WebExpress Electronic Mail User Interface
The WebExpress software is run by directing a Web Browser
For Student access
is used, for Alumni
is used. These URLs access IIS 4.0 Web servers running over NT4 SP6a,
using Load based DNS to select a server.
WebExpress server Configuration
There are currently four servers, wes01 and wes02 at 4545 and
wes03 and wes04 at 3737. Each server has IIS configured to use
a Thawte Certificate for https, and each Certificate is
associated with an IP address on the front-door network. IIS has
a web site configured for each front-door interface
address. Each site is configured to use the same root
directory and a different scripts virtual directory.
The scripts virtual directory contains the WebExpress
WebExpress.cat catalog file, customized for each site.
Many of the files in the site root directory have been customized from
the original ISOCOR distribution.
Argus monitoring of WebExpress
Operations is performing XHM monitoring of the
wes servers, and the loadm Argus report provides
information from the wes loadr daemons.
Additional monitoring will be setup to test WebExpress.
Reporting problems with WebExpress
Critical problems with the WebExpress service should be reported to
Steve Jones, or to Tom Remmers if Steve cannot be reached. A critical
problem would be one where a server must be taken out of service, or
the entire service shutdown. Non-critical problems can be reported to
Administrative Access to Wes servers
Access to the servers is via the
console switches in the machine rooms.
Each box has it's console port number and name labeled on the front.
Use the switches on the Raritan console box to select which
CPU box to control.
The wes servers do not have 3rd party remote administration tools
installed, nor are they participating in an NT domain.
They will be put in the cac.washington.edu domain when that
becomes production available.
Taking a server out of service
To take a server out of service, stop the loadr
service. Stopping the loadr service will remove the
server from DNS, causing future connections to be directed
to other servers. If it is also necessary to have existing
sessions terminated, The IIS and WebExpress services may
also be stopped. If a reboot is desired to correct a
problem with the server, if possible the loadr service
should be set to disabled in order to prevent the
server from being automatically replaced into service after
Closing down the WebExpress service
Because of concern that the WebExpress software
may fail completely or interfere with imap
service, a contingency has been made to quickly
the WebExpress service. This is done by replacing the
login pages on each of the IIS servers. A server side
ASP page has been put on each of the servers to allow
the closing of the service. That page must be accessed
from melville.u.washington.edu, and has a relative URL
of /closed/closed.asp. A page to re-open the
service has a relative URL of /open/open.asp.
The wes servers run all the production service software as
NT services. The NT services can be controlled via the
commands NET STOP and NET START. More typically,
they are controlled via the Services GUI from the menus
Start, Settings, Control Panel.
Services which have been added are: timeserv, loadr,
webexpress, iis. The service name used for the net stop/start
commands may not be identical to that seen in the services GUI.
In order for WebExpress to access the /we01 network file share
from hugo2, it runs under the sambash account instead
of the default local SYSTEM account.
The TIMESERV service
The TIMESERV service keeps the clock on the wes server
syncronized with our network time service. This service should always
be running and is needed for expiring browser cookies.
The TIMESERV service is obtained from and documented in the
NT resource kit.
The LOADR service
The LOADR service is a port of our unix based loadr daemon
software to NT. The load value provided is not based on any measure
of system load, but rather a random number. This makes the loadr
daemon useful only for putting an individual server into and out of
production. More work is needed to make this daemon more useful. The
NT daemon has a configuration file C:\loadr.ip used to specify
the IP addresses to/from which load requests will be made.
The /WE01 network file share
The Wes servers are dependent upon a network file share mounted
from HUGO2. Hugo2 runs a Samba daemon to serve
network shares. The share /WE01 is made available to the
Wes servers, and also via NFS to the mead computers for
access by UCS Consultants. The Samba log files in
/usr/local/samba/var are automatically cycled by the samba daemon.
The Samba startup file is in the /sbin/init.d directory.
The WebExpress software stores User Preferences files on
the /WE01 share, and will fail if the share is not available.
Access to the share is dependent upon the existance of the sambash
account on hugo2 and in the password server (bono,egg) used by the hugo2
- C:\Program Files\ISOCOR\WebExpress\.prefs
The .prefs file contains default User Preferences, which
are overridden by settings saved by the user.
- C:\Program Files\ISOCOR\WebExpress\WebExpress.conf
The WebExpress.conf file contains the critical configuration
for the WebExpress service daemon. This configuration is very
sensitive to change.
The WebExpress.cat catalog
file contains the configuration of text strings,
URLs and GIF files used in constructing the HTML pages provided
to the user. Most interface changes will be done thru the catalog.
The catalog file is generated from source using the program
Each IIS site will have its virtual scripts directory
pointing to a different Inetpub\scripts[n] directory to obtain
its customized interface settings.
There are a half-dozen or so files in the wwwroot directory
used to facilitate a simple login to WebExpress. The default.htm
page is the default page for the IIS sites. When webexpress logs out,
it will direct the user to the default.htm page. That may be
changed in the future.
WebExpress Test Platform
We currently have a test Platform for WebExpress.
The NT server piltdown.u.washington.edu is located in Row I in the
4545 machine room. Access to the IIS server on piltdown is done
with http, it does not use https, nor does it have any Certificates.
The piltdown server is running WebExpress V2.2, which is a higher version
than currently running on the wes servers. Bugs which are reported for
the WebExpress service should be duplicated on the piltdown server before
being reported to ISOCOR's technical support.
Configuration changes to WebExpress should be tested first on piltdown.
Piltdown does not use the /WE01 network file share, and so user preferences
files saved on piltdown will not interfere with those on the production
The WebExpress service requires a user & password login to
an IMAP server. Because we have other services that are
providing access via the Pubcookie authentication server
weblogin.washington.edu, it is desirable to have
WebExpress also use Pubcookie. That would allow users who have
authenticated with Pubcookie to get to their email without
being prompted for a second login to WebExpress. To achieve this
a modified pubcookie filter is being developed for IIS, also
a proxy imapd server to run on NT, and a change will be needed
for the imapd daemons on our imap servers.
With some luck, another product which provides a similar service
with fewer bugs may also become available.
Perhaps that will be web pine.