With the release of Microsoft Windows 10 looming, I thought it would be a good idea to go through how this new desktop operating system will interact with IBM i Power Systems.
As my company is a Microsoft partner, we had the opportunity to review the Windows 10 Technology Preview. For this article, testing was performed on build B10041. The applications I intended to check were System i Access, Rational Developer for i, System i Navigator, HMC access, data transfers and PHP connectivity.
To save having to wipe desktops and reinstall previous versions of Windows, we utilised a virtual machine on a laptop. For this, I used Microsoft Hyper-V software. The new OS can be seen in the screenshot below.
The first task was to install the latest version of System i Access for Windows, Version 7.1. Installation was fast and non-eventful.
As with Windows 7 and 8, the AFP and SCS printer drivers do not automatically install. If you need these drivers, you can get them here on the IBM website.
On installing the latest service packs, it was necessary to install the Visual C++ Redistribute software from Microsoft. As I had a 64-bit Windows 10 version, I had to install both the 32-bit and 64-bit Visual C++ software. Once this prerequisite had been installed, the latest SI55797 service pack whizzed on.
Now we had System i Access installed, on with the testing. I would say that the main use of System i Access is 5250 connectivity. Using previous versions of Windows, I have had a few problems with 5250 sessions signing on automatically using my Windows account details. Windows 10 gave me no such problems. Both display and printer sessions fired up quickly and ready for use.
Another popular feature of System i Access is data transfer. A quick download of our car file produced the results we wanted.
Now onto System i Navigator, or iNav for ease. All connectivity to our partitions performed seamlessly. When doing the system scan, it stated that additional plugins were available for BRMS and performance tools; these were additionally installed.
The next test was to access service tools from the GUI. Not something I do that often, to be honest, but a very useful tool for system admins. The graphic view of our server’s disk units was successfully displayed.
Next on the testing list was our favourite development tool, RDi (if it’s not yours, let me know; maybe I should do an article on it). I used RDi version 22.214.171.124 for this testing. Once we had the latest version of Installation Manager (1.8.2), RDi did not have any install problems, so it was easier than many Rational installs I have completed.
Now to try using it. Firstly, I quickly and easily imported all my connections and settings using RDi’s excellent import function – thanks for that, IBM!
Now on to browser access. As some of you may know, Internet Explorer in Windows 10 is “brown bread”, as we say in London, and will be replaced with Project Spartan. Project Spartan was not available on build 10041 of Windows 10 so I had to upgrade to build 10061 to use and test it.
Entering the URL for our HMC into Spartan came up with a certificate error, just as we have all seen with Internet Explorer. However, I could not get around this by taking the link to ignore the certificate error.
Using a PHP application running on our IBM i (written in-house using Zend Framework) using Spartan as the client produced an authentication problem straight away. The application uses Apache authentication which prompts for an IBM i User ID and password. Spartan bypassed this Apache directive totally so we were not able to access our application.
Our application, running on Zend Server, as intended is shown in the figure below.
In conclusion, unless you need or intend to us use Spartan, Windows 10 did not cause me any problems doing my normal development role. The end result from my limited testing so far is that, unless you intend to use Spartan (in its current form), Windows 10 should not pose many issues to your continued IBM i productivity.
Yes, Spartan caused issues, but it is very early days for this new technology. I am sure it will be a lot more stable before it is finally released to the public. The issues I encountered with Spartan access have been reported to Microsoft and I await its response.
If you have any questions relating to Windows 10 and IBM i, use the comments form below, and I will get back to you.
Andy Youens is an IBM i consultant/instructor at Milton Keynes, UK-based FormaServe Systems.
Editor’s note: Windows 10 Technical Preview may be substantially modified before it is commercially released. We make no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here.