Virtual WDSC

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MC Press has brought you a number of highly informative and well-written columns on the hot topic of virtualization, including "Have You Caught the Virtualization Buzz?" and "A Closer Look at IBM Virtualization Tools," both by Connie Cradick. (If you haven't gotten a chance to read these, please take the time to check them out; they're really mandatory reading in this age of heterogeneous networks.)

Virtualization on the Desktop

In the first article, Connie mentions a product called VMWare. As it turns out, this piece of software is nothing short of incredible. It's almost mind-boggling: I can download a free server component for nearly any operating system. I can then use that server to create a virtual machine into which I can install just about any other operating system. This lets me, for example, run a Linux distribution inside a Windows machine without rebooting. Or vice versa! The opportunities are nearly limitless.

In fact, I found myself in an interesting situation. I had to create a virtual machine running on Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition (64-bit x86 architecture) that would run a 32-bit version of Windows. As it turns out, VMWare was up to the task.

Why Bother with This?

Well, here's the problem. When I talked to sales and explained that I would want to put in my own graphics board, they told me that would be no problem. And don't get me wrong; the people who helped me put my System x together were great folksm and the box itself absolutely screams-provided you do only what IBM expects you to do...which is evidently nothing involving anything but the most rudimentary graphics. You can't put in a new video card, and even though the onboard graphics that come with the box will support reasonably high resolutions, they are purposely crippled by the IBM-supplied drivers to a maximum resolution of 1024x768 (they say they require this in order to allow remote terminal support, but that's a pretty lousy design "feature").

But this is what really got me: After I got the machine and I asked technical support how to add a new video card, they were completely mystified as to why I would do such a thing. When I explained that I wanted a single machine to serve both as my primary network server and as a really powerful workstation, I was told that I was not using my machine as it was intended! I am not particularly fond of companies telling me how to run my business; as far as I'm concerned, I bought the machine and I ought to be able to use it however best suits my business.

But nattering about it won't make a difference. I'll protest with my checkbook: I will be getting a custom workstation from another vendor with more horsepower for less money, but that's another story for another day. So let's cut to the chase: During my attempts to save the System x from being turned into a very expensive headless server, I found one disturbing issue with WDSC (and as it turns out, probably Eclipse as well, although I haven't done the necessary research on that front).

The problem is that WDSC 7 does not work on 64-bit versions of Windows. I don't know if all 64-bit versions of Windows are affected, but I do know that my standard Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition 64-bit x86 architecture won't even install WDSC 7. The Installation Manager gets a nasty low-level SWT error (SWT is the UI package for Eclipse), and the rest, as they say, is misery. The particularly annoying part of all this is that WDSC 6 works just fine on this machine! It's only WDSC 7 that fails.

And lest you think it's just me and that somehow I corrupted my copy of WDSC- something that I was entirely willing to accept, mind you-I installed the same software on (of all things) my game machine, where it runs quite well, thank you. No, the problem seems to have something to do with Eclipse 3.2 and particularly the fact that the SWT software for Eclipse 3.2 has not been ported to 64-bit Windows, and there is no plan to do so.

So Back to the Show

Setting up a virtual machine is actually very easy. If there's enough interest, I can do another column showing each of the steps in my typical meticulous detail, but for the purposes of this article, let me just point out a few highlights.

Figure 1: This is the VMWare Server Console. (Click images to enlarge.)

You start at the console, as shown in Figure 1. There's actually an initial startup screen that's not shown here; it allows you to run and edit virtual machines you have stored locally or from a host on the network. I always use the local option. The console allows you to do a lot of different things, but the very first thing you'll probably want to do is create a virtual machine. Hit the New Virtual Machine button as shown and you'll get to Figure 2.

Figure 2: This is the initial Wizard screen.

This is a standard wizard, designed to "guide you through the steps of creating a new virtual machine."

Figure 3: Here, you make your first decision--Typical or Custom?

About 99% of what you need is defaulted in the Typical configuration. However, I do want to point out one specific screen that is available in the Custom configuration: the memory allocation screen. Note that this screen is also available after you have created the virtual machine; it's just convenient to do it right away.

Figure 4: You select your operating system here.

There are a number of issues with which operating system you choose to use. For all intents and purposes, Microsoft sees each of these virtual machines as a new install and you need at some point to enter that big old Microsoft key. As an added twist, creating an XP virtual machine causes the Windows XP 60-day activation cycle to kick in. I haven't spent enough time with the tool to quite figure out all of the ramifications. For now, I would be a little uncomfortable shipping out fully configured virtual machines containing Windows operating systems using my keys.

Figure 5: Here, you define the name of your machine.

I have a tendency to avoid long path names because of some really bad experiences with WebSphere and WDSC in early releases. Instead, I like to create root folders on the C: drive for related objects and then store all of them together. In this case, I created a folder called "VM" for Virtual Machines and then put each new virtual machine there. The Location field in the dialog in Figure 5 will trigger VMWare to create a new folder with that name and store all the information for the new server in that folder.

Figure 6: This is the only reason I use the Custom configuration option.

The default for a virtual machine is 256MB. That's just not a whole lot of memory these days, especially for a Java-based application. For WDSC, I like to have at least 1GB. It seems, though, that with WDSC 7-and especially WebSphere Application Server (WAS) Version 6.1-that 1GB may actually be sufficient for most development and testing. This was definitely not always the case when testing Web applications with WAS 6.0.

Figure 7: As long as your card supports multiple IP addresses, this is the way to go.

I have to be honest: I haven't tried any of the other options on this dialog. My NIC cards all support multiple IP addresses, so bridged networking is by far the easiest. Just remember that after setting up your Virtual Machine, you have to go into your network properties and set the LAN address for your machine. You can probably even use DHCP to get your address, but that seems a little shaky to me, since there's a Media Access Control (MAC) address involved, and at that point I start to get confused. VMWare just makes up a MAC address.
But since Windows uses the MAC address as part of its validation scheme, you have to ensure that any machine for that copy of Windows uses the same MAC address. And in fact, the number is generated when the system starts up. The VMWare knowledge base contains an article detailing the way to stop the auto-generation of MAC addresses and to manually assign one instead.

Figure 8: This is a very important dialog, as none of its settings can be maintained.

The Specify Disk Capacity dialog is perhaps the most important of the dialogs in the New Virtual Machine wizard. All of the settings on this page are permanent; they cannot be changed once the virtual machine has been created.

Based on my understanding of the product, I can make recommendations on two of these settings: the size and the "Split disk into 2GB files" option. For installing a full-blown WDSC 7 Advanced Edition environment, you should specify 10GB. Clearly smaller installations, such as Standard Edition or an "RSE only" version geared towars pure green-screen development, will require less space. By splitting disks into multiples of 2GBs apiece, you can copy the entire folder to another drive (without it, you may get strange errors when you attempt to copy the folder).

The one I'm less certain about is the "Allocate all disk space now" setting. I've been advised by people who know the tool much better than I that it's probably a good idea to make sure this box is unchecked; the system will then allocate more of the host disk as the virtual machine's disk requirements grow, on up to the amount specified in the disk size setting. The idea is that you can run tasks that require temporary disk space, which will cause the virtual disk file(s) to grow in size. Once that space is no longer needed, you can "defragment" the virtual disk, which will actually shrink the files down to the lower size.

A good example of this is the WDSC 7 install itself. A typical WDSC 7 install may require two or more gigabytes of temporary storage during the installation process. So it seems to make sense to let the disk space usage expand during the installation process and then defragment the virtual disk after the installation is complete.

Figure 9: This is a list of the files created for the system.

I'm running out of room for pictures here. Figure 9 shows the contents of the virtual machine directory while the system is running. The VMEM file, which represents the virtual machine's RAM, is fully allocated to 1GB, while the VMDK files are each at a very small 320KB. I found that when you use dynamic disk sizing, the files don't actually grow until you "power off" the virtual machine.

This is what you would copy to another machine if you wanted to save a virtual machine. My only concern is what happens to VMWare when one of these folders is deleted. From what I've seen so far, the VMWare console thinks the virtual machine is still available, although I'm sure the console would object strenuously if I tried to start the virtual machine.

At this point, you will be able to power up your virtual machine. The next step is to "install" the operating system into the virtual machine. Usually this works quite easily: Just put the install disk into the CD drive of your machine and then power on the machine. It's kind of freaky; you get the whole startup sequence that you normally see when you turn your machine on. You may even see BIOS startup messages in the virtual machine display; it takes a little getting used to.

But the virtual machine should then attempt to boot off the load disk, and from that point on, it's a standard installation.

Figure 10: Make sure to install the VMWare Tools.

Once you've finally installed your OS and gotten it running, the last VMWare-specific activity is to be sure to install the VMWare Tools. This is a small set of drivers that manage to make the graphics a lot smoother. Once you've done that, your virtual machine is ready for anything you can throw at it.

So How Does WDSC Run?

As it turns out, WDSC 7 runs relatively well. Considering the fact that it's running on an operating system that is in effect being run inside another operating system, it's pretty amazing to me that it works at all. But work it does.

With a couple of caveats.

First, the console is not perfect. It does require some pixels, so the maximum size of your guest operating system desktop by definition needs to be just a bit smaller than the host operating system's desktop. And for whatever reason, I have yet to get full screen to work correctly. Most of the time, it simply reports that full screen is not supported, and the one time I did manage to get it to work (through a chance combination of resolution settings on both the guest and the host), it hung my machine. So I'm not particularly keen on trying that experiment again.

But other than that, the system runs fine. Not particularly fast, mind you, but fine. Let's compare:

System 1 (my recreational PC)
2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1GB of PC2100 DDR RAM, an unremarkable 7200RPM 80GB IBM disk drive. In essence, your standard $500 game machine.

System 2 (my System x)
Dual 3.2GHz Xeon processors with 2MB L2 cache, 2GB of DDR2-400 RAM, three 15000RPM SCSI disk drives hooked up in RAID 5 with an external controller. A $3000+ behemoth.

System Comparison

First Time After Power Up
Subsequent Times

Workspace Prompt Appears
Workspace Loaded
Workspace Prompt Appears
Workspace Loaded
System 1
System 2

Conclusion? In general, the VMWare virtual machine running on the high-priced server machine actually runs WDSC 7 with usable performance. The graphics are a little shaky, there are noticeable hiccups in the screen refreshes, and the performance on scrolling is maybe 10% slower than on the other machine, but in general it's quite acceptable, considering what sort of magic has to be going on under the covers. While I don't think I'd recommend my particular Rube Goldberg setup to anyone, I do think that I may find an excellent use for this concept in running Linux partitions under the server.

Just a side note: With WDSC6 (a demonstrably slower product), the initial prompt comes up on the behemoth in a little over a second, and the workspace then loads in two seconds flat. What I wouldn't give to see WDSC 7 running on that machine. But the artificial limitation of the video adapter makes it no longer worth the hassles. It's time to put the machine to pasture as a headless server, as IBM intended.

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. and has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at

MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
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WDSC: Step by Step WDSC: Step by Step
Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
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Eclipse: Step by Step Eclipse: Step by Step
Quickly get up to speed and productivity using Eclipse.
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    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.