IBM Creates a New Security PTF Group for i Operating Systems
August 4, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Our intrepid PTF watcher, Doug Bidwell of Power Systems reseller and systems integrator DLB Associates, says that starting with last week’s batch of PTF patches for the latest releases of the i operating system, Big Blue has done something that it probably should have done a long time ago. It has created a Security Group PTF set of patches, which roll security patches all together in one place for a specific OS/400, i5/OS, or i release.
Bidwell says that the advent of the security group patches is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, instead of dodging the security issues that all operating systems face–particularly those that use open protocols, as i5/OS and i certainly do–and burying security patches inside other PTFs in other groups (as IBM has done for years), Big Blue is now putting a set of security patches out as a separate set.
Doing this may offend the sensibilities of some–mainly marketeers who don’t know the first thing about how computers really work–who want to claim that OS/400, i5/OS, and i do not have security issues, but it is honest and that deserves some praise. Second, now i5/OS and i shops who rightly want to keep on top of security holes and patch them can do so through applying a set of patches. In the past, they had to comb through all the PTF groups, trying to find things that looked like security holes being plugged. No one–and I mean no one–likes applying patches to any operating system in a working machine unless they really feel they have to, and no one likes to guess to be on the safe side because on a complex system, applying a patch can really screw up a running machine. (Arguably, this is more of a problem with the world’s “favorite” desktop operating system, Windows, than it is for i5/OS and i.)
Of course, now we have a situation where customers have to trust that IBM puts all security-related patches into this Group PTF. Hopefully, IBM will not keep spreading these PTFs around, but it will always be subject to interpretation as to where a PTF should be classified in the various groupings.
Anyway, i 6.1’s Security Group PTF is SF99608, i5/OS V5R4’s is SF99538, and OS/400 V5R3’s is SF99528.
You can, as always, keep up to speed on PTF updates through the System i PTF Guide, which is created by Bidwell and distributed on IT Jungle’s Web site in our Four Hundred Guru newsletter. Links to the latest PTF Guides are listed below.
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