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[SOLVED] Unable to update Windows Server 2019 to latest build + troubleshooting

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qubit

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I'm running an Amazon Web Services instance with the free tier Windows Server 2019 base image.

Unfortunately, it's very old build 1809 which I need to update to the latest 20H2. Besides it being generally out of date, I'm getting IIS server errors for my website project, so it really needs to be updated to the latest 20H2 now which will likely resolve them. However, even after giving the VPS lots of memory and SSD space, all Windows Update would do is update this build with a couple of little updates and claim that my installation is up to date. I'm not offered any later builds, not even earlier ones like 1903 or 1909. Also, there's no Group Policy restriction on updates that I can see.

Frantic Googling has not found standalone installers for the later builds either, even when looking through the Microsoft Update Catalog - I may have missed it, but I doubt it.

It looks like these major build updates have to be downloaded from the Microsoft volume licensing centre, but of course I don't have a login for that as I don't have a volume license. Therefore, I've now hit a brick wall and can't continue. Anyone got a solution to getting the build updates?

@Bill_Bright if you can help that would be really appreciated. :)

EDIT: confirmation that it's not available through the Microsoft Update Catalog:


The article is for Windows 10, but will also apply to Server 2019.

EDIT: I've updated the thread title and scope to include troubleshooting this darned server.
 
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Have you considered that whatever you have installed on AWS by default is an LTSC branch? Cause that's what I expect to be used in DC, instead of semi-stable SAC releases.


Just scroll down a bit further if you want to check which version is running. I assume it's Datacenter Edition (which is also LTSC branch).

I'm getting IIS server errors for my website project, so it really needs to be updated to the latest 20H2 now which will likely resolve them.
Is there any particular reason for this conclusion? I really doubt updating windows will resolve issues with IIS, and even less so - your project.
Maybe it's just a simple misconfiguration, code error, some other unforeseen stuff?
 
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No, the update is definitely available for it and should install, it's just not picking it up for some reason. There's three other updates between them too, 1903, 1909 and 2004, so I'd have expected at least one of those to show up.

Remember, I didn't create the VPS image and somewhere along the line, it will have been activated somehow which may be affecting it. I reckon it needs the standalone installer which is hidden behind that damned volume licensing login. Unfortunately, running a Windows 10 instance isn't an option on AWS. That would have been perfect for my simple needs. I'm only installing XenForo and WordPress with some storage for attachments. Microsoft's Azure isn't an option either, because while it offers it, it has some weird licensing requirement so that won't work either.

I beg to differ on the server errors. I appreciate you trying to troubleshoot it, but this thread isn't about that. Regardless, when one sees the types of errors that popped up, with no obvious cause or solution, it's definitely time to update the OS to the latest version. I've tried with the OS as it was since I just wanted to quickly see it work before I went further. Even if it had worked, I would have still hit this brick wall, as the update is the next thing that I would have done.

Note that I'd successfully installed XF on my fully patched W10 20H2 home PC, so know how it's done and what to expect. That was quite a learning curve I tell you, as it was my first time doing this.

Finally, don't worry about hackers, since I've set the VPS to only be accessible from my personal IP address. I'll only open it up if I get the software installed properly and the OS updated, which right now looks like never. :(

EDIT: it's the LTSC version as the edition shows up as Windows Server 2019 Datacenter.
 
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No, the update is definitely available for it and should install, it's just not picking it up for some reason. There's three other updates between them too, 1903, 1909 and 2004, so I'd have expected at least one of those to show up.
As I said before, it'll only show up in semi-annual releases. 1809 is the latest for LTSC. Just read through the Microsoft article I posted earlier, it'll become clearer.
Short version: find a VPS provider that provides Windows 10 SAC images, or wait a couple of months for the next LTSC release.

I appreciate you trying to troubleshoot it, but this thread isn't about that. Regardless, when one sees the types of errors that popped up, with no obvious cause or solution, it's definitely time to update the OS to the latest version.
Just because you've successfully installed it once on your home PC doesn't give you a free pass on making mistakes in the future.
It's a software issue. "No obvious reason" usually means that you haven't found it yet.
I'm sure there is an easier solution to your problem than finding VPS provider which has images of consumer version of Windows 10.

If you really want this thing to work, ping @Solaris17.
 

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Alright, thanks. I get what you're saying about LTSC and it does like it could be the case, that's why I added that edit. I read that article again, really carefully this time. It still seems odd that it's not even offered, since they're simply denying admins a choice, but whatever. But, I'm also right in that one needs a volume license to log into the portal to get the update file, so I'm stuffed.

The one thing I'm just not gonna do is put up a brand new website running on a really old, out of date operating system, whether that's Windows or Linux. It would be really daft.

I've now found another free tier Amazon machine image with Server 2019 with containers that I could try, but I suspect that I'm gonna hit the same roadblock as they don't specify the build in the product description. There doesn't seem to be a paid for tier, either. That might have had the latest build on it, maybe.

Not sure where to go with this at the moment. Perhaps I could log into Azure again and see what Server 2019 offerings they have, but I really like the AWS environment a lot better. Just works so much better (no long delays when clicking links on their portal all the time) and the interface is much better and clearer.

My first choice would have been to go enthusiast hardcore and build a PC at home with new hardware and to my specs, to run as the web server. It would have been of much higher spec than any VPS as decent ones cost so much to run (one is renting, after all) and would be much more satisfying to do. Alas, I'm still stuck on crappy ADSL with no way to get fibre, so that option is ruled out. Infuriating, I tell you.

Oh and I haven't screwed up. I might be new to this, but I'm not stupid, I'm thorough and have a lot of general computer experience, building my own PC from scratch, installing Windows etc. There's a problem with that server image and the next step would have been to update it, but I'm blocked from doing so. It might be possible to fix the IIS errors using that 1809 build, but as I said, I'm not gonna go live with a brand new website based on an out of date foundation, so it's pointless to troubleshoot it.

I have looked at regular hosting as well, but that has its own issues. Again, I don't want to get into all this here and it's off topic for this thread. Suffice to say that I've done a lot of homework so far and I'd rather go with AWS and Windows if I can.

Let's see if Solaris can help. I'd be really grateful.
 

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Thats LTSC. Here is one of mine:


The confusion is that when a massive branch is released, LTSC and SAC share a version number until the next update cycle.

1809 in this case is LTSC as you are not getting the build update. However, LTSC and SAC both shared the version number at one point in time.

SAC is also only officially available via "CORE" installs. IE:

Windows Server 2019 Datacenter/Standard Core

which has no GUI. Only LTSC editions allow usage of the GUI officially.


You can read more about this kind of stuff here:


and the OS matrix here:


Just to snip some important bits you can see what I mean here:


From AWS you can read about and learn how to differentiate like this:


Q. How do I know if I’m using LTSC or SAC release?

LTSC and SAC releases may share a common build number, but can be distinguished by the Windows Product Name. LTSC releases include the version in the product name, e.g. Windows Server 2019 Datacenter, while SAC product names do not, e.g. Windows Server Datacenter. The Windows Product Name can be returned by PowerShell using the Get-ComputerInfo cmdlet, example below.

Get-ComputerInfo -Property WindowsProductName

Images provided by AWS follow a standard naming convention in which the OS version immediately follows Windows_Server-* in an AMI’s name. LTSC versions are denoted by the 4 digit year of the release, e.g. Windows_Server-2019-*. SAC versions are comprised of the last 2 digits of the release year combined with the 2 digit month of the intended release, e.g. Windows_Server-1903-* (2019, March).

It's important to know that 1809 is the most upto date LTSC build. LTSC still receives security and bug fixes. The only thing LTSC does not get is feature updates, which come as part of SAC releases.
 

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@Solaris17 thanks for the clarification, which builds on what @silentbogo said.

However, as I see it, it remains that to get the latest build, I still need to have a reassuringly expensive server license to access the volume licensing portal and download the 20H2 upgrade, so I'm still stuck. By the looks of it, you have a volume license? If so, could you please let me know if the 20H2 standalone patch/upgrade is available from the portal? I'm just curious to see if my instinct was right on this critical point.

I get that big corps running datacentres won't be in a hurry to upgrade to the latest and greatest for various reasons, with system stability being high on the agenda. They also have premier support options with Microsoft to smooth over any difficulties. I don't have any of that. I'm just one lone fuzzy qubit who wants to set up his new, fairly simple, web site using the latest software, that has the latest security, compatibility and performance enhancements in it, which I think is quite reasonable. Sure, sometimes there are problems with these latest versions as people might point out, but it's not that often and is something I'll worry about if I really need to.

As I've said in my OP, besides having the latest and greatest, I'm reasonably confident that it will resolve those IIS errors I'm seeing, too.

Looking at other hosting options, it seems most hosts offer only even older versions of the OS, such as Server 2012 and Server 2016, with no option for the latest one, which I just don't get. Is it to keep costs down at their end, perhaps? Even the Linux options are generally older versions too, as are PHP and MySQL. No wonder sites get hacked.

I get that there's an issue of compatibility, so I think the most sensible thing to do would be to offer the latest versions of all software, with things like PHP 8.0.3 and MySQL 8.0, while having select older versions available like PHP 7.4 and MySQL 5.5 to help maintain compatibility where needed.

Because of this issue, I've today emailed a friend about the possibility of running a Windows 10 server that I build myself from new parts, at his house, since he's got a really fast FTTP connection. Nothing concrete yet and there might be other gotchas, just sounding it out for now.
 

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No, thats the wrong way to look at it.

the mainstream and extended support date are as follows per the matrix I linked.


SAC 1809 has already expired. and 20H2 will likely not fix your problem as IIS is a standalone feature product.

These features are kept upto date regardless of LTSC or SAC channel as the features are allowed on either platform. the channel markers only affect the core OS features themselves.

It will likely NOT fix your IIS issue. As "Latest and greatest" has no bearing on software features like this.
 
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I get that there's an issue of compatibility, so I think the most sensible thing to do would be to offer the latest versions of all software, with things like PHP 8.0.3 and MySQL 8.0, while having select older versions available like PHP 7.4 and MySQL 5.5 to help maintain compatibility where needed.
OS version has nothing to do with it. You can just as easily run PHP8 with latest MariaDB on Server 2016 or Ubuntu 16.04LTS.
You can try and eliminate IIS out of equation just by switching to XAMPP or installing PMA combo by hand with whatever versions you want. It's not as complicated as you'd think, I used to do it manually even in high school.
Another thing to note, is that PHP may cause issues just from not having the right MSVCR installed on the target machine.
That's why I keep insisting on checking logs, cause that'd be my first suspect.
Per-version requirements are here:
If you are still in a lazy mood and don't want to dig through hundreds of lines of logs, then just install all of them.
 

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Thanks for the info lads. I've updated the thread title and scope to include troubleshooting the IIS errors as we're all techies here and it seems to be begging for this now since I can't update Windows. :)

I'm a bit tired now, so I'll get back to you tomorrow with screenshots and the fine details of the problems and what I did.

It's killing me that I can't try the latest build to know definitively whether it would fix the problems or not, but we can't do much about that, sigh.

Finally, my friend did a quickie speedtest on his smartphone connected to Wi-Fi at home and got 70 down, 20 up, which should be plenty fast for my site. It will go even faster over ethernet on the PC. We're only talking a forum here, along with WordPress articles, or articles natively hosted within XenForo if the WP integration fails.
 
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@Solaris17 @silentbogo Ok, here's the detailed info I promised.

I initially started the 12 month free tier AWS t2.micro VPS instance for the server, which is a single core with a tiny 1GB RAM, 30GB EBS and Server 2019 worked surprisingly well with it. Chrome wasn't happy, sucking up what little RAM was left, but it sort of worked. However, Firefox was fine with it so I used that instead. There's no Edge installed on build 1809 and I didn't bother installing it.

For troubleshooting the Windows Update issue and give it some breathing room, I cleared out enough SSD space (11.something GB) and upgraded the VPS to t2.medium which has two cores and 4GB RAM. This is costing me money now every time I run it. Of course, it made no difference, hence we're here.

Also, I tried to reinstall PHP with the bigger instance, but it made no difference.

The weird thing, is that on trying to go back to t2.micro now, nothing works. Firefox and Chrome both crash, as does Task Manager. Even IIS starts up funny. Clearly it must be the lack of RAM, but why it worked with it before and not after it saw more RAM, I dunno without investigating it. Anyway, I put it back to t2.medium now so that I could get the screenshots below.

Type of server installed:

01 OS type.PNG



Missing PHP Manager even though PHP is supposedly registered:
Note that I didn't bother with WebPI, as it doesn't offer the latest PHP.

02 Missing PHP Manager.PNG



PHP supposedly installed according to this, even though the PHP Manager doesn't show:
03 Handler mappings.PNG



PHP PATH system variable properly set:
04 PHP PATH system variable set.PNG




MySQL 8.0 installed:

05 MySQL 8 installed.PNG



XenForo system requirements test fails.
Note that the PHP failure is reasonably expected, since the PHP Manager doesn't show, despite PHP showing as registered.

However, the MySQL error makes no sense, since it's clearly installed and the right version too.

Note that the requirements failure still appears with the upgraded 2 core, 4GB RAM VPS. Re-registering PHP made no difference and Chrome shows the same error as Firefox.

06 XF Requirements not met.PNG


As I said previously, I think that upgrading to 20H2 would be likely to resolve this, if only it was available to me, although you disagree. I don't know how to get it working on Server 2019 as it is. Do you know how to fix it? At least I could evaluate running my site on it if I could get it to work.

Also, any idea how to get it to work with the smaller VPS again so that I'm not wasting money? It would cost a lot of money over a year, when the original one is free for a year, so this has become another critical requirement. If not, I'd have to scrap the VPS and create a new one, starting everything from scratch, which I'd really rather not do.

As you can see, my whole experience with this server instance is a basket case and likely one I'll have to abandon if these problems can't be fixed. Everything just worked on my home PC with Windows 10 as it should and that's got all the latest updates.
 

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I personally detest IIS and wont run it for production, but none of that has anything too do with Any windows build.

PHP IS installed, but the EXTENSIONS are not running which is why your install is angry.

You need to find out HOW to enable MySQLi, GD and cURL in IIS.

Installing PHP isn't enough, there are TONs of extensions you can choose to enable or disable.

Most are going to be found in your php.ini and you simply uncomment (remove the ';') from the line and restart.

As for the rest...well im not AWS support I have no idea why there implementation is broke.


 

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I agree that Apache is better and especially on Linux, so I would prefer to have such a setup and ditch Windows. However, I'm using IIS and Windows to reduce my learning curve significantly and hence the time taken to get the site up and running, plus, reduce my reliance on my friend so I don't have to bug him every time I need to do something on the server.

This whole setup can be done with just standard pointing and clicking and minimal command line requirements which makes the job much easier and quicker. It worked fine just like this on my home PC so I expected a repeat on the server, but it turned into this basket case instead.

Anyway, small confession here: I'd forgotten that PHP Manager is actually an add-on that can be downloaded at the link below. I installed it and now it's functioning. All 40 PHP functions where disabled for some reason, so I enabled them all. Alas, the requirements check script still fails with the same error messages for PHP and MySQL. However, there's lots of configuration warnings in PHP Manager, so I'll have a look at those next.

I'm gonna do some double checking in case there's something else that I've forgotten, MySQL especially, and maybe, finally, I can get this thing to work. I'll check out your link. Right now I don't even wanna look at it as I'm so fed up with it.


EDIT: Progress! I fixed the configuration warnings and now PHP is ok.

MySQL is fine: the script simply can't tell. Looks like I did a good line in confused with this server setup. :p Never mind, experience and practice fixes this.

I'll install XenForo next.

1618270524870.png


@Solaris17 Thanks for your help matey, it made a difference and now I was able to fix all the problems. :toast:
 
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Also, any idea how to get it to work with the smaller VPS again so that I'm not wasting money?
Run it on a headless linux server? Ditch IIS, and like a normal person run Apache with mod_php.
Back in a day I used to host my blog on the cheapest Digitalocean VPS w/ single core and 1GB RAM.
Wordpress is a memory hog, so I had to tweak both MariaDB server and Wordpress itself to prevent caching errors (usually happened when I had more than 500 simultaneous visitors).
Not sure how much heavier Xenforo is, but just to be safe a single-core VPS w/ 2GB RAM should be more than enough.
If you don't plan on having many users or visitors, you can save yourself from all this headache just by getting your typical webhosting. Cheaper, no need to worry about OS and software, and all technical responsibility rests on someone else's shoulders.
 

qubit

Overclocked quantum bit
Joined
Dec 6, 2007
Messages
16,484 (3.36/day)
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System Name Quantumville™
Processor Intel Core i7-2700K @ 4GHz
Motherboard Asus P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3
Cooling Noctua NH-D14
Memory 16GB (2 x 8GB Corsair Vengeance Black DDR3 PC3-12800 C9 1600MHz)
Video Card(s) MSI RTX 2080 SUPER Gaming X Trio
Storage Samsung 850 Pro 256GB | WD Black 4TB | WD Blue 6TB
Display(s) BenQ XL2720Z (144Hz, 3D Vision 2, 1080p) | Asus MG28UQ (4K, 60Hz, FreeSync compatible)
Case Cooler Master HAF 922
Audio Device(s) Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty PCIe
Power Supply Corsair HX 850W v1
Mouse Microsoft Intellimouse Pro - Black Shadow
Keyboard Yes
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
@silentbogo sorry there was a really dumb reason for that. I’m a bit embarrassed about it lol.

When I wanted to free up disc space previously with the 4GB VPS, I set the pagefile to a fixed 512MB. I simply forgot to set it back to auto when I ran the 1GB VPS again. Once I remembered that, it worked fine again.

You know, it has crossed my mind just to go with the bog standard web hosting with cPanel and I looked at a few hosts to see what they had to offer, but I'm too much of a perfectionist, lol. I'd actually really like to try out cPanel as it sounds very good.

Thanks for the info about WP being a memory hog. I'll keep that in mind.
 
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Solaris17

Dainty Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Aug 16, 2005
Messages
22,156 (3.85/day)
Location
Florida
System Name Venslar
Processor I9 7980XE
Motherboard MSI x299 Tomahawk Arctic
Cooling EK Custom
Memory 32GB Corsair DDR4 3000mhz
Video Card(s) Nvidia Titan RTX
Storage 1x 250GB 960 EVO | 1x 500gb Intel 720p | 32TB SAN
Display(s) 3x AOC Q2577PWQ (2k IPS)
Case Inwin 303 White (Thermaltake Ring 120mm Purple accent)
Audio Device(s) Schiit Fulla 3 on Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros
Power Supply Seasonic 1050W Snow
Mouse Roccat Kone Aimo White
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Software Windows 10 x64 Pro
I'll go ahead and lock this since all seems well and we are way into programming and webmastering now.
 
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