I recently gave a presentation at an i-UG event in England on some of the new features in IBM i v7.2. In an attempt to make it a little more fun (and in tribute to Friday nights as a young lad), I delivered this in the style of a Top of the Pops-type countdown.
If you are not familiar with British television, you may want to search for this cultural reference on YouTube The 1980s were my particular era and, yes, the fashions were shocking. Childhood reminiscences aside, I thought it might be fun to round off the year on the same theme here on PowerWire.
So, I’d like to share with you the 7.2 things that I love the most about IBM i v7.2. Because there is quite a lot of ground to cover, I’m going to do this in two parts.
Before we start, I accept that this really means I either have to share eight things or cheat you and only share seven. Being a techie at heart, I came up with a workaround. I will share seven things I love about IBM i v7.2 and one that I quite like.
Number 7.2 – Colour Printing
You may have already guessed, but, just in case, this is the one that I quite like. This is not to say I don’t love colour printing; I like to waste ink as much as the next guy. To be blunt, the real reason this is in the “like” not “love” category is that I was stunned (and a little embarrassed) that that it has taken 26 years to get native colour printing support in my favourite OS.
Sure, there are plenty of great third-party tools that we have been able to use for years. Many do, of course, have extra functionality too, but now, if you so desired, you can print in colour yourself using nothing but IBM i.
IBM has added colour support in two ways:
Colour image support in HPT
Host Print Transform (HPT) has been modified to print colour images to colour PCL printers. JPEG, TIFF, and GIF image formats are supported. These images can be included in *AFPDS spooled files with the AFPRSC DDS keyword.
Note: the Transform Services licensed program (5770TS1) must be installed to print these images but as this is F.O.C. and your server usually sulks if you try to upgrade to v7.x without it, you probably already have this anyway.
As a further note: if you don’t have TS1 loaded, you really should. In my opinion, PDF generation is much better with this and it can coexist with other products like IP1.
Colour Management in PSF
Print Services Facility (PSF) was modified to provide colour management support for IPDS printers. Colour management resources (CMRs) use information from the ICC profile of the input and output devices to deliver colour across a variety of devices. Data Object Resource Access Tables can be used to access these resources for AFP and non-AFP images.
Number 7 – Automatic Import of Image Catalogue Entries
This is one of those small changes that won’t change your life but if you do use image catalogues, adding entries into them just got a whole lot easier.
This simple “*DIR” saves you having to issue a repetitive series of tedious, case-sensitive, addimgclge commands. Tip: You can even script this auto import as part of the FTP session you use to upload the files. Here’s a sample:
quote rcmd CRTIMGCLG IMGCLG(V7R2PTFS) DIR(‘/v7r2ptfs’) ADDVRTVOL(*DIR)
Number 6 – Management of Temporary Storage
I’m not saying this happens to everyone, but I never have to look too far to find a client who has suffered from “where did my storage go?” syndrome.
Sample scenario: you notice one afternoon that your system is running slowly. You scratch you head and then notice that your ASP is approaching 90% full and you know damn well is should be closer to 60%. You feel sure that it was normal that morning, you know you haven’t restored anything and you say to yourself, where did my storage go?
Quite often, the culprit is that silent thief called temporary storage. I know we can’t do without it and in many ways it makes IBM i more efficient but before v7.2 the best clue that this sudden increase was caused by temporary storage use was WRKSYSSTS. And even then all you would see was a couple of totals for “Current” and “Peak” usage.
This helps but it rather supposes you know what the typical figures should be for your system and I wonder just how many people do?
Tip: If you don’t know these numbers, then go check and write them down right now. And for an extra credit add a job schedule-entry (addjobscde) that once a month runs wrksyssts output(*print) to allow you to track them.
In v7.2 you can now see exactly where this temporary storage is being used. This information is available in the new Navigator Director GUI and also via APIs but probably the easiest way to see it is in WRKACTJOB. Just press F11 twice and “Volia!”.
Tip: you can sort WRKACTJOB’s display sequence to be based on temp storage usage. This way you see all of the biggest offenders all grouped together. You can even set maximum values now for jobs temp storage and processor usage using CHGJOB.
If you prefer the Work Management APIs, the QUSLJOB, QUSRJOBI, QGYOLJOB and QWTRTVTA APIs now have *CLS on key 1305 (maximum temporary storage allowed, in megabytes).
Number 5 – Samba file server
NetServer is one of the phenomenally useful functions that seems to have been around forever but it’s also been a while since we’ve seen any major moves to improve it. I’ve been suffering from increasingly frequent problems when trying to use NetServer with new client operating systems, particularly newer versions of Apple’s OS X.
IBM’s response is actually rather clever. It has shipped v7.2 with NetServer as normal and with the latest patches it does seem to have better client support that its predecessors. But it has also included an implementation of the popular Linux file sharing application Samba.
IBM has stated this should offer faster file serving in most implementations as the code is more lightweight and has support for several newer protocols. I intend to test this more fully when time permits but, for now, I am happy to take IBM at its word.
There are a few limitations, most notably the loss of automatic CCSID conversion. Below is a table laying out the pros and cons from the IBM support site.
|Faster file serving||Does not support Kerberos|
|NTLM and NTLMv2 authentication||No automatic CCSID conversions|
|Improved compatibility with new Windows, Mac & Linux client operating systems.||No Integration with IBM i auditing exit programs.|
|SMB 2.0 protocol support
with an FTP style CIFS client (smbclient)
|Has to be started & stopped with PASE / Qsh command|
|Enhanced error code reporting||Control not yet integrated into Navigator client|
In summary: If you require basic file serving with better performance and improved compatibility with Windows, Mac and Linux clients, then Samba might well be the choice for you. Why not try it? You can always switch back.
I think it’s fair to say that there is so much more packed into v7.2 that none of us fully know it yet but if you have something in particular you’d like me to discuss, you can contact me via the feedback below or through my website.
Nice to see you…
It was great to see so many of you at the i-UG event at IBM Warwick on November 20. With great speakers like Alison Butterill, Dr Frank Soltis, Trevor Perry and Paul Tuohy, it’s no great surprise to me that we had a record turnout. I hope to see you at our next event in February. Keep an eye on the i-UG website for the details.
Steve Bradshaw is the founder and managing director of Wolverhampton, UK-based Power Systems specialist Rowton IT Solutions and technical director of British IBM i user group i-UG. He has been a key contributor to PowerWire since 2012 and he also sits on the Common Europe Advisory Council (CEAC) which helps IBM shape the future of IBM i.