Understanding Orphaned Delegates in Outlook April 25th, 2011
I’ve had a number of support queries at work recently relating to NDRs being generated when a user sends meeting invites in Outlook reporting that a mailbox does not exist. Confusingly, the NDRs relate to an account which not only was not invited to the meeting but also no longer exists within the organisation; an AD search for the mailbox yields no results. It turns out the reason for this is due to one of the invitees having a delegate whose mailbox has been deleted. If you have come across this issue before, you’ll know how tricky this can be to resolve.
In order to fully understand why this is happening, it’s important to know what happens behind the scenes when a user gives delegate access to their mailbox, not only will this help you to understand why this problem occurs, but it will also help to understand what actions need to be taken to resolve the problem.
Let’s assume you have an existing mailbox for user A who wishes to make user B a delegate. When the delegation is made the following takes place:
- The appropriate sharing permissions are placed on the relevant folder in user A’s mailbox, these of course will vary depending on which permissions were set using the delegation tool.
- If the checkbox for forwarding meeting requests is set, a special hidden forwarding rule is created in user A’s mailbox. As this is a hidden rule, you will not see the rule listed in Outlook.
- User B is added to user A’s publicDelegates attribute (or more commonly known as the send-on-behalf-of field), and user A is added to the publicDelegatesBL attribute of user B; this does not always happen depending on a number of circumstances, for example more recent versions of Outlook or when the person trying to set the delegation is not actually the owner of mailbox A.
So far so good, but let’s assume now that some time has passed and for whatever reason user B leaves your organisation and as such, their mailbox is deleted from within AD. Further, the System Administrator performing this action would have no idea of user configured delegations and AD itself would not intuitively make them aware of any which is where the fun begins.
Once the mailbox for user B is deleted their publicDelegatesBL entry in AD gets cleared out so there is no easy way to work out who they were actually a delegate for; we can now think of them as an orphaned delegate. Even more problematic, the hidden forwarding rule in mailbox A does not get updated; as with security group membership and other AD functions, you’d have hoped this would take place automatically but as this is a client side feature, unfortunately not.
Assuming that you can narrow down whose mailbox has the orphaned delegation, you can manually fix this issue by the using the MFCMAPI tool to delete the hidden forwarding rule but even this is not without issues as unfortunately if there are other delegates to that mailbox, the forwarding for them would break as well. So all of those delegates would need to be manually removed and subsequently re-added which would involve logging in manually to the mailboxes in question. This may be a simple task but as in the situation I was faced with, not so.
As you can see, the reality is that you may not be able to actually resolve this issue. In one of the situations I was faced with the originating user who received all of the NDRs (there were actually over 30 of them) had sent the meeting invite to a distribution list which itself, contained a number of other distribution lists. Using the MFCMAPI tool I would have had to of manually logged into somewhere in the region of 500 mailboxes to identify who had the orphaned delegates and then subsequently, had to recreate the delegate rules for the users who I ran the tool on. Needless to say on balance this was not an option. The MFCMAPI tool is an option in instances where a single user receives NDRs sending to another user, or small group of users but not when large distribution lists are involved.
So just how do you stop the NDRs?
The reality is that you can’t, however you can create an Outlook rule for the sender to prevent them receiving the NDRs by automatically forwarding the NDR messages (the generated NDR error for this issue is 5.1.1 so by setting this rule you would not stop other NDRs being delivered) directly to their deleted items or even permanently deleting the message at source.
I hope someone will find this useful. Enjoy.
Using Outlook With Gmail – Duplicate Sent Items July 18th, 2010
For some time now I have been using Google Apps as my main mail provider, I’d been a long time Microsoft Exchange user until I made the switch from Windows Mobile devices to Android. It made sense to change my mail provision so that I could use Android in the manner it was designed i.e. with Google Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Tasks.
Generally, I have been happy with the service (especially when you consider the Standard Edition is free and isn’t a noticeably inferior product to the Premium Edition) although I do acknowledge it has a few quirks, not to mention horrendous support from Google should you require assistance. Of course aside from push email support via my Android handset, the Google Apps service also includes plain and simple IMAP support; it’s here that I encountered one of the quirks.
Ever since configuring the account on my machine, whenever sending an email using Outlook two copies of the mail appear shortly after in my Gmail sent items folder (although only one copy is actually sent to the recipient). Now this may not seem such a big deal but it has a couple of issues; firstly over time it will fill up my quota a lot quicker, perhaps not a major issue for most people but if let’s say you are sending a 1Mb file attachment, you’re going to be using 2Mb of space. Secondly, perhaps more importantly is that when you use the Gmail web client instead of Outlook, it’s going to really mess up your conversation thread as there will be 2 copies which can be a little confusing.
So how do you solve getting two copies of sent mails while using IMAP in Outlook?
It’s important first to understand why the two copies appear and not just accept that they do. When you send an email through Outlook, Outlook saves a copy of the sent mail and transmits it to the server (in this case smtp.gmail.com). When the email is sent from the server to its destination, Google save another copy of the sent mail automatically which is then of course – as you’re using an IMAP connection – synced back to your machine hence the two copies.
Of course Google should be smart enough to know that the mail is being sent from a dedicated client such as Outlook and check to see if a copy has already been saved before saving it again, but alas not. So the solution is to change where Outlook saves its local copy of the sent mail; it’s not an ideal situation but it does stop your Gmail folder from becoming full of duplicates!
To make the change, go to Tools>Account Settings>Email and select the email account in question and then Change. This will open a window titled Change Email Account. Click the More Settings option at the bottom.
Click the Folders tab which will enable you to choose where to store a copy of all outgoing messages (remembering that Google is going to automatically store one for you in your Gmail sent items) and change the default choice to Save sent mail in the Outlook Sent Items Folder, this will save the duplicated copy in a local unused folder instead which of course can be cleaned up when required; or you can also choose not to have Outlook save a copy of sent mail at all (again remembering that Google will automatically place a copy in your sent items).
Ubuntu 9.10 Installing Microsoft Office 2007 November 8th, 2009
Linux is growing in popularity more and more with every year that passes, in recent years this has been made ever more public with the Ubuntu distributions which are now real Windows alternatives for the average end user. Just as with Mac sofware, Ubuntu comes ‘out of the box’ with everything you could possibly need to go about your day to day business; best of all everything is essentially free thanks to its open source underpinnings.
However there are drawbacks.
Ubuntu comes bundled with OpenOffice, a Microsoft Office alternative from Sun. It works really well; giving you all the features you have come to expect from using Office on Windows, but – and here’s the real killer – even though it has the same functionability, it looks different, acts different and has different native file formats. This alone is enough for a lot of people not to give Ubuntu or other Linux distributions a try, afterall, why would you want to switch to another OS when you have Windows installed already, do all of your work in Office and are familiar with both. Microsoft Office not being compatible with Ubuntu is a real problem.
As more and more Linux distributions have been developed and their popularity has increased, so has the need for a stable solution to using Office in a Linux environment, it’s been very ‘messy’ but a lot of people have had varying success using Wine. Wine let’s you run Windows software in a Linux environment which when it works, works great. However, Office had always been one of those annoyances that doesn’t seem to work under Wine as it should. Fortunately though, Wine has been improved over the years and now their is a solution.
For the purposes of this guide, I am using the latest version of Ubuntu, Wine and Microsoft Office; Ubuntu 9.10, Wine 1.1.32 beta and Microsoft Office 2007.
So, to get Office working on Ubuntu, read on.
Firstly, we need to make sure that all previous versions of Wine are uninstalled. Previous versions of Wine suffered from a regression issue and will not work with Office 2007 so:
- Click on System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager
- In Synaptic Package Manager, type Wine in the search field and highlight any existing instances of Wine which are installed on your system, making sure to choose Mark for Complete Removal and then Apply
- We now need to remove the exiting .wine folder by navigating to Places > Home Folder. You’ll need to press CTRL+H to unhide the .wine folder so that you can delete it
Next, we need to install the latest version of Wine, but before doing so it won’t hurt to give your machine a restart. Once you’ve done this, do the following:
- Download the latest version of Wine from http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/archive/index.html, I used v1.1.32 beta. When the popup box appears, choose to Open with Gdebi package Installer. Once the package begins installing, you will get a warning dialogue. Acknowledge this and continue through the install process
We can now install Microsoft Office 2007, so pop the installation disc into the drive and wait for the system to mount it:
- Navigate to the installer by going to Places > Office12 and right click setup.exe chosing Open with Wine Windows Program Loader
- Now follow the installation process as if it were a Windows installtion [screenshot], but choosing a custom installation and choosing the program options you’ll need [screenshot]. Note: Unfortunately, not all of the office applications seem to work correctly under Ubuntu (or Linux generally) so I’d recommend just installing Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Access and Outlook have known issues.
Once Office has finished installing [screenshot], we need to install winetricks which is a useful tool to use some common workarounds to some of the deficiencies in Wine:
- Open your Terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and type:
sudo wget www.kegel.com/wine/winetricks[screenshot]
- Next, install cabextract in order to be able to extract the contents of Microsoft cabinet files. To do this, type the following:
sudo apt–get install cabextract[screenshot]
- Next we need to install MS core fonts, Visual C++, MS scripting and Jscript, type the following:
sh winetricks corefonts tahoma vcrun2005spl wsh56js
The next stage is to confgure Wine itself:
- As we already have a Terminal window open, type:
- On the Libraries tab, add 2 new variables:
- Once you have done this [screenshot], highlight or click riched20 and click Edit, change to Native Windows then Apply and OK
Finally, we can now test Office, navigate to Word; Applications > Wine > Programs > Microsoft Office and click the launcher for Word. You may need to restart your machine in order for the Microsoft Office program group to appear in the menu. When Word launches, you’ll need to activate as normal and, importantly, choose not to use Microsoft updates [screenshot] (see note below).
Notes: There are some limitations, the most noteworthy of which is that this may not work correctly if you install using media with an SP already applied, Office under Wine will not work with any of the Microsoft Service Packs and/or Microsoft Update.
If you find this guide useful, please leave a comment.