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Uncover Your NDS Stuck Obituaries with DS Expert

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Elena Markowitz

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Posted: 2 Dec 1999

Elena is the Product Marketing Manager for DS Expert and DS Analyzer at NetPro. Like most of you, she picked up her knowledge about NDS one piece at a time by reading books, reviewing TIDS, cruising the Novell website, and testing NDS with NetPro's products.

Stuck obituaries can ruin your whole day. If you don't believe it, try to add a replica or move a partition when Novell Directory Services (NDS) is plagued by stuck obituaries. If it doesn't stop you dead in your tracks, it'll make things very difficult and ultimately wreak havoc on your directory's performance.

Without a proactive approach to NDS management, staying on top of stuck obituaries is a significant challenge. Fortunately, the new release of NetPro's proactive NDS monitoring and alerting software, DS Expert 3.0, tackles that challenge head on. DS Expert watches NDS 24x7 and alerts you when a stuck obituary occurs. It even shows you where the stuck obituary is located so you can quickly resolve the problem and move forward. That's not all, DS Expert 3.0 automates the entire NDS health check process, bringing to light both obvious NDS issues and those that bubble up only when you try to perform NDS operations.

What are stuck obituaries?

Obituaries are placeholders created by NDS for objects that have been flagged for Deletion, Move, or Rename. In effect, they track changes across the distributed NDS database. When an obituary does not progress through its natural states --from Notified, Issued, Ok to Purge, to Purgeable -- an obituary is considered stuck, and it's common to experience problems. For example, you may attempt to add a replica to a server to accommodate additional resources at a remote location, only to receive the error message: "Error --637 Previous Move in Progress." Until you identify the problem and resolve it through manual troubleshooting, you cannot proceed with an operation as simple as adding a replica -- or any other normal NDS operation for that matter. That's where DS Expert comes in.

DS Expert Puts NDS Health on Autopilot

DS Expert shows you when NDS is healthy and when it's not, clearly indicating when it's safe to perform an NDS operation. It proactively alerts on every major point of failure in NDS, sending alerts to both the DS Expert console and via SNMP to your pager or management console. In addition to stuck obituaries, you'll know about everything from invalid backlinks and external references to slow sync, DS locking and TTS disabled conditions. Left unattended, these error conditions could corrupt the NDS database and potentially break the NDS tree. Without DS Expert, the only way to forestall these problems is by conducting routine, often time-consuming NDS health checks. DS Expert 3.0 eliminates the need to perform these tasks and improves NDS reliability by alerting you immediately when NDS health and performance issues arise.

Finding Stuck Obituaries with Traditional Tools

If you had to manually troubleshoot "Error 637?Previous Move in Progress," you would likely begin with DSRepair. But first, you would attempt to assess the nature of the problem by asking a few key questions: Are all of my servers up? Is there a connectivity issue? Do I have a stuck obituary? At that point, you would begin troubleshooting by following these steps:

  1. Identify the partition where you planned to add a replica.
  2. Determine the servers in that replica ring.
  3. Begin troubleshooting the server that contains the master replica.
  4. RConsole to each server in the replica ring.
  5. Load DSRepair --A (See Novell's TID # 10012763).
  6. Select Advanced Options
  7. Select Check External References
  8. Sort through the entries. They will look something like this:
  9. Found obituary at VID: 00012345, EID: 00001234, DN:
    TV: 11-20-1999 19:30:29 0001, Type = 0003 Inhibit_move, Flags = 0000

    Found obituary at VID: 00112345, EID: 20001234, DN:
    TV: 05-19-1999 15:30:00 0001, Type = 0005 New_RDN, Flags = 0001

    Found obituary at VID: 01112345, EID: 10001234, DN:
    TV: 07-28-1999 12:29:00 0001, Type = 0004 Old_RDN, Flags = 0004

  10. Identify the timestamp found after TV.
  11. If the timestamp is older than an hour or so, it indicates a stuck obituary.

Because these logs also reference obituaries that are progressing normally, you need a keen eye to discover the obituaries that are causing your NDS headache. And, in order to find the obituary, you need to determine the type. The cause of the "Previous Move in Progress" error message is depicted in the first example as the "inhibit_move" obituary, one of at least 10 different types of obituaries. An "inhibit_move" obituary means that you will have to find the matching "moved" obituary with the same object name in another context before you can clear the obituaries. To do this, you have to pour over each of the Found Obituary lines in the DSRepair log on the rest of the servers in the replica ring. To determine which obituaries are old or stuck may require several hours or more of concentrated troubleshooting, depending on the size and design of your NDS tree.

Pinpoint stuck obituary problems in real time with DS Expert—before they impact your directory.

The newest alert in DS Expert v3.0, called Old Obituary, alerts you to all types and kinds of stuck obituaries in real time. It means you can forget about manual troubleshooting to identify the nature and location of obituary problems. And it means you can cross manual health checks off your list as well. If any object's obituary has not been modified (and is therefore stuck) for a period of time that exceeds the threshold you set in DS Expert, an alert will appear. The Obituary Tab includes the fully distinguished name of each stuck obituary, as well as the obituary type and the obituary state. With DS Expert, you'll know all of the facts about your obituaries -- without laboring over DSRepair logs. DS Expert saves you valuable time by displaying the data in a grid format and highlighting only the obituaries that have not advanced within the span of time you set as your threshold.

Pinpointing stuck obituaries is simple with DS Expert.

  1. Install and run DS Expert.
  2. Expand your NDS tree view to see each server.
  3. Select each server with a red alert beside it.
  4. Select the Alerts Tab for each server. If the alert "Server has old obituaries" is highlighted in red, then you have stuck obituaries.
  5. Select the Obituaries Tab to see detailed information in grid format.
  6. Resolve most stuck obituaries that DS Expert identifies by utilizing DSRepair.

Don't let stuck obituaries ruin your whole day. DS Expert gives you the power to find stuck obituaries -- and all other potential NDS errors -- before they impact your business-critical operations. To evaluate DS Expert free for 30 days or to find out more about DS Expert, please visit us at

Resources and Reference

For information on solving stuck obituaries, please refer to the following Novell TIDs:

Novell TID# 10012763, Error -637 Previous Move in Progress
Novell TID# 2942837, Resolving -637 errors without calling Novell
Novell TID# 2928601, DSRepair and Obituaries
Novell TID# 2934240, Ensuring a successful move of server objects
Novell TID# 2951627, Common DSRepair Switches including explanations

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