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Thread: Server list not populating

  1. #1

    Server list not populating

    I've been using Hyena for 10+ years, and I've never seen this before. When I go to Servers, I get the following message: Unable to list computers: This function requires the Browser service. A remote API error occurred.

  2. #2
    This is a fairly common problem, caused by a non-functioning browse list. We have an FAQ on some workarounds, as it can be difficult if not impossible to fix:

    http://www.systemtools.com/faq.htm#faq5

    Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks
    Kevin Stanush
    SystemTools Software Inc.

  3. #3
    Why has this just started happening? No changes to my Domain nor to my PCs. The Browser service is running on both the Source Doman Controller and my PC.
    Can I roll back to an earlier Hyena version that doesn't have this problem? Is the development team coming up with a fix for this?

  4. #4
    I would not know why this would just start happening, but we have not changed this area on Hyena for over 10 years. The browser server is very complex and probably why Microsoft has been further deprecating it with each new Windows version. It can be something as varied as different network switches or routers not forwarding the browser broadcast messages.

    There isn't any fix for this because the functionality of the browser server, or lack thereof, is something beyond our control. The 'Servers' object is something that worked great when the browse list has the information because its fast, but Windows lacks another API that returns this information and Active Directory does not really have this information either, or not at least in a way that can be quickly accessed. Add to this that the definition of the word 'Server' would vary from one customer or installation to the next. One of the workarounds we pointed you to shows how to create an LDAP query with the search filter of:

    (&(objectCategory=computer)(objectClass=computer)( operatingSystem=*server*))

    This will generally work, provided you are using the English version and all of your 'servers' contain the word 'Server' in the Operating System attribute, which may or may not be the case. This also would search the entire directory from the root, which is probably not the best way to find things, but we would not know where any given customer puts their servers. If your AD structure has the servers in some container or sub-containers, then the search can be performed there which would be more efficient. But this is why its hard to come up with a generalized method to retrieve all servers that applies to everyone.

    If you find one of the workarounds is a good solution, you can use the Nodes (File > Manage Object View > Nodes...) to hide the Server node altogether.
    Kevin Stanush
    SystemTools Software Inc.

  5. #5
    This DID just start happening! The problem didn't exist last week! And it's not the network!
    WOW! How terribly disappointing. I depend on Hyena every day, but this problem is a major issue for me and how I use the program. Yes, creating an LDAP query is an easy, but very clunky and inelegant solution.
    I've often said to co-workers that if the company didn't pay for our subscription to Hyena, I would pay for it out of my own pocket.
    However, I'm afraid this changes everything. We just got our Hyena renewal notice, but I just phoned the Accounting Department and told them to hold off paying it while we seek another SysAdmin solution.

  6. #6
    When you indicated that the problem just started happening, I am assuming that you didn't install a new version of Hyena on a new computer or anything like that. That you were using Hyena one day and everything worked, and the next day it didn't, or rather the 'Servers' listing didn't work. Hyena v11.2 will by default use a DNS formatted name for the current domain that a user is logged into, instead of a Netbios name. The function that tries to get a list of 'Servers' will then attempt to get a Netbios name from the domain. While any error won't reflect which 'domain' is being used to try to retrieve the server list from, this name is reflected in the title bar of the right window, which will state, even if an error is found:

    "Computers on Domain <domain name>"

    Its possible that if Hyena is unable to determine what the domain's Netbios name is, that some DNS-formatted name might appear, which might cause the function to fail.

    But again, I just checked and there hasn't been a change in this code in essentially forever.

    Due to the many problems in the browser service in Windows, we have gradually eliminated its use over every release, with the older 'Servers' listing being the only function left that uses it, or at least the relies on it entirely for its output. I agree that getting a list of servers through an LDAP query is not very elegant, which is why we provide several other options for getting a list of Servers. Everything in Active Directory involves an LDAP query, but due to the number of variables, we can't have a pre-built query that is going to work, work reasonably fast, across all versions of Windows, and across all languages.

    While we always try to accommodate any customer needs, the one thing we can't fix is a limitation in the operating system, and the browser service, with its reliance on Netbios, WINS, broadcast messages, and probably the phases of the moon, so future Hyena versions will probably lack a 'Server's node entirely, and use various methods of managing through queries, filters, and static entries.
    Kevin Stanush
    SystemTools Software Inc.

  7. #7
    Did some additional research on this, and wanted to update anyone viewing this thread.

    On a new Windows 2012 Server installation, Microsoft has disabled the browser service by default. This may or may not be a problem depending on the other servers in an environment, but its unclear if the server could still be taking part in browser 'elections', which can be a problem. In a clean install of Server 2012, with Hyena run directly on the server, and attempting to view the 'Servers', which in this case there were not any, resulting in an error about being unable to find any browser parties. Starting the browser service eliminated this error.

    However, attempting to view 'Servers' resulted in either no information, or the 'remote API error'. After a lot of testing, it was determined that the 'remote API error' is misleading, caused by the browse list being empty of what is being asked for, that is, a list of servers when none exist. This would not be normal in a typical installation, so when this error is seen, its due to the browse list being essentially empty, due to the browser not functioning right.

    Next, Hyena was run on a Windows 8 client, and this resulted in the same errors, due to not having any servers on this isolated network. Windows 8 also does not run the browser service by default, and its unclear if it needs to be running on a client or not.

    Troubleshooting the browse list can be extremely difficult, but there are a lot of internet resources on trying to determine the cause. The standard Microsoft support page on this is here:

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/188305/

    Its rather old, however, but since the browser protocol has not changed since LAN Manager and NT 3.5, its still relevant.

    Also, we found this article, which is more recent and may be easier to read:

    http://blogs.msmvps.com/acefekay/201...owser-service/

    Most troubleshooting techniques rely on the use of the browstat utility, which is very difficult to find. If anyone does find a reputable location for it, please post a url.

    In the end, however, the best solution is to not rely on the browser service, and instead either structure Active Directory where the servers are in one or more containers off of a common root container, or create a static object grouping, with hard-coded server names (that way the servers can be located anywhere in the Directory structure). The downside of this approach is Hyena won't know the directory locations of the objects and will be unable to show any directory information on the object.
    Kevin Stanush
    SystemTools Software Inc.

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