Date and time shift when using Lotus Notes in Server 2008 R2 / XenApp

This was an extremely strange / rare issue, so I figured I would share it.

In this customers environment, they are using XenApp 6.5 on Server 2008 R2 for published desktops, this environment is a hosted desktop environment for a number of countries in Europe.

Infrequently an issue could be observed where the users timezones would shift out by one or two hours within the Lotus Notes application. This would case SameTime conversations and Calendar times to display out by the aforementioned value above.

When this issue occurred, it happened to all users on the server. A restart of the server did not fix the issue.

Interestingly, a “TZUtil /g” was reporting the client was in the correct time zone:

If you ran “TZUtil /s GMT Standard Time“, then closed and opened Lotus Notes… The problem was resolved for that user, in that session until they logged off.

It’s worth pointing out, that this issue was only seen in Lotus Notes, not in any other application, java or otherwise.

When comparing the TimeZone settings from a problematic server to a working server, I found the following difference:

These keys are stored under:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlTimeZoneInformation

And the working server looked as follows:

 

Now that is weird! So we copied the correct keys from the server to server and the issue was resolved. On all servers once users closed and opened Lotus Notes again.

But what caused this?

With a work around in place, I began to dig deeper into what caused the timezone to change on the servers despite the fact that no users have the ability to do so.

Analysing the logins to the servers, I spotted an administrator account logging into each of the servers as the day went by. This user didn’t log into the correctly working servers so this was the first clue.

Now if you’ve used Lotus Notes combined with XenApp and timezones before, you’ll know its a complete nightmare, interestingly the administrator in question (me, shamefully), was logging onto a XenApp session with a linux timezone to replicate an issue.

More embarrassingly, I then decided to Remote Desktop inside of the XenApp session to the affected servers, and with my admin account being who it was… inadvertently changed the timezone for the servers it seems.

That doesn’t sound right? You rdp’d from a client in a different time zone and it changed the server timezone?

I agree, but I have since been able to replicate this in a test environment. As with Server 2008 Microsoft now handle the timezone redirection themselves as part of group policy and administrative accounts will change the timezone of the server intermittently.

Now most customers probably wouldn’t even notice this, unless they are using lotus notes, as all other applications behaved correctly.

How do you work around this issue?

Ensure that the Group Policy you use to configure timezone redirection is configured to “not apply” to any local administrator on the XenApp server that may log in.

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3 Comments About “Date and time shift when using Lotus Notes in Server 2008 R2 / XenApp

  1. Mat Newman (@matnewman)

    Ahhhh … so it isn’t really a Lotus Notes ‘issue’ you’re blogging about, you’re describing a situation where Lotus Notes is behaving itself exactly as it *always* has, and is respecting the Time Zone the *Operating System* is telling it to use.

    What you actually appear to be writing here is that Lotus Notes was/is the *only* application that can be trusted to work correctly when the OS time zone is messed about with.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Morgan

      Hi Mat,

      Not sure I’d agree with that statement. Yes the timezone gets skewed and I’d place the blame squarely with Microsoft for that one. But the other applications remains happy that the timezone is correct and don’t update. Whatever is changing in these keys seem to be affecting Lotus Notes only or as I suspect, Eclipse rather than lotus notes.

      I merely tagged lotus notes as lets be honest, this is the application that we saw the problem in and hopefully this will help anyone else with the issue too!

      Thanks as always for the comment Mat!

      Reply
      1. Mat Newman (@matnewman)

        No worries. I for one am glad that Lotus Notes (and it’s core – not an eclipse feature) is one of the few applications that has always included time zones in it’s date stamps, and then localises that information for the reviewer.

        I wonder how many people would be confused if they saw this post was actually created at 2012-08-20-23:23 (ze10) and then thought … hold on – that’s tonight!

        Reply

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