Microsoft hasn't yet officially acknowledged the problem, but many admins are reporting that installing this month's "Black Tuesday" SharePoint patch, MS10-039 / KB 2028544 / KB 983444, causes their Windows SharePoint Server 3.0 machines to lock up.
The problem typically manifests itself when IIS users trying to access a SharePoint page get the error message "Cannot connect to the configuration database." Admins may get the message "Unable to connect to the configuration database."
There doesn't seem to be one single solution. Rather, Microsoft's SharePoint TechNet blog points to several approaches. I have a report from one admin who says that running the SharePoint Products and Configuration Wizard fixed the problem. He's one of the lucky ones.
SharePoint is notoriously difficult to patch. Some folks on the TechNet blog say they have to go in with a psconfig command from the command prompt. Another had to download and install the patch manually, then run the psconfig command. Blogger JohnB352 says, "I uninstalled and re-installed WSS 3.0, and we could get to our SP site again. But of course... KB983444 was installed again last night, and now the site is broken, again!!!" Blogger Adamjake found that he had to uninstall Groupboard, then run the WSS Configuration Wizard, then re-install Groupboard. "Wasted 3 days and heaps of coffee. Let it be a lesson: backup daily and check all updates before installing."
Adding to the problem: you can't uninstall KB 983444.
Even though the Knowledge Base article for the WSS 3.0 version of the patch, KB 983444, is only ten days old, it's up to Revision 2.0 -- and as of this moment, the article doesn't acknowledge this known bug.
Patching gurus recommend that anyone who's encountered this problem call Microsoft support and file a problem report. Immediately. Until the level of clamor reaches a critical point, Microsoft may not have sufficient, uh, impetus to fix the patch.