Recently I wrote a few articles about the problems with printer drivers in a multi-user environment. In the past weeks I’ve been troubleshooting a problem with Citrix servers who randomly hang, without any clear cause.
The source of all problems was a classic issue, bad printer drivers.
So what happened?
This can be seen through different eyes, and different perspective. The end-user, administrator and the consultant.
Lets start with the end-user. The end-user is doing what he’s doing every day, working. Editing some documents, printing reports, browsing on the internet and doing some accounting and then… everything continues. But opening a new application fails, and internet pages won’t open anymore. But all other applications respond well.
New users are unable to connect to the servers, the ‘hang’ while waiting for the desktop to show.
User: I can’t work like this! I’ll turn of my terminal and try again! (which fails, btw).
Let’s assume the adminstrator actively monitors the server. He already has a session opened and he’s monitoring the server with TSAdmin and performance monitor.
The most obvious sign is that the server doesn’t respond / refresh anymore in the TSAdmin and the performance values no longer refresh. There are no diagnostics available anymore.
However, same as with the users, the session of the administrator still respons well.
Because launching a new task manager fails (only the tray icons shows) we’ll assume the administrator already opened the task manager. Just like the performance data collected remotely, the task administrator doesn’t refresh anymore. It’s unresponsive.
Administrator : I can’t administer this server! All I can do is restart the server.
The consultant (Hi! That’s me!) looks at the server and sees the same as the administrator. I hangs, but it doesn’t. All the signals tell me that this is a known error, altough there are more possibilities. Desktop heap exhaustion, black hole effect or print spooler… As a quick test the print spooler is killed (and the Citrix Print Spooler service). And guess what, the server continues to work!
Consultant : There are issues with printer drivers!
After a long and thorough search I finnaly found the source of the problems.
The customer uses a “Konica Minolta Di5510” multi functional printer and has recently been added to the network (due to a merge). This printer uses the “Fiery X3e 7255BW-KM eu” driver and this driver causes the problem.
After replacing the driver with a different, more general, driver the problem was ‘solved’. The environment has been stable for two weeks (and counting).
Altough the driver worked before on a 2003/PS4 environment, it didn’t work well on a 2003R2/XA5 environment.
Unfortunately there’s just 1 driver available for both PS as PCL, version 1.0. And since this is a MFP, a different driver result in a loss of functionality.
Since the source of the problem is solved, the customer is happy. A real solution is investigated. This can either be a new driver, a new printer or using a silo.
In case you’re having the same problem with the printer you can find the printer driver (and hopefully a new version) here.
Finding the source of the problems
In these situations finding the source of the problem isn’t easy. There are so many possible places to look, it takes a lot of time. Because of the signs (sort-off) hanging and the quickfix (kill the print spooler) I started by testing the printer drivers.
After a stresstest of the printer drivers the most plausible cause was the “Fiery X3e 7255BW-KM eu” printer driver.