April 20, 2006

Unable to connect to domino server from notes client

I have learned the hard way that renaming domino servers should be avoided if possible. However if it has been done you might bump into problems with reaching domino servers from the notes clients due to the fact that old server names still might be listed here and there in the environment. This is typically noticed when using bookmarks.

If there are references to the old servername left somewhere on the client, the bookmarks has a tendency of pointing to the old servername even if you specifically fix them. This also happens when using bookmarks through policies. It doesn't matter if you add new bookmarks with a reference to the correct servername, the old servername comes back and is globally spread to the organization through the policy. It doesn't make it easier that bookmark policies works fine when adding policies but works poorly for changing or removing bookmarks. This gave me some grey hairs because it resulted in that the organization got duplicates of all policy-based bookmarks.

It is a tough one to find out what to do but I have some tip that might help you:

  • When clicking on a bookmark in the client or trying to open a database using Ctrl-O, the notes client first looks for information in the cache. If the cache doesn't help a lookup is done in catalog.nsf. The problem is that if the cache contains old server names it will not help. If catalog.nsf is not correct established or used it will not help either which will result in that the client will not find the server. In this case a trace might help you. Try the hierarchical server name first, second try the ip which also will create a connection document in the personal address book to that server. A trace is not a solution in the long run for a larger organization because it has to be done by user. First try to make the cache work and then fix the catalog.
  • Clear cache fields in the location document
    Clear references to the old server name. These are located in the location document in the personal NAB or on the server. Read more about this in this technote.
  • Establish catalog.nsf correctly
    There should be a catalog.nsf on every Domino server in the domain and these are replicas of each other. A catalog.nsf can list databases only on that server or it can be a domain catalog which means that it lists all databases on all servers in the domain, that is it is Domain catalog enabled in the server document. Look at the picture below. The field 'Catalog/domain search server' shows which server that are used as a catalog server. That server should thus be Domain catalog enabled because it will then point out the way to other databases on other servers which could be the target for a bookmark. If the field is empty the home/mail server is used by default. Also make sure that the catalog task runs as it should on every server. I believe the default is at 01:00 every night.

  • One more reason for getting the error message "unable to connect to server..." is actually wrong. The reason can be if you're trying to access the database through a document link, view link or a bookmark and you are not listed in the ACL of the database.

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