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Managing OS/400 Upgrades

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Brief: Upgrading the operating system of multiple AS/400s can be easier than you think. Do your installation once and use the techniques in this article to create custom distribution tapes. You'll be able to perform automatic installations of OS/400 at remote sites without ever leaving town.

Oh boy, a new release! All sorts of new functions, enhancements, and travel. Travel? For those MIS professionals responsible for managing remote AS/400s, the yearly upgrade tour has become a common torture. However, anyone familiar with IBM's Central Site Distribution Guide can get away with a few hours' work on the weekend and a little testing-a welcome substitute for the weeks away from home.

The Central Site Distribution Guide explains the concept of installing your new release on a single machine, making copies from that machine and using those tapes to upgrade your remote machines. This process has two significant advantages:

1. No traveling-the automated install can be done by an onsite user or even by using Display Station Pass-Through (DSPT).

2. If your shop changes IBM command defaults, message descriptions or any other part of the operating system, the changes need only be made once. This eliminates many opportunities to forget a default at one site, only to spend the next week using DSPT to check all the sites.

The transfer of the operating system is subject to one restriction. The operating system for a 9402 or 9404 model cannot be copied to a 9406. (However, you can copy the 9406 operating system to any AS/400 model.)

Nuts and Bolts

Creating the distribution tape consists primarily of two menu selections from the Licensed Programs menu (which is displayed when you execute GO LICPGM). On the second page of the menu, you'll find option 41 (Work with Installation Profiles), which allows you to set options for the install. The options are then stored in an installation profile, which you can use for multiple sets of tapes or alter for each different set. Not all of the available options are covered here; only the major options follow.

1. Replace a current release with a new release or install a new AS/400.

2. Use the system values of the source machine or the values already in place on the destination machine.

3. Use the same source or destination options for edit descriptions and message reply lists.

4. Enable or disable automatic configuration for a new installation and set the default environment and device-naming conventions.

5. Install all products included on the tape, only those products that exist on the target machine, or only the products that do not exist on the target machine.

6. Perform an automatic IPL-you should specify Y for a new release.

Once you have created a profile, option 40 (Create a Distribution Tape) prompts you through four steps. You must perform these steps on a restricted system- hence, the weekend of work I mentioned earlier.

Step one is the actual SAVSYS. Steps two and three save libraries QGPL and QUSRSYS. Remember that when you install a new release, objects already in these two libraries on the target system are left untouched if they do not exist on the tape, and they are updated if they do exist on tape. New objects are copied from the tape to the target system. The fourth step involves the save of the licensed programs. The system presents you with a list of licensed programs and asks you to select which ones to include on the tape.

Words of Wisdom

Before continuing any further, a few pieces of advice are in order. Always make two copies of the distribution tape, in case you run into a problem with one set. Clean the tape heads at the distribution site before making the tape and at the remote site before installing the tape. Always have a current backup of the entire target system and an understanding of the restore process, should any unforeseen problems occur.

When I send our tapes to the remote sites, I send two copies in separate packages and I also send the IBM new release installation tapes in another package. (Sending the IBM tapes is strictly a precautionary measure, and not a requirement.)

After the tape is created, all you need is a user to place the tape in the drive at the target system. Someone can then issue the following command to get the process going:

PWRDWNSYS RESTART(*YES) IPLSRC(D)

Install times can vary, but the average over our network of B10s through E20s is six hours.

Customized Installations

IBM allows you to place a program (any program) in library QGPL with a program name of QLPUSER. This program will run at the end of the installation process. You can use this program to restore additional objects saved on the tape or to move subsystem descriptions (or just about any item you might want) to user libraries. If you install a new machine, you could have the QLPUSER program automatically configure your communications setup, so that pass-through to the new machine is enabled.

Save the Air Fare

As you can see, with a little preparation, you can be spared the expense of spending time away from home. Send your customized installation tapes to remote sites instead of sending yourself.

This article has given you enough information to get you started. The Central Site Distribution Guide will have more information that you can use. Now you can take the time you would have spent traveling and rake the leaves instead.

David Wallen is a senior programmer analyst for Jockey International in Kenosha, WI.

Reference Central Site Distribution Guide (SC41-9993, CD-ROM QBKA9401)

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