This week I'm going to post about the IBM Packaging Utility. I find that this tool is frequently misunderstood and ignored, and that's unfortunate. Packaging Utility is a very useful utility when used properly, and that's what I'd like to get in to.
So let's start with "Well, what is Packaging Utility?" The simple answer is that this utility is designed to manage your Installation Manager repositories. OK, but what does THAT mean? Let's start at the beginning of acquiring a product from IBM.
When you either download the image from IBM or open the DVD, the repository you find is what is called an ESD, or "Electronic Software Delivery" type. This type of repository has one very key limitation: Installation Manager will not use an ESD repository over an HTTP or HTTPS connection. To use HTTP or HTTPS, you must convert the repository to a "network repository", which is one of the things that Packaging Utility does. Given that we recommend using HTTP/HTTPS to host your repositories, this is an important use case for Packaging Utility.
The other nifty trick Packaging Utility does when copying repositories comes in to play when you copy multiple products or versions of products into the same repository. In this case, Packaging Utility will only copy over the necessary pieces to the new repository. This means if you want to copy a new version of Product A into a repository that already contains Product A, it will not copy zip files or metadata that has not changed. This represents a nice savings in disk space and bandwidth.
Packaging Utility can also be used to check IBM.com for updates to products you already have, and download those updates to a repository on your machine. This leverages the functionality mentioned previously about only copying the necessary artifacts, again saving you on both disk space and bandwidth.
My planned schedule for Packaging Utility week is the following:
- Tuesday we'll dig some more into the art and science of managing repositories, and how Packaging Utility impacts the different approaches
- On Wednesday, I want to talk a bit about the command line interface to Packaging Utility, and what are some ways this can be leveraged in your enterprise for downloading updates
- Finally, Thursday we'll take about the "offering slicing" functionality, and why we think this is a powerful story for you