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IBM i Tech Tips

Posted on January 21, 2020

Oh Where Oh Where Can My System Save Information Be…?

 

Marc Vadeboncoeur, iTech Solutions

With its unique integrated architecture, the IBM i system has many inherent strengths, not the least of which is fully baked-in and robust save/restore functionality.  When you save an object on the system such as a file or a data area or a program in a user library with commands such as SAVLIB or SAVOBJ, the system will inform you on the “when” and the “where” of the save of that object by displaying the saved date/time of the object and the save media or save file used to do the save.  For example, if you want to know the last time file QRPGLESRC in library QGPL was saved and what it was saved to, you would simply execute command DSPOBJD OBJ(QGPL/QRPGLESRC) OBJTYPE(*FILE) and take option #5 to display the full attributes, and then scroll down to the last screen where the system tells you the last save date and time and the tape volume ID or save file used to save the object, this is basic functionality that we are all familiar with.

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Posted on January 20, 2020

Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

I’ve been asked several times in the last few weeks about ODBC drivers for IBM i and how to obtain them for a PC running Client Solutions. There are actually a number of pieces to the IBM i Access puzzle that are nowhere to be found in the base ACS “installation,” so I thought I’d take a minute to revisit how ACS is structured by IBM for those who might be looking for something specific.

The Client Solutions base package, which includes the 5250 emulator and even the SQL scripting tools, is a platform-independent Java application. It doesn’t use a traditional installation method for setup, so it cannot account for anything that might need to be installed on the PC in an OS-dependent way. The ODBC drivers and a few other things fall under this category, and needed to be separated out from the Java applications so they could be given special handling.

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Steve Pitcher, iTech Solutions

I recently answered a Facebook group thread about the frequency of doing an IPL. A couple of people said it’s a best practice to do one every week. One even said it was an “IBM best practice.” Of course, there’s no supporting documentation to support that claim. I’m sure it was an offhand remark by an IBM CE in 1997 while he or she was replacing a 4 GB disk drive. But a weekly IPL as a best practice? I completely disagree.

Why?

Performance. Database performance specifically.

The SQL Plan Cache is cleared during each IPL. It contains access plans for database accesses that were optimized by SQE. After an IPL, let’s say when a database query is run its access plan is rebuilt and then put into the Plan Cache for future use, making those eventual operations much faster. The IPL effectively takes those plans and throws them out the window, making database performance less efficient.

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Chris Flick, iTech Solutions

When using BRMS control groups (WRKCTLGBRM), it is possible to add user commands using the *EXIT option for the backup item. These commands can run many different backup items or end/start applications.

First and Last *EXIT
If used, these are processed outside of the control group. The first *EXIT is the pre-control group exit that runs before any of the control group attributes are run (signing off users, ending subsystems, holding job queues, and so on). The last *EXIT is the post-control group and is run after all entries in the control group have been run.

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Posted on November 20, 2019

Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

With Client Solutions now being the only IBM-supported client software for IBM i, quite a few organizations have made the switch from the old iAccess products or are in the process of doing so. ACS is as flexible as the old application was rigid, and there are many different ways to configure it on a PC. One of the recurring questions we get from clients who are planning the switch relates to controlling what the end-user can see and use within the application. To address this,  I’d like to discuss a bit about how ACS does configuration under the hood and how administrators can have some control over what can be accessed within the application.

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Chris Flick, iTech Solutions

BRMS is not a set it and forget it backup and recovery application.  Since BRMS uses database files to store information, some of these files can get large and have many records inserted and/or deleted every day.  There are ways that you can clean up BRMS data files on a regular and as-needed basis.

Regular BRMS data files cleanup strategy:

BRMS recommends that the Start Maintenance for BRM (STRMNTBRM) command with *YES specified for the reorganize BRMS database (RGZBRMDB) parameter, is run at least once a month to clean up the files.  Because it can take a long time to reorganize the BRMS database, it may be desirable to reorganize the BRMS database in batch using the STRMNTBRM command, and performing this when no other BRMS activity is being performed.  The more often you run it, the less time it takes to run.  I would recommend running daily, as part of your BRMS strategy to include:

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Posted on October 21, 2019

When installing software on a new machine, or even slipping the License Internal Code, you can now do this via the USB.  I will show you how to download IBM I 7.4 LIC, but you can do this for 7.2, 7.3, or 7.4. My screenshots show 7.4, and the only difference would be the USB I_BASE_01 code for each release.  For POWER7, POWER7+, POWER8, and POWER9 systems tag the USB adapter as the alternate restart adapter using an HMC.  For POWER9 systems not managed by an HMC the USB system ports are in the default search sequence for a D-mode IPL, so it is not necessary to tag the USB adapter.

In order to do this, you need to do the following:

From the ESS website you need to sign in and download the software.  You will select the version of the operating system that you want.  I selected IBM i as below along with the version that I wanted and then go to the bottom of the screen and hit continue.

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Chris Flick, Technician at iTech Solutions

Chris Flick, iTech Solutions

How to Remove a File Share

You can stop sharing an existing file share by using IBM Navigator for i or System i Navigator.

To remove a file share, follow these steps: 

In IBM Navigator for i

  1. In IBM Navigator for i, under the IBM i Management node, expand File Systems > Integrated File System.
  2. Navigate through the file system folders until you locate the folder that contains the file for which you want to remove a share.
  3. Click on this folder to display its contents in the console workspace.
  4. Right-click the shared directory that you want to stop sharing in the console workspace and select Sharing > Stop Sharing.
  5. On the Stop Sharing window that displays next, click OK.

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Posted on September 25, 2019

Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

One of the topics that seem to pop up in my email on a regular basis is SMB. If you have users that access the IFS through Windows file shares or mapped drives, then you’re probably already somewhat familiar with NetServer. NetServer is an implementation of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol used primarily by Windows clients for file and print sharing. It is to IBM i what Samba is to Unix and similar platforms.

Over the years, several different versions of the SMB protocol have been released to address shortcomings, add features, and increase security. Support for the various flavors is generally broken down into broad categories of SMBv1, SMBv2, and SMBv3, although there are minor revisions to each of these. The latest version introduced by Microsoft with Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 is v3.1.1. It is important to be aware of the different versions because in order for two machines to converse using SMB, both sides need to support a common version.

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Amy Upton, Technician at iTech Solutions

Amy Upton, iTech Solutions

Here are 8 helpful hints for upgrading your MIMIX environment. It is important to keep you MIMIX environment update to ensure you are replicating properly.

One of the most important things with any upgrade is to determine compatibility between the OS and the releases of 3rd party software. MIMIX is no different, and this chart shows you which versions of MIMIX are compatible with which versions of IBM i. (more…)

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Chris Flick, Technician at iTech Solutions

Chris Flick, iTech Solutions

I have been asked by customers using BRMS, if there is an easy way to exclude objects in the IFS, that are unable to be saved, when using *LINK, to prevent getting the softer error: “Save of list *LINK completed with errors” (BRM10A1 is issued)”.

There are several methods:

  • Create and use a BRMS backup list in your backup control group, type *LNK, specifying the IFS directories or files you want to include and omit, and use that as a backup item *LNK in your BRMS backup control group for saving IFS information.
  • When using *LINK, list type *LNK, as a backup item in your backup control group, for saving the IFS, use the BRMS backup list, type *LNK, QLNKOMT, to specify any directories or links to be excluded from a *LNK backup, by adding them to the OQLNKOMT user-modifiable list.  This is the method I will discuss in further detail in this article.

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Posted on August 26, 2019
Chris Flick, Technician at iTech Solutions

Chris Flick

Have you ever seen or gotten a BRM1744 during a BRMS full system save or SAVSYSBRM?  Here is what you need to do to resolve this, and I am only going to address V5R3M0 and above. When a SAVSYS is performed through BRMS using a backup control group or the SAVSYSBRM command, BRMS will automatically attempt to end the system to a restricted condition by issuing the following command:

ENDSBS SBS(*ALL) OPTION(*CNTRLD)

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Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

Nathan Williams

Last month, I talked about the importance of the HMC and how it shouldn’t be ignored. That leads to the question: How do I keep it running smoothly? The full answer can be pretty complex. In fact, Pete regularly speaks at conferences on the topic of HMC maintenance and the presentation can easily fill a 90-minute session. Today, I’d like to set our sights a bit lower and just talk about the basics of HMC updates. IBM regularly releases Service Packs and PTFs for each version of the HMC software currently in support, and keeping the software updated will help prevent problems.

Before we can update anything, we are going to need to know what HMC hardware and software we are using so let’s start with gathering that information first. If you’re using the Classic GUI, you can find your HMC software, hardware, and serial number information by either hovering your mouse cursor over the HMC Version link at the top of the Welcome screen, or by clicking the Updates link in the left-hand menu. In the new Enhanced+ GUI, you can find it by clicking the help menu in the upper-right corner and then selecting About; an information window will pop up with all of the relevant details.

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Posted on July 31, 2019

Steve Pitcher, iTech Solutions

We get asked this question all the time: “how can I protect IBM i against ransomware?”

Ransomware is a hot button topic. It should be. The average ransom that companies paid in Q1 2019 rose to $12,762 from $6,733 the previous quarter. In some instances, ransoms are in the six-figure range or higher for large organizations with a low tolerance for downtime.

So, how do you protect the data on your IBM i partitions from being held hostage?

  1. The first step is to acknowledge that your IBM i may be vulnerable

For many years our community has touted the security features of IBM i. None of that changes, of course. It’s highly securable. The problem is most people think it comes secured by default. It does not.

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Posted on July 30, 2019
Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

Nathan Williams

The Hardware Management Console (HMC) is a strange beast. Anyone with a partitioned system needs one, and it can be an indispensable tool for anyone whose desk isn’t within 100 yards of the machine room…but it isn’t part of the system itself and it usually isn’t critical to everyday operations once things are up and running. Is it part of your critical path or is it an accessory largely to be forgotten? To answer that question, let’s examine how the HMC relates to your system and how IBM supports the HMC.

The HMC is a tool which allows us to manage the hardware contained inside a Power Systems server. By communicating with the POWER system’s Flexible Service Processor (FSP), it provides an interface to allocate processor, memory, storage, and I/O to each logical partition and manage those resources dynamically. Perhaps most importantly, the HMC lets us access each partition’s console session, which we need when operating in a restricted state. While some of these functions may be viewed as “one and done” tasks that only happen when the machine is first set up, it is important to remember that we never know what tomorrow might bring. Business needs to change and POWER-based hardware is flexible enough to turn corners, but it needs an HMC to do the steering. Your system runs your business, and the HMC runs your system. It should be clear from this relationship that the HMC can’t be ignored.

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