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Altiris Task Server Best Practices - Part 3: Configuring Task Server

Created: 03 Sep 2007 • Updated: 09 Apr 2009 | 7 comments
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BRING's picture
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Learn how to properly configure your Task Server(s) in this third article in the series. We'll cover everything from making sure your servers are available and approved to making sure you've properly assigned collections and configured the Agent.

Task Server Configuration Procedure

It is important to make sure that once the Task Server(s) is installed, we make sure they are configured properly. The primary configuration concerns for Task Server are:

  • Assuring that all Task Servers are approved and available
  • Assuring that the correct collections are managed by the right Task Servers
  • That tickle functions occur at the appropriate intervals
  • The Task Servers are active.

Approving Task Servers

Task Servers must be approved before they can be used. This is to prevent outside sources from creating an unauthorized Task Server and gaining access to the Notification Database.

Task Servers must be included in the following collections to be approved Task Servers:

  • Task Servers - This collection was created to be used when deploying Task Servers.
  • Approved Task Servers - This collection can contains the list of Task Servers that have been added to the Task Servers collection.

Figure 1 - Approved Task Servers Collection

Click to view.

If you use the Task Servers policy page, Notification Server chooses which Task Server to use based on the collection that the client computer is in.

When a job or task is selected to run, Notification Server first looks at the list you create on the Task Servers policy page. The first available Task Server you have selected to manage a collection is chosen to deliver the job or task to the client computers in the collection. If the first Task Server listed for the collection is not available, the next one on the list is chosen, and so on.

You should assign collections to Task Servers by using the Task Servers policy page, and as explained in the next section. This is very important. Experience has shown that if there are no Task Servers listed on the Task Servers policy page, or if none of the Task Servers listed on this page are available for the collections that are listed, the Notification Server chooses itself as the Task Server to service the requesting client computers.

Assigning Collections to Task Servers

Once all of the Task Servers are correctly configured, you can then assign collections to them.

After a client computer uses a Task Server, it continues to use that same Task Server until its Altiris Agent is restarted. The Altiris Agent is restarted when a computer is restarted.

If you have multiple Task Servers, you can easily configure which client collections get managed by which Task Servers. You do this on the Task Servers policy page. The Task Servers policy page can be used if your network is not organized into subnets already or if you want greater flexibility in managing your collections through Task Servers.

Figure 2 - Task Servers Configuration Page

Click to view.

If you do not assign Task Servers by using the Task Servers policy page, the Notification Server chooses which Task Server to use to send a job or task, based on which Task Server is closest to the client computer.

If you use the Task Servers policy page, Notification Server chooses which Task Server to use based on the collection that the client computer is in.

When a job or task is selected to run, Notification Server first looks at the list you create on the Task Servers policy page. The first available Task Server you have selected to manage a collection is chosen to deliver the job or task to the client computers in the collection. If the first Task Server listed for the collection is not available, the next one on the list is chosen, and so on.

If there are no Task Servers listed on the Task Servers policy page, or if none of the Task Servers listed on this page are available for the collections that are listed, the Notification Server chooses which Task Server to use based on its proximity to the client computer

Example: You have a collection called .All Windows XP Computers. and a collection called .All Windows 2000 Computers.. You also have four Task Servers: Task Server 1, Task Server 2, Task Server 3, and Task Server 4. You want two Task Servers to manage each collection. You would add the two collections to the list on the Task Servers policy page. Then you select Task Server 1 and Task Server 2 to manage the .All Windows XP Computers. collection and Task Server 3 and Task Server 4 to manage the .All Windows 2000 Computers. collection. You can then change the order of which Task Server gets chosen by moving Task Server 2 in front of Task Server 1. Then, suppose you create a job and select it to run on all Windows XP computers. Notification Server will try to send the job to Task Server 2, which will send the job to all Windows XP computers. If Task Server 2 is not available, Notification Server sends the job to Task Server 1.

Configuring Agent Configuration (Agent Tickle Values)

While it often is not necessary, you may need to adjust the server settings for client tickle. Figure 12 below shows this setting. To access it, go to Task Management<Task Server Configuration<Agent Configuration. You can change options for the following parameters:

  • Applies to Collection - This is the collection that these settings changes will apply to
  • Task Request Interval - This value is used to control the amount of time between requests to the Task Server for new Tasks, and the value is in minutes. Default is 5 minutes.
  • Send Status Interval - This value is used to determine the frequency with which status change activities are sent to the server. These might be something like "Task Started", or "Task Completed". This value is in seconds and the default is 60.

Figure 3 - Agent Configuration Page

Click to view.

Best Practices: Configuring Task Servers

  • NS will choose the Task server to use based on proximity to the client if this page is not configured
  • Collections are used to assign Task Servers and also to determine failover. Choose your Failover servers wisely
  • Remember to Click "Apply" at the bottom of the Task Servers page. Sometimes it is easy to forget to do that.
  • If you have more than 500 machines, do not use the default settings for the Task Request or the Send Status interval. They should be increased to service the load accordingly.
  • Also, it is not recommended to change the default collection. Since sub-agents are also required to be installed, in order for Task Server Tasks to be run and completed, this setting will not affect machines that do not have Task Server agents installed.
  • Another way to restart the Altiris Agent is to install a software package that has a script that performs a Net stop and a Net start.

Altiris Task Server Best Practices - Part 2: Installing Task Server

Altiris Task Server Best Practices - Part 4: Creating and Managing Tasks

Comments 7 CommentsJump to latest comment

PeeGee's picture

Thanks for this article BRING!

You write: "NS will choose the Task server to use based on proximity to the client if this page is not configured "

How is the proximity determined?

I'd like to install a Task Server on each of my (46) Package Servers. Does the Task Server lookup "Site" information which is configured in conjunction with Package Servers?

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BRING's picture

The proximity is determined by the subnet of client. If there is a Task server that has the exact same subnet as the client, then it will use that Task Server. Otherwise it should fail over to the NS, then.

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Ryan Rackley's picture

Thanks for the great article!!

I have installed my task server and followed the best practices and am experiencing an issue on my task servers. The 'Altiris Http Server' service stops on roughly 40% of my task servers and seems to do so on a weekly basis (monday night). I have set the auto recovery for this service to always restart, but I'm not convinced that the service is actually having an issue. Do you know of anything at the server level that could be shutting down the task servers?

Thanks in advance

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BRING's picture

I assume that there are no other HTTP services running on the Task Server. Are there any weekly virus scanning or backup programs that might be hitting the service files and hanging the service? You might try an exclusion for those files and see if that resolves the problem.

If not, opening up a ticket with support, and providing event viewer log files, and the altiris agent log files would be helpful.

Logging on the HTTP service is pretty weak currently, partially due the light nature of it.

Have you also tested IIS to see if it exhibits the same problem?

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shd's picture

I'm trying to execute a just one exe/bat file from the msi script with some parameters using
execute program from installed file action, Always i get a error while running..
may be i'm missing some steps..

I appreciate your help on this.

Thanks
hd

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R-Vijay's picture

Create a VBScript file
----------------------------------

If your batch file(yourbatchfilename.bat) is installed in INSTALLDIR.

Then this code snippet should work..

dim OShell, BatchFilePath
OShell = createobject(“Wscript.shell”)
BatchFilePath = Session.Property(“CustomActionData”)
shell.run chr(34) & BatchFilePath & yourbatchfilename.bat & parmeter1 & parameter2 & parameter3 & chr(34)
set OShell = nothing.
--------------------------------------

else

dim OShell, BatchFilePath
OShell = createobject(“Wscript.shell”)
BatchFilePath = Session.Property(“CustomActionData”)
shell.run chr(34) & BatchFilePath & \folder1\folder2\fodler3\yourbatchfilename.bat & parmeter1 & parameter2 & parameter3 & chr(34)
set shell = nothing.

------------------------------------------------

Microsoft MVP [Setup-Deploy]
Weblog: www.msigeek.com

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Gregor14's picture

Hi BRING,

thank you for that good best practice guide :-)

I have three different NS with each less than 500 clients...

do I have to do the
"Approving Task Servers"- and
"Assigning Collections to Task Servers"-steps as well ?

Thanks
Gregor

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