June 2012 Newsletter

Greetings!

i can do anything with iTech Solutions

Well summer is finally here, and I hope that you are enjoying the warm weather.  Next Wednesday is Independence day as well, so we hope you are going to relax and spend time with family and friends.

We have been upgrading customers like crazy ever since IBM stated that IBM V5R4 will no longer be supported after September 30, 2013.  As I always say when it comes to upgrades, it is the planning ahead of time that makes the upgrade smooth and successful.  I hope if you are still on V5R4 (or earlier) that you get in touch with us early and start your project.  It might take longer than you realize if you have many objects that fail Analyze Object Convert.

 

Last month we discussed the frequency of IPLs, and that you shouldn’t be IPLing that often any more.  We had quite a few customers calling us back, and giving us some very positive feedback. This month we will discuss Dedicated Services Tools.

 

This issue of our newsletter has five articles. In the first article, we will discuss what Dedicated Services Tools is and how to access it.  The second article is about Dedicated Service Tools userids.  The third article lists some of the upcoming events in which iTech Solutions will be participating.  The fourth article is about local user groups. The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information. Please note that we have added a new PTF group to our recommended list, which is the High Availability Group.  If you are an iTech Solutions PTF Maintenance customer, you will receive this on your next application of PTFs.

If you are still on V5R4, send Pete an email and he can help you upgrade to 6.1 or 7.1. With over 380 6.1/7.1 upgrades done to date you know iTech Solutions has the expertise and know how.

iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, perform security audits; implement a High Availability solution; perform health checks, systems management, remote administration,  PTF management, blade installations, iSCSI configurations, 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.

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For more information on any of the articles below please visit us at 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.

Dedicated Service Tools (DST). 
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I was recently asked by a customer, how to access Dedicated Service Tools (DST), and thought that would be a good article.

Let’s start with what exactly is
Dedicated service tools.  DST is used to work with Licensed Internal Code (LIC), disk units, configuration and resources, verify devices and communications, and display logs on the system. DST has three different modes, but I am not going to go into that at this time.  Although, some of the DST functionality will be different depending on if you did a D-Mode IPL from CD/DVD, a Manual IPL to DST, or came into DST from a “21” while the system is up and running.

 

While we are at it, let’s quickly discuss System Service Tools (SST), which provide a way to access a subset of the service tools that DST offers without requiring access to DST. SST is available when IBM i (OS/400 or i5/OS) is operational, and can be accessed using the STRSST command.

To access DST on the console we have a variety of ways depending on how your console is connected.

If your system does not have an HMC, from the control panel (Front Bezel):

  • Put the System in Manual Mode.
    • Press the up arrow until 02 is displayed,  then press enter.
    • Press enter again to move the pointer over to the N.
    • Press the up arrow to change the N to M.
    • Press enter until the panel only displays 02
  • Force DST by Pressing the up arrow until 21 is displayed and then press enter.

At this point the DST signon should be displayed.  When you are done and leave DST, don’t forget to change the Mode back to N (For Normal).

 

If you system has an HMC, you would do the following:

  • Expand Systems Management – Servers and then click on the server name so that the partitions for this server appear in the right-hand side panel.
  • Click the box next to the partition that you want to start DST.
  • In the bottom panel, the TASKs for that partition will be shown.  Expand Serviceability, and then expand Control Panel Functions.
  • Click on 21 Activate Dedicated Service tools.  When the pop window is displayed, click OK.

It is that simple.  I think we should discuss DST/SST userids for the next article this month.

 

IBM i Operating System

What
userids do you have setup in DST/SST?

Customers often ask me what the DST/SST user profiles are.  These profiles are different from the regular IBM i User Profiles (*USRPRF).  These DST/SST user profiles allow you to get into Dedicated System Tools (DST) and System Service Tools (SST).  In these functions you can work with Disk Units, Start a Service function, work with System Capacity, work with System Partitions (Power 4 models), and work with System Security.  To enter SST, you would run the command STRSST from a command line, but you need *SERVICE authority in your IBM i User Profile in order for the command to run.  There are more functions in DST than in SST.

These SST/DST user profiles, while possibly having the same names as your IBM i user profiles, do not necessarily have the same password (unless you set them both to the same password). Many times, people get locked out of SST/DST because they change their regular IBM i password, and just assume that the password for the SST/DST user will also be changed at the same time. These are two distinct objects.  Also please note that the SST/DST passwords are upper and lower case and you must be cognizant of the case when entering them.  You will disable an SST/DST user profile if you enter it incorrectly 3 times (Three times is the default unless you change that in DST).


Now in V6R1 there is a way to list the user profiles with the command DSPSSTUSR.  You can see what profiles that you have defined for DST/SST, their status if they are enabled or disabled, if they have been linked to an IBM i user profile; and then by placing a ‘5’ next to a profile, you can see what SST/DST functions have been granted to each profile.  One thing I would highly recommend is that you create an additional profile, as I always do on a machine (PETEM or ITECHSOL), using your naming conventions so that you have a back door in case you disable QSECOFR or someone changes the password.

Upcoming Events. 

  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.

July 20th OCEAN User group www.ocean400.org of Southern California.

  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance  and reduce disk space
  • Everything to Get Started with the new
    Systems Navigator for IBM i
  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.

September 18 – Vermont User Group www.vtmug.org in Essex Junction, VT.

  • A programmer’s future: Looking back to see the future
  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.

September 19 –  The New England Midrange Users Group www.nemug.com of Rhode Island.

  • A Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.

September 25 – COMMON Fall Conference in Columbus, OH.  www.common.org

 

  • Tips and Tricks to improve performance  and reduce disk space.
  • Everything to Get Started with the new
    Systems Navigator for IBM i
  • Understanding the HMC, FSP, Firmware, and IBM i. Putting the pieces together.
  • What do you need to know when upgrading to IBM i 6.1 & 7.1.
  • Building Virtual i partitions hosted by IBM i.

December 11 – FASUG CT www.fasug.org

  • Programmers future: Looking back to see into the Future.

Local User Groups.
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Local user groups are a great place to share and meet IBM i professionals in your area. People with similar interests that you can share ideas with, discuss issues that you are having in your shop, learn new topics, and learn from each other’s experiences.

We are pretty lucky here in Connecticut as we have our local IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) user group, www.fasug.org.  We have monthly meetings throughout the year with the exception of the summer.  At our monthly meetings, we bring an industry expert in for an introduction or an in-depth presentation, depending on the topic.  Some of our monthly meeting topics this year have been: New RPG functions, Programming your cell phone to access your IBM i, System Management, Security, Web services, DB2 WebQuery, CL Programming, DB2/SQL, DB2 Field procedures.

What a great investment of time and energy to enhance your career by attending your local user group. You get the opportunity to interact with your peers to discuss similar items of interest, learn from the speaker, learn from each other, and all for a very low price.

I hope that you take advantage of your local user group, and also the need to support them. As a frequent speaker at many of these groups, I know some are struggling for membership.  Attending your local user group is a win-win situation.  The more members that a user group has, the better the lineup of speakers they are able to provide to their membership, and by attending your local user group, you will enhance your knowledge of IBM i to further your career.

Here are some of the local user groups in the northeast:

Connecticut
Rhode Island
New Hampshire
Vermont
New Jersey
Long Island
Northeast User Group

Some of others I want to mention:

Southern California (OCEAN)
Chicago (OMNI)
South East Michigan
Wisconsin (WMCPA)

Also, there is COMMON which is our national user group.  They have a listing of many user groups as well.

If you need to find a user group in your area, give me a call or send me an email and I will help you.  In addition, if you want to start a group in your area, we can help you as well.

Release levels and PTFs
iSeries Family

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.

Releases

                     7.1     6.1    V5R4    V5R3
Cumul. Pack     12115    12122   12094    8267

Tech. Refresh         4

Grp Hipers            62       122      179      169

DB Group              14         26       33       24

Java Group            8         19        29       23

Print Group            5         24        46       20

Backup/Recov.     15         28        45      33

Blade/IXA/IXS      10         24        15        –

HTTP                  13         25         31      17
TCP/IP                  6        14         21      16

Security               19        32        27

High Availability     1         1

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 an HMC, you should be running   V7R7.5 with efix MH01312. If your HMC is a C03, then it should stay at V7R3.5 SP4.
For your Flexible Service Processor (FSP) that is inside your Power 5 or Power5+ (520, 515, 525, 550, 570), the code level of the FSP should be 01_SF240_417. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4A) customers should be running EL350_128.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM350_126. If you have a Power6 595 (9119) then you should be on EH350_126.
Depending on which POWER7 model & generation (B or C). The firmware level is AL730_087 for 8202-E4B & 8205-E6B (710, 720, 730, 740), AL730_087 for 750 (8233-E8B) & 755 (8236-E8C). Use AM730_087 for 770 (9117-MMB) & 780 (9179-MHB).  The firmware level is AL740-088 for 8202-E4C & 8205-E6C (710, 720, 730, 740). Use AM740_088 for 770 (9117-MMC) & 780 (9179-MHC).
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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