Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fix: Blank Desktop on Windows Server 2008 R2

I normally don’t login to my domain controller that frequently as there aren’t much changes I need to do, especially on a lab environment. It was probably about a month ago that I had logged on to my domain controller, Server 2008 R2 Std, to reboot the server after patch installation. I never really logged back as my network was functional (so I guess I didn’t have to). Well today, when I tried to RDP to the server (HP Proliant Microserver) to create a test userID, all I got was a blue blank screen after I entered my domain credentials. I thought the GUI may still be loading as sometimes loading winlogon.exe can take few minutes but I got nothing for 15 minutes and longer. I tried Ctrl+Alt+End in RDP session and clicked on “Task Manager”. Again nothing happened. Then I tried Ctrl+Shift+Esc (should launch Task Manager in remote session as well) that went in vain as well. Not knowing what's going on and literally lazy to look into the event viewer of the DC, I restarted the system. I then tried RDP’ing back – same results. Tried the steps again to get to task manager to see if I can execute explorer.exe but no success. Then I physically went to the server for a logon and I got the same blue screen!

Whew! Its now clear something went wrong in the last patching as I know I made no changes to the domain controller after. I had another long due item that I wanted to try at this time, create a second domain controller in the domain for failovers. Yes, it was a VM on my different rack server and interesting enough, as soon as I installed the Active Directory role on it and rebooted the VM, same issue started to happen. For a minute, I thought my entire domain now has issues because just promoting another server as domain controller, I saw the same results. Desperate to resolve the issue, I started looking at the event viewer (finally) on this VM using another machine and I started seeing messages under Windows Logon as -

The Windows logon process has failed to spawn a user application. Application name: . Command line parameters: C:\Windows\system32\userinit.exe

And sure, a quick Google search on that string landed me here -
Blank Desktop on Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008

There were two major differences that didn’t apply to my situation: my system is a domain controller and its a Windows Server 2008 R2. And sure enough, method 1 under resolution of that KB didn’t apply to my server as local users and groups manager (lusrmgr.msc) isn't available on domain controllers. I still thought I should try and after rebooting to Safe Mode with Networking in my new VM, I used the method 2 described on the article -

Run the following commands from a command prompt:
Net localgroup Users Interactive /add
Net localgroup Users "Authenticated Users" /add

When rebooted back to normal mode, it was all resolved. I followed the same steps on the Proliant Microserver as well and things came back to normal.

Another windows issue resolved!

1 comment:

  1. This just happened to me today; I am going back tonight and I will see if this resolves the issue. I am hoping so, I do not want to do a restore.