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This page displays a number of WMS services: http://seamless.usgs.gov/service_access_list.php?serviceid=Dataset_7&dataset=HRO

In a local copy of GeoServer, I can successfully create a WMS store and publish a layer from the WMS URLs provided on that page, however the layer preview options all throw NullPointerExceptions: at org.geoserver.catalog.impl.WMSStoreInfoImpl.getWebMapServer(WMSStoreInfoImpl.java:39)

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By going to the GeoWebCache Settings page and checking the box Enable direct WMS integration, I was able to get the OrthoImage WMS layer to work. However, directly viewing that layer using the Layers Preview option threw the error described in the question.

In the end, using GeoWebCache is preferred, so this is the solution for me even though it doesn't explain why I get the error without GeoWebCache.

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