Informing the IBM Community

IBM i 7.4 TR2 and 7.3 TR8


We are living through some incredible times right now, I type this article whilst in Covid-19 Lockdown, I only bring this up so as to allow myself to wish you and your loved ones well and to hope that your lives are not too badly affected. 

Those of you who know me well, know that I often say that the IBM i community is like one big family and so, I hope that our IBM community family stays safe, stays healthy and if at all possible, stays sane!

IBM have been busy

OK, so let’s switch gear to some good news, IBM has not been held back unduly by sheltering in place and as of today they have delivered the latest in a long line of IBM i Technical Refreshes (TRs), Namely, 7.4 TR2 and 7.3 TR8.

These are not just “spit and polish” updates, they are literally packed with new stuff!  There are updates to:

  • Db2 for i
  • IBM i & Db2 for i Services
  • IBM i Virtualisation
  • Security
  • Access Client Solutions
  • Navigator for i
  • Administration Runtime Expert
  • Nagios Core Plugin
  • Integrated Web Services
  • RPG & RDi
  • Apache HTTP Server
  • Db2 Mirror for i
  • And of course, Open Source

Don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all, but I’d like to share a handful of the updates that are the most useful to me.

New Digital Certificate Manager (DCM)

Note: The image above is from the IBM i TR announcement page, link included later in this article.

IBM has totally rewritten the DCM, not just a makeover, this now uses a different underlying architecture that does more than just make it look prettier, it makes the whole thing much more responsive. 

This combined with the fact that they have made the whole DCM interface much more intuitive means that tasks that used to be a real pain in the posterior are now quick and easy. This will be available for both 7.3 and 7.4.

Just in case you are not familiar with the DCM, this is the part of IBM i (no extra cost) that allows you to manage the security certificate used to have encrypted connections to your IBM i, including good old 5250 Green on Black!

New Graphing Format in Performance Data Investigator (PDI)

IBM has also given the Graphing functions in PDI a very welcome makeover, switching to a new JavaScript and Dojo architecture that allows for improved interaction with the charts produced.

Now you can use scroll bars to select time periods, check boxes to include/omit data, and the graphs are much better at scaling to the size of your browser window. For those who don’t know about PDI, check out my article on using it to find out what job is killing your system.

Note: The image above is from IBM i TR announcement page, link included later in this article.

Improved Security

For those of you that have to encrypt your connections to IBM i, one of the big pluses of 7.4 was the TLS v1.3 support. Well, in 7.3 TR8, this super secure protocol has been added.

If you must stay on TLS v1.2 then IBM has enhanced it to support ChaCha20 Poly1305 cipher suites, which again pep up your security levels and keep you just that little bit safer. This is available in IBM i 7.3 and 7.4.

As a bit of a closet Security Geek, one of the things I have been waiting for is Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) stapling support, (yes I know how sad that sounds) but this has been added to TLS v1.3 and TLS v1.2, in both 7.3 and 7.4.  Just in case you are wondering why you should care, this is literally the only viable way we have to prove that a security certificate is still valid and has not be revoked by the entity that created it.

Improved IBM i Hosting IBM i Virtualisation

For those of you that like to create IBM i LPARs which are hosted by IBM i, now you can virtualise and pass though Tape Libraries in their native “Random” MLB format.

Want to know more?

If this has whet your appetite and you would like to know more, then go to the following page:  from here you will be able to get more information on any of the IBM TR updates. In fact, I would recommend you bookmark this page as I think you’ll be going back to it again and again.

Nice to see you

It was great to see you all in London and Rochdale back in February and March.

I really hope it’s not too long before we can meet up again. For all the latest information on our meetings go to our website

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