Weaving WebSphere: Installing WebSphere Express 6.1

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Although IBM does a much better job these days of providing documentation for installing WebSphere, it's still nice to see someone else doing it, and in the spirit of Weaving WebSphere, that's just what we're going to do today. I'll be installing WebSphere Express 6.1 from scratch, and you'll get the benefit of my mistakes!

Starting Out

Let's be clear. IBM documentation for installing WebSphere is light years better than it used to be. I will be using the online documentation from the InfoCenter, located here. For sake of brevity, I'll skip through some steps, but I suggest you follow each of the steps in order, especially the planning steps. It's a real pain to be halfway through an install only to find that you have to either download 4GB of fixes or else order them.

Also make sure you have allocated the time necessary. The order of steps is important, so time allocation is critical. For example, IBM recommends that you install the latest cumulative PTF package prior to installing WebSphere. Next, install WebSphere itself. Finally, install the WebSphere group PTFs. The steps must be executed in this sequence in order for all of the latest component to be installed. That of course leads you into the sticky area of whether you need to load the database and Hipers group PTFs before you load the cumulative PTF package, but I'll leave that to better minds than mine.

One thing I can tell you is that, when it comes to installing i5/OS software, you can't beat the image catalog concept. I'd like to put together a TechTip showing the steps for installing from an image catalog. I took notes during this process today.


I'm going to condense this part quite a bit. Basically, make sure you downloaded or ordered all of your cumulative and group PTFs. Remember to include the WebSphere group, which should in turn include a lot of others. You want to end up with at the minimum the Hipers (high priority PTFs), database, Java, HTTP, and WebSphere, along with whatever else you feel you need.

Next, you have to install the cumulative PTFs. Depending on how you follow procedure, that may also include installing the Hipers and database PTFs. Evidently, there are sometimes cross-dependencies that can actually trash your machine if you're not careful. To be honest, I wasn't careful in this instance, and I loaded only the cumulative PTFs, but so far my machine has not crashed. I'll be loading everything else later.

OK, on to the fun.

Installing WebSphere

WebSphere Express V6.1 comes with lots of discs. Of those, you need exactly one to install WebSphere. That is the disk marked "WebSphere Application Server - Express V6.1 for i5/OS." Ignore all the others, which are supplemental code for other operating systems and who knows what else. The install disk above should be all you need for this part of the process. And remember, this article is an addendum to, not a replacement for, the IBM documentation I mentioned earlier. You should be using that to guide you, so, for example, you should have ensured that TCP/IP is enabled and your host servers are started prior to the next steps.

Note that there are three ways to install WebSphere. You can install it using command line options on the System i, or you can use command line options on a Windows machine, or you can use the GUI installer. I am going to use the GUI installer, even though IBM warns that it may take longer. I'm comfortable with the somewhat slower automatic technique as opposed to the manual approaches, which both require me to edit a "response file" to make the installation run. I would guess that these manual procedures are more suited to environments where you need to install multiple machines, since you can edit the file until you get it right and then simply re-run it over and over from a batch file. Me, I'm OK with getting prompted.

So stick the WebSphere installation disk it into the CD drive of your workstation and then navigate to it. You'll see something like this:

Figure 1: This is the directory for the installation disk. (Click images to enlarge).

Double-click on the launchpad.exe icon, and you'll see the WebSphere Application Server - Express installer.

Figure 2: The installer has quite a few options; you will click on the installation wizard for Express.

Click on the option marked "Launch the installation wizard for WebSphere Application Server - Express" and you'll see a brief pop-up telling you the program is being loaded. (Please note that it can take a minute or so for the pop-up to first come up, during which time you don't get any status messages or anything. Be patient.) The pop-up will tell you it's initializing the wizard, and then eventually you'll see an installation prompt asking for your machine name as well as a user ID and password.

Figure 3: This is the initial connection dialog.

Once the screen in Figure 3 appears, type in the appropriate information and hit OK. I will be using QSECOFR for my installation, although my guess is you could use another profile as long as it has sufficient administrative authority. To be entirely accurate, I had a couple of problems getting the name recognized, and I actually ended up using an IP address rather than a name, as shown in the figure. You'll have to hit the Next button a couple of times and accept the license agreements, and then the installer will perform a diagnostic check. Be sure you have your host servers running (use the command STRHOSTSVR *ALL); this is spelled out in the installation procedures.

Figure 4: If your system is properly configured, you'll see this verification panel.

Figure 4 shows the dialog that will appear if your System i has the appropriate prerequisite software installed. Mine did, so I started walking through the screens.

Figure 5: Here, you can update the installation directory! Hooray!

My single favorite feature is shown in Figure 5. If you've worked with WebSphere over the years, one of the primary complaints has been the complex and cumbersome directory structure that it was installed under. With this release, you can easily set up your own folders, which I did. I created a folder called WAS61, and then created folders ProdData and UserData underneath. The server software is installed in ProdData, and the configuration files and actual application software end up in UserData. The short, meaningful naming path will make it very easy for me to administer WebSphere, and for this simple change I give IBM huge kudos.

Figure 6: Configure security and install the sample application.

I had an issue with this panel. I had hoped to not have to secure the application, because it makes life a little more tedious in that you can't use the standard HTTP administration functions that you access via port 2001 on the System i; instead, you have to use something called the "Integrated Solutions Console," which has a lot more functionality but is a little more confusing, especially to a newcomer.

However, I got a little confused because, when I unchecked the "Enable administrative security" checkbox, it grayed out the user name and password information not only for the administrative ID, but also for the sample applications. I was worried that not enabling security might thus disable the samples, but now that I think about it, it probably would just have disabled security for the applications.
The point is that, if you're installing a development server for which security is not an issue, you might want to uncheck the security checkbox. It will make administration a little faster and easier.

After the installation, I started up the console in order to manage the application (since I can't manage it with the traditional HTTP administration interface on port 2001). So far, to my untrained eye, the integrated solutions console requires a lot more resources, and because of that, it's slower. The console also provides very little in the way of status messages, so it can be a bit frustrating. It probably works a lot better on a larger machine, but on a small System I, the response time is awful.

Figure 7: And here is your "Are you sure" notice. Review the options carefully.

Figure 7 shows one of the reasons I like an installation GUI, even if it does take a little longer. The next-to-last step is to review all of the choices you've made. Note that if you can't see everything because the default size of the dialog is too small, you can resize it like any other window, provided you have the room on your screen.

And Now We Wait

This is the part that can really take a while. To be honest, I went and took my little guy to the pool while this was going on, and by the time we got back, it was done, so all I can tell you for sure is that it took less than the 120 minutes IBM threatens you with in the documentation. You'll see a screen like the one in Figure 8.

Figure 8: This is the ongoing status screen.

This process will go through a bunch of phases, starting with creating the uninstaller and continuing with initializing and installing components. The progress bar will creep along bit by bit, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly.

And Finally, Verification

The last step is to verify your application server. This also takes a while, and once again, the interim status messages leave something to be desired. But the verification process does work if you give it time, and it's nice to know everything is in place before you start trying to debug your own applications.

Figure 9: Next, you run the installation verification script.

Running the installation verification is straightforward. After the installation process is complete, a new browser window will appear entitled "WebSphere Application Server - First Steps" as shown in Figure 9. The first option on that panel is Installation Verification. Simply click on that option, and another browser panel will display.

Figure 10: These are two stages of the installation verification process: running and done.

As I said, a new browser will appear like the one in Figure 10. It will tell you that it is performing the install verification test and will instruct you to wait. You'll then have an opportunity to take a nap, visit with loved ones, catch up on your reading, and so on. There will be no messages whatsoever for some time (I think my test took about 30 minutes) while the installation verification continues. Only after the entire process is complete will you see the messages above.

Among the things to be careful about: Be sure you can ping the name LOOPBACK. Simply go to a command line and type in PING LOOPBACK and be sure you get a good response. Because I failed to configure my TCP/IP properly, this didn't work, so my first hour or so of verification was wasted. After I fixed the configuration issues and reran the verification, I got the screens you see above.

You can keep track of the process by watching the log files. In my case, they're located in WAS61UserDataprofilesdefaultlogsserver1, so I can just wander in there and look at the logs to see what is going on. But you can also just be patient; the verification takes a long time but it's pretty self-sufficient.

Last Words

Well, my biggest problem is that I've been unable to actually run the applications with any degree of consistency. I'm going to uninstall the application server entirely and install a new server from scratch without administrative security, because I don't want to deal with the length of time required for waiting for the integrated console. The good news is that I'll be very comfortable with the installation process.

(Author's Note: I went back and uninstalled the product and reinstalled it without administrative security. Evidently, Murphy was not watching because everything I assumed was true, and it has indeed been easier to configure and work with the product and get not only the sample applications running but also my own applications as well. Administrative tasks are, however, still painfully slow with my machine. More on that another day.)

I dug my way through the configuration files—which were easy to find thanks to the simplified directory structure that this installation process allows—and determined how to start the sample application. The application came up once and then hung when I tried to refresh it, but since I'm still waiting on the console, I'm not certain that the console isn't tying everything up. The paging on my machine is simply through the roof, so I'm going to hold judgment until I get a cleaner setup in place. That of course leaves you a little bit in the lurch as to how to install your system, but at this writing, I'm going to tell people to configure their installations without administrative security, because the pain level is so high.

I should point out that in my logs (also easy to find thanks to the new directory structure), I'm seeing a lot of Illegal State Exceptions, which means that the sessions are hanging. I'm seeing a lot of timeouts, and I also see that my heap (the temporary memory used by Java) is getting too large. All of these combine to let me know that I'm doing something a bit naughty, and I suspect that a lot of this has to do with memory issues. I'm willing to upgrade my little 270 to 2GB, although it's rather expensive to do so, but that's all I should have to do to get acceptable performance—that and install the application without the administrative security.

Also note that the problems I had may be related to PTFs. Since the installation process recommends installing PTFs after installing WebSphere, some of the issues may have gone away after I installed the group PTFs, but since I don't have the luxury of trial and error when it comes to PTF installs, I'm just going to uninstall the server and reinstall. I'm not in the business of reviewing the administration console, anyway.

I will say this: If IBM is serious about the SMB market, then they absolutely need to have a program in place where they test these products on their low-end machines. Mom-and-pop shops don't care how well the application runs on a Model 595; they want to know how it runs on an entry-level 515. Otherwise, they're going to be forced to move WebSphere onto cheaper Wintel hardware, which then becomes the foot in the door to ease the System i out completely.

Of course, I'd be happy to do it for them... and my rates are reasonable!

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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    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.



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave 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.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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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.