Pay attention, campers, this is going to be fun! I went to the wonderful Isle of Skye for Hogmany and got properly involved in the fun. My liver is now in remission. However, whilst I was away, one of my servers decided that because its now running under the absolutely fantastic VMWare ESX 3i (free!) server and I had STUPIDLY given it more memory, it needed Windows Activation again. Useless Bloody Microsoft Crap. However, because I wasnt there looking at the server EVERY DAY, it timed out and locked hard. See what it said:
Nice. So I have to run activation before I could log in again. Thanks. However, something else had changed. Warren had taken the physical box down to a secret squirrel hosting facility near MadChester, and plugged it in. No DHCP in a hosting center, so the box couldnt get an IP address. And so couldnt get Activated. Thanks again Microsoft, you useless soul-sucking bunch of maggots.
I tried it in "SAFE" mode - where I got the above login. Even in NO-NETWORK safe mode, I STILL couldnt log in to fix the IP address. I mean, this is crazy. I cant even fix the machine to get it to Activate ? Again, I used the mantra 'DIE MICROSOFT SCUM DIE' but that didnt help (aside from lowering my blood pressure back to normal.
When I logged in in normal mode and said 'Yeah, I'd like to run Activation' (through gritted teeth, obviously), it opened up the console (Windows 2003 this, folks, not the Vista-Server 2008). And show me activation. Which failed, because of course - you got it - the network interface didnt have IP addressess. Okay. But in the background, i could see my Domino server ticking away like a trooper. Okay, it couldnt get the outside world, but it was doing everything it could. That was all I could see. MS Crapware DRM Activation screen, and nice friendly Domino.
Ah-ha. The Dirty tricks brigade handbook opened up in my mind and I recalled that I could run 'Load Cmd.exe' on the Domino Server. No. Honestly. I could load the command shell ON THE DOMINO SERVER CONSOLE. Try it (ON A TEST MACHINE!). It works. And on that console I actually typed "Load Cmd.exe /C control.exe", Which should bring up the control panel. Well.
It being Redmondian bear-crap programming, of course it didnt. It brought up an indecipherable dialog box (of course) but at the same time, gave me the taskbar, with the network interface icon on the bottom right hand panel. A quick right-click, properties, and setting the IP address and DNS server, and I could save the property box. Now for some reason, you have to do this in under a miniute, else everything goes away. Yes. Redmond thinks that even though we have a serious security breach - remember - I didnt type in a username or password to the activation prompt - I could still ultimately change network settings - as long as you give them less than a minute this is cool. Oddly enough the fastest folks I know at typing are the Hackers.
Sigh. Anywhoo, after a couple of reboots, Activation happened, it said thanks, and I finally got control over my server again.
During all this, during the long long waits (everything in Redmond time is super-slow), I also had to use 20m of flexible rodding and a plunger to clear my sewer line between the house and the road (I have a big house). Noxious, revolting, cold (it was minus 5 outside) but ultimately successful. Up to my armpits in human sewage, gagging all the time - it was still far more plreasant, rewarding and ultimately more successful than - Microsoft Genuine Advantage, and the Activation process.
And look - Lotus Domino came to the rescue. Not a lot of folks know about 'Load Cmd.exe' on windows or 'Load sh' on linux. Handy back door stuff when you need it.
Another damn fine reason to NEVER put servers on Windows. They just need constant maintenance, defragging, virus scanning updates, the lot. The Linux machine on the same vmware server ? Not a squeak from it - just reliable service for 80+ days before I shut it down.
So there you have it folks. I'd rather clear a sewage line than fix another windows box.