IBM Connections Mail not working due to Domino view oddness

I’m sure I could have come up with a better title but I’m not sure how else to put it.

Prior to going live with an internal Connections 5.5 deployment my colleagues in India were testing Connections and they kept getting the following error appear on each page in Connections.

"You are no longer logged in. Click OK to discard your current work and go to the log in screen...."

1

Having seen this in customer environments in the past I knew it was due to IBM Connections  Mail but I didn’t know why.

I had the user open up (in a new tab in the same browser) the URL for iNotes and he got the following error.

"CN=****** you have insufficient rights for /mail/***.nsf. Please login with a username and password which has sufficient rights."

2

SSO has been set up correctly and the configuration is the same for everyone. Those in the UK work fine.

I compared the DistinguishedName in AD (as Connections uses AD for it’s LDAP) and the OU my colleagues in India use differs to those in the UK. I noticed that there was a double space between the words in one of the India OUs. That was the only difference between the two sets of users.

I checked the value in the user’s person document, Administration tab and LTPA user name field and it showed correctly ie it had the double spaces in it.

My colleague looked at all the users connect to the iNotes server. For me it showed my Domino format name ie Ben Williams/Something/Org but for the problematic user and his colleagues it showed his AD name still. So name resolution wasn’t working.

We scratched our heads and then I remembered an old problem for a customer (not related) and had my colleague open the address book and we looked in the $USERS view. In there we saw the user but the DN did not have the double space but a single space. That would explain why the AD DN didn’t resolve to the Domino hierarchical name.

When my colleague attempted to paste the AD DN into the user name field of his person document and save the change we saw that the text “moved” removing the additional space! I Googled, looked at the old Domino Technote database and the APAR support website but I couldn’t find anything to describe why this would happen.

In the end I spoke with our AD guys and they updated the OU removing the extra space. Then we updated the LTPA user name field (just to keep things clean) and our brethren in our India office could use IBM Connections Mail.

Sametime and NETWORK_SPRAYER_ADDRESS

I am planning to move our internal servers to the latest Sametime servers which are using  a different LDAP. I have constructed managed-community-configs.xml to redirect the clients to the new Community server sitting behind a DNS alias of sametime.acme.com whilst resetting the client and automatically signing them in to the new servers using Notes client single sign on but I kept having a problem when the client tried to log in to the new Community server.

I found that the client wouldn’t log in to the new server using the Notes single sign on method. This process sends the Notes ID to the Community server (or another Domino server). Domino then checks the Notes ID and then sends back an LtpaToken to the Notes client. The Notes client sends the same LtpaToken to the Community server which Sametime uses to authenticate the user.

This really frustrated me. I couldn’t work out why this was happening. I enabled Wireshark trace and compared a successful connection to another server with the failing one. I found that the packets were similar up until a point and then there was a FIN, ACK. This normally means one of the host terminates the connection which seemed odd.

I spoke with a colleague who is a goldmine of Domino knowledge and after a bit of experimentation we found that when I try opening sametime.acme.com in the Notes client (Ctrl + O) it failed whilst it worked when opening a database for the actual Domino server ie sametime004.acme.com worked.

When putting  a trace on the client I got the following:

Using address 'x.x.x.x' for sametime.acme.com on TCPIP
Connected to the wrong server Sametime/Servers/ACME using address x.x.x.x
Using address 'sametime.acme.com' for sametime.acme.com on TCPIP
Unable to connect to sametime.acme.com on TCPIP (The server is not 
responding. The server may be down or you may be experiencing network 
problems. Contact your system administrator if this problem persists.)

The server document does not have sametime.acme.com listed but sametime004.acme.com since that is the name of the Domino server. I changed the name of the fqhn on the basics tab to sametime.acme.com and restarted the server. Now, I could access a database using sametime.acme.com.

Going back to the Wireshark trace it looks like the FIN, ACK was because the Notes client was stopped from connecting to the Domino server due to the different names.

My colleague then came up with NETWORK_SPRAYER_ADDRESS. This notes.ini value is described here.

When a notes client connects to a Domino server part of the protocol 
exchange includes the notes client telling the server what it thinks 
the server's name is.If the names do not match, the connection is 
terminated. This mechanism is part of the code which supports partitioned 
servers running on the same IP address. However, because of this 
algorithm, we cannot use network sprayers in front of Domino servers. 
When a Notes client uses a Network Sprayer address as a Domino server 
address, the network sprayer may make the final connection to any of 
the Domino servers behind it. If the name supplied by the client is not 
the Domino server name of the selected server, the connection will be 
broken. This fix provides a mechanism to skip the server name checking 
to allow this configuration to work.

I stopped Domino, added NETWORK_SPRAYER_ADDRESS=* and then started Domino. On testing I could open a database using sametime.acme.com and sametime004.acme.com.

When testing managed-community-configs.xml my Notes client was signed in fine to the new Community server!

The crux is that the problem was because I was using a DNS alias to connect to Domino which didn’t match the actual Domino server name. Sametime doesn’t care normally but the Notes client obviously does. Using NETWORK_SPRAYER_ADDRESS tells Domino not to care and to allow the client to connect.