in use. The memory usage is reduced to around the 214MB size when LDS is restarted; however, when Garbage Collection runs the memory usage starts to climb. I have read many KB articles regarding GC but nothing explains what I am seeing here.

Answer

Generally speaking, LSASS (and DSAMAIN, it’s red-headed ADLDS cousin) is designed to allocate and retain more memory – especially ESE (aka “Jet”) cache memory – than ordinary processes, because LSASS/DSAMAIN are the core processes of a DC or AD/LDS server. I would expect memory usage to grow heavily during the import, the deletions, and then garbage collection; unless something else put pressure on the machine for memory, I’d expect the memory usage to remain. That’s how well-written Jet database applications work – they don’t give back the memory unless someone asks, because LSASS and Jet can reuse it much faster when needed if it’s already loaded; why return memory if no one wants it? That would be a performance bug unto itself.

The way to show this in practical terms is to start some other high-memory process and validate that DSAMAIN starts to return the demanded memory. There are test applications like this on the internet, or you can install some app that likes to gobble a lot of RAM. Sometimes I’ll just install Wireshark and load a really big saved network capture – that will do it in a pinch. :-D You can also use the ESE performance counters under the “Database” and “Database ==> Instances” to see more about how much of the memory usage is Jet database cache size.

Regular DCs have this behavior too, as does DFSR and do other applications. You paid for all that memory; you might as well use it.

(Follow up from the customer where he provided a useful PowerShell “memory gobbler” example)

I ran the following Windows PowerShell script a few times to consume all available memory and the DSAMAIN process started releasing memory immediately as expected:

$chunk = "XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX"
for ($i = 0; $i -lt 5000; $i++)

       $chunk += $chunk
}

Question

When I migrate users from Windows 7 to Windows 7 using USMT 4.0, their pinned and automatic taskbar jump lists are lost. Is this expected?

Answer

Yes. For those poor $#%^&#s readers still using XP, Windows 7 introduced application taskbar pinning and a special menu called a jump list:

image

Pinned and Recent jump lists are not migrated by USMT, because the built-in OS Shell32 manifest called by USMT (c:\windows\winsxs\manifests\*_microsoft-windows-shell32_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7601.17514_non_ca4f304d289b7800.manifest) contains this specific criterion:

<pattern type="File">%CSIDL_APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent [*]</pattern>

Note how it is not Recent\* [*], which would grab the subfolder contents of Recent. It only copies the direct file contents of Recent. The pinned/automatic jump lists are stored in special files under the CustomDestinations and AutomaticDestinations folders inside the Recent folder. All the other contents of Recent are shortcut files to recently opened documents anywhere on the system:

image

If you examine these special files, you'll see that they are binary, unreadable, and totally proprietary:

image

Since these files are binary and embed all their data in a big blob of goo, they cannot simply be copied safely between operating systems using USMT. The paths they reference could easily change in the meantime, or the data they reference could have been intentionally skipped. The only way this would work is if the Shell team extended their shell migration plugin code to handle it. Which would be a fair amount of work, and at the time these manifests were being written, customers were not going to be migrating from Win7 to Win7. So no joy. You could always try copying them with custom XML, but I have no idea if it would work at all and you’re on your own anyway – it’s not supported.

Question

We have a third party application that requires DES encryption for Kerberos. It wasn’t working from our Windows 7 clients though, so we enabled the security group policy “Network security: Configure encryption types allowed for Kerberos” to allow DES. After that though, these Windows 7 clients stopped working in many other operations, with event log errors like:

Event ID: 4
Source: Kerberos
Type: Error
"The kerberos client received a KRB_AP_ERR_MODIFIED error from the server host/myserver.contoso.com. This indicates that the password used to encrypt the kerberos service ticket is different than that on the target server. Commonly, this is due to identically named machine accounts in the target realm (domain.com), and the client realm. Please contact your system administrator."

And “The target principal name is incorrect” or “The target account name is incorrect” errors connecting to network resources.

Answer

When you enable DES on Windows 7, you need to ensure you are not accidentally disabling the other cipher suites. So don’t do this:

image

That means only DES is supported and you just disabled RC4, AES, etc.

Instead, do this:

image

If it exists at all and you want DES, this registry DWORD value to be 0x7fffffff on Windows 7 or Win2008 R2:

MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Kerberos\Parameters\
SupportedEncryptionTypes

If it’s set to 0x3, all heck will break loose. This security policy interface is admittedly tiresome in that it has no “enabled/disabled” toggle. Use GPRESULT /H or /Z to see how it’s applying if you’re not sure about the actual settings.

Other Stuff

Windows 8 Consumer Preview releases February 29th, as if you didn’t already know it. Don’t ask me if this also means Windows Server 8 Beta the same exact day, I can’t say. But it definitely means the last 16 months of my life finally start showing some results. As will this blog…

Apparently we’ve been wrong about Han and Greedo since day one. I want to be wrong though. Thanks for passing this along Tony. And speaking of which, thanks to Ted O and the rest of the gang at LucasArts for the awesome tee!

This is a … creepily good music video? Definitely a nice find, Mark!


This is basically my home video collection

My new favorite site of the week? The Awesomer. Do not visit if you have to be somewhere in an hour.

Wait, no… my new favorite site is That’s Nerdaliscious. Do not read if hungry or dorky. 

Sick of everyone going on about Angry Birds? Love Chuck Norris? Go here now. There are a lot of these; don't miss Mortal Combat versus Donkey Kong.

Ah, there’s Waldo.

Likely the coolest advertisement for something that doesn’t yet exist that you will see this year.


I need to buy stock in SC Johnson. Can you imagine the Windex sales?!

Until next time.

- Ned “Generation X” Pyle with Jonathan “The Greatest Generation” Stephens

  • "MaxPoolThreads depends on non-paged pool memory, which on a 32-bit Windows OS is limited to 256MB."

    This is not true for x86 Windows Server 2008 (non-R2) where dynamic kernel address space has been introduced:

    blogs.technet.com/.../ws2008-memory-management-dynamic-kernel-addressing-memory-priorities-and-i-o-handling.aspx

  • Woo, nice. Thanks Miroslav, I'll update that section. There's more info on this here:

    2160852 RAM, virtual memory, pagefile, and memory management in Windows

    support.microsoft.com/default.aspx

    I chatted with a colleague from the Performance team here and he mentioned that the practical limit for non-paged pool on Win2008 non-R2 32-bit is ~1.2GB.

    Not that I am recommending you use 32-bit, even with these changes... ^_^

  • Great post. Chuckled at the Jonathan Bob Evans bits. Also... "Squeaky Lobster?"  Not the usual MSFT nomenclature I'm used to... blogs.technet.com/.../3394229.aspx

    Also, I'm excited as a dingo in a maternity ward about Windows 8!

  • I plan to use that Dingo line at least once a week. Awesome.

  • Thanks again for another outstanding post filled with appropriate amounts of technical detail and a light seasoning of humor.  Did you accidentally reveal your secret for writing this blog - "...brief agonizing, followed by heavy drinking"?