May 2009 Newsletter

Greetings!

 
Spring has finally arrived, but we have been so busy upgrading companies from V5R3 that we have hardly noticed.  I think everyone waited for the support on i5/OS V5R3 to expire at the end of April, and then called us to upgrade their operating system. Hence, we are a little late with this issue.  If you are still on V5R3 give us a call.
This issue of our newsletter has four articles. In the first, we want to make you aware of Work Station Customization Objects to improve how your reports print on your network printers. The second article is about how to make using the iSeries Job Scheduler easier to use.The third article is about using the Audit log to capture when commands are executed and their parameters.  The last article is for your reference with updated PTF information for your use.

Just a reminder, that support for i5/OS V5R3 HAS ended April 30, 2009. Give us a call and we will do the upgrade to V5R4 or V6R1 for you.

iTech Solutions can help you improve performance, upgrade i5/OS, perform security audits, implement a High Availability solution, VoIP, Systems Management, PTF management, Blade installations, iSCSI Configurations, 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 System i.

For more information on any of the articles below please visit us at on the web at iTech Solution  or  email iTech Solutions.

 

Skewed Reports from your Network Printers
Light
Do you have printers on your network that print reports from every computer perfectly, except for when you print from the iSeries (AS/400, IBM i, or i5) ?  The reports from the iSeries always seem to be skewed to the left, with a huge white margin on the right.  In addition, the font is so small that you can hardly read it.
I find this at almost every customer that I visit. It’s a shame because there are usually so many high quality printers around at these shops, but none of them print correctly when attached to the iSeries. There is a fix for this, and we use Work Station Customization Objects to transform the ASCII print.  Yes, they are called Work Station Customization Objects (WSCST) even though we are customizing the printers.  The WSCST is used to change the way a local or remote workstation controller supports ASCII printers that you use on your iSeries via the host print transformation function.
ASCII printers process data using an ASCII data stream.  The iSeries produces an EBCDIC data stream.  Therefore, the EBCDIC data stream from the system must be converted to an ASCII data stream to support ASCII printer functions.  The host print transformation function uses a transform table to transform the printer data stream that is sent by the iSeries to an ASCII printer.  Some of the functional characteristics within the transformation table include:
·       Line spacing
·       Characters per inch
·       Page Size
·       Font
·       Orientation
·       Draft, letter, or text quality
·       Draw selection
·       Duplex
Not all ASCII printers are the same, and not all printers support the use of host print transformation.  This is similar to the PC side, where you always need the correct driver for each printer you connect to your PC.  The WSCST object controls the transformation, just like the driver on the PC controls the transformation of your PC print stream sent to the printer.  Changing the WSCST object is sometimes more of an art than a science in that it can take numerous tries to get the desired results.

IBM states that for most printers it will take about three to five days to get your transformation to be correct.  iTech Solutions has been doing this for some time, and we can usually come in and get a printer printing correctly in as little as half a day.  If your printers are printing everything skewed to the left, with smaller fonts than you would like, and very wide right-handed margins, then call iTech Solutions and let them get your printer working correctly.  Not only will your users love you, but your eyes will be able to effortlessly read those reports.  Contact Pete Massiello via email at pmassiello@itechsol.com to schedule a time to get your printers working correctly.

Tip when using the IBM iSeries Job Scheduler.

          Clock

Do you use the IBM iSeries Job Scheduler?  WRKJOBSCDE is Work with Job Scheduler Entries command.   While it is a great tool for running jobs every night or whatever occurance you require. There are times when circumstances dictate that a certain job won’t run on a given night.  I have seen where customers have held a job which runs everynight, and then the next day had to make sure they released the job from the scheduler. Sometimes they even forgot to release the job that next day, and it remained on hold for a few days.  An easier way is to use the Omit Date parameter.  This allows you to skip one or more specific dates that the job is supposed to be submitted on.  For instance, if I have a job that runs every night, but this coming Friday I don’t want to run the job, I can set the job in the scheduler to omit this Friday, and no other changes have to be done.  You can do a WRKJOBSCDE, find the job, and enter option 2 for it.  Or use the command CHGJOBSCDE and the name of the job.  The parameter is OMITDATE (note if you use the WRKJOBSCDE, you will need to hit F10 when you are changing the job to see this parameter). You can enter up to 20 dates that this job is not to be submitted. You enter the dates in the date format of your system.  When you take option 5 (display) for the job in the job scheduler, it will show you the dates that it won’t be submitted.

Monitoring
Starting and Stopping of TCP/IP Servers
While at customer sites, I always seem to get asked a question like “Someone started or stopped TCP/IP Service xyz but we can’t figure out whom?” I have put in place for a few customers a procedure to audit who started and stopped any TCP/IP server (HTTP, NTP, FTP, MGTC, NETSVR, etc). This works no matter if the server was started via a green screen or via iNav.

The first thing that needs to be done is you have to have Auditing enabled on your iSeries.  This insures that a QAUDJRN journal is out there, and anything being audited is being written to this journal.  Then you issue the command:

CHGOBJAUD OBJ(ENDTCPSVR) OBJTYPE(*CMD) OBJAUD(*ALL) and CHGOBJAUD OBJ(STRTCPSVR) OBJTYPE(*CMD) OBJAUD(*ALL).
Now each time that someone starts or stops any TCP/IP service a record is written into the QAUDJRN.  You can now use the command DSPAUDJRNE ENTTYP(CD) OUTPUT(*) and you will see output like this:
CD  C   PETEM      STRTCPSVR  QSYS        N  QPADEV000B PETEM      359658 2009-05-27-17.18.45.755168 STRTCPSVR SERVER(*NTP)

Notice that you see what user issued the command, the date and time, and the actual command string that was entered. This is pretty powerful stuff for solving a variety of problems.

If you have other problems that you need to solve, please give us a call at 203-744-7854 or email Pete Massiello at  pmassiello@itechsol.com for a quote.

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.  You might notice that this week, IBM just created a new Security PTF Group, so I have added this to our list, as we are installing this for our customers on iTech Solutions Quarterly Maintenance program.
Releases

                     6.1    V5R4    V5R3    V5R2
Cumul. Pack   9111   9104    8267   6080

Grp Hipers       37     101      169      189

DB Group          8       21       24         25

Java Group       9       20       23         27

Print Group       8       30       20          7

Backup/Recov.  7       24       33        31

Security Group   8        8        7           –

Blade/IXA/IXS    9       11       –           –
Http                   6       17      17         –



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 off the list, because if you are on V5R1, you don’t need to be worrying about PTFs, you really need to be upgrading your operating system.  The same can be said for V5R2 and V5R3, but there are still customers who are on those releases.

If you have an HMC, you should be running V7R3.3.0 with Service Pack 3, or V7R3.4.0 with Service Pack 2. and with PTF MH01181 installed. This PTF is Required for V7.3.4.
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_382. Power 6 (940x M15, M25, & M50 machines, and 8203-E4A & 8204-E4a) customers should be running EL340_039.  For Power6 (MMA, 560, and 570 machines) your FSP should be at EM340_075. If you have a Power6 595 (9119-FMA) then you should be on EH340_039.
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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