NetBIOS Browsing and Windows Server 2008 x64 Server Core

NetBIOS Browsing and Windows Server 2008 x64 Server Core

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Hello All… it’s Brett Crane from Enterprise Platforms Networking Support! I just wanted to fill everyone in on a workaround for domain browsing for all of you that decide to upgrade your DC’s in your environment to x64 Server Core.

Keep in mind, as we let you know in other blog posts, browsing is turned off by default on Windows Server 2008 (for more info on this reference this blog: http://blogs.technet.com/networking/archive/2008/07/25/netbios-browsing-across-subnets-may-fail-after-upgrading-to-windows-server-2008.aspx).  Well, we have found that if you install x64 Server Core in your environment and plan for this to be your Browse Master or Segment Browse Master, you’re going to have problems with browsing working at all.  What has happened is that a primary .dll that is in charge of API calls used in the browsing process is not installed. The .dll in question is “xactsrv.dll”.  This .dll gets installed with ALL other versions of the OS including the 32-bit version of Server Core and x64 versions with the GUI; just not x64 Server Core!

Now, with all that said, how do you get Browsing to work in your environment?  Two simple ways:

  • If you have other Windows Server OS versions in your environment, do not turn on the Computer Browser service on your x64 Core server(s).  This will allow the Segment Browse Master role to be won by a server (or client, based on your environment) that has the proper files installed.

* What if the only server version in your environment is x64 Server Core or if your x64 Server Core Machine is your PDC Emulator?

  • Copy the “xactsrv.dll” to the following directory: c:\Windows\system32. Make sure the Browser service is set to automatic and has been started on your x64 Server Core system.  You should start to see automatic improvements. There is no registration of the .dll required.  (Just give it time for the browse list to be created!)

* Please keep in mind that you will have to copy over an x64 version of the xactsrv.dll.  This can be copied from an existing x64 server or from the x64 Server Media.

So your next question is… “How do I know if this is happening to me?  I mean, I have other server versions in the environment.”

Well, it could still be happening to you because it is a strong possibility that your x64 Server Core system has taken the Browser role if the Computer Browser service is turned on (keep in mind that this is a manual process on a 2008 server as we turn the browser service off by default).  One thing I noticed through troubleshooting with one of my favorite customers is that you will get an interesting popup error message when trying to browse your domain:

“{Domain name} is not accessible. You might not have permission to use the network resource.  Contact the administrator of this server to find out if you have access permissions.

Incorrect Function”

You will get this specific error because the .dll that will make the needed API calls cannot be found.  Now you can start running through the 2 steps listed above!  (Keep in mind that this is only one specific pointer and you may not always get this error.  Additional troubleshooting methods may help.  Keep in mind, the Browstat tool is your friend!

188305 Troubleshooting the Microsoft Computer Browser Service

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;188305)

So that’s it!  You should now have your x64 Server Core browsing environment on the ground and running.  Hopefully this has helped!

(This issue is currently being researched for future product releases)

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