TechTip: Installations and Upgrades Become Much Simpler with IBM i Network Install PDF Print E-mail
Tips & Techniques - System Administration
Written by Dan Boyum and Dave Snyder   
Friday, 20 November 2009 00:00

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Install IBM i over a Network File System (NFS) server using virtual optical media and enjoy the freedom of automation!


The IBM i Network Install process uses virtual optical devices within a Network File System (NFS) network for installation. With new enhancements in IBM i 6.1, users now have the ability to perform installations and operating system upgrades across their networks to other IBM i partitions. In addition, users can also load PTFs or restore data via a Virtual Media Image (VMI), all without having to manually FTP the data to additional partitions. This huge advance in the IBM i installation realm will provide users with even more efficiency and flexibility in managing today's complex system environments.


Why should you use IBM i Network Install? It's quick, easy, and efficient. The setup and configuration is simple. Multiple IBM i partitions can be installed concurrently from a single NFS image server. You no longer have to worry about sharing a single DVD drive between multiple logical partitions or manually loading a stack of CDs or DVDs over and over again. You don't even have to change operator panel functions on the partition prior to installing. Network Install takes care of all of that for you automatically! 

Requirements for IBM i Network Install

Getting started with IBM i Network Install is easy. Here are the minimum requirements you need to have in place prior to using Network Install:

  • The image server and target systems must be at IBM i 6.1 or greater.
  • The service tools server must be configured and activated on all of the target systems.
  • The following PTFs must be installed on the image server and all target systems: SI35186, SI35189, SI35201, and SI35747.
  • In addition, the image server must also have the following PTFs installed: MF47284 and MF47285.


One thing to keep in mind with Network Install is your network infrastructure. Full IBM i installs will result in multiple gigabytes of data being sent across your network, so be sure you have the necessary bandwidth available prior to starting your installs.

Setting Up the Image Server

To prepare the NFS image server, you need to perform two tasks: 1) Create an image catalog and 2) Share the images via NFS. The steps listed below will get the image server ready for Network Install: 


Obtain the latest IBM i installation media, similar to the example below:

  • I_Base_01
  • B29xx_01
  • B29xx_02
  • F29xx_01
  • F29xx_02


Create a virtual optical device:


CRTDEVOPT DEVD(virtual-device-name) RSRCNAME(*VRT) ONLINE(*YES) TEXT(text-description)


Vary on the virtual optical device:


VRYCFG CFGOBJ(virtual-device-name) CFGTYPE(*DEV) STATUS(*ON)


Create the image catalog:


CRTIMGCLG IMGCLG(catalog-name) DIR(catalog-path) TYPE(*OPT) CRTDIR(*YES) TEXT(text-description)


Add an image catalog entry for each volume of the driver. If you are adding from physical media, use the following parameters:


ADDIMGCLGE IMGCLG(catalog-name) FROMDEV(optical-device) TOFILE(*fromfile) TEXT(text-description)


Load the image catalog. This associates the virtual optical device to the image catalog.


LODIMGCLG IMGCLG(catalog-name) DEV(virtual-device-name) OPTION(*LOAD)


Verify the image catalog. If you are preparing for an installation or an upgrade, you need to verify that the required media has been loaded and is sorted in the correct sequence. Be sure to specify *YES for the Network File Share (NFSSHR) parameter. This will ensure that the images in the image catalog are prepared for use as an NFS share. In addition, a VOLUME_LIST file in ASCII format will be created in the image catalog directory. This file will contain a list of image files to be used by a virtual device of type 632B-003.




Start the NFS file server. Make sure that the *RPC, *SVR, and *MNT daemons are started. Restart the NFS server if necessary.





Export the install image directory. The Change Network File System Export (CHGNFSEXP) command adds directory names to the list of directory trees that are currently exported to the NFS clients. The flags in the OPTIONS list indicate what actions the CHGNFSEXP command should perform.


CHGNFSEXP OPTIONS('-i –o ro') DIR('/Catalog_dir_name')


Ensure *PUBLIC has *RWX authority to the image directory and the files. Use the Change Authority (CHGAUT) command to change a user's authority for the object or group of objects named in this command.




Give authority to  /CATALOG_DIR/BOOTP directory:




Ensure QTFTP has *RX authority to all files in /CATALOG_DIR/BOOTP:




Ensure Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) server is started. Restart the TFTP server if necessary:





For further information and details on image catalogs, please see IBM i Information Center document SC41-5120-10, Installing, upgrading, or deleting i5/OS and related software.


For more information about NFS, refer to IBM manual SC41-5714-03, i5/OS Network File System Support.

Setting Up the Target Systems

Getting the target systems ready for Network Install is simple. Follow these steps for each target system:


The service tools server must be configured on each target system. For more information about configuring the service tools server, refer to the IBM i Information Center: Configuring the service tools server using SST.


Create a virtual optical device. For the LCLINTENTA parameter, ensure that *SRVLAN is specified, which is the value defined for the service tools server. For the RMTINTNETA parameter, specify the remote Internet address of the image server. And for the NETIMGDIR parameter, specify the directory path of the image catalog on the target system.


CRTDEVOPT DEVD(virtual-device-name) RSRCNAME(*VRT) LCLINTNETA(*SRVLAN) RMTINTNETA(remote-internet-address) NETIMGDIR(network-image-directory) UID(0) GID(0) TEXT('Virtual Optical Device for Network Install')


Vary on the virtual optical device:


VRYCFG CFGOBJ(virtual-device-name) CFGTYPE(*DEV) STATUS(*ON)


Verify that the volumes are successfully loaded in the target system's network optical device by using one of the following commands:


WRKIMGCLGE IMGCLG(*DEV) DEV(virtual-device-name)





Performing the Install

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for! On the target system, issue the STRNETINS command and press F4. Enter the target system's virtual optical device name for the DEV parameter. The OPTION parameter specifies the install option to be used. Specify *ALL to perform a full install of the Licensed Internal Code (LIC), operating system, options, and licensed products that are available on the install media. The KEYLOCK parameter indicates the system key lock mode to be used for the installation. You can choose either the automatic installation method (*NORMAL) or the manual installation method (*MANUAL).                                 






After you enter the STRNETINS command, a message is displayed asking you to confirm the power down of the system. To confirm the power down and to start the network installation, press F16. This will trigger an ENDSBS command followed by a PWRDWNSYS command to begin the installation process.


The remainder of the installation will behave similarly to standard installation using physical media or local VMI. Follow the menu prompts as you would for any other IBM i installation.


Again, for additional information and details on installing IBM i, refer to the IBM i Information Center document SC41-5120-10, Installing, upgrading, or deleting i5/OS and related software.

Tips and Recommendations

If your partition has an alternate restart device specified, you may be prompted to choose the installation device. Choose the Network Optical Device as the Primary device.


You cannot run STRNETINS with the target system in the restricted state. TCP/IP communications must be active when you issue the STRNETINS command.


If prompted at the Install Device Type Selection menu, choose Option 5 - Network Device when selecting the install device type.

Wasn't That Easy?

Forget about those pesky CDs and DVDs. You never have to think of them again. Now you have IBM i Network Install!



Dan Boyum And Dave Snyder
About the Author:

Dan Boyum is an Advisory Software Engineer on the IBM i System Test team located at the Rochester, Minnesota, laboratory. Dan is the Technical Leader of the IBM i Post-GA Test team. He has been in the software testing field since 2000. Dan can be reached at

Dave Snyder is a Staff Software Engineer on the IBM i System Test team located at the Rochester, Minnesota, laboratory. He has been in the software testing field since 1987. Dave can be reached at

















Last Updated on Monday, 26 July 2010 14:28
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