How to fix WebSphere 7.0 on Windows 2003 that hangs on startup

WebSphere Today I spent several hours troubleshooting the fresh install of WebSphere 7.0 on Windows 2003. The server passed all post-installation steps successfully, but refused to start after the OS reboot. The last line in the server logs was “Server launched. Waiting for initialization status.”, and the actual server state was unclear – any attempt to start it anew claimed that the service was running, but the server console was not available.

It appears that the Windows service installation, which happens by default during setup time, was problematic. Once you remove the service and reboot the system, you can start WebSphere manually without any trouble.

Here is how to remove the Windows service:

  1. Go to the “bin” folder under WAS installation directory (usually “C:\Program Files\IBM\WebSphere\AppServer\bin”)
  2. Execute the following command: “WASService –remove <name-of-server-node>”

Typically, the name of server node is composed from the computer name with “Node01” suffix.
For example, the node name on “” will probably be “was70-winNode01”.

Hat tip to this IBM DeveloperWorks community post for the hints!

How to install Apache HTTPD with PHP and OpenSSL on Windows

Installing Apache HTTPD web server with PHP and OpenSSL support on Windows box is not a trivial task nowadays. First, Apache site does not provide Win32 binaries for the latest HTTPD versions anymore. When you manage to find the place to get the binary itself, you get challenged with additional questions – which binary matches the OpenSSL version of your PHP installation and where to get VC redistributable it requires. This article aims to cover all those topics.

We are going to install Apache HTTPD 2.4.3 with PHP 5.4.11 (latest versions at the moment of writing) on Windows 2003 server.

Apache HTTPD

Fresh Apache HTTPD binaries can be found on Apache Lounge site. Note that you will need the binary compiled with OpenSSL 0.9.8 to work with our future PHP installation. Also, there is a link to VC10 redistributable somewhere at the top part of the download page. Make sure to grab it and install on your Windows box before you start with Apache HTTPD installation and configuration.

Fresh Apache HTTPD distributions come as an archive and not as an installer, but don’t be afraid. Just extract the content of the package and move “Apache24” directory to the “C:” drive. You can start the web server by running “httpd.exe” from “C:\Apache24\bin” folder. In the same folder you can find useful ApacheMonitor utility, which allows you to start and stop the server conveniently. I recommend to create a shortcut to this utility and place it to the startup folder (either yours or for all users). Also, Apache HTTPD can be set up to run as a service on system startup by executing “C:\Apache24\bin\httpd.exe -k install” command.

The minimal web server setup includes changing ServerName in “C:\Apache24\conf\httpd.conf” to be the real FQDN of your server. Now you can start the web service and verify that it is up and running.


The next step is to get latest PHP binary distribution for Windows from PHP for Windows site. There are “Thread Safe” and “Non Thread Safe” distributions; you will need the Zip archive of the Thread Safe one to run it inside the web server. The site mentions that it requires VC9 runtime, but VC10 you’ve installed for Apache HTTPD is even better. Note that some manuals instruct you to download Apache HTTPD module for PHP support separately, but there is no need for that – it is already included in recent PHP distributions.

Extract the content of the distribution archive to “C:\PHP” folder and copy relevant “php.ini-something” to “php.ini”. Inside “php.ini”, uncomment “extension_dir” configuration option and the line that contains “php_openssl” extension definition. Don’t forget to add “C:\PHP” to your system PATH variable, as some extensions (and OpenSSL among them) rely on it to find additional libraries.

To configure PHP in your web server add the following lines at the bottom of “httpd.conf” file:

# PHP 5
LoadModule php5_module "c:/php/php5apache2_4.dll"
AddHandler application/x-httpd-php .php
PHPIniDir "C:/php"

In addition, you may want to update “DirectoryIndex” directive to contain “index.php” also.

Now it is the time to restart Apache HTTPD server. Note that you will need to explicitly stop and start the server as two separate operations, as “Restart” button from the Apache Monitor does not reload the system properties. In order to verify your PHP setup, add the following “phpinfo.php” to your web server root:

<?php phpinfo(); ?>

You can verify the parameters of your installation by going to http://localhost/phpinfo.php in the web browser. Don’t forget to remove this file after the test if this is going to be your production setup!

On remote server PHP errors will be shown as messages on the server console and not in your RDP window.

How to install RDP 6.1 on Windows Server 2003

Microsoft RDP client (aka “Remote Desktop Connection” or “Terminal Services Client”)  allows you to connect from your Windows station to other Windows servers. Version 6.1 was released in 2008 and nowadays many popular tools (such as mRemoteNG) state it as a requirement. Unfortunately, this version is available for Windows XP/Vista and Windows Server 2008, but not for Windows Server 2003.

So, how can you install RDP client 6.1 on Windows Server 2003?

It appears that in March 2011 Microsoft released security update for RDP client 6.0 and 6.1 – which can be installed on Windows Server, since the original RDP client 6.0 is supported there. Now, pay attention to this note in the “more information” section:

Bottom line? Take the official RDP client 6.0, download KB 2481109 for Windows Server 2003 (the security update mentioned above) – and you are ready to run with RDP client 6.1 on your Windows Server 2003!

How to install Admin Pack for Windows 2003 on Virtual Machine

The internet is full of complains that Admin Pack for Windows 2003 cannot be installed due to protected Windows files. I guess that this can happen for various reasons, but I have found a solution for at least one of the cases – when the server where the installation of Windows 2003 Admin Pack fails is virtualized.

So, we have two servers – Windows 2003 Server with Active Directory installed as Domain Controller (server #1) and VM with Windows 2003 Server that is a member of this domain (server #2). The need – administer DNS and DHCP settings of AD remotely, but corresponding MMC snap-ins are not available by default on non-DC machines. The correct way is to install ADMINPACK.MSI, available from Windows 2003 installation CD-ROM or from Microsoft Download Center. (Of course, you can always open an RDP session to a DC – but this does not address the real need.)

However, the installation suddenly shows a message “The Windows Installer service cannot update one or more protected windows files” and rolls back everything that was already installed. The Event Viewer reveals error numbers (“Error 1933. … SPF Error: 1223.”) and the list of protected files – but this does not really help. So, what can we do about that?

In fact, the solution is really simple. Running the same installation via the console RDP session (or in the vSphere console) reveals the real cause for the failure – the Admin Pack install needs Windows 2003 installation CD-ROM, but for some reason does not tell that on non-console sessions. After the requested CD is provided (for VMs, this can be done by mounting the CD image in vSphere or via DaemonTools), the installation was able to complete successfully. Continue reading “How to install Admin Pack for Windows 2003 on Virtual Machine”