Our SMS 2003 Server had a problem today.

And the expensive corporate system uptime management box missed the problem entirely.

The “Offersum.inbox” had over 6000 unprocessed records, and was growing at a rate of 13 records a minute.  Microsoft’s advice:

This folder receives summarization messages (.sum files) for advertisements from child sites and processes the files to the SMS site database. A backlog of files may indicate a performance problem that is caused by lots of messages. Examine status messages for the SMS Offer Status Summarizer for possible problems.

So I looked at the Status Summarizer.

Nothing.

“Nothing either”, was the result of checking the SMS log files.

“A backlog of files may indicate a performance problem” was the clue.  My offsider checked the CPU utilisation.  24% total utilisation.  This box has four processors, and there was a process using all of one CPU.

Ah ha!  We have a a culprit.

SQLagent.exe decided to go wild, and get itself stuck in a loop.  Stopping and starting the SQL Server service fixed that.  Within 20 seconds, all 6000+ records had been processed.

The utility which detected the original problem, that the expensive corporate system missed?  A 150 line PowerShell script.

Which I’ll share next week.

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The SMS Mirror Driver

The SMS Mirror driver is the root cause of the problem, with help from a dated video driver, the SMS Remote Control application (Wuser32.exe), and an unsupported operating system (Windows 2000).

So what does the SMS Mirror Driver do?:

Video acceleration significantly speeds up your Remote Control sessions clients.  For video acceleration on clients running Windows 2000 or later, SMS uses a Mirror driver.  The Mirror driver can simultaneously display the same output to several video devices and has no dependencies on the client’s video driver.
– Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 Operations Guide.

We received a fault report:

My desktop icons are grey colored.

It took some investigation, as the customer left out some details.  Here they are:

  • the problem was occurring on a system they were remote controlling with the SMS Remote Control application.
  • it was an intermittent problem.
  • it was in a development environment.

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