In the Wheelhouse: The PTF 10-Ton Hammer

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This week, we're talking about a new IBM i PTF to help you get all your Group PTF processing done in one step. Plus, COMMON is reaching out into social media with COMMON Chats.


SF99711: The 10-Ton Hammer

OK, I totally found a neat way to tell how well you keep up to date with IBM i PTF processing. Want to know? Here's the secret: I ordered brand new PTF SF99711.


What's SF99711? Well, it's comprised of these:


SF99145: 710 Performance Tools

SF99359: 710 WebSphere MQ for i5/OS - v7.0.1/v7.1.0

SF99362: 710 Backup Recovery Solutions

SF99363: 710 WebSphere App Server V7.0

SF99364: 710 WebSphere App Server V6.1

SF99366: 710 Print PTFs

SF99367: 710 TCP/IP PTF

SF99368: 710 IBM HTTP Server for i

SF99369: 710 IBM i integration with BladeCenter and System x

SF99380: 710 WebSphere App Server V8.0

SF99381: 710 WebSphere App Server V8.5

SF99572: 710 Java

SF99617: 710 DB2 Web Query for IBM i V1.1.1

SF99627: 710 7.1 Electronic Services Group PTF

SF99637: 710 DB2 Web Query for IBM i V1.1.2

SF99647: 710 DB2 Web Query for i V2.1.0

SF99701: 710 DB2 for IBM i

SF99705: 710 Hardware and Related PTFs

SF99706: 710 High Availability for IBM i

SF99707: 710 Technology Refresh

SF99708: 710 Group Security

SF99709: 710 Group Hiper


That's right.


SF99711 gives you one consolidated PTF number to order so you can bring your IBM i partition up to date with Group PTFs. It doesn't matter whether you live on the bleeding edge of PTF application or you download them twice a year. If you're used to applying updates to IBM i with surgical precision, then downloading SF99711 is the PTF equivalent of a 10-ton hammer. There is no granularity, just ease of ordering. This PTF weighs in at a whopping 19.1 GB of updates and consists of all Group PTFs. Plus, HIPERs and the DB2 database are included as if you had ordered the Cumulative PTF. This makes it easier for the IBM i administrator to download all Group PTFs rather than log into Fix Central and pick and choose through the wizard or do one at a time through SNDPTFORD (which, by the way, is a real pain because it doesn't list all the Groups; you need to go find the actual PTF numbers for most of them).


If you use either Fix Central or SNDPTFORD to get your fixes, fortunately those utilities are intelligent enough to cross reference with the licensed programs you have currently installed, omitting unnecessary fixes from your order. In other words, you'll only download what you need.


Me? My download was only about 2.5 GB. Not too out of date.


The double-edged sword of this PTF is that it is everything. On one hand, perhaps some administrators don't usually download the IBM HTTP Server Group PTF because they're not up to date on what features are available in the updates, so they don't bother. Or maybe they don't see it listed in SNDPTFORD and don't know about it. By downloading this PTF, the next time they log into IBM Navigator for i, they'll be in for a heck of a good surprise. On the other hand, if administrators are not prepared to load some high-impact fixes (i.e., recent fixes for WebSphere Application Server that require some manual intervention to activate), then the surprise may be not so good...and that may lead to some old-fashioned two-o'clock-in-the-morning dancing. Your mileage may vary. It's always best to know what you're downloading before you do it and understand what special instructions need to be followed before you apply those updates.


What I'd like to see, and I'm really thinking about sending IBM a request for enhancement through COMMON, would be an update to IBM Navigator for i in which each Group PTF (applicable only to installed licensed programs) would be listed on a web page with check boxes next to them plus a Select All button. Furthermore, maybe a Current PTF level and an auto-updating Available PTF level from Fix Central so you can see what's out of date and then pick what you want, order it, and download it.


For now, SF99711 makes it easier to keep your Group PTFs up to date. But like any powerful tool, you need to understand how it works before you use it.

COMMON Extends Its Social Media Reach

The Community and Networking group of COMMON has started a new initiative through Twitter called COMMON Chats. Part of the group's ongoing efforts to keep the COMMON and Power Systems community engaged and talking throughout the year, COMMON Chats are discussions on Twitter using the hashtag #COMMONchat on specific and relevant topics for this community. These chats serve as supplementary education to other COMMON virtual education products, like webcasts and webinars, providing a time and a space for anyone and everyone to participate in a one-on-one Q&A session with esteemed speakers and with each other. One only has to ask questions via Twitter using the official hashtag #COMMONchat in order to join the conversation. COMMON Chats can be held before a presentation or immediately following, allowing discussion by participants from the session and those who simply want to join in. You can follow COMMON - A Users Group on Twitter via @COMMONug to get the latest information about the dates and times of upcoming COMMON Chats. The next COMMON Chat will be with Pete Massiello on "Virtual i Partitions" on Wednesday, August 21 at 1:00 p.m. Central, immediately following his Webcast on the same topic at 12:00 p.m. Central.


What does this mean to the average IBM i, AIX, or Power Linux community member?


First, any time you get some free Power Systems education in the form of a webinar or a Twitter chat, it shows the real value of the COMMON user group. It's about volunteers sharing information with other community members.


Second, I've spoken about the value of Twitter chats before. Not only is it free, but you don't have to register for it. You don't even need to have a Twitter account in order to get access to the content. It's just...there. It's
free for the taking in an entirely public venue. But the real value of any chat on Twitter is when you're interacting with the group and asking the questions that you want answered. Plus, reaching out into the Twitterverse helps attract more people who may not be familiar with it to the value of COMMON.


There's a growing IBM i community on Twitter, where everything from systems management to programming is discussed on a regular basis. Tweets featuring the #IBMi or the #COMMONug hashtag are almost their own virtual user groups in itself, where people can easily tap into resources they may see physically only once or twice a year. Ask any IBM i-related question with one of those hashtags and I'll almost guarantee you'll get a response from somebody. Plus, it's a great place to find out about webinars, articles, blogs, and anything else that the community is publishing.


It's important we know that this great community resource is out there. It's also important for us, the community, to contribute back either by sharing our own content or recommending community content by way of retweeting or just getting involved with the conversation. The conversation is where the value is. Keep it going.