VS.NET 2003 won't let me debug an IIS 6 site configured using host headers


I desperately need some assistance with a problem I've already spent 2 days on, without much luck.

I'm running Windows Server 2003 R2 with Service Pack 1, IIS 6.0, and the problem is specific to debugging in Visual Studio .NET 2003 with Service Pack 1.

To keep my development environment consistent with the sites as they appear on the production servers, I created several sites in IIS on port 80 using the default IP address, differentiated by host headers. My hosts file contains the necessary entries pointing back to, I've added all the host header URLs to my Trusted Sites list in IE, my project's .webinfo file contains the correct URL, and I even went to the trouble of configuring FrontPage Extensions 2002 on the site.

Here's where I stand: I can load the web project into VS.NET using the Host Header just fine. I can refresh the project, I can even create a new web site on the host-headered IIS site directly through Visual Studio. The site works if I navigate directly to the URL, or if I choose Start Without Debugging, or if I choose the "View In Browser" selection from the ASPX file's context menu in Project Explorer. But for some reason, whenever I try to debug, I get the same error:

Error while trying to run project: Unable to start debugging on the web server. Could not start ASP.NET or ATL Server debugging.

Here is a list of all the things I've already confirmed and/or tried:

  • No, I'm not Remote Debugging, all my sites are right on my local workstation
  • Yes, I downloaded the HotFix for host-headered sites overwriting one another's VS Web Cache
  • Yes, I am in the Administrators, Debuggers and VS Developers groups. Additionally, I added Network Service and ASPNET to my debuggers group hoping that would solve my prob...
  • Yes, Http Keep-Alives are enabled on each web
  • Yes, I created the DisableLoopbackCheck key in the registry and set the value to 1
  • Yes, I deleted the ASPNET account from my machine and ran aspnet_regiis -i
  • Yes, debug="true" in my web.config, and the solution is running in debug mode
  • Yes, the site compiles fine and creates a PDB file
  • Yes, a folder with the host header name is created in my VS web cache
  • Yes, I tried deleting my temporary ASP.NET files
  • Yes, the url is listed in my Trusted Web Sites
  • Yes, I tried navigating to the URL and then attaching the debugger to the process... the script debugger attached successfully, but the CLR debugger failed.
  • No, I was *not* able to disable Windows Firewall altogether, because our Systems team enforces a group policy on that and my request to allow me to manage my own Windows Firewall is caught up in a web of red tape somewhere. I suspect this might be the culprit, but I really hope someone out there can help me see what I'm missing.

I'm pretty certain it's not permissions-related. My gut is telling me that there's a disconnect somewhere between my host header mapping and whatever mechanism the .NET Debugger uses to resolve machine names. In my head I keep thinking of DCOM, but it's just a shot in the dark.

If all else fails, I'll have to revert back to using different ports for each site, but I know somebody has to have the answer, and I've invested so much energy into troubleshooting this issue that I would hate to give up and let it defeat me. Please help me, if you can.

Thank you,


Sabrina Veksler
Senior Developer
Oxygen Media, NBC Universal
5/10/2007 7:42:17 AM
asp.net.vs2002-vs2003 3502 articles. 0 followers. Follow

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I'm sorry - actually the error message is:

Error while trying to run project: Unable to start debugging on the web server. Unable to map the debug start page URL to a machine name.

You may also want to refer to the ASP.NET and ATL Server debugging topic in the online documentation.”

Sabrina Veksler
Senior Developer
Oxygen Media, NBC Universal
5/15/2007 12:02:14 AM

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