Create custom installation repositories for WebSphere Application Server with the IBM Packaging Utility

IBM® WebSphere® Application Server V8 uses the IBM Installation Manager for product installation and lifecycle management. IBM Installation Manager accesses source repositories that contain the content for a software product installation. Repositories are available on product media, in IBM-hosted web-based repositories, and from Passport Advantage® for download. This article describes a free, no-cost companion tool called IBM Packaging Utility that can help you create and customize enterprise repositories that contain the right combination of products and maintenance levels needed for all aspects of your business.

Ilene Seelemann (ilene@ca.ibm.com), WebSphere Application Server Architect, IBM

Ilene Seelemann is a Senior Software Developer at the IBM Toronto Lab. Ilene is the architect responsible for WebSphere Application Server installation. She also has a long background in XML technology and is the lead for the WebSphere Application server XML components and WebSphere Application Server V7 XML Feature Pack.



18 January 2012

Also available in Russian

Introduction

The technology used for installing IBM WebSphere Application Server V8 is the IBM Installation Manager. IBM Installation Manager is a tool for installing and maintaining many IBM products, now including WebSphere Application Server V8. It provides a single user experience across all aspects of the product life cycle, and is included with the WebSphere Application Server product distribution, both on media and Passport Advantage. If you download a WebSphere Application Server Trial, you will first be prompted to install IBM Installation Manager.

You use IBM Installation Manager to connect to an IBM Installation Manager repository (or set of repositories) to find products and service updates available to you for installation. An IBM Installation Manager repository is simply a tree-structured file folder that includes product payload and metadata.

You can install the software products you need directly from an IBM web-based service repository or download and unpack ZIP files from Passport Advantage and install from the resulting decompressed file folders. The unpacked ZIP files are also considered an IBM Installation Manager repository. Like any IBM Installation Manager repository, these unpacked files can be hosted on an internal HTTP or FTP server or network mount, making them available to the organization.


IBM Packaging Utility

You can use the IBM Packaging Utility to create custom or “enterprise” IBM Installation Manager repositories that contain multiple products and maintenance levels that fit the needs of your business. As an administrator, you can control the content of your enterprise repository, which then can serve as the central repository to which your organization connects to perform product installations and updates.

IBM Packaging Utility essentially copies from a set of source IBM Installation Manager repositories to a target repository and eliminates duplicate artifacts, helping to keep the repository size as small as possible. You can also delete (or “prune”) a repository, removing maintenance levels or products that are no longer needed. IBM Packaging Utility 1.5.0.1 can be downloaded at no cost from the IBM Support Portal.

Like IBM Installation Manager, the packaging utility has GUI and command line interfaces. You must specify provide repository URLs for the IBM Installation Manager repositories that contain the offerings you wish to copy.

IBM Installation Manager repository URLs follow the pattern below (repository URLs are not accessible by web browsers):

http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/<offering_name>

For example, WebSphere Application Server product repository URLs include:

  • WebSphere Application Server Base V8:
    http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80
  • WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8:
    http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.ND.v80
  • WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment Trial V8:
    http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.NDTRIAL.v80

See the WebSphere Application Server V8 Information Center for additional product repositories.

Currently, the target repository that you create with IBM Packaging Utility will always support a full installation; therefore, you cannot use packaging utility to create a repository that is only a copy of a Fix Pack. You can, however, create a repository that contains the minimum content to support direct installation to a Fix Pack level. Consider the following two examples, which use the IBM Packaging Utility command line interface (PUCL.exe) available in the packaging utility installation folder.

  • Example 1

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 –repositories http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 -target D:\WASBase8001 -prompt

    Since no version number is specified with the offering name, this command will create a new repository that supports direct installation to the latest Fix Pack level for WebSphere Application Server Base V8 (at time of this writing, this is 8.0.0.1). This new repository will not support an installation to 8.0.0.0, but it will support the update from an existing 8.0.0.0 installation to 8.0.0.1.

  • Example 2

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80_8.0.0.20110503_0200 –repositories http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 -target D:\WASBase -prompt

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80_8.0.1.20110829_1838 –repositories http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 -target D:\WASBase -prompt

    The first command creates a target repository with WebSphere Application Server Base 8.0.0.0. The second command adds the 8.0.0.1 Fix Pack to the same repository. You can now use this resulting repository to install either 8.0.0.0 or 8.0.0.1, or update from 8.0.0.0 to 8.0.0.1.


Platform-scoped repositories

IBM Packaging Utility 1.5.0.1 includes a Technical Preview of the new –platform option, sometimes called "platform slicing," which enables you to create a repository that is scoped to the platforms and architectures used by your business and save gigabytes of network bandwidth and disk space. Your repository can be scoped for different platforms than the one on which it is created or stored. For example, you can run Packaging Utility on Windows® to create a repository with the content needed to install on Linux®. During installation on Linux, you will point Installation Manager to your custom repository.

In IBM Packaging Utility 1.5.0.1, this feature is only available in command line mode by specifying the new –platform option with the os and arch arguments, as shown in Example 3.

  • Example 3

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80_8.0.0.20110503_0200 –repositories http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 -target D:\WASBase_Linux –platform os=linux,arch=ppc -prompt

    This command will create a new repository for installation to WebSphere Application Server V8.0.0.0 on Linux PPC. You can then add the 8.0.0.1 Fix Pack for Linux to the same repository:

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80_8.0.1.20110829_1838 –repositories http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 -target D:\WASBase_Linux –platform os=linux,arch=ppc -prompt

    As in Example 1, you can also create a repository for direct installation to any Fix Pack level for a particular platform.

After creating a repository for a particular platform, you can add content for additional platforms. In Example 4, the first step creates a Linux repository for direct installation to the latest Fix Pack for WebSphere Application Server Base. The second step then adds the content for AIX. The delta for adding the additional platform content should be relatively small because much of the install content is common across platforms.

  • Example 4

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80_–repositories http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 -target D:\WASBase_Linux –platform os=linux,arch=ppc -prompt

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80_–repositories http://www.ibm.com/software/repositorymanager/com.ibm.websphere.BASE.v80 -target D:\WASBase_Linux –platform os=aix -prompt

    Notice that you do not need to specify both the os and arch options to the –platform argument. In the last command, only os=aix is specified.

As this feature is currently offered only as a tech preview, you should be aware of these known issues if you decide to use it:

  • When creating a repository for a platform with WebSphere Application Server V8 offerings, the specified bit-ness is ignored. Whether you specify arch=ppc or arch=ppc64, the resulting repository will contain both 32 and 64-bit content.
  • If you create a platform-specific repository from Passport Advantage and Fix Central Fix Pack ZIP files that are first downloaded and unpacked, you must then reference both repositories when copying platform-specific maintenance into your target repository. For example, suppose you unpack the Passport Advantage ZIP files for WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment 8.0.0.0 into Windows folder C:\WASND8000, and then you unpack the 8.0.0.1 ZIP files to C:\WASND8001. You would next create a Windows repository for 8.0.0.0 with this command:

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.ND.v8_8.0.0.20110503_0200 –repositories C:\WASND8000 -target C:\WASND_Windows –platform os=win32,arch=x86 -prompt

    and then add the Fix Pack, specifying both source repositories:

    PUCL copy com.ibm.websphere.ND.v8_8.0.1.20110829_1838 –repositories C:\WASND8000,C:\WASND8001 -target C:\WASND_Windows –platform os=win32,arch=x86 -prompt


Conclusion

IBM Packaging Utility is a simple, yet powerful tool for customizing an IBM Installation Manager repository to serve WebSphere Application Server product installations and maintenance. This article provided some pointers and instructions to help you get started.

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