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The page contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to assist you with IBM i Technology Refresh.
Why has IBM moved to this Technology Refresh process?
What is an IBM i Technology Refresh?
It is a refresh of the software of a base release (for example, IBM i 7.1), which may provide updates such as:
The software is developed together, packaged together, tested together, and delivered together as a single PTF Group for a base release.
Is a Technology Refresh the same as a point / modification release? Is installing a Technology Refresh the same as going to a new release?
No. A point / modification release is a new release – a distinct code stream with its own set of fixes (PTFs). A Technology Refresh is an update to an existing release. When a Technology Refresh is installed, the release level of the IBM i operating system does not change. The Technology Refresh is a PTF Group, containing PTFs within the set of fixes for that release. Also, a Technology Refresh is smaller and the content is more limited than a point / modification release. Therefore, the qualification and testing sometimes required for a new release may not be necessary for a Technology Refresh.
Is an IBM i Technology Refresh the same as an AIX Technology Level?
No. An AIX Technology Level is a separate code stream with its own set of fixes, similar to an IBM i point / modification release. When one installs an AIX Technology Level, the release level changes, and a different library of fixes, for that particular release level, must be used. A Technology Refresh is an update of an existing release, via a PTF Group, containing PTFs in that release's code stream. When an IBM i Technology Refresh is installed, the release level of the system does not change, and the system continues to use PTFs for that release.
How is a Technology Refresh developed and tested?
A Technology Refresh is developed and tested like any other IBM i release. However, at the end of the development cycle, instead of building a new release for distribution, the Technology Refresh is packaged as a PTF Group for an existing release, and that set of PTFs is tested in the normal IBM i System Test process.
Now that IBM i has moved to Technology Refreshes, will there still be new releases of IBM i?
Yes. A Technology Refresh is deliberately kept small, and only the changed parts required for the new hardware / firmware support or function are recompiled and included. Some large and complex projects are better suited for an actual release, where the entire body of code in IBM i is rebuilt together. Developers are working on the next release of IBM i and architects are looking at possible content for the next release beyond that. Also, at present Technology Refreshes include only Licensed Internal Code (LIC). Enhancements for other levels of IBM i will require a release. This is similar to point / modification releases, which contained only LIC.
What parts of the IBM i system does a Technology Refresh affect?
Currently an IBM i Technology Refresh is an update of Licensed Internal Code (LIC) only, plus such XPF and LPP PTFs as may be required by the LIC functions.
How does a Technology Refresh PTF or PTF Group affect other PTFs?
If a later PTF changes a part or module that is contained in the Technology Refresh PTF, the Technology Refresh PTF will become a special kind of prerequisite for that PTF, called a *TRREQ. The Technology Refresh PTF will have to be permanently applied on the system before the PTF that requires it can be loaded. It therefore is a best practice to keep a system up to date on Technology Refresh PTFs, to avoid the extra time it would take to apply the Technology Refresh PTF, if it were found to be a requisite of another PTF that is needed. PTFs that do not involve parts or modules contained in a Technology Refresh PTF will not require the Technology Refresh PTF to have been applied before they can be loaded.
How do I order a Technology Refresh? A Resave containing a Technology Refresh? A Technology Refresh PTF Group?
Through the normal PTF, PTF Group, or Resave ordering processes. Instructions for ordering PTFs and PTF Groups can be found in the Maintaining and managing IBM i and related software topic in the IBM i Knowledge Center. To order a Resave, use the eConfig tool. See IBM i Resave for a list of the Resaves available for a release.
How do I install a Technology Refresh ?
It is a best practice either to install the Technology Refresh PTF Group plus the latest Cumulative PTF package, or the Technology Refresh Resave plus the latest Cumulative PTF package plus the Technology Refresh Group. Instructions for installing PTFs and PTF Groups can be found in the Maintaining and managing IBM i and related software topic in the IBM i Knowledge Center. See Replacing Licensed Internal Code for more information.
How long does it take to install a Technology Refresh PTF or PTF Group?
A Technology Refresh PTF takes no more time to install than a Cumulative PTF package – and often considerably less – although both Cumulative PTF packages and Technology Refreshes will vary in size. As with other PTFs, the Technology Refresh can be loaded while the system is active. The system must then be IPLed to permanently apply the Technology Refresh. To install the Technology Refresh PTF Group or another PTF Group (for example, HIPER or Cumulative), the Technology Refresh PTF must be loaded and permanently applied, which requires an IPL – then the other PTFs in the group can be loaded and applied. The remaining PTFs will be loaded and set for delayed apply during the next normal IPL. The system will automatically do a 2nd IPL of the partition to apply all PTFs so that when the system IPLs the 2nd time up to sign-on, all PTFs are active.
Why does applying a Technology Refresh PTF, or a PTF that requires it, sometimes cause a “double IPL?”
If a PTF requires a Technology Refresh PTF as a *TRREQ (a special kind of requisite), then the Technology Refresh PTF must be permanently applied before the requiring PTF can be loaded. If the Technology Refresh PTF is not already permanently applied, then an IPL will be required to permanently apply it before other PTFs can be applied. The PTF(s) that required the Technology Refresh PTF will be loaded and all PTFs will be set for delayed apply. The system will then automatically perform a 2nd IPL to apply all PTFs.
Is there anything I can do to prevent or reduce the impact of the “double IPL.”
Customers can avoid the double IPL by making sure the Technology Refresh PTF has been permanently applied. Then if a PTF requires it, the Technology Refresh PTF will already be on the system. This will not reduce the total number of IPLs required, but it will allow scheduling the IPLs when they will be most convenient for the operation of the system. Ordering and installing the Technology Refresh Resave will also ensure that the Technology Refresh PTF is permanently applied and the “double IPL” avoided.
If an IPL is required for a technology refresh PTF, the system only performs the second IPL automatically when installing from a virtual optical device or *SERVICE (PTFs downloaded electronically to save files). If you’re installing from a physical optical device, you’ll still need to perform the extra IPL and second GO PTF manually. If you received your PTFs on physical DVDs, just create yourself an image catalog from the DVDs and use the new support.
Will I have to install a Technology Refresh in order to get fixes for my system?
It depends. If a fix following a Technology Refresh PTF changes parts / modules that were contained in the Technology Refresh PTF, then the Technology Refresh PTF will be a special kind of prerequisite for that PTF, called a *TRREQ. The Technology Refresh PTF will have to be permanently applied on the system before the PTF that requires it can be loaded. It therefore is a best practice to keep a system up to date on the latest Technology Refresh PTF Group or Resave, to avoid the extra time it would take to apply the Technology Refresh PTF if it is a requisite of another PTF that is needed.
PTFs that do not involve parts or modules contained in a Technology Refresh PTF will not require it to have been applied before they can be installed.
What if I only want a PTF to fix my specific problem, and don't want to install a Technology Refresh?
IBM only produces fixes for the most recent level of code in the fix libraries of a release. If your system is back level on fixes, you may be required to bring the system fix level up to date in order to get a fix, depending on the requisite PTFs. Sometimes IBM can patch an old code level temporarily, in order to get a system up and running, but permanent, official fixes often require that the fix level of the system be brought up to date. This is true of all PTFs, whether or not a Technology Refresh is involved.
Will support or development require a Technology Refresh be put on a system before deep debug of a problem, or before creating an APAR?
Usually support and development will try to debug a problem when the system is in the failing state. Sometimes development or support will build traps or special debug versions of code to help isolate the problem. And sometimes, if fixes on a system are back level, IBM will suggest that the fixes be brought up to date, either to help the debug effort or potentially to solve the problem. Since the Technology Refresh PTF is just another PTF, it should not affect the debug procedure any differently than any other PTF.
Will the Technology Refresh PTF be in Cumulative PTF packages or other PTF groups (for example, the HIPER Group)?
Yes, it will be. If a PTF in the group requires the Technology Refresh PTF, then the Technology Refresh PTF will be part of that group. When loading the group or Cumulative PTF package, if the Technology Refresh PTF has not already been applied to the system, it must be permanently applied first, and the system IPLed, before the PTFs that require it can be loaded. Then the remaining PTFs will be loaded and set for delayed apply during the next normal IPL. The system will automatically do a 2nd IPL of the partition to apply all PTFs so that when the system IPLs the 2nd time up to sign-on, all PTFs are active.
Are Technology Refreshes available for the entire IBM i operating system?
No. Technology Refreshes are currently available for Licensed Internal Code only.
How are later Technology Refreshes related to previous ones?
Later Technology Refreshes are supersets of previous Technology Refreshes for the same base release. This means that if no Technology Refreshes had been installed on a system and the latest Technology Refresh available is Technology Refresh Level 3, one only needs to install Technology Refresh Level 3, not Levels 1, 2, and 3, in order to get a system up to date. If skipping more than one Technology Refresh level, it may be quicker to slip install the latest Resave than to install the latest Technology Refresh PTF Group.
How often will a new Technology Refresh be available?
Technology Refreshes will often be made available to support significant new hardware. In the past, major releases of new hardware have occurred twice a year, although this is no guarantee of future schedules.
How do I find out what a Technology Refresh contains?
The description of the Technology Refresh PTF Group on the PTF web site lists the contents of the Technology Refresh.Detailed description of Technology Refresh content can be found in developerWorks, under IBM i Technology Updates Hardware and Firmware.
How do I determine whether the Technology Refresh PTF Group is installed on a system, and what level is installed?
Use the Work with PTF Groups (WRKPTFGRP) command. The Technology Refresh PTF group for IBM i 7.1 is named SF99707. There may be multiple different levels of the group installed on the system. The latest level (the one with the highest level number) with a status of Installed is the current level of the fix group that is active.
How do I determine the Resave level installed on a system?
To determine the Resave level of 5770-999, do a display PTF function for product 5770-999. Marker PTFs for this product are in the format of REnnnnn. The highest number Marker PTF on your system, matched with the charts in the IBM i Resave information indicates the Resave level for this product.
How do I determine whether the Technology Refresh PTF is installed on a system, and what level is installed?
Display the PTFs for product 5770-999. Technology Refresh PTFs for this product are in the format of MF99nnn. The highest number Technology Refresh PTF on your system with a status of Permanently applied is the latest active Technology Refresh PTF.
Can the Technology Refresh PTF become available to download before the Technology Refresh GA?
Yes, it may. It is safe to install a Technology Refresh PTF when it becomes available. The Technology Refresh PTF itself is enablement for supporting the new function for a Technology Refresh. The PTF alone is not sufficient for obtaining the complete support of the new function, but it is safe to load this enablement before the full Technology Refresh becomes available.
Does the Technology Refresh PTF Group, the Technology Refresh Resave, or the Technology Refresh PTF contain all of the function and support announced at the time of the Technology Refresh.
No. Other function may GA at the same time as the Technology Refresh and may be delivered separately.
I do not have new hardware – why do I have to install a Technology Refresh?
Since the Technology Refresh PTF is a PTF in the PTF chains of a release, it may be required before you can apply a future fix you need. It will be quicker and simpler to apply that fix if the Technology Refresh PTF is already on your system. Each Technology Refresh is extensively tested with older levels of supported hardware.
I thought all PTFs were fixes? Why is IBM now delivering new function through PTFs?
IBM has been delivering support for new hardware and new function or performance improvements with PTFs for a long time. Those PTFs were in the general PTF chains of a release and would have found their way on most systems through Cumulative PTF packages, HIPERs, prerequisites, etc. Technology Refreshes provide a process in which IBM can do more extensive regression testing of the changes than was possible with individual PTFs in the past.
How do I remove a Technology Refresh from my system?
Install a previous Resave level or the base install media for that release, then bring the system up to the fix level you want by applying appropriate PTFs or Cumulative PTF packages or Groups. An alternative would be to install a save of the system made before the Technology Refresh PTF was installed.
If I have to restore my system after a failure, how do I get it back to the level the system was at before the failure?
If the system was at the current Technology Refresh level, then reinstall the most recent Resave, Cumulative PTF package, and Technology Refresh PTF Group, plus any other PTFs that were on the system. If you have a need to be able to restore a system to an older level, then you will need to have archived a save of the system in that state, or the media to restore it to that state.
What are some best practices regarding Technology Refreshes?
- Keep systems up to date with the latest Technology Refresh PTF Group.
- When installing a Technology Refresh, do not install just the Technology Refresh PTF itself. Instead, either install the corresponding Resave and Cumulative PTF package, plus the Technology Refresh Group, or install the Technology Refresh Group plus the Cumulative PTF package. You will then have the latest levels of code and fixes on your system.
- Make sure the latest Technology Refresh PTF is permanently applied. Then if a later PTF requires it (as a *TRREQ), you will not have to take time for an extra IPL to permanently apply the Technology Refresh PTF, before you can apply the PTF that requires it.
- Install from an image catalog rather than from physical media, for simplicity and improved performance. Physical media can first be loaded into an image catalog, and then that image catalog used to install the PTFs.
18 December 2019