February 2014 Newsletter

Dear iTech Subscriber,

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

The Olympics have been a big part of our lives these past few weeks, and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I have. I love the events themselves, plus the story lines, the preparation, the inspiring moments of each athlete, their battles, what they overcame, how their families helped them to compete, and then there is also the history of the sport itself. These athletes are dedicated to their sport, and what they do in their sport just about defies possibilities. To me watching them perform is just fascinating.  Mix in some friendly country competition and you have our present day Olympics.  However, whether you are a sports fan or not, there are valuable lessons to be learned when you view the athletes efforts and accomplishments. You can apply these lessons to work or to each of our personal lives as well. For every athlete there is one common thread among them all: they all have a great coach who helps them accomplish their goal, guides them in their endeavor, and brings them to resources that they need to become an Olympian. Hmmm….that coaching job is very similar to the job that iTech Solutions performs for their customers. iTech Solutions is here for our customers so that they can reach their goals: we have the knowledge, the skills, and the experience for you to get the most from your IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) investment.  Like the Olympians, we strive to be the best in the world.

While all the athletes in the Olympics are performing at the peak of their potential, I need you to ask yourself is your IBM i performing at the peak of its ability? Are you getting the most from your machine? Are you on the correct machine? Are you current on your release of IBM i (OS/400 or i5/OS)? Are you backing up the right information? Have you ever tested your restoration? Would you like to upgrade your hardware but your version of i5/OS is too far behind? When was the last time you applied PTFs? Is your system in need of a checkup? Would you like to replicate your data to either the cloud or another machine? Interested in getting your data immediately off site with cloud based backup? We are here to help you in any of those tasks, from Health Checks, to IBM i upgrades, to Disaster Recovery, to Hardware upgrades, to PTF maintenance, to moving to our IBM i cloud, to backing up to the cloud, or replicating to the cloud. You can spend years getting your machine in shape to perform like an Olympic IBM i, or you can invite iTech Solutions to come in anywhere from a half day to a few days to get your project complete and have an Olympic-gold-medal-winning IBM i. You don’t have to do a lot of push-ups and sit-ups on your way to Olympic gold, just contact iTech Solutions via email or by phone.

 

If you are a regular reader of this newsletter, you know that standard IBM support for V5R4 expired at the end of September. If you are still on V5R4, you know what I have been telling you. Stop praying for a miracle upgrade. Take action, iTech Solutions can make it happen as it has for hundreds of others.  Give us a call, don’t go at it alone. Check our references, because they will tell you just how smooth their upgrade was.

This issue of our newsletter has 6 articles. In the first article, we will discuss Cleaning up Journal Receivers to save space. The second article is about how to implement Free Format RPG. The third article is on Finding Damaged objects on your system.  The fourth article is on using the Change IPL Attribute command, and its functions. The fifth article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information. Please note that for all 7.1 customers that are on the Quarterly or Semi-annual iTech Solutions PTF maintenance plan, we will be installing Technology Refresh 7 for you on your next application of PTFs.

Having a business partner isn’t the same as having iTech Solutions, if you aren’t getting the support, the help, the guidance, and the advice you need to succeed then you need to contact iTech Solutions for your IBM Power Systems running IBM I needs. We can help you upgrade your AS/400 or iSeries to a Power Systems running IBM i.

iTech Solutions vast experience can help you improve performance, perform security audits; implement a High Availability solution; perform health checks, systems management, remote administration,  PTF management, blade installations, Cloud based systems, Hosting, iSCSI configurations, and backup/recovery; upgrade an existing machine; or upgrade to a new machine.  If you are thinking of LPAR or HMC, then think iTech Solutions.  We have the skills to help you get the most out of your IBM i.

For more information on any of the articles below please visit us on the web at iTech Solutions or email iTech Solutions. We would love for you to let us know any articles that you wish for the future, or if you enjoy any of the articles in the current newsletters.


 

Cleaning up Journal Receivers.   Technology

Over the past several months we have migrated many customers to new machines, and I am always amazed what a little cleanup can do.  Most people don’t realize the clutter that builds up over time, and well Journal Receivers tend to build up.  Sometimes customers forgot they were journaling a file, and the receivers just keep accumulating. Sometimes they realize they are journaling a file, but haven’t a clue about managing the journal receivers.  Then there are time they don’t even realize that they are journaling all the files in a library (as is the case when you create an SQL Collection).

If these journal receivers aren’t needed, they can be deleted.  Last week we were doing a migration from one machine to another, and we found 20% of the system was old journal receivers.  Most going back 3 and 4 years, with some that had been created 9 years ago and still on the system!! Think about this, every time this customer would backup the system, it took about 20% longer than necessary as they were backing up journal receivers that they didn’t need.  We see this all the time.

Our recommendation is to look at all your journal receivers on your machine, and determine if you need them.  If you don’t need them, delete them and start your cleanup process. While the easy way to do this is manually, the better way is to write a quick CL program that will delete the journal receivers based upon age (and possibly name so that some journal receivers you can keep longer than others).

Saving disk space, reducing the backups, and in the event of a disaster reducing the amount of the on the restore/recovery.  Seems like this trick takes an Olympic Gold medal.


Free Format RPG. TR7

IBM at the same time they released Technology Refresh 7, came out with free format RPG.  You might be thinking, wait RPG has been free for some time, well they have been adding different specifications, and you would have to place your RPG free code between the /FREE and /END-FREE statements.  Well no more.  IBM has made the language almost entirely now free format.  Since I am not an RPG programmer, I won’t detail all the specifications, but they have free format H, F, D, and P statements. I want you to be able to bring this to your programmers. The language now looks very similar to C, and should be able to attract some younger students.  Of course, you have to be on OS 7.1, which by now there is no reason you haven’t upgraded your operating system.  While free format RPG came out with Technology Refresh 7 for 7.1, all you need is the RPG Compiler PTF.  You download PTF SI51094, which enabled your compiler to create programs from free format RPG statements.  If you want to use SQL (The SQL pre-compiler support) with this, you will need the latest DB2 Group PTF, which was 26.  You do know if you don’t want to worry about the hassles of PTFs, you can bring in iTech Solutions who will handle all your PTFs for you.  Another worry off your back.

This is yet another reason to have IBM maintenance on your machines. If you have let your coverage elapse, please contact Rick to put your machine under maintenance.  Its important to stay up to date with current fixes and releases. I am always amazed how many customers we come across who haven’t updated their machines in years. Since I am not an RPG programmer, I will give this a Bronze medal.

 


Damaged Object Detection.  

Disk

You know for the longest time, people used to run ReClaim Storage (RCLSTG) to find damaged objects, but it actuality it didn’t always find everything.  Plus, you had to put your system in a restricted state to run the reclaim storage (meaning nothing else is running on your machine, other than your RCLSTG).  I have found over the years, the best way to uncover damaged objects is with a full system save (ie GO SAVE 21). Unfortunately, that too would require the system to be in a restricted state, and if the save did find a damaged object it would fail.  Alternatively, you could bring the system up after the SAVSYS and do a SAVLIB *IBM, SAVLIB *ALLUSR, SAVDLO, and SAV but if something was locking an object it wouldn’t get saved.  Now, there is a new function available as part of the operating system.  I had been a Beta tester for this some time ago, and I had totally forgotten about this until I read an article by Dawn May before Christmas. This isn’t a typical CL command, so the interface isn’t as clean as I would like.  You use QSHELL to execute this.

You can run this without your system being in a restricted state, but be careful.  This is extremely I/O intensive. Let me repeat, do not run this during the day as it is extremely I/O intensive and your disks will be very very active.  You can run it for each disk, or you can run it for all your disks. Eventually you will need to run it for all your disks, you just don’t have to do them all at once. You need to start QSHELL with the STRQSH command, and then enter the shell command:

/QIBM/ProdData/OS/OSGi/templates/bin/areVerify.sh –storage diskUnits=*ALL

If you want to do the individual disks one at a time, you can enter the number of the disk unit instead of *ALL.  You can also enter multiple unit numbers separated by commas.  This will load quite a few jobs into QCTL, in my case it loaded 26 jobs, here is a screen shot from QCTL:

During the beta of this, I didn’t have my CCSID set correctly and it wouldn’t work.  That is still the case, you need your CCSID set correctly, and not to 65,535. While this is running the messages keep getting displayed in your job running under QSHELL, and here is the last screen.  Notice, that it found no errors on my system.

If you would like additional information on this please contact Pete, or want to discuss how iTech Solutions can perform this for you as part of our iTech Solutions Remote Maintenance & System Admin, please contact Paul or Rick.  This is by far a Gold medal winner.


Change IPL Attributes.    Intrusion Detection

I have been at a few customers recently, who didn’t know that you can IPL to a restricted state just by using the Change IPL Attributes command, CHGIPLA. In fact, there are quite a few things that this command can set and perform, so I thought it was of interest to include this in an article. The CHGIPLA command is used to change attributes or functions on the next IPL. I like to use this when I don’t want the system to startup after an IPL, I use the last parameter Start to Restricted State, and I change its default of *NO to *YES. This prevents any of the subsystems from starting, and I come back to a restricted state after an IPL. I find this very handy to run this command after I have loaded all my PTFs, and now I want to IPL to apply them all. Then when the IPL is complete, I can check to make sure everything applied, and then perform my save. I think you will also find some great uses of this command when you want to IPL but not have the system restart after the IPL.

Here are all the parameters for CHGIPLA.

Restart type (RESTART)

Specifies the point from which the initial program load (IPL) restarts when RESTART(*YES) or RESTART((*YES *IPLA)) are specified on the Power Down System (PWRDWNSYS) command. Specifying *SYS rather than *FULL can reduce the time required to restart the system. The initial (shipped) value for this parameter is *SYS.

*SYS -The operating system is restarted. The hardware is restarted only if a PTF that requires a hardware restart is to be applied.

*FULL – All portions of the system, including the hardware, are restarted.

Keylock position (KEYLCKPOS)

Specifies the keylock position. A change to this attribute takes effect immediately. The following restrictions apply when the keylock position is being changed:

The keylock position cannot be set to MANUAL for security reasons.

If the keylock position is currently SECURE, the keylock position cannot be changed.

If the system has a keylock and the key is not inserted, the keylock position cannot be changed.

*NORMAL – The keylock position is changed to NORMAL.

*AUTO – The keylock position is changed to AUTO.

*SECURE – The keylock position is changed to SECURE.

Hardware diagnostics (HDWDIAG)

Specifies whether certain hardware diagnostics should be performed during the IPL. The list of diagnostics is pre-determined by the system and cannot be modified by the user. On a partitioned system, this IPL attribute can only be changed from the primary partition or the hardware management console. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *MIN.

*MIN – The minimum set of hardware diagnostics is run.

*ALL – All hardware diagnostics are run.

Compress job tables (CPRJOBTBL) 

Specifies when the job tables should be compressed to remove excess unused entries. The Display Job Tables (DSPJOBTBL) command can be used to determine the number of unused entries in the job tables. Excessive unused entries can indicate that job tables need to be compressed. However, compression can take a significant amount of time during IPL. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NONE.

*NONE – The job tables are not compressed during any IPL.

*NORMAL – The job tables are compressed during normal IPLs only.

*ABNORMAL – The job tables are compressed during abnormal IPLs only.

*ALL – The job tables are compressed during all IPLs.

Check job tables (CHKJOBTBL) 

Specifies when particular damage checks on the job tables should be performed. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *ABNORMAL.

*ABNORMAL – The job table checks are performed during an abnormal IPL only.

*ALL – The job table checks are performed during all IPLs.

*SYNC – The job table checks are performed synchronously during all IPLs.

Rebuild product directory (RBDPRDDIR)

Specifies when the product directory information should be fully rebuilt. A full rebuild is required during the IPL following the install of the operating system. This attribute is overridden during that IPL. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NONE.

*NONE – The product directory information is not fully rebuilt.

*NORMAL – The product directory information is fully rebuilt during a normal IPL only.

*ABNORMAL – The product directory information is fully rebuilt during an abnormal IPL only.

*ALL  – The product directory information is fully rebuilt during all IPLs.

Mail Server Framework recovery (MSFRCY)

Specifies whether Mail Server Framework recovery is done during abnormal IPLs. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NONE.

*NONE – Mail Server Framework recovery is not done during IPL. Recovery is done when Mail Server Framework starts.

*ABNORMAL – Mail Server Framework recovery is done during an abnormal IPL.

Display status (DSPSTS)

Specifies whether the status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed at the console during IPL. Status is not displayed during install IPLs or when the console is not powered on. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *ALL.

*SYS – The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during attended IPLs and abnormal IPLs.

*NONE – The status of OS/400 IPL steps is not displayed during IPL.

*ATTEND – The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during attended IPLs.

*ABNORMAL – The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during abnormal IPLs.

*ALL – The status of OS/400 IPL steps is displayed during all IPLs, excepted as noted above.

Start TCP/IP (STRTCP)

Specifies whether the Start TCP/IP (STRTCP) command is automatically submitted at the completion of IPL and when the controlling subsystem is restarted to bring the system out of the restricted state. The STRTCP command is not submitted during install IPLs or when the system is starting to the restricted state. See the STRTCP command help for more information. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *YES.

*YES – STRTCP command is automatically submitted.

*NO – STRTCP command is not automatically submitted.

Clear job queues (CLRJOBQ)

Specifies whether or not to clear the jobs from all job queues. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*YES -The job queues are cleared during the IPL. This attribute is then reset to *NO.

*NO – The job queues are not cleared.

Clear output queues (CLROUTQ)

Specifies whether or not to clear all output queues, thus removing all spooled output from the system. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*YES – The output queues are cleared during the IPL. This attribute is then reset to *NO.

*NO – The output queues are not cleared.

Clear incomplete joblogs (CLRINCJOB)

Specifies whether or not to delete the joblogs for jobs that were active at the time of the last system power down. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*YES – The joblogs are deleted during the IPL. This attribute is then reset to *NO.

*NO – The joblogs are not deleted.

Start print writers (STRPRTWTR)

Specifies whether or not print writers should be started at IPL time. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *YES. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*YES – Print writers are started at IPL time.

*NO – Print writers are not started at IPL time. This attribute is then reset to *YES.

Start to restricted state (STRRSTD)

Specifies whether or not the system should be started to the restricted state, which means that only the system console will be active. The initial (shipped) value for this attribute is *NO. This attribute is reset to its initial value after each IPL.

*YES – The system is started to the restricted state. This attribute is then reset to *NO.

*NO – The system is not started to the restricted state.

The CHGIPLA command I find very useful for compressing job tables (see iTech Newsletter January 2012), not starting Print writers, or IPLing into a restricted state.  For the Olympics, I give this command a Silver medal.

We have pointed this out to a few customers during some recent health checks. The iTech Solutions Health Check is to identify problems you might have, best practices you might not be following, identify performance issues, security issues, etc. Yet, sometimes it just takes someone to see the very simple things that you are doing wrong. For help or to have an iTech Solutions Health Check contact Paul or Rick.


 

Upcoming Events 

Some of the events that we will be speaking at, or exhibiting at are listed below. Don’t forget the iTech Solutions web site at http://www.itechsol.com.

 

April 7 – 9, 2014 Northeast User Groups Conference – Framingham, MA http://www.neugc.org

Come visit Rick and Paul at our booth, and hear Pete speak on:

  • Managing IBM i with Navigator for i
  • Building Virtual i Partitions Hosted by IBM i
  • What you need to know for a successful IBM i upgrade.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and firmware.

May 5 – 8, 2014 COMMON Annual Conference – Orlando, FL http://www.common.org

Come visit Rick and Paul at our booth, and hear Pete speak on:

  • Tip and tricks to improve system performance and save disk space
  • A programmers future: Looking back to see the future
  • Building Virtual i Partitions Hosted by IBM i
  • What you need to know for a successful IBM i upgrade.
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, IBM i, and firmware.

May 14, 2014 Long Island Systems User Group – Woodbury, NY http://www.lisug.org

Come visit Glenn at our booth

June 3, 2014 Michigan IBM i Technical Conference – Livonia, MI http://gomitec.com

June 18, 2014 New England Midrange Users Group – Managing IBM i with Navigator for i www.nemug.com

 


Release levels and PTFs 

People are always asking me how often they should be performing PTF maintenance, and when is the right time to upgrade their operating system. I updated this article from last month with the current levels of PTFs. Let’s look at PTFs. First, PTFs are Program Temporary Fixes that are created by IBM to fix a problem that has occurred or to possibly prevent a problem from occurring. In addition, some times PTFs add new functionality, security, or improve performance. Therefore, I am always dumbfounded as to why customers do not perform PTF maintenance on their machine at least quarterly. If IBM has come out with a fix for your disk drives, why do you want to wait for your disk drive to fail with that problem, only to be told that there is a fix for that problem, and if you had applied the PTF beforehand, you would have averted the problem. Therefore, I think a quarterly PTF maintenance strategy is a smart move. Many of our customers are on our quarterly PTF maintenance program, and that provides them with the peace of mind of knowing their system is up to date on PTFs. Below is a table of the major group PTFs for the last few releases. This is what we are installing for our customers on iTech Solutions Quarterly Maintenance program.

7.1 6.1 V5R4 V5R3
Cumul Pack 13287 13312 12094 8267
Tech. Refresh 7
Grp Hipers 104 167 203 169
DB Group 27 31 33 24
Java Group 15 26 34 23
Print Group 9 28 49 20
Backup/Recov. 32 45 57 33
Blade/IXA/IXS 15 28 15
HTTP 25 36 36 17
TCP/IP 8 16 22 16
Security 30 42 32
High Availability 6 4
Hardware 6 6

The easiest way to check your levels is to issue the command WRKPTFGRP. They should all have a status of installed, and you should be up to the latest for all the above, based upon your release. Now there are more groups than the ones listed above, but these are the general ones that most people require. We can help you know which group PTFs you should be installing on your machine based upon your licensed programs. Here is a nice tidbit. The Cumulative PTF package number is broken down as YDDD, where Y is the year and DDD is the day it was released. Therefore, if we look at the cumulative package for V5R4, the ID is 9104. We can determine that it was created on the 104th day of 2009, which is April 14, 2009. Look at your machine and this will give you a quick indication of just how far out of date in PTFs you may be. I left V5R1 & V5R2 off the list, because if you are on V5R1 or V5R2, you don’t need to be worrying about PTFs, you really need to be upgrading your operating system. The same can be said for V5R3, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have a Hardware Management Console (HMC,) you should be running:

Model Release Service Pack
HMCs V7R7.8 eFix MH0143
or V7R7.7 SP3 eFix MH01400
HMC C03 V7R3.5 SP4

If you have an Flexible Service Processor (FSP) your firmware should be:

Machine Processor Model Version
Power5 or 5+ 520, 515, 525, 550, 570 SF240_418
Power6 940x, M15, M25, M50 EL350_149
8203-E4A, 8204-E8A, 8204-E4A EL350_149
MMA, 560, 570 EM350_149
9119-FHA EH350_149
Power7 8231-E1B, 8202-E4B, 8231-E2B, 8205-E6B, 8233-E8B, 8236-E8C AL730_122
9117-MMB, 9179-MHB AM780_040
8231-E1C, 8202-E4C, 8205-E6C AL740_121
9117-MMC, 9179-MHC AM770-063
Power7+ 8231-E1D, 8202-E4D, 8231-E2D, 8205-E6D AL770_063
8408-E8D, 9109-RMD AL770_063
9117-MMD, 9179-MHD AM760_078

 

If you need help with upgrading your HMC or FSP just give us a call. We will be happy to perform the function for you or assist you in doing it. Contact Pete Massiello.

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