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The Primrose Path of AS/400 IFS Names

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“Whilst like a puffed and reckless libertine Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads And recks not his own rede.” (Hamlet, I, iii)

 

If you like to name things, the AS/400 Integrated File System (AS/400 IFS) is a treat. Can you correctly type a PC or UNIX-style long path name on the command line again and again? If so, congratulations! File names bedevil me. Since the first release of OS/400 in Version 1, I’ve been struggling with the proper name order for even the simplest of qualified names in CL commands. Is it library-slash-object or object-slash-library? I’m grateful that OS/400 prevents me from creating user libraries within user libraries; otherwise, I might still be debugging legacy code of library-slash-library-slash-object names. So when IBM introduced the AS/400 IFS with long path names in Version 3 five years ago, I thought, “I won’t be using any of this stuff.”

 

Simplicity vanished. Today, all my projects deal with the AS/400 IFS. From importing electronic data interchange (EDI) X.12 transaction sets across local Sockets objects to exporting Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) formatted email and HTML Web pages, my AS/400 IFS has become a crucial warehouse for my business data. Now I must remember the new rules and puzzling quirks of PC and UNIX-style path names. Yet, amazingly, the new rules yield some elegant patterns and concepts. Here are some patterns that help me navigate the maze of new rules.

 

 

New Object Type

 

 

If you have ever faced a DOS command line, then you know the persnickety nature of path names. A path name tells the system how to locate an object through a sequence of directory and object names. Forward slashes (/) or backward slashes () separate names in this path. On the AS/400, a path name indicates a route into the AS/400 IFS. The AS/400 IFS provides a hierarchical structure where you can organize objects like fruit on different branches of a tree. A path name into the AS/400 IFS specifies the subbranches that lead to a particular “fruit.” By the way, the AS/400 IFS is like a genetically mutated tree because a single fruit may hang from multiple branches.

 

V3R1 added a new object type that lets you assemble an AS/400 IFS “fruit tree”: the directory object of type *DIR. A directory object is a special object that contains lists of

 


 

other objects, including other directories. Directories within directories are called subdirectories. The highest directory in the AS/400 IFS fruit tree is the root (/) directory.

 

A link is AS/400 IFS parlance for a named connection between a directory and an object. An object is linked to a directory when you first create the object. You can subsequently link an object into multiple directories with the Add Link (ADDLNK) command. The linkage services provided by a directory object are different from the linkage services provided by a library object of type *LIB—although a library masquerades as a directory in the AS/400 IFS fruit tree. Object names in a library are observable through unblocked Machine Interface (MI) instructions, but object names in a directory are only observable through blocked MI database instructions. The object names in a directory are in the two-byte UCS2 level 1 format, also known as Unicode. High-level directory APIs can translate between the internal Unicode representation of an object name and the external code page used by an API caller.

 

The AS/400 IFS can contain many different types of objects such as Java class files, image files such as JPGs and GIFs, and even video and sound files. In fact, the AS/400 IFS can store pretty much any type of object you’d normally only associate with the PC world.

 

 

Current vs. Home

 

 

Each job on the AS/400 has a current directory attribute. The system searches the current directory when a job requests an operation on an object, unless the job specifies a different directory path. A job can retrieve its current directory path with the Display Current Directory (DSPCURDIR) command if the call stack entry requesting DSPCURDIR has read (*R) and execute (*X) data authority to every subdirectory in the path. It needs this level of authority because the Change Current Directory (CHGCURDIR) command requires only the execute (*X) data authority to every subdirectory in the path; therefore, a job may change its current directory to a certain path and then be unable to display that path.

 

Each user profile specifies a home directory. A home directory becomes the current directory when a job starts running under a user profile. If the home directory does not exist, the system changes the current directory to the root (/) directory. A user’s home directory is not automatically created with CRTUSRPRF HOMEDIR(*USRPRF). Rather, a system administrator uses the Create Directory (CRTDIR) command to create a subdirectory in the /home subdirectory of the root (/) directory after a new user profile is created. For example, my user profile name is Gaunt, and my home directory is /home/Gaunt.

 

 

Absolute vs. Relative

 

 

There are two types of path names: absolute and relative. An absolute path name begins at the highest level with the root (/) directory. A relative path name begins at a job’s current directory. An absolute path name begins with a slash character; a relative path name does not. A tilde (~) character followed by a slash at the beginning of a path name indicates the path begins at the home directory of the user entering the command. For example, look at the following commands. If my job’s current directory is /home/Gaunt, then the following will give me identical results.

 

EDTF STMF(‘/home/Gaunt/Welcome.html’) /*absolute*/
EDTF STMF(‘Welcome.html’)
/*relative*/

 

EDTF STMF(‘~/Welcome.html’)
/*relative*/

 

 

Objects in QSYS

 

 


 

The QSYS.LIB file system appears in the AS/400 IFS as a subdirectory below the root (/) directory. Each component of a QSYS.LIB path name contains the object name, followed by a period (.), followed by the object type of the object. The object type suffixes are required because the same object name can appear multiple times in a library with different types. Remember to specify the opening slash (/) before QSYS.LIB in order to create an absolute path name. Without the opening slash, the system will treat the path name like a relative path name and try to look for a subdirectory named QSYS.LIB in your current directory. In the following example, I have a file named BILL, which has a member named AUG, which is stored in the library named PROFIT:

 

EDTF STMF(‘/QSYS.LIB/PROFIT.LIB/BILL.FILE/ +
AUG.MBR’)

 

 

Simple vs. Long

 

 

There are two path name styles in APIs: simple and long. An API uses one or the other but not both. The simple path name style is a pointer to a null-terminated string containing the path name. The long path name style is a pointer to a structure containing seven pieces of information. Figure 1 shows the layout of the long path name structure. The reference manual OS/400 UNIX-Type APIs V4R4 refers to the long path name style with the structure name Qlg_Path_Name_T. Inside the structure, you can specify a coded character set, a country ID, a language ID, a path name length, a path delimiter character, a path type indicator, and a path name subfield.

 

 

Hard Links

 

 

There are two types of links: hard and soft. A hard link is born when you create an object in a directory. After the hard link is created, you can create secondary hard links between the object and other directories with the ADDLNK command. This capability allows multiple directories to share an object. The Remove Link (RMVLNK) command removes a hard link. After the last hard link is removed between a directory and an object, the object is physically deleted.

 

A hard link can create an alias path name. I like this feature a lot. The ADDLNK command in the following example creates a hard link named A in my home directory. The A links my home directory to a file named X12.txt in the /exports/daily subdirectory. After this ADDLNK command executes once, the following two EDTF commands give me identical results. Obviously the second EDTF command is easier for me to type!

 

ADDLNK OBJ(‘/exports/daily/X12.txt’) +

 

NEWLNK(‘/home/Gaunt/A’) +

 

LNKTYPE(*HARD)

 

EDTF STMF(‘/exports/daily/X12.txt’) /*absolute*/
EDTF STMF(A)
/*relative + hard link*/

 

 

Soft Links

 

 

A soft link is a physical object of type *SYMLNK. A soft link is a little stream file that contains a component of a path name. You can create a soft link by specifying the LNKTYPE(*SYMBOLIC) parameter in the ADDLNK command. When the system encounters a soft link in a path name, the system follows the path name in the soft link and then continues on any remaining path that follows the soft link. If the path name in the soft link begins with a slash, the system returns to the root (/) directory and begins following the path from that point. The objects named in the soft link do not have to exist when the soft link is created. Thus, a soft link provides a path name that you can later add to or replace.

 


 

Soft links are useful in HTML anchor tags in a dynamic Web environment. Instead of coding an absolute URL hyperlink in an anchor tag, you can just code a soft link name, followed by a slash, followed by an HTML file name, and then later use ADDLNK to create a soft link to the real subdirectory containing the HTML file. Suppose you code the following HTML anchor tag in a file:

 

Next Page (/Parent/Page2.html)

 

Suppose that subdirectory /Testing actually contains the hard link to the Page2.html file. You could create a *SYMLNK object named Parent in the root (/) directory containing a soft link to the /Testing subdirectory with the following command:

 

ADDLNK OBJ(‘/Testing’) NEWLNK(‘/Parent’) +
LNKTYPE(*SYMBOLIC)

 

Later, if you execute the following two commands to port Page2.html to a subdirectory named Live, your anchor tag will continue to work OK:

 

RMVLNK OBJLNK(‘/Parent’)
ADDLNK OBJ(‘/Live’) NEWLNK(‘/Parent’) LNKTYPE(*SYMBOLIC)

 

The point here is that you do not have to edit or change the URL in the anchor tag if you use soft links.

 

 

Green-screen Explorer

 

 

The new Process a Path Name (Qp0lProcessSubtree) API from V4R3 uses the long path name style. This API searches the AS/400 IFS directory tree under a specific path name. The API caller passes a pointer to a user exit procedure; the API invokes the user exit procedure for each object in the AS/400 IFS directory tree under the specified path name, passing in the object name as a parameter in two-byte Unicode format. When the user exit procedure receives control, it can build lists or tables. It is this API that drives an EXPLORE utility I have created for this article.

 

One of the things I like about Windows is the Explorer. Windows Explorer lets me descend through a nest of folders to a file, click the file icon, and auto-fill the absolute path name of the file into some entry field. No typing is necessary. To mimic this behavior, I created a green-screen EXPLORE utility to interface with OS/400 commands on an AS/400 command line. You can download the code for EXPLORE from www.midrangecomputing.com/mc. There are three source member components you will need to compile: command EXPLORE, display file EXP001D, and ILE RPG program EXP001R.

 

Type EXPLORE on an AS/400 command line and press the Enter key. Figure 2 shows a screen shot of the first screen on my home system when I run EXPLORE. This is the list the objects in my root (/) directory. EXPLORE calls this level 1. The left column lists the object names. The right column lists object types. “More...” or “Bottom” in the lower right-hand corner indicates whether the roll keys will page forward and backward through more objects in the directory.

 

Position the cursor on an object name of type *DIR, press the Enter key, and EXPLORE will drill down to the next level, displaying all objects in your selected subdirectory, provided you have read (*R) data authority to the directory. The Level count at the bottom of the screen will increment by one. You can drill down to 99 levels. EXPLORE uses a recursive RPG IV subprocedure to drill down through AS/400 IFS subdirectories.

 

You can interface EXPLORE with OS/400 commands in the following way. Drill down through a nest of subdirectories, position the cursor on the name of an object, and

 


 

press the F9 key. EXPLORE will display the absolute path name of that object on message line 24 and also write the absolute path name to the job log as a request (*RQS) message and mark that message as old. Exit the EXPLORE utility, press the F9 key on a standard OS/400 command line, and you’ll see the absolute path name. Then use the Insert and Delete keys to work this absolute path name into a parameter for another command called from the command line. You could also write a little bit of CL code to automatically retrieve that message from the job log and pass it as a command string to some other program. This program source will also give you a good start on using these APIs and in developing your own code.

 

 

Path Names Made Simple

 

 

With more and more UNIX-type systems being ported to the AS/400, I’ll probably use the EXPLORE utility F9 key more often. No more typing an audaciously long path name on a command line for me!

 

 

REFERENCES AND RELATED MATERIALS

 

 

• OS/400 UNIX-Type APIs V4R4 (SC41-5875-03, CD-ROM QB3AM403)

 

Position Type Field

 

1 - 4 BINARY(4) coded character set ID of the path name

 

0 = use the current job default CCSID 5 -6 CHAR(2) country ID for the path name

 

X’0000’ = use the current job country ID 7 -9 CHAR(3) language ID for the path name

 

X’000000’ = use the current job language ID 10 - 12 CHAR(3) reserved (binary zeros)
13 - 16 BINARY(4) path type indicator

 

0 = character string (use single delimiter character) 1 = pointer (use single delimiter character) 2 = character string (use double delimiter character) 3 = pointer (use double delimeter character) 17 - 20 BINARY(4) length of path name
21 - 22 CHAR(2) path name delimiter character
23 - 32 CHAR(10) reserved (binary zeros)
33 - CHAR(*) path name (character string or pointer)

 

Figure 1: A long path name style uses a pointer to the Qlg_Path_Name_T structure.

 


 

 

The_Primrose_Path_of_AS-_400_IFS_Names06-00.png 405x305

 

 

Figure 2: The EXPLORE utility displays the root (/) directory first.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    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.