Feeds

WinXP falls over old Cisco bug

XP + planet's most deployed Lan switch = crash

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Major network outages at Xerox, after staff installed beta versions of Microsoft XP, have been linked to a well-known bug in Cisco's most widely deployed Lan switch.

As previously reported, Xerox has warned all its 50,000 US employees not to install Windows XP beta on company computers after the firm's networks suffered three network outages which were directly linked to use of the operating system. Any installed versions of XP was to be removed immediately, staff were advised in a company wide email.

Xerox said the problem was hardware-related but wouldn't say which of its suppliers was involved.

However emails from Register readers and sources in Redmond have revealed that Xerox's Windows XP installation almost certainly fell foul of a bug involving Cisco's Catalyst 5000 family of Lan switches.

Windows XP, unlike Windows 2000, leaves 802.1p/802.1q tagging enabled by default. This is an issue because CatOS software prior to 6.2.1 for the Catalyst 5000/5500 will forward 802.1x frames on all ports including spanning tree blocking ports, resulting in a layer 2 multicast storm.

The upshot of this is that a user can bring down an entire switch network by just connecting a Windows XP (Whistler) workstation to their network, if a 5000 series Lan switch is in place.

The issue does not arise in any other Cisco Lan switches (including Catalyst 2900XL, 3500XL, 2948G, 4000 or 6000 switches) because these devices will drop the frame when it arrives at a blocked port.

There are technical workarounds to the issue (including updating software on the Cisco switch), which are discussed in greater detail here. However this misses the wider point that Xerox experienced its network failure because of a rather obvious problem involving the next version of the world's most widely used operating system and the planet's most deployed Lan switch.

Is there any wonder why people get cynical about IT? ®

Related stories

Xerox bans Windows XP beta after 'major network outages'
MS hobbling WinXP Server, pushing users to Advanced version?
New WinXP file system breaks disk utilities. Again. Oops.
WinXP - the screenshots

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.