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PC Commands from the AS/400

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Have you ever had a user ask you if it would be possible to kick off a PC program from the AS/400? Perhaps he wanted to be able to open up the Windows calculator program while he was in your green-screen accounts receivable application. Or maybe he wanted to be able to type a quick Word document to a customer while he was fulfilling an order. Whatever the reason, there are times when it’s handy to be able to execute PC commands and applications from the AS/400.

STRPCCMD and RUNRMTCMD

The original method of executing PC commands from the AS/400 was to use Start PC Command (STRPCCMD). This command works over non-TCP/IP connections only, such as on a PC that is connected via NetManage’s NS/Router. To use this command, you must first start the PC organizer using the Start PC Organizer (STRPCO) command. This is because STRPCCMD runs inside the old PC Support/400 shell. PC Support/400 was the precursor to Client Access/400; because IBM has changed the text on this command to indicate it is now a Client Access tool but don’t be fooled. PC Support/400 is still the original product that has been around since the very first version of OS/400. The PC must have Client Access loaded on it to use this command. To execute the command, type STRPCCMD from an AS/400 command line and press F4 to prompt it.

The Run Remote Command (RUNRMTCMD) function allows you to execute PC commands from the AS/400 over both SNA and TCP/IP connections. When IBM upgraded the 16-bit PC Support/400 product to the 32-bit Client Access/400, it also provided for several new connectivity options, most notably TCP/IP. With that upgrade came several new interfaces, including the RUNRMTCMD utility. RUNRMTCMD requires that the PC client have Client Access/400 or Client Access Express on it. RUNRMTCMD uses a client/server approach to executing PC commands. In this case, the PC acts as the server and the AS/400 is the client. In order to use the server portion of this scenario, your PC must be running the Incoming Remote Command daemon program, CWBRXD.EXE, which is included with Client Access. For more information on using RUNRMTCMD, check out “Top Tips: Connectivity” and look under the subheading How to Run PC Commands from Your AS/400 in the September 1998 issue of MC.

CommandServerJSK

Until now, STRPCCMD and RUNRMTCMD were your only options for executing commands on the PC from the AS/400. However, both commands require that your users have Client Access loaded on their PCs. While this may not be a big deal for some IT professionals, others, for many reasons, don’t want to load Client Access on their users’ PCs. For these folks, there are alternatives.

There are several methods that can be used to execute PC commands from the AS/400 that do not require Client Access. The first is through the use of Sockets. Sockets are a way of treating TCP connections as if they were any other type of file I/O. That is, to a program that understands the TCP/IP protocol, data coming across a Socket appears as if it were coming from a locally stored database or the standard input. Sockets use a
“connection-oriented” approach over TCP/IP. That is, the Socket server listens for requests coming across a given port over TCP/IP. When the request is found, the server acknowledges the request to the client, which has been patiently waiting for the acknowledgment. While the client is formatting the next request, the server is patiently waiting. In other words, both the client and the server remain in contact for the duration of the life cycle of the Socket event. This is what’s known as a connection-oriented approach.

With the advent of the UNIX-type APIs and the ability of RPG IV and other ILE languages to use these APIs, the AS/400 now has the ability to write to and read from Sockets. That’s what you’re going to take advantage of with the CommandServerJSK utility. I’m not going to go into details on how to use the RPG IV Socket program used in this utility, as all that information has been covered before. For an in-depth look at RPG IV and Sockets, check out “Servlets, Sockets, and RPG” by Jeff Markham in the July 2000 issue of MC.

Just like IBM’s RUNRMTCMD, CommandServerJSK works on the client/server model. That is, CommandServerJSK is the server, and your RPG IV Socket program is the client that sends requests to it. In this case, the requests are PC commands to execute. All code for this utility and the others discussed in this article can be downloaded from Midrange Computing’s Web site at www.midrangecomputing.com/mc. Download the code for this utility and compile the AS/400 command, EXPCCMD, and the RPG IV program PCCMD0R1 on the AS/400. You’ll also need to compile the Java program CommandServerJSK.java on your PC. If you don’t already have it, you’ll need a Java compiler such as the one available free from Sun Microsystems at www.javasoft.com. Also, if you’re going to install the Java programs on your users’ PCs, they’ll need, at the minimum, the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). You can download this free tool from Sun’s Web site at www.javasoft.com and install it on the users’ PCs along with the Java classes from this article. The JRE will allow the users’ PCs to run Java applications without requiring the full Java development kit.

CommandServerJSK is a Java program I wrote that listens for connections on any port you specify and then uses the Java Runtime.exec Process to execute those commands on the PC. If you’re new to Java programming, study this code as it demonstrates many basic Java programming principles, including threads. The instructions for using the utility and the theory behind how it works are included in a ReadMe file in the downloadable code available from the MC Web site.

All activity for the Socket and command will be echoed to a dialog window on the users’ desktops. The best thing about this technique is that it will allow you to run PC commands on any platform that supports Java. However, for those of you not comfortable with Java yet, I’ve included a Visual Basic (VB) version of this utility, called CommandServerVB, for download from the MC Web site. This program also uses Sockets to connect to the client and then uses VB’s SHELL command to execute PC commands.

CommandServerJDQ

If you don’t want to learn how to use Sockets, don’t worry. I’ve created a variation on the CommandServerJSK program that uses data queues instead of Sockets for communication.


The AS/400 has supported data queues since the very beginning, and MC has provided many examples of writing to and reading from data queues in RPG. In the CommandServerJDQ utility (Figure 1), I expand on that basic idea and use data queues as the means to communicate with my JavaServer program on the PC. The CommandServerJDQ Java application uses the AS/400 Java Access classes, available as part of the JTOPEN.jar file available for download from IBM at www.as400.ibm.com/toolbox or on your V4R4 AS/400 in the directory /QIBM/ProdData/HTTP/Public/jt400/lib, to provide the means of creating and reading AS/400 data queues. If you’re new to Java programming, the CommandServerJDQ.java source file is a great file to study, as it demonstrates many basic AS/400 Java techniques, including connecting to the AS/400, creating and reading data queues on the AS/400, and converting text from EBCDIC to Unicode. Download the code for this utility, which includes two AS/400 source files (the command EXPCCMD2 and the command processor PCCMD0R2) as well as the Java source file CommandServerJDQ.java from MC, and compile the AS/400 code. You’ll need to make a couple of minor modifications (detailed in the ReadMe file included in the download) to the Java source file before you compile it. Like the CommandServerJSK utility, the instructions for using and modifying the source files and the theory behind how they work can be downloaded as part of this download file from MC’s Web site. When the application executes, you’ll be presented with a status window like that shown in Figure 2.

Alternatives

So far, I’ve discussed only a couple of different options for running PC commands from the AS/400. There are many more that I didn’t cover. These include using a VB program to read commands from AS/400 data queues; using Java’s Remote Method Invocation (RMI) to pass the command string from a Java program running on the AS/400 to a Java program running on the PC; using C++ to duplicate the Sockets and data queue examples; running an FTP server on the PC that executes commands via the RCMD parameter; or even using JINI, Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), or Microsoft’s Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)to execute your PC commands. The fact that IBM gave you only two choices for executing PC commands doesn’t mean that these are your only options. Be creative and see what you can come up with on your own!

//***************************************************************

//

// To Compile:
//

// From a PC command line (must have JDK 1.1.8 or higher)
//

// javac CommandServerJDQ.java -deprecation
//

//***************************************************************

//

// This java class will execute PC commands via a Data Queue.
// It will accept commands from an AS/400. When this class is
// started, it will connect to the AS/400 and create a data
// queue on the AS/400. AS/400 applications, such as those
// written in RPG, can then send a PC command request, including
// the fully qualified path name, to the data queue. Once it
// arrives on the data queue it will be read and removed by this
// class and executed by the java Runtime() class.


//

//***************************************************************

import java.io.*;
import java.net.*;
import java.awt.*;
import CloseWindowAndExit;
import java.lang.Process;
import com.ibm.as400.access.*;

public class CommandServerJDQ extends Frame
{

private TextArea commandWindow;

private int ev = 0;

private AS400 host = null;

private String dqData = null;

private String Command_To_Execute = “”;

private byte [] IPKey;

private boolean Continue = true;

private int IPLen = 20;

public CommandServerJDQ()

{

super (“CommandServerJDQ”);

commandWindow = new TextArea( “”, 0,0,

TextArea.SCROLLBARS_VERTICAL_ONLY);

add (commandWindow, BorderLayout.CENTER);

setSize(400, 150);

setVisible( true );

commandWindow.setEditable(false);

commandWindow.setVisible(true);

commandWindow.append(“Connecting to AS/400...”);

//**********************************************************

// Get IP address of device CommandServerJDQ is running on

// and then convert it from UNICODE to EBCDIC

//**********************************************************

try {

InetAddress MyHost = InetAddress.getLocalHost();

String MyIP = MyHost.getHostAddress();

AS400Text IPValue = new AS400Text(20);

IPKey = IPValue.toBytes(MyIP);

}

catch(UnknownHostException uh)

{ System.out.println(“Unable to retrieve IP Address “ + uh);

System.exit(0); }

}

public void runDataQueueServer()

{
//****************************************

// Connect to the AS/400
//****************************************

host = new AS400();

commandWindow.append(“ ...connected...”);

//*************************************


// Create the Keyed DataQueue object

//*************************************

KeyedDataQueue dq =

new KeyedDataQueue(host, “/QSYS.LIB/SHANNON.LIB/PCCMDDQ.DTAQ”);

try {

dq.create(20, 500);

commandWindow.append(“ Data Queue SHANNON/PCCMDQ created ”); }

catch(Exception ce)

{ commandWindow.append(“ Data Queue already exists.”); }

//*****************************************************

// Loop to allow continuous command processing serving

//*****************************************************

while (Continue) {

try {

commandWindow.append(“ Listening for commands...”);

//*****************************************************

// read data from the queue by the local IP address.

// The “-1” parameter means to wait for an entry to

// be placed on the Data Queue

//*****************************************************

KeyedDataQueueEntry dqData = dq.read(IPKey, -1, “EQ”);

//****************************************************************

// Now extract the command from the Keyed Data Queue Entry object

//*****************************************************************

byte[] data = dqData.getData();

int Command_Length = 500;

AS400Text textConverter = new AS400Text(Command_Length);

String Cmd_Str = (String) textConverter.toObject(data);

Command_To_Execute = Cmd_Str.trim();

commandWindow.append(“ Command to be Executed = “ +

Command_To_Execute);

//*****************************

// Now execute the command

//*****************************

RunCommand(); }

catch(AS400SecurityException se)

{ commandWindow.append(“ Security Exception “ + se);

Continue = false; }

catch(ConnectionDroppedException cd)

{ commandWindow.append(“ Connection Dropped Exception “ +
cd);

Continue = false; }

catch(ErrorCompletingRequestException er)

{ commandWindow.append(“ Error completing request “ + er);

Continue = false; }

catch(IOException ioe)

{ commandWindow.append(“ IO Exception “ +ioe);

Continue = false; }

catch(IllegalObjectTypeException io)


{ commandWindow.append(“ Ilegal Object Type Exception “ +
io);

Continue = false; }

catch(InterruptedException ie)

{ commandWindow.append(“ Interrupted Exception “ + ie);

Continue = false; }

catch(ObjectDoesNotExistException ne)

{ commandWindow.append(“ Object Does Not Exist Exception “ +
ne);

Continue = false; } }

// Disconnect using data queues

host.disconnectService(AS400.DATAQUEUE); }

//***************************************************

// Execute the PC command retrieved from Data Queue
//***************************************************

public void RunCommand()

{

try {

Runtime rt = Runtime.getRuntime();

Process ps = rt.exec(Command_To_Execute);

try { ps.waitFor(); }

catch (IllegalArgumentException ia)

{ commandWindow.append(“Illegal Argument “ + ia);}

catch (InterruptedException i)

{ commandWindow.append(“waitFor() method failed...” + i +
“ ”); }

ev = ps.exitValue();

if (ev == 1)

{commandWindow.append(“Command “ + Command_To_Execute +

“ended abnormally ”);}

commandWindow.append(“ ” + Command_To_Execute +

“ completed normally”);

}

catch (IOException e)

{ commandWindow.append(“Command did not start :” + e + “ ”); }
}

//***************

// Main method
//***************

public static void main (String args[])

{

CommandServerJDQ s = new CommandServerJDQ();

s.addWindowListener( new CloseWindowAndExit());

s.runDataQueueServer();

}

}

Figure 1: As shown in the Java source for CommandServerJDQ, you can use data queues to communicate with a JavaServer program on a PC.


PC_Commands_from_the_AS-_40007-00.png 398x143

Figure 2: When you start CommandServerJDQ, you’ll see this dialog window.


Shannon O'Donnell
Shannon O'Donnell has held a variety of positions, most of them as a consultant, in dozens of industries. This breadth of experience gives him insight into multiple aspects of how the AS/400 is used in the real world. Shannon continues to work as a consultant. He is an IBM Certified Professional--AS/400 RPG Programmer and the author of an industry-leading certification test for RPG IV programmers available from ReviewNet.net.
 
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    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

     

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.