What Vista Firewall settings are required for enabling remote debugging?


This a bit of a tricky thing. We all know the famous KB for “How to turn on remote debugging in Windows XP with Service Pack 2, in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, or in Windows Vista” and we do all these settings on the Vista box to turn on debugging.

But this is not quite enough some times and in one of the issues I came across we were getting below error message –

Unable to connect to the Microsoft Visual Studio Remote Debugging Monitor named 'server-computer name'. The Microsoft Visual Studio Remote Debugging Monitor on the remote computer cannot connect to the local computer. A firewall may be preventing communication via DCOM to the local computer. Please see Help for assistance.

This was a quite a puzzle for me as I was able to see that RDM was running and was showing the user as connected. 

I was luckily able to repro the issue on my machine as well and started looking for options. From the error message I thought the Windows Server 2003 server firewall might be blocking it. I tried turning off the firewalls completely on the server but still no luck for me at all.

So finally we were in the situation where the Vista Firewall was causing this, but which setting did we need to change?. Here are the steps which I followed to figure it out–

- Opened “Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Local Security policy”.

- In the section "Windows Firewall with Advanced Security" I found "Windows Firewall with Advanced Security - Local Group Policy Object".  When I clicked on this, on the right hand side I found "Windows Firewall Properties"

- I clicked on that, it opened the "Windows Firewall with Advanced Security - Local Group Policy Object" dialog box.

- In this dialog box, we have different tabs to configure for various scenarios like "Domain Profile", "Private Profile" etc..

- For my scenario "Domain Profile" is the one as both my machines are in same domain. Under this tab, we have "Firewall State" which was set to "Not configured".

We also have Inbound connections and Outbound connections set to "Not configured".

- I set the options as follows:

1. Firewall State = "On (recommended)"

2. Inbound connections = "Allow"

3. Outbound connections = "Allow (default)"

This solved the problem. I was able to manually attach to the remote machine. I could see the process in the list and I could attach to remote W3WP process and successfully debug and hit the break points. 

The similar settings I think we can do via command line as well as per the thread on discussion group.

I hope this help!

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