Admin Alert: Setting the Record Straight on iSeries Access and ODBC Freeware
September 27, 2006 Joe Hertvik
In a weekly column, important points can easily get muddied in the writing, which sometimes leads to incorrect information. This week, I am going to correct some previous mistakes I made while writing about IBM‘s iSeries Access for Windows product and about an ODBC freeware product. Mistakes can become opportunities when they help you question conventional wisdom, and a mistake can also highlight a better way of doing things.
So please join me while I eat some crow washed down by a nice bottle of Chianti and some fava beans, as I tell you where I went wrong and what I learned about iSeries Access for Windows installation issues; installing iSeries Access from a Windows network drive; and how to do some cool things that I didn’t suspect you could do with ODBC freeware.
Mistake 1: You can’t install both iSeries Access for Windows and Client Access Express from the same partition
In my column on Four iSeries Access Tips for Windows Professionals, I mistakenly said that you could install two different iSeries Access/Client Access products from the following AS/400 Integrated File System (AS/400 IFS) folders on an i5/OS machine:
Thanks to reader Mike Krebs for alerting me to this mistake. Since accuracy is important in a correction, here’s the investigative trail that I took to prove why you can’t install Client Access Express from the latest versions of the i5/OS AS/400 IFS.
Although the idea that you can install either iSeries Access or Client Access from the AS/400 IFS seem to be widely regarded as true in the i5 world, it turns out that IBM modified its iSeries Access directory structure sometime between i5/OS V5R1 and V5R2. There isn’t much Internet documentation on this change but I did find IBM Software Technical Document 26031547, which contains the following note:
Note: This directory [referring to the /QIBM/ProdData/Access/Windows/Install/Image folder] is a symbolic link to QIBM/ProdData/CA400/Express/Instal/Image. There is one physical directory–either of these paths will access the directory.
Document 26031547 also said that when an administrator applies an iSeries Access for Windows Service Pack, the Express installation image directory is updated. So these statements seemed to constitute proof that you cannot load the old Client Access Express for Windows from a later model i5 machine. But the note contained only a throw-away reference to this situation and, given the scant documentation (I couldn’t find any other IBM references to this change on the Internet), I started looking for more proof that this was true.
I next opened both the Client Access Express and iSeries Access IFS /install/image directories in a Windows Explorer panel, and I sorted their files by date in descending order. By a quick eye-scan, I saw that most of the .CAB and .HDR files seemed to be the same size and have the exact same creation dates. This same situation also existed on a second i5/OS V5R3 partition that I examined. I next tried using the SETUP.EXE program from the /QIBM/ProdData/CA400/Express/Install/Image folder and I was presented with an iSeries Access for Windows V5R3 installation panel.
So given this evidence (IBM’s obscure note, the creation dates on the same files in both IFS folders, the results of my own testing, and outside confirmation from Mike Krebs), everything confirms that IBM is no longer providing Client Access Express for Windows with the latest versions of the i5/OS operating system. IBM probably did this because the company wanted all its users running the latest software versions and didn’t want to encourage loading old software on new PCs, even accidentally. But this move also caught me and other Internet writers off guard (I’ve seen this mistake reported in other places, as well).
So feel free to do your own confirmation on this, but it appears that we no longer need to worry about downloading the correct iSeries Access product on user PCs when installing or upgrading the product from the IFS. IBM has this covered. Again, thanks to Mike for pointing this out.
Mistake 2: Yes, you can install iSeries Access from a network drive. . . and you can apply service packs, too
Also in my column on Four iSeries Access Tips for Windows Professionals, I made the statement that whenever possible, you should install or upgrade your iSeries Access for Windows desktops from your i5/OS or OS/400 machine, rather than from a CD or a network drive. I went on to caution against installing from a CD or network drive because “To upgrade products, service packs must be downloaded from the Service Pack History Web site and posted to each [client] machine.”
Reader David Strum provided the correction on this one by reminding me that administrators can install iSeries Access with integrated service packs from a network drive. Furthermore, he said that this is the preferred installation technique for many shops, because not everyone wants their employees to be able to access the iSeries.
On this one, David is absolutely right. Installing iSeries Access from a Windows network drive is a time-honored traditional in i5/OS and OS/400 shops, dating back to prehistoric times when primitive Windows NT servers first walked the CAT 4 cabled landscape. IBM provides instructions for installing iSeries Access for Windows from a Windows network drive in the iSeries Information Center. You can also apply service packs to a network drive installation.
In addition to just being able to install a standard image to the network, you can also install a tailored image of the iSeries Access for Windows installation software that only contains the components that you want your users to install. A tailored image install can come in very handy when you are having users perform their own upgrades and you want to control what they can install or if you are handing iSeries Access installation off to another department who may or may not remember to install the software exactly the way you want it. The downside to creating a tailored installation is that the installation images are not updated when you apply PTFs to your i5 or iSeries server. IBM says that you must either recreate the installation image to get service pack upgrades or you can combine the service pack directly with an existing tailored image. The iSeries Access group provides links to performing these functions on the tailored installation image Web page
One last note on finding iSeries Access for Windows documentation. While IBM offers a nice iSeries Access for Windows–Setup manual (SC41-5507-03), I generally find that it’s more worthwhile to use the Connecting to iSeries section of the iSeries Information Center, since it contains more information and the information is easier to access.
Mistake 3: ODBC Freeware covers more than just ODBC jobs
In my column on SQL0901 Package Errors, I mentioned how you can use Bryan Dietz’ WRKODBCJOB freeware product to discover the servicing user ID and IP address of any QZDASOINIT job on your system. According to Bryan, WRKODBCJOB’s default settings limit the product to showing you the server jobs for any ODBC, OLE DB, JDBC, .NET, and other remote jobs that are connecting to your system. If you prompt the WRKODBCJOB command, you can also filter or expand this information for all jobs (*ALL), a specific job name, a generic job name, a specific or generic user ID, or all user IDs.
So what this means is that you can use this free utility to find the servicing user and IP address for any server or system job, including third party packages. WRKODBCJOB is not limited to displaying information about QZDASOINIT jobs; you can use it to retrieve user and IP information for a large number of jobs, including finding the IP address of a specific TELNET session that a user is signing on from. All you have to do is use the built-in prompts.
The other thing I missed when discussing WRKODBCJOB is that Bryan Dietz’ first name is spelled with a Y rather than an I, as we printed in our article. My apologies go out to Bryan for that mistake.
A Clean Plate
Well, I’ve had my fill of crow for this week. But keep those emails coming in so that you can keep me honest in this column. While I don’t enjoy making mistakes, I enjoy the back and forth with other administrators and the opportunities for learning they provide. You are my fact checkers, so please keep watching and keep writing.