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This problem appears to apply to multiple XP clients connected to a 3Com Baseline2948 Gigabit switch. The clients don't share a common network card, some are Intel based, others nVidia. All clients are, however, connecting at 1000Mbps/Full Duplex. This problem doesn't apply to all clients, only a handful.

What's happening is that software installation via Group Policy won't fire, and I get Event ID 1054 "Windows cannot obtain the domain controller name for your computer network...Group Policy processing aborted". There are often other errors related to group policies, DHCP, DNS, and so on...but this varies from client to client.

The fix, I've found, is to disable DHCP media sense for TCP/IP as outlined in this MS kb article.

As soon as I do that and restart, all of my group policy troubles completely disappear and everything functions normally.

So my question is, why would this be happening... and is there a more appropriate fix?

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Have you got "always wait for the network" disabled or not configured as well? I'm guessing it's possibly a combination of the two - not waiting for the network, bound protocols/etc get removed, bang! No GPOs. –  Jimmy Shelter Aug 19 '09 at 23:25
    
I don't have it configured, no. Won't that negatively affect laptop users? I'll look into it. Anyhow, I'm pretty sure this is because the switch in question has spanning tree enabled and takes a little bit for individual connections to come online. –  Boden Aug 25 '09 at 15:12
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1 Answer

Try creating a DWORD registry value under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon called GpNetworkStartTimeoutPolicyValue, and setting it to (decimal) 60:

KB840669: Group Policy application fails on a computer that is running Windows 2000, Windows XP Service Pack 1, or Windows XP Service Pack 2

(If you're running XP SP2 or later you've already got the hotfix)

This problem may occur if the Group Policy engine or Active Directory times out while it waits for the network to start. A race condition may occur between the TCP/IP protocol and the network adaptor driver when they try to register with the Microsoft Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS). If the TCP/IP protocol registers with NDIS before the network adaptor driver, for a short time it prompts higher user mode networking components that network connectivity is not available. During this short time, the Group Policy startup script cannot be downloaded.

This problem is more likely to occur on fast networks that use 1-gigabit network adaptors or in teaming environments where the network takes several additional cycles to negotiate link speed.

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