Unknown Objects / Yellow Question marks - Summary and Fix

  • 10067667
  • NOVL69348
  • 18-Jan-2002
  • 15-Jan-2006

Archived Content: This information is no longer maintained and is provided 'as is' for your convenience.


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Unknown Objects / Yellow Question marks  - Summary and Fix

Unknown objects on one or more replicas of the partition.

Objects are present and good on one server in the ring.

Objects show as yellow circles with question marks.

Objects show up as yellow circles with question marks in NDS manager (NDSMGR32.EXE).

DNS/DHCP objects show up as yellow circles with question marks in NDS manager (NDSMGR32.EXE).

NDS4NT Domain Object shows up as yellow circles with question marks in NDS manager (NDSMGR32.EXE).

Object does not appear correctly on one workstation. but is okay on another.

The replica ring appears correctly in DSREPAIR on one server, but incorrectly on another.


There can be many causes for an object to go unknown. The most common reason can be a missing mandatory attribute. However, there can be many reasons the object will have gone unknown the key is to look at the object in question and make sure it has all the mandatory attributes with the correct flags.

The object marked has a missing mandatory attribute.  This makes the object unmanageable.

One or more replicas of the partition are inconsistent.  The replica does not contain the same object information as another replica in the same replica ring.  This is usually caused by a temporary error in communication between replicas of a partition. Note:  This can occur even if NDS is synchronizing without any errors.


There are several ways to fix an unknown object when there is still a good copy of the object on another server.

Before you try to fix anything, first verify that you are using a utility that understands the type of objects you are having problems with.  If using NDSMGR32.EXE to view objects, certain types of objects such as DNS/DHCNP objects, NDS4NT objects (domain, forest, ect.), this is working as designed.  NDS Manager only reads replica and partition information.  If you see objects that are unknown in NWADMIN, make sure that you distinguish whether they are yellow circles with a black question mark or white squares with a black question mark.  If they are white boxes, then this is simply a snapin issue.  The objects are valid, but NWADMIN doesn't know how to translate them.  If they are the yellow circles, then they are most likely unknown.  If using ConsoleOne, you will see either yellow circles with black question marks (unknown objects), or small pink boxes with a black question mark (ConsoleOne snapins missing). 

****NOTE:  If you have mixed replica rings and there are servers running NetWare 6 or higher in the same replica ring with servers running NDS 7.x or 6.x, Unknown objects are are common.  The objects will be known on the NetWare 6/eDirectory servers, but unknown on the NDS 6.x and 7.x servers.  This is due to Auxiliary Classes.  This is working as designed.  The unknown objects will remain until all remaining NDS 6.x or 7.x servers are upgraded to eDirectory.  For more information on this, see NOVL78907 - NFAP and DS version compatibility issues and also see NOVL29004 - Unknown objects in a mixed environment 

If the unknown objects are volume objects, see TID #10011981 - Volume object is Unknown or Missing

You can do the following to verify if there are any good copies of the unknown object in the tree. 

You can use SYS:SYSTEM\DSVIEW.NLM (NetWare 4.11) DSBROWSE.NLM (NetWare 5 and up) or NDS iMonitor (eDirectory 8.5 and up) to view each replicas' local database and compare the inconsistent NDS object with other replicas of the same partition.


Load DSVIEW | 3 Tree (Start at [Root])

Use the following keys to navigate down to the object you are checking --

1 or (P)aren't - to go up a container
2 or (C)hild - to go down a container
3 or (S)ibling - to move to the next object within the same container
8 or (F)ind Sibling - at the CN= prompt, enter the name of the sibling object. Use OU= for containers.

Once you find the object you're looking for, look for the following information to verify that it is a known object:

Class Name: "User" (or whatever class object it should be)
Flags: Present

Continue with the other servers in the replica ring and note each server's viewpoint of the suspect object.  If you find a server that holds a valid copy of the object, see


Use DSBROWSE | Tree Browse and then look for the object in question.  Look at the "Object Class" column and see if it has a valid class there or if it says Unknown.  DSBROWSE comes with the latest versions of NDS and eDirectory.  You may download DSBROWSE from Novell's Files and Patches web page.  For additional information on using DSBROWSE see NOVL17436 - Using DSBROWSE.

If the object or these entries are not present, this server's database needs to be updated. Continue using DSVIEW on the remainder of the replicas in the replica ring and verify that at least one server's database does show the object correctly.

NDS iMonitor

NDS iMonitor is an excellent alternative and is quick.  iMonitor is especially nice when there are non-NetWare servers in the replica ring.  Start up NDS iMonitor in a web browser.  After you authenticate, start browsing down to the object in question.  The easiest way to get into the object browser is to click on the hyperlink of the name of your tree where it says "Identity" at the top of the screen.  You can then browse down to the object.  You'll notice that once you select an object and are viewing it's "Entry Information", you will see a Replica frame in the bottom left corner of the window.  This will show a list of all servers in the replica ring for this object.  The server that is in BLACK is the server you are reading from.  If you want to read the same object from a different server's perspective, just click the hyperlink for that server.  You should not have to check the Subordinate Reference replicas.  If you find a server that has a good copy of the object, notice that in the frame right below your Identity, there is an option to "Send Entry to All Replicas".  This can be used as an alternative to what is stated in SOLUTION 2 below.



Make sure and do this procedure only if there is still a good copy of the object on at least one replica in the replica ring as verified using the steps above.  If so, make sure and perform this procedure on the server that has the Unknown object in it's database. 

Load DSRepair -P | Advanced Options | Repair local DS Database | Leave all the defaults but make sure rebuild operation schema is set to yes, this will mark all unknown objects as Present Reference, Flags 201. With this flag set the server is ready to receive the object. You accomplish this by loading DSRepair -A | Advanced Options | Replica and Partition operations | View Replica Ring | Select the server that has the good objects and hit enter | Send all objects to every replica in the ring.


Another option is DSBrowse if you have a NetWare 5 or higher server. DSBrowse has an option to resend selected object.  You must load DSBROWSE -A to get this option.  Browse to the good object and hit F3 and choose "Resend Selected Object".   What this will do is change the object from flags 1 Present to flags 801 Present New Entry on the sending server. DSBrowse will also timestamp the object which with the newer timestamp should update to the offending servers provided their flags are set to 201 Present Reference. You can insure the objects on the offending server have their flags set to 201 again by loading DSREPAIR -P (See SOLUTION 1) then running a local repair.  


If there are no replicas that hold a good copy of the object in question, then you can try DSDIAG as a last resort.

DSDIAG is a utility which will allow you to mutate unknown objects. This is assuming the object has all the mandatory attributes and has the "Unknown Base Class" attribute which stores the information about what the object was.  If the object does NOT have the "Unknown Base Class" attribute, then the DSDIAG procedure will not work.   Reference TID #10019291 - Mutating unknown objects with DSDIAG.NLM  for more information.


If the object in question is not important, simply delete the object and recreate it.