Although it’s been several years since Microsoft released a new version of Systems Management Server (SMS), SMS 2.0 remains a viable network management solution for today’s organizations. Because SMS 2.0 has been around so long, Microsoft has had plenty of time to squash any bugs. The latest update to SMS 2.0, Service Pack 4, is a complex package that requires specific steps before you can apply it. I’ll describe those steps in detail.

SMS Server’s functions
SMS Server is a configuration and change management package that’s designed to ride on top of either Windows NT Server 4.0 or Windows 2000 Server. SMS Server is also integrated with SQL Server.

SMS Server has three primary functions. First, SMS Server is designed to assist network administrators with the process of rolling out applications, service packs, configuration changes, and so on. SMS Server can update applications on servers and workstations alike, so long as they are Windows based. SMS Server can even automatically upgrade workstation operating systems.

The second task that SMS Server was designed for is inventory management. SMS Server detects all of an organization’s hardware and software assets and compiles the results into a database that can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, you can use the hardware inventory for insurance or theft prevention purposes. The software inventory can assist in keeping the company legal and in compliance with existing software licenses.

Finally, SMS Server includes remote troubleshooting capabilities. The remote troubleshooter contains an entire suite of tools designed to aid the helpdesk in troubleshooting and solving common computer problems from a central location.

SMS helps keep you compliant

To learn how SMS can help you track software licenses, see the Daily Drill Down “Tracking software usage with SMS 2.0 Software Metering.”

Bugs corrected by the service pack
Microsoft has always been good about listing the specific problems each service pack fixes. Microsoft’s Product Support Web site has an exhaustive list of SMS problems that Service Pack 4 fixes. Next to each problem is the problem’s Q number from the Microsoft Knowledge Base, and a link to the Knowledge Base article that explains the problem. Service Pack 4 fixes about 85 different problems.

All of the SMS Server 2.0 Service Packs are cumulative. This means that if a problem was fixed in Service Pack 3, the fix is also contained in Service Pack 4. Fixes from Service Packs 3 and earlier are not listed on the Web site link mentioned above. You can view a comprehensive list at the following locations:

Updating the service pack
From an installation standpoint, Service Pack 4 for SMS Server 2.0 is one of the most complex service packs Microsoft has ever released. If you don’t pay very close attention to what you’re doing, you can wreck your server by applying the service pack.

The first step to applying the Service Pack is to download it. You can download the service pack from Microsoft’s SMS 2.0 Service Pack 4 Web site. Be forewarned, though—the service pack is 200 MB in size. At 28.8 Kbps, Microsoft estimates that the download will take just over 16 hours to complete. Therefore, if you don’t have a broadband connection, you might be better off ordering the CD instead of downloading the service pack. If you live in the United States or in Canada, the CD is available for $14.95.

The next step in the process is to determine which version of SMS Server you’re running. Obviously, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably running SMS 2.0, but it’s absolutely critical to know what service pack, if any, is presently installed on your system.

It’s virtually impossible to install Service Pack 4 unless you know what version of SMS Server you have and what service pack level is installed. That means checking your installation CD and your server. To do so, open My Computer or Windows Explorer and browse to your SMS Server installation CD’s \SMSSETUP\BIN\I386 folder. Next, right-click the SETUP.EXE file, and select Properties from the resulting shortcut menu to call up the SETUP.EXE file’s Properties sheet. Examine the Properties sheet’s Product Version field. This field should contain several long strings of numbers separated by decimal points.

The first digit of the last set of numbers indicates the service pack level. For example, if the last group of numbers is 1234, then SMS Server is running Service Pack 1 because the first digit is 1. Below, I’ve included a list of the possible ranges for the product version field, and what those numbers indicate:

  • 2.00.1239.0000 – 2.00.1239.0999 – No service pack
  • 2.00.1380.1000 – 2.00.1380.1999 – Service Pack 1
  • 2.00.1493.2000 – 2.00.1493.2999 – Service Pack 2
  • 2.00.1493.3000 – 2.00.1493.3999 – Service Pack 3
  • 2.00.1493.4000 – 2.00.1493.4999 – Service Pack 4

This information will be important later on, but there are a few other things that you need to know before you get started.

If your SMS Server 2.0 CD is Service Pack 2, you need to determine whether you’ve got the full version, the upgrade version, or the evaluation version. You can easily determine this by looking at the size of the LICENSE.TXT file in the CD’s SMSSETUP folder. If the file size is 25 KB, then you have the full version. If the file is 4 KB, then you have the upgrade version. If you have the evaluation edition, then the file size will be 15 KB. You only need to worry about the CD type if your CD is a Service Pack 2 CD.

The last thing that you need to know is the version of SMS that’s actually installed on your server. The easiest way to determine what version is installed is to open the Registry Editor by using the REGEDIT command. When the Registry Editor opens, navigate to  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\SMS\Setup. The Setup key will tell you the installed version.

Service Pack 2 and 3
Service Pack 4 is significantly different from previous SMS Server 2.0 Service Packs in that it doesn’t require you to use the CD patch tool that previous versions of the Service Pack required. The other side to this is that you can’t just blindly install Service Pack 4 onto a system. The system must be upgraded to either Service Pack 2 or 3 prior to installing Service Pack 4. In this section, I’ll walk you through the process of upgrading your system to Service Pack 2. After doing so, you can upgrade to Service Pack 4. I’ll discuss the procedure for upgrading to Service Pack 4 in the next section. If your system is already running Service Pack 2 or 3, you can skip ahead to the next section.

Upgrading to Service Pack 2
The first step in upgrading to Service Pack 2 is to figure out exactly what it is that you need. This is easier said than done. You can’t upgrade to Service Pack 2 unless your SMS Server installation CD already contains Service Pack 1. If the CD doesn’t contain Service Pack 1, then you’ll have to call Microsoft and order a Service Pack 2 CD. Microsoft no longer supports Service Pack 1 nor offers it for download.

Ordering Service Pack 2 from Microsoft

If you need to order a Service Pack 2 CD, you can call 1-800-360-7561, or go to Microsoft’s SMS 2.0 Service Pack 2 Web site and use the Order button.

If your version is SMS Server 2.0 CD with Service Pack 1, the next step in the process is to download Service Pack 2. One word of caution, though: This service pack can only patch an existing SMS installation. If this doesn’t meet your needs, you can order the Service Pack 2 CD, as above.

Hot fixes are mandatory
After you’ve downloaded the Service Pack, you must apply a couple of hot fixes before installing the Service Pack. These hot fixes are mandatory. If you don’t install them, SMS will not function correctly after the Service Pack is installed. Furthermore, these updates must be applied to every SMS server in the site.

One hot fix deals with the COPYLOG.TCF file’s failure to reflect which site last updated the logon point. There are two different versions of this hot fix. If you’re running Service Pack 1, then you’ll need the version described and contained in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Q249077. If you haven’t installed Service Pack 1 yet, then you’ll need the version of the patch described by Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Q251070.

The other hot fix that you’ll need deals with the problem of CCM avoiding installation attempts on SP2 clients. Once again, there are two different versions of the hot fix, and the version that you’ll need depends on whether you’re running Service Pack 1 yet. If you’re running Service Pack 1, then you’ll need the version of the patch detailed by and contained in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Q252717. If you don’t have Service Pack 1 yet, you’ll need the version contained in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Q252718.

Installing Service Pack 2
Now it’s time to install Service Pack 2. To do so, insert your SMS Server 2.0 with Service Pack 1 CD. Create a new folder in a place that’s accessible through the network, and copy the entire contents of the CD to it. When the copy process completes, close all applications and shut down all unnecessary services. The CD patching process is very resource-intensive and will fail if sufficient resources aren’t available.

Now, run the Service Pack 2 file that you’ve downloaded. When you do, the Service Pack installation file will launch a wizard that will guide you through the process of updating the CD image you created earlier. When the utility prompts you to enter the location of the image, it’s referring to the copy of the SMS Server installation CD that you made earlier.

When the process completes, verify that you see a message stating that the operation was successful. If you see a failure message, you can be assured that the process really did fail. However, a successful message doesn’t necessarily mean that the patching process really was successful.

The only way to find out for sure if the process was successful is to check the image path for the existence of any .TMP files. If you find any .TMP files, then it’s safe to assume that the process has failed. If the process fails, delete the image file and try the entire process again. If the process succeeds, then you’re ready for the next step. At this point, burn the image file onto a CD. You can now use the CD’s SETUP.EXE file to begin the actual upgrade on the server.

Installing Service Pack 4
Now that your system has been upgraded to Service Pack 2 or 3, it’s time to make the jump to Service Pack 4. Before you perform the upgrade, there’s just one more thing that you need to know. After Service Pack 3 was released, Microsoft released a series of patches known as Quick Fix Engineering, or QFEs. Most of the QFEs weren’t included in Service Pack 4. Therefore, if you upgrade to Service Pack 4, any QFEs that you’ve installed will be overwritten. Most of the QFE patches have been adapted for Service Pack 4. You can acquire the QFE patches, along with a list of which patches weren’t incorporated into Service Pack 4, by reading the Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Q323206.

Installing Service Pack 4 is nowhere near as complex as installing Service Pack 2. To install Service Pack 4, just run the file that you downloaded. This will decompress all of the files contained within the self-extracting executable. The files that you’ve decompressed will form an image of a Service Pack 4 CD. All that’s left is to burn the image to a CD and then run the AUTORUN.EXE file to begin the upgrade.