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Notes.ini and mail.boxes transaction logging -- a cautionary tale

IBM Lotus recommends turning off transaction logging on newly created mail.boxes. You can use a parameter in the notes.ini file to do so, but whether it works or not depends on where you get the parameter from.

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I had a client a year or so ago who was having a problem with server crashes. We made the support call, and IBM Lotus indicated that the crashes were happening because transaction logging needed to be turned off on the mail.boxes.

We tried that and it worked, but we still had a problem. Occasionally, administrators would blow away mail.boxes and let them be recreated automatically at server startup, but they would forget to turn off transaction logging -- and bingo, the same problem all over again.

We tried disabling transaction logging on the mailbox.ntf template so it would be set the correct way when a new mail.box was created. That would have been great if it worked, but it didn't.

Instead, I attached some code to an agent that I had written for another project. That agent checked all the mail.boxes on all servers on a regular basis for mail waiting. With the new code, it also checked to make sure the mail.boxes weren't transaction logged, and fixed them if they needed to be. Another problem solved with a bit of ingenuity and LotusScript.

Case closed until last week, when I did an ND7 Upgrade seminar for The View in Las Vegas. It was there that a generous attendee pointed me to a Notes.ini parameter that would automatically turn off transaction logging each time a new mail.box was created. It 's actually in the ND7 Administrator's Help database! Here's what the document says:

MailBoxDisableTDNLogging
Syntax:
MailBoxDisableTDNLogging=value
Description: Allows mail.boxes created by server during startup to be created with transaction logging disabled. when set to any non-zero value
Applies to: Servers
Default: 0 (transaction logging is enabled for mail.boxes created at server startup)
UI equivalent: None

Wow! I couldn't wait to get back to the lab to try it.

But I was having some sort of crazy déjà vu about this situation. Hmm… Didn't I try this already when my client was having the problem way back when? I checked the Admin Help files for Notes/Domino 7.0.1, 7.0 and 6.5. Result: All the Admin Help Files said exactly the same thing; put the parameter in and no more transaction logging when a new mail.box is created.

"Then clear the lab and let's see what's on the slab!" I shouted. Actually, I shouted that in my head. No point in scaring the cat that shares an office with me. I then tested the parameter on the three versions of servers I am running in my test environment, -- 6.5.3, 7.0 and 7.0.1. It didn't work on any of them. Notes/Domino transaction logging was still turned on when new mail.boxes were created.

"Dern!" I yelled again, in my head. Maybe I had to use a MUCH different value than 0, perhaps a number or a letter. Still no-go, transaction logging was still enabled.

I wanted to just drop it right there, but then I started to remember what had happened with the client. It all came back to me like the nightmare you have about losing your teeth or being able to swap legs with someone else. You have those nightmares too, don't you?

I had tried this parameter, and I had resorted to the agent when it didn't work!

Frantic, I decided to check my old friend Knowledge Base. And right at the top was an article, and not a recent one either. It was originally from 2004, but it still applied to a bunch of server versions, including Notes/Domino 6.5 and 7.

Figure 1

Here's an excerpt of that document:

Problem
A customer would like to disable Transactional Logging on MAILBOX.NTF in the Database Properties, Advanced, "Disable Transactional Logging" box.

This is needed so when a new MAIL.BOX(s) is created, transactional logging will not be "enabled" on the new MAIL.BOX(s).

Excerpt from the Lotus Notes and Domino Release 6.0.3 MR fix list (available at http://www.lotus.com/ldd):

Design

  • SPR# SLIR5NSQGK - Added the ability to disable transaction logging for the mail.box, created by Domino, by setting MailBoxDisableTXNLogging=1 in the Notes.ini

    Supporting Information:

    MailBoxDisableTXNLogging
    Syntax: MailBoxDisableTXNLogging=value
    Description: Allows mail.boxes created by server during startup to be created with transaction logging disabled. when set to any non-zero value
    Applies to: Servers
    Default: 0 (transaction logging is enabled for mail.boxes created at server startup)
    UI equivalent: None

    Please, do me a favor and scroll back up to the top of the page. Do you see a difference between these two parameters?

    Yup, the one at the top -- the one that does not work -- is:

    MailBoxDisableTDNLogging=value

    That's the one in Administration Help in 6.5, 7.0, and 7.0.1.

    The second one is the one from Knowledge Base. It's the one that does work, and it works on Lotus Domino 6.5.3, 7.0, and 7.0.1.

    MailBoxDisableTXNLogging=value

    That is correct. If you want transaction logging to be disabled on newly created mail.boxes, ignore the instructions in Administrator Help. Do yourself a favor and use the one from the Knowledge Base, the one with the X, the one that stands for TransAXtion logs.

    I am now trying desperately to remember something else that will be very helpful at this moment. And that is, how do I reverse the time space continuum to get back the two hours I just used trying to get this thing to work using the incorrect information from Admin Help! Wish me luck.

    About the author: Andy Pedisich is President of Technotics, Inc. He has been working with Lotus Notes and Domino since Release 2. Technotics provides strategic consulting and training on collaborative infrastructure projects for customers throughout the world. You can contact Technotics through their Web site at www.technotics.com.

    MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS TIP

    Probably one of my biggest pet peeves with IBM Lotus is the poor quality and inaccuracies of its documentation and Knowledge Base articles. It makes it near impossible to administer a Domino farm with any luck. It seems to me that IBM's support costs would be much lower if it published accurate documentation. I've just opened another PMR to get the MailBoxDisableTDNLogging thing straightened out, as I had it wrong all this time!
    —Mark T.

    ******************************************

    IBM also recommends turning off your Tlogs on log.nsf and clubusy.nsf, as well as the mail.boxes. You should do this with any database that has a high number of read/writes done to them.

    I would also recommend that the "MailBoxDisableTXNLogging=1" be inserted into your Notes.ini files through the server's configuration document. This way, if you rebuild the server for any reason, it will be automatically added back to the Notes.ini files.
    —Neeraj J.

    Do you have comments on this tip? Let us know.

    Related information from SearchDomino.com:

     

  • Tip: Enabling Domino transaction logging
  • Tip: Prevent your transaction log disk from running out of space
  • 15 tips in 15 minutes: Managing Domino servers

    Please let others know how useful this tip is via the rating scale below. Do you have a useful Lotus Notes, Domino, Workplace or WebSphere tip or code snippet to share? Submit it to our tip contest and you could win a prize.

This was last published in March 2006

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