Let the IBM i Technology Updates wiki show you the way

Introducing a new wiki for IBM i

This article advertises the existence and role of the new IBM developerWorks wiki: IBM i Technology Updates.

Scott L. Forstie (forstie@us.ibm.com), Senior Software Engineer, IBM

Scott ForstieScott Forstie is a senior software engineer at IBM, and he is the SQL development leader for DB2 for IBM i in Rochester, MN. Before working on DB2, he worked on UNIX® enablement for the AS/400® and S/390® systems.



25 July 2011

Introducing a new wiki for IBM i

Hello IBM i users. Did you know that some Program Temporary Fixes (PTFs) are used for more than shipping fixes to bugs? PTFs are also used to deliver product enhancements to existing IBM i operating system releases. Recent enhancements delivered using 7.1 PTFs include support for Workload Capping and DB2 for i CONNECT BY support for recursive queries. Whether you replied yes, no or maybe to the question, this article explains an exciting addition to the IBM developerWorks (dW) site in the form of the IBM i Technology Updates wiki.

Product announcement materials, PTF cover letters, blog entries, forums and articles all have their place and proper use to raise awareness and understanding of product changes and enhancements. While the previously mentioned methods of communication are valuable, they fail to provide a single point of reference.

The IBM i Technology Updates wiki (www.ibm.com/developerworks/ibmi/techupdates) will provide that anchor point for customers to understand how existing IBM i products are being enhanced and extended.


Finding and using the wiki

The wiki is anchored off of the dW IBM i Technical Topic as shown in figure 1. When this link is selected, you will enter the wiki. No user authentication is required to view the contents of the wiki.

Figure 1. Finding the Technology Updates wiki
Finding the Technology Updates wiki

IBM encourages users to register with the dW website to enable some advanced features which will only appear as enabled if you have signed into the dW site. There is no cost involved with creating a dW user profile. When you are logged in while browsing the developerWorks website, here are some of the advanced features that will be available to you:

  • Being able to subscribe to Page changes. When the content of the page changes, you will receive an email. See figure 2.
  • Being able to subscribe to Comments. As comments are added to the page, you will receive an email. See figure 2.
  • Being able to subscribe to pages and route the updates to an RSS feed. See figure 3.
  • Being able to enter your own comments on any wiki page. See figure 3.
Figure 2. Following wiki pages (lower right corner of wiki page)
Following wiki pages (lower right corner of wiki page)
Figure 3. RSS subscription and Comments (lower left corner of wiki page)
RSS subscription and Comments (lower left corner of wiki page)

What’s in the wiki?

Now that we've seen how to find and use the wiki, let's consider the most important aspect of the wiki: the content. The wiki content is organized by subject matter and category of enhancement. At this time, the major categories are:

  1. DB2 for i
  2. General IBM i operating system
  3. Hardware and Firmware

What you can expect to find in the wiki is a basic technical description of the enhancement and references to more information.


DB2 for i

DB2 for i product enhancements occur frequently. The wiki organizes the enhancements under the following sub-categories:

  • DB2 for i Functional Enhancements
  • DB2 for i Security Enhancements
  • DB2 for i Performance Enhancements
  • DB2 for i Database Management Enhancements
  • DB2 for i Availability & Recovery Enhancements

Not all DB2 for i improvements are listed in the wiki, only the most significant enhancements are included. Specifically, many of the DB2 performance enhancements are not listed since the user only needs to apply the associated PTFs. This is one reason why we recommend that users stay current with the DB2 for IBM i Group PTF.

Instead of listing individual PTFs for each enhancement, DB2 for i enhancements are denoted by the DB2 Group PTF version in which they were delivered. Not only does staying current with the DB2 Group PTF levels ensure that you have all of the latest DB2 fixes loaded on your system, it also gives you access to all of the latest DB2 for i functionality.

The wiki includes working links to the V5R4, 6.1 and 7.1 DB Group PTF Preventative Service Planning pages. There's also a child page which shows the DB2 Group PTF schedule for 2011. The information found within the schedule can be useful for system maintenance planning purposes.

You can use the WRKPTFGRP command or SQL to determine your DB2 Group PTF level. The SQL approach utilizes an enhancement found under the Database Management Enhancements section of the wiki. Both approaches are demonstrated in the following examples.

Figure 4. WRKPTFGRP command output
WRKPTFGRP command output

The following SQL query shows how to retrieve Group PTF information using DB2 for i and SQL.

          SELECT * FROM QSYS2/GROUP_PTF_INFO
          ORDER BY PTF_GROUP_NAME, PTF_GROUP_LEVEL DESC
Figure 5. QSYS2/GROUP_PTF_INFO view output
Screen cap: QSYS2/GROUP_PTF_INFO view output

(View a larger version of Figure 5)


General IBM i operating system

The general operating system category within the wiki will be the catch-all for all topics that don't fit into the DB2 or Hardware and Firmware categories. At this time, the sub-categories include:

  • Automate Extra IPL for PTF Install
  • IBM i Workload Capping
  • IBM Portable Utilities for i – Support Details

Hardware and Firmware

Off-release hardware enablement is wide topic for IBM i. Hardware convergence for IBM Power Systems and the creation of Technology Refresh capability on IBM i 7.1 make it easier than ever for customers to adopt new hardware.

The hardware and firmware enhancements tend to be updated en mass, twice a year. By using a reliable cadence for hardware enhancements, customers can include this as a factor in their change management strategy.

Technology Refreshes

IBM i 7.1 includes an enhancement to make it easier to deliver hardware and firmware enhancements, using the Technology Refresh PTF Group. The new hardware-related and firmware-related machine code content is contained within PTFs in a single Technology Refresh PTF Group. The content is referred to as IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 1, IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 2, etc.

If you already have IBM i 7.1 on your partition, you can install the Technology Refresh PTF Group (SF99707). Alternatively, you can install the resave, following the normal resave install procedure, and then install the Technology Refresh PTF Group.

Future deliveries of new hardware-related function for IBM i 7.1 are planned as updates to the Technology Refresh PTF Group. Only the latest level of the Technology Refresh PTF Group is available. Each new level of the PTF Group contains all the content from the previous levels, so at any point in time you need to install only the latest level.

When adding or changing hardware, to determine the code levels needed for support of a hardware feature, refer to the IBM Prerequisite website.

For additional information on the technology refreshes, visit the IBM i Technology Refresh website.

IBM i Information Center

The IBM i Information Center remains the official location to find IBM i technical documentation. In some cases, the technical information for an enhancement will appear first within the wiki and migrate into the Information Center at a later time. From this perspective, the wiki can be considered a staging area for technical information. We will use the wiki to help users quickly understand and adopt technology enhancements. The wiki format is conducive to conveying detail and examples.


Conclusion

Technology and information management is a swiftly moving target. IBM i has a long history of providing outstanding support to its customers. That support comes in many forms, including a willingness to transform existing products to meet the needs of our customers and partners.

The IBM i Technology Updates wiki is a community based resource for IBM i customers. Use the wiki to be aware of product extensions and identify opportunities to transform your business operations to take advantage of new capabilities.


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