January 2014 Newsletter

We hope you had a fantastic holiday and we wish you a Happy, Healthy, Joyous, and Prosperous New Year.  We would like to thank you for your business last year, and we will work extremely hard this year to earn your business again.  January is full of new hopes, new beginnings, and new resolutions. If you are not getting what you expect from your business partner, contact iTech Solutions.

I hope you enjoyed the December newsletter on how iTech Solutions saved Christmas for Santa Claus last month.  Next week, everyone is going to be watching the Super Bowl and rooting for their favorite team, as well as their favorite commercial.  Again, this year you will want to keep an eye out for the iTech Solutions Super Bowl ad. Remember that last year it didn’t get played because the power had gone out.  We don’t know which quarter it will be shown, but I know it wasn’t a 60 second commercial as we just couldn’t commit our entire 2014 advertising budget to just one ad. Here is a sneak peak at this year’s Super Bowl commercial.   You will notice we invested in our skills instead of our commercial.

During the past 2 months we have heard about security breaches at Target and just recently at Michaels craft stores.  While we certainly hope that you aren’t personally affected by these intrusions, you have the opportunities to learn from some other companies misfortune. If your machine is on the internet have you setup and started Intrusion Detection?  Have you closed down some of the open access paths to your data, like FTP, ODBC? Have you revoked *ALLOBJ from those individuals who don’t need it?  Have you reviewed your userids on your system? Are your backup tapes encrypted?  IBM regularly puts out enhancements, fixes, new releases, but so many companies are in the mind set if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.  Well, if you are one of them, be prepared to be bitten sooner rather than later. As people in charge of our machines and our data it is our responsibility to protect it.  If you need help, contact Paul, Glenn, or Rick to get some help.

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 IBM i Access for Windows PTFs or Service packs. The second article is about verification for downloading PTFs or verification of your entitlement. The third article is on displaying the long IFS names in WRKLNK command.  The fourth article is on do you know where your console is before a disaster happens. 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 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.


IBM i Access for Windows Service Packs (PTFs).   Technology

I have been asked this question a few times lately, so I thought it would work quite well for an article.  Have you gone to the IBM i Access for Windows lately to get a service pack? Well there is a little confusion there, plus you also need to get a prerequisite from Microsoft before you can install your IBM i Access for Windows service pack.


Before installing IBM i Access service packs for 7.1 available after April 2, 2012, or service packs for IBM i Access for windows 6.1 released after June 2009, you must get a patch from Microsoft.  The Microsoft update addresses security concerns involving Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Service Pack 1.  This service pack must be installed prior to installing the IBM i Access service pack.  The installation of the IBM i access for windows service pack checks to insure that this fix is installed before updating your PC.  So, you must download it and install it.  It will take only 2 or 3 minutes to do this. Pay attention to the correct version of the Microsoft fix based upon your operating system. You have to download and install the correct vcredist_XXXX.exe file for your system. If you have a 64 bit system, in addition to installing the correct vcredist_XXXX.exe file for your 64 bit system, you will also need to install vcredist_x86.exe (32 bit version) since IBM i Access for Windows will run both 32 and 64 bit executables on a 64 bit PC.  The Microsoft download is here.

Once you have that Microsoft fix or fixes installed, you can then install the IBM i service pack.  The problem many customers have been having is that they are running a 64bit version of Window7, so they assume when they are on the IBM i Access service pack download page that they would select the 64 bit version.  Incorrect.  The 64 bit is only for AMD 64-bit, Intel 64-bit Xeon processors.  Everyone else would download the 32bit service pack.  Yes, the 32 bit service pack.

It’s important to stay up to date with PTFs, patches, and fixes for not only your PC but your IBM i (AS/400 or iSeries), HMC, and FSP as well.  If you want additional information on having iTech Solutions update your systems with the latest firmware, operating system, or PTFs contact us.

Verification required for downloading PTFs. TR7

Starting this month, IBM will verify your entitlement when getting PTFs on Fix Central for select software products and updates and for Machine Code (also known as firmware or microcode) updates. They have already been doing this for firmware updates on tape drives for some time now. When getting Machine code PTFs (MF type PTFs), you will have to provide your machine’s serial number. This machine will have to be under hardware warranty or maintenance. Entitlement for software products will be validated through the IBM ID you logged into Fix Central with. This id will have to be related to a valid customer number that has SWMA.

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.


Displaying long IFS names in WRKLNK.  


Have you ever been looking at object names in the IFS, and you only see the partial name?  The default is to show you just the basic information, which means just the first 18 characters of the file name and a “>” which denotes that there is more to the file name.  If you would like to see up to the first 65 characters of the name displayed, just use the keyword DETAIL with a value of *NAME on the WRKLNK command.

WRKLNK DETAIL(*NAME) will show you the first 65 characters of a file name, but it won’t show you Type, Attribute, and Text.  Once you enter this display mode, subsequent displays will continue to show the same, as the default on the DETAIL parameter is *PRV meaning previous parameter.  To revert back, you can enter WRKLNK DETAIL(*BASIC).


Your Console.    Intrusion Detection

Your console is one of the most important parts of your IBM i.  When there is a problem or if you want to do a full system save, you would perform these functions from the console.  Also, an OS Upgrade or any thing else you need to do in a restricted state requires using the console.  The reason I want to write this article, is over the last 2 months, I have been at 5 customers who didn’t have a console or didn’t know where the console was.

Don’t wait until you have a problem to find the console.  It doesn’t matter if you console is HMC, LAN Console, or Twinax; you still need to be able to get to it in an emergency.  Don’t wait until your back is against the wall; make sure you can connect to your console now.  The real console, not some terminal that is sitting in the computer room.  Check to make sure the console is in the controlling subsystem.  One of the best ways to really know if the console is connected correctly is to test it out. If you have LAN Console connect it now, and if you have an HMC, start a console session for the partition from the HMC. If you have a twinax device, it must be at switch setting zero, connected to port zero of the twinax brick. You can check your console during the day without a problem.

  1. Sign off what you believe to be the console.
  2. Go to your bezel (or from your HMC Control panel functions for the partition), and arrow up to 02 and press enter.  Change the display to read B M (That is an M like Manual).  Press enter.
  3. On the bezel, arrow up to 21 and press enter.
  4. Now press enter one more time.
  5. The console should now have a DST signon screen .
  6. On the bezel, let’s set it back to Normal mode, but going back to 02, and change the display to read B N.

If you didn’t get a DST signon screen, then that isn’t the console  You will need to trouble shoot to determine what you believe is your console.  The first thing we need to do is determine what the OS has defined for the console type. Signon to SST (STRSST from a command line), and then once in select Work with service tools user IDs and Devices.  Then select number 3, Select Console.  This will show you what you have selected for the console (Twinax, Lan Console, or HMC).  If it is LAN console, make sure you can connect with the PC that you believe is your console.

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

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

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 101 164 203 169
DB Group 27 31 33 24
Java Group 15 26 34 23
Print Group 9 28 49 20
Backup/Recov. 30 43 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
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_068


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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