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Sep 24, 2009

How to revive an unstartable Plone 3.2.2 under windows XP Pro SP3

You may have experienced erratic behaviour from installations of Plone under Windows XP. This contribution, based on my personal experience and on what I found searching the web, will hopefully let you fix a Zope service that become unstartable without any apparent reason, or at least find a workaround by running runzope.bat from the command line.

In mid-september 2009 I downloaded and installed successfully the Plone 3.2.2 bundle for windows, including Python and Zope 2.something (you already understood that I am not an expert in the field).

Plone worked fine, I customized my local installation (to be used for demo purposes) without any problem.

After two days without using Plone (that I usually started from the "Plone Controller" application) I found that the "Plone Controller" could not start anymore the Zope instance. The Zope instance service - even though marked for automatic start - could not be started, the windows system log messages were useless (error 01x, no explanation).

In similar situations, usually Zope may be started by runzope.bat from the command line: I tried that workaround that proved effective, even though I did not engage in a full set of site update and configuration: some posts in technical fora suggest that this solution does not necessarily provide a fully working Zope / Plone instance.

Not fully satisfied with the workaround, I explored the Web for solutions, and here is what I found and applied successfully (ZI = Zope instance, PC = Plone Controller, RZ = Runzope.bat). All the paths are the default paths resulting from a default run of the Plone Win 32 bit installer. Here is a sequence of all the steps, problem and solution.

  • ZI could not be started by PC - issues error message in endless cascading pop-ups
  • Plone local site (in my case, http://localhost:8080/PloneCesare) is obviously inaccessible
  • At this stage, ZI *could* be manually started by RZ, issuing from the command line: 
  • Plone local site http://localhost:8080/PloneCesare now is accessible, but PC is not aware that ZI is started, as long as PC "sees" only the Zope service, not the manually started instance
  • Zope Instance service (default name:"Zope instance at C:\Programmi\Plone\parts\instance") remains unstartable. Furthermore, it does not seem to retain the parameters set from the Windows "Services" interface.
  • To solve the issue, I reset the service options, by issuing from the command line:

 C:\Programmi\Plone\python\python.exe C:\Programmi\Plone\parts\instance\bin\ --startup auto install

The execution returns the following lines:

Installing service Zope_78966557
Changing service configuration
Service updated


  • Then, still not entirely trusting the Windows Service interface, I try to start the service manually:
  •  C:\Programmi\Plone\python\python.exe C:\Programmi\Plone\parts\instance\bin\ start
  • Execution returns the following line:
  • Starting service Zope_78966557
  • Now the plone controller sees that the instance is running and enables all its functions, including the ZMI
  • Under "Services", the service is up and running
  • Service may be freely started and stopped both from the PC and from the window's "Services" panel. 
  • Plone works fine
  • Please note that most of the information available on the Web about similar issues refers to older Plone versions, and may not apply to the newest releases. Please note also that Win XP Home may behave in a different way.

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