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IBM i Tech Tips

Posted on February 22, 2021

Marc Vadeboncoeur, iTech Solutions

We recently installed a new POWER9 system at a customer site and migrated their old system to it, and the customer wanted to take advantage of multiple network switches in their data center to provide some level of network connectivity redundancy for their new system to protect against a network switch failure.

The simple solution was to use a virtual IP address implementation where we created a virtual IP TCP/IP interface that sits on top of two physical interfaces that are used to handle the network traffic (in a recent newsletter I described the exact steps on how to do this, very easy to do!).  What we did was create a virtual IP interface that was the same address as the IP address of the old system (e.g. 192.168.1.10) and two real (physical) TCP/IP interfaces (e.g. 192.168.1.11 and 192.168.1.12) that were defined to the virtual IP interface as “preferred interfaces” with each physical interface plugged into a different network switch, this is the norm for a typical virtual IP address configuration.

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Steven McIver, iTech Solutions

Host table entries on IBM i are something that every system administrator touches. At the very least, you should always have an entry in there that resolves the hostname of your system to the correct IP address. There are many services (like SSH and Navigator for i) that will run much faster if his host table entry is in place and correct.

In this world, the only thing constant is change, and when changes start happening, IP addresses tend to start changing. When IP addresses change, you have to change those host table entries that have remained the same on your system for a long time. If you take the usual command-line route to changing them, you will hop to the Configure TCP/IP menu (CFGTCP) and then take option 10 – Work with TCP/IP host table entries.

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Posted on January 26, 2021

Steve Pitcher, iTech Solutions

We’ve had a lot of questions recently on how to safely remove an IBM i root directory share in NetServer. Until IBM i 7.4, the only way to do it practically is a little cavalier. You essentially pick a time of day that isn’t too busy, inform your users, and then break the root share in a controlled fashion. How do you break it? Well, you can remove the share or make it read-only, and then you see who complains. If the complaints are minimal, you service those users by finding out what they used to do, then show them the new way. Most likely they’re heading for a subdirectory via the root share so creating them a direct share is the most appropriate course of action.

In IBM i 7.4, we can safely determine if a root share is in use by turning on Authority Collection for the root. We do that with the following command:

CHGAUTCOL OBJ(/) AUTCOLVAL(*OBJINF)

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Steven McIver, iTech Solutions

Virtualization is something AS/400/iSeries/IBM i has been doing for a very long time. Work can be separated into various subsystems. Each workload can work with a different pool of memory. Jobs can run with different CPU priorities and time slices. Multiple libraries of the same name can exist when separated into multiple independent auxiliary storage pools. Along with all the job virtualization came the ability to virtualize the hardware; allowing you to have a hosting partition to share disk, network, tape, and optical. Then came a whole new operating system based on AIX designed with the sole purpose to virtualize the hardware. That operating system is Virtual I/O Server (VIOS).

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Pete Massiello, iTech Solutions

The IBM Full System Flash Copy (FSFC) for IBM i was created to automate performing backups with minimal impact to a production LPAR. With this toolkit, a full system backup in a restricted state can be performed with the users experiencing a pause for (typically) less than 30 seconds.

This is achieved using a combination of the HMC to manage the partitions, the ability of IBM i to pause database transactions on a commit boundary, and the FlashCopy function of external storage to create a copy of the production LPAR, from which the backups are taken.

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Posted on November 18, 2020

Marc Vadeboncoeur, iTech Solutions

We all know and heavily rely upon IBM i’s venerable NetServer facility to serve-up IFS folders as standard SMB (Server Message Block) shares on our corporate networks, and to also allow our IBM i systems to act as SMB clients and access network file shares on other servers in heterogeneous environments via the QNTC facility.  So, if I were to ask the question, how can you configure/administer NetServer on an IBM i system, how many of you would only answer with only “Navigator for i”?

 

The answer is, there are actually two ways that you can effectively manage NetServer on IBM i:

  • Navigator for i
  • NETS menu command-line interface

Yes, there is actually a “green screen” way to fully manage NetServer on your system.  By default, IBM ships this capability inside of the IBM i operating system but, you first must “install” it onto your system, and the installation & use of the NETS menu functionality is the focus of this article.

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Amy Upton, iTech Solutions

You can use the following information to set up mirroring of your Robot products:

If you are restoring any Robot product libraries, RBTSYSLIB must be the first library restored to the target system. Then, call RSL062 to create the required user profiles. When mirroring Robot products, the product cannot be active on the target system.

You must change the system name in the product database files for the following products before you can run the products on the mirrored system. Use the Retrieve Network Attributes (RTVNETA) command to retrieve the target system name. Then, enter the Change System Name in Files (RSLCHGSYSN) command and specify the target system name in the Current system name field.

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Posted on October 28, 2020

Amy Upton, iTech Solutions

Reviewing your MIMIX protection reports is very important for your MIMIX HA solution. You may have all your data groups synced and your audit reports are running clean but if you are missing replication on libraries and objects you need then you will have issues if you need to switch.

You can access the protection report through the precisely AUI interface. You will sign-on and look at the Analysis tab and this will show you libraries, directories, and folders status of replication. The goal is to have no libraries or objects that are not in a NONE status.

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Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

If you have an IBM SAN (Storwize or FlashSystem family) then you may be familiar with the process of deleting volumes within the storage management GUI. It’s basically as simple as right-clicking on a volume and selecting “delete.” Pretty easy, but as we all know sometimes easy is dangerous. Have you ever considered what would happen if you tried to delete something that might actually be in use? IBM has thought of that, too. The delete process is a one-way trip and there are a couple of checks in place to make sure that you’re paying attention before you commit to something so drastic.

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Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

If your POWER9 is one of the new refreshed models (9009-41G, 9009-42G, or 9009-22G), then you may be familiar with the fact that your QPRCFEAT system value does not match the processor feature code as ordered from IBM. This is because—while IBM provided unique feature codes for the different processors in the new model—the actual CPU hardware is identical to the original POWER9 models. Internally, the FSP knows that the chips are the same and reports the actual CPU identifier to the Operating System.

This mismatch has already lead to quite a bit of confusion when ordering license keys for 3rd party applications, as many software vendors use the QPRCFEAT value as part of their key generation algorithm. We have had clients order license keys for their brand new system using the ordered processor feature code (EP51 for example) only to find that the keys don’t work on installation day because the new system is reporting a different code (EP11 in this case).

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Posted on September 27, 2020

Marc Vadeboncoeur, iTech Solutions

Do you have a “backup” for your IBM i system’s Ethernet line in the event that it fails?  If you don’t, did you know that you can configure an automatic failover line quickly and easily in IBM i?

Virtual IP Addressing (a.k.a. “VIPA”) is a capability that has existed on IBM i for quite some time, but surprisingly many shops don’t know about it, or, they are aware of it but don’t realize how easy it is to configure and the terrific redundancy it can quickly & easily provide.

In our services practice here at iTech it is very rare that we see an Ethernet adapter in an IBM i system fail, however, Ethernet switch failures can be a common occurrence.  If you have an unused Ethernet port on your system (as many installations do) and you have another switch in your data center that is on the same network, adding automatic redundancy for your current primary Ethernet connection to your network to guard against a primary switch failure is a snap, and here’s how you do it.

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Posted on September 23, 2020

Chris Flick, iTech Solutions

What you may not know about SAVCHGOBJ or BRMS equivalent (Incremental Save), may be detrimental to your backup strategy.

By definition: The Save Changed Object (SAVCHGOBJ) command saves a copy of each changed object or group of objects located in the same library. When *ALL is specified for the Objects (OBJ) parameter, objects can be saved from all user libraries or from a list of libraries. When saving to a save file, only one library can be specified. For database files, only the changed members are saved.

By default, objects being journaled are not saved, which is what this iTech iTip covers.

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Steven McIver

Navigator for i has many convenient ways to manage your IBM i system with a graphical interface. You may not realize that in new versions of IBM i Access Client Solutions, you can launch it easily from your 5250 Emulation Sessions by clicking the icon pictured below:

Once you sign in to Navigator for i, you’ll notice one of the very first options on the left side of the page is called Target Systems and Groups. This option allows you to access Navigator for i sessions on other systems in your network. The biggest perk of this is it allows you to quickly access other systems in your network from one window. It also helps in a pinch when you don’t have a route to Navigator for i on another system from your PC but the system you connect to Navigator for i on does, or the Admin instance is just not working on that other system. You can sometimes still access Navigator for i on that remote system by using the Target System option.

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Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

IBM i Access for Windows/Mac/Linux (a.k.a. “old Client Access”) has been around for a long time. It’s familiar, stable, and probably already installed on most of your end-user PCs. This massive installed base makes it difficult to fathom switching to IBM i Access Client Solutions, especially when the older software continues to work for the vast majority of users. Unfortunately, that may not be the case forever.

Many of our customers have made the move in recent years to secure the communication channels into and out of their systems, including IBM i. In most cases, this means encrypting all client connections using SSL/TLS. All flavors of IBM i Access support encrypting encrypted connections so implementing security for 5250, file transfer, ODBC, and pretty much anything else is relatively straightforward. Most of these projects are driven by compliance concerns (PCI-DSS, HIPAA, etc.), but encrypting your client sessions vastly increases system security even when there is no policy reason to do so – for example, did you know that unencrypted 5250 sessions send the user’s credentials down the wire in plain text?

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Posted on August 26, 2020

Steve Pitcher, iTech Solutions

I’ve been doing quite a bit of Domino upgrades to 10.0.1 and 11.0.1 recently. What HCL has done in terms of product updates have been outstanding. Their documentation however leaves a lot to be desired. I can’t seem to find any decent documentation for upgrading Domino to 11.0.1.

So, I’ve built my own installation instructions for you.

First, you’ll have to set your environment variable of DOMINO_INSTALL_TYPE. Most shops I’ve been upgrading are enterprise servers, which is a 2. Use the following command:

ADDENVVAR ENVVAR(DOMINO_INSTALL_TYPE) VALUE(2)

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