Internal Server Error – Contact Your System Administrator

6 12 2011

December 6, 2011

The Oracle OTN forums changed a bit a year or two ago, and in the process I stopped receiving email notifications when new entries were added to discussion threads.  The absence of email notifications was not a significant loss, although at times it is a bit interesting to see how a post in some of the threads changed a week or two after the initial post.  It appears that the OTN staff have corrected the email notification problems, and the speed of the forums seems to have improved significantly since the dramatic performance drop that was caused by an upgrade to the OTN forums a couple of years ago.

An interesting new problem has arrived.  The unbreakable (but free) forums tell me to contact the system administrator after I attempt to log in – the web server claims that the problem is caused by either an internal error or a misconfiguration.  I tried calling the system administrator here, but his phone is busy every time I try to place the call, and remarkably I always get interrupted when I try calling from a different phone.  ;-)  This is the error that I see immediately after logging in:

What is really irritating is that I received three emails today from OTN telling me that the OP has updated an OTN thread that I responded to, but sadly I cannot reach that thread.  After logging into OTN, I can’t even tell the browser to display forums.oracle.com – this is what I see: 

I can make it into Metalink (My Oracle Support) without an issue – I didn’t even need to log in (no password requested):

So, what happens if I click Sign Out in My Oracle Support?  Let’s try and then head back to forums.oracle.com (this seems to work sometimes):

So, the forums work, just as long as you do not care to contribute.  :-)  If we skip the login step, there are a couple of threads in the Community Feedback and Discussion forum about the problems (thread1, thread2).

Let’s log in again… (something comes to mind about the definition of insanity and doing something over and over again):

Out of curiosity, let’s see where forums.oracle.com is pointing:The traceroute is successful (ignore the long ping times – that was caused by other traffic on the Internet connection).

I noted that Google’s 8.8.8.8 DNS server is currently resolving forums.oracle.com also to e4606.b.akamaiedge.net which Google’s DNS server indicates is at IP address 184.25.198.174 (using Google’s DNS server does not change the error message that is displayed in the browser):

Without using Google’s DNS server, forums.oracle.com resolves to 23.1.18.174, as indicated by the trace route output.  I was curious what Wireshark might show when attempting to display forums.oracle.com (while logged in), so I fired it up and then told the browser to refresh the screen twice:

TCP ACKed lost segments…  Would the same problem happen when using Google’s DNS server, which points at IP address 184.25.198.174?  Let’s check:

Not exactly the same, but similar.  I have not spent a lot of time trying to dig through the Wireshark captures, but it is a bit odd that there are still TCP retransmissions (I might need to take a closer look at the Internet connection).

I guess that maybe this blog article drifted a bit.  Anyone else fail to connect 100% of the time, or never have a problem connecting?  I can only imagine the staff changes that probably would take place if one of our internal systems offered less than 95% uptime, much less the 99.99999% uptime that seems to be our internal expectation.  It is important to keep in mind that the OTN forums (even the copyrighted error message in the second screen capture) is a free service offered by Oracle Corporation – the problems will be resolved.


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10 responses

6 12 2011
Timur Akhmadeev

Charles

I’ve encountered same problem many times during last couple of months. You can see in this thread the problem is “being worked to resolve”. Try to delete forums.oracle.com cookies, it helped me last time to log in successfully.

6 12 2011
Charles Hooper

Timur,

Thank you for the comment. I actually saw your comment in the OTN thread, and tried deleting cookies before posting this blog article. At least using the interface offered by Internet Explorer 8, deleting the cookies had no effect. If I closed all the way out of all Internet Explorer windows, and then restarted Internet Explorer, forums.oracle.com would then consider me to not be logged in, so I could see the web pages again until I attempted to log in.

Windows 7 does a very effective job of hiding the actual location of cookies when using the Explorer interface. After seeing your post in this article, I decided to use a Windows command line to locate the cookies. The cookies are stored in the following location:
C:\Users\usernamehere\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies\

In that location, I found files with the names of 0BVVBRKM.txt, 1OELPVJ6.txt, G66FDXTE.txt, KP4K9CJF.txt, MH2D4B9W.txt, ZER63WOZ.txt (these names are probably unique to my computer) that contained the word Oracle, so I moved those files to a different location. I then tried forums.oracle.com again – same error. I closed all Internet Explorer windows (confirmed that all related processes were closed with Task Manager), and then tried the forums.oracle.com site again. This time I was able to successfully log in.

In short, your suggestion worked, but it was not as straight forward as I expected. Thanks for the idea. On a side note, the OTN Forums work fine in Windows XP Mode on Windows 7 (100% success rate – OK, it worked 1 out of 1 time).

6 12 2011
jgarry

http://www.akamai.com/html/technology/edgeplatform.html my inner cynic wonders if maybe this is a case of the observer interfering.

6 12 2011
Charles Hooper

Joel,

You might have found something interesting. Have you had any difficulty logging into OTN?

I executed a trace route from home, and see that my computer is picking up the same IP address for forums.oracle.com as I received when using Google’s DNS server.

C:\Users\hooper>tracert forums.oracle.com
 
Tracing route to e4606.b.akamaiedge.net [184.25.186.174]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
 
  1     1 ms     1 ms     9 ms  192.yyy.yyy.yyy
  2    90 ms    86 ms    69 ms  32.z
  3    79 ms   103 ms    70 ms  127.z
  4    82 ms    98 ms    99 ms  178.z
  5    67 ms   100 ms    87 ms  65.z
  6    89 ms   101 ms    94 ms  146.z
  7    76 ms    83 ms    99 ms  4.z
  8    77 ms    65 ms    73 ms  3.z
  9    94 ms   131 ms    79 ms  253.z
 10   112 ms   110 ms    99 ms  TenGigE0-0-0-0.GW2.CLE3.ALTER.NET [65.195.240.17]
 11   116 ms    94 ms   116 ms  0.xe-3-2-0.XL2.CLE3.ALTER.NET [152.63.67.125]
 12   148 ms   122 ms   116 ms  0.ge-5-2-0.XL4.CHI13.ALTER.NET [152.63.64.218]
 13   133 ms   238 ms   209 ms  0.ae4.BR3.CHI13.ALTER.NET [152.63.66.78]
 14     *      119 ms   145 ms  204.255.168.154
 15   128 ms   103 ms    97 ms  a184-25-186-174.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com [184.25.186.174]

Do you see the same IP address when running tracert forums.oracle.com ?

7 12 2011
Gary

I was having trouble last week or so. I haven’t bothered contributing to the OTN Forums for years. Too many problems posting code, and forget about images or dumps. I’ve also given up on Oracle Mix. I get the occasional connection invite from some-one, but when I try to log in it tells me i don’t exist and then errors when it tries to create me.

I also remember having a problem downloading software from OTN some months back which I managed to resolve by switching to Google’s DNS resolution. I think the ‘local’ copy of the file that was being served to Australia was corrupted.

7 12 2011
Charles Hooper

The OTN forums have had a bit of difficulty in the last couple of years. Regarding the code posting problems on that site – yes, they are still present somewhat. The SQL not-equal (less than followed by greater than) still causes problems, but the SQL substitute != displays fine. The source code tags changed – now {code} should be placed immediately before and after the source code sections.

At times it would be nice to attach an image to an OTN post to better illustrate concepts when helping people. I recall reading some of the discussions in the Community Feedback and Discussion forum about posting images. If I remember correctly, when the feature was enabled, it was occasionally abused – used to post image spam messages and inappropriate images for a work environment. Additionally, some of the members posting in the feedback threads indicated that they pay a fee to their Internet host for every megabyte of data that is downloaded (this is currently the case for me at home – at the time of the thread I had a dial-up modem connection), and that the majority of the pictures that were attached were not sufficiently helpful to justify the data transfer costs.

The single-sign on system that allows a single log in to work for the OTN forums and Metalink (My Oracle Support) has no doubt caused some problems. I used a different email address on the OTN forums than I had used for access to Metalink. To work around the problem, I just set up the Metalink (My Oracle Support) account to accept the email address that I use on the OTN forums. That seemed to solve most of the single-sign on problems that I experienced.

I have no experience with Oracle Mix. I think that I was also experiencing problems with corrupt OTN downloads a month or two ago, but I wrote it off as a problem on my end of the connection.

Thanks for the report from Australia.

7 12 2011
Rui Amaral

I have been encountering this issue off and on for the last month or so regardless of which machine I use (home or work) so certainly nothing client based. I have configured my browser to clear the cache and cookies on every close so when I start up it should be clear of cookies but I still periodically encounter this issue. Location is Canada

7 12 2011
Charles Hooper

I think that this week was the first time (maybe it is the second time) that I was affected by this particular problem on the OTN forums. It is a bit odd that the problem only affected my work computer (both Monday and Tuesday), while my primary home computer had no problem (the Windows event log is reporting that computer has been up for 1,346,928 seconds ~ 16 days, which means that it has been in and out of sleep mode at least 15 times). I am now wondering if I have not had a problem on this primary home computer because it has not been rebooted, while my work computer is shut off every Friday.

Rui,

Thank you for the report from Canada – it is good to hear that it is not just an isolated issue. I wonder if something is written to the cookies that essentially states: the last server that authenticated this user is: xyz, so if that server goes offline, the verification step immediately after the login fails. What is strange is that I told Internet Explorer 8 to delete all temp Internet files and cookies, yet I still found 6 files in the cookies directory that contained the word “oracle”. Rui, if you are running Windows, can you navigate to the Cookies directory (I found it in C:\Users\usernamehere\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies\, where usernamehere is hooper in the above screen captures) and verify that no files exist whose contents contain the word oracle. If you do find such files, move them to a different folder, completely close all Internet Explorer windows, and then try to log into the OTN site. I am curious to know if this solution also works for you.

8 12 2011
Rui Amaral

Charles,

yes that did work for me… both in IE and removing ALL oracle related cookies within Firefox. Doing that manually raises some questions for me but yes it works.

9 12 2011
Charles Hooper

Rui,

Thank you for the follow up.

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