Minimizing IPL Surprises With The IPL Startup Kit
November 20, 2013 Joe Hertvik
Unlike a Windows server that can be rebooted several times a year, an IBM i machine is so reliable that it can run for a year or more without being IPLed. But infrequent IPLs can cause their own problems, as functions that should be restarted after an IPL may not necessarily actually restart after an IPL. That’s where it comes in handy to have an IPL startup kit available.
Why Create An IPL Startup Kit?
Since an IBM i box can go so long between restarts, your system startup routine may not include all the functions that were added to the system since your last IPL. Your startup program may not be configured to start a new server that was added for a critical function. Or it might be that you added a QFileSvr400 or QNTC file server connection that disappears when your machine restarts. Missing items may not become apparent until your machine is restarted.
To help prevent surprises, here’s an IPL startup kit that you can put together and use before and after your next IPL. The kit can help you look for items that need to be added to your system startup routine. It can also help you find items that should have been restarted during your IPL but weren’t.
Before The IPL
The IPL startup kit contains reference material for ensuring your system starts up correctly. Here are the items I recommend you gather and put in your kit before the next IPL:
1. A copy of the WRKACTJOB screen from when the machine was active. This will allow you to compare whether all the necessary programs, connections, and servers are running properly after an IPL. You can produce a Work with Active Jobs (WRKACTJOB) printout by running this command:
2. A listing of all critical QFileSvr.400 and QNTC entries and where they map to. QFileSvr.400 and QNTC entries map AS/400 Integrated File Server (AS/400 IFS) locations to access remote IBM i, Windows, and other file servers. It isn’t unusual for these connections to disappear after an IPL. Inventory your QFileSvr.400 and QNTC links and document how to recreate them, if necessary. After you take the inventory, check your system startup program as defined in the Startup program (QSTRUPPGM) system value and, if needed, add mapping routines to recreate these connections when the system IPLs.
3. Your current TCP/IP settings. Take a printout of your active TCP/IP interfaces and store that printout in your start-up kit. You can get these settings from the green-screen or from System i Navigator by doing one of the following.
4. The TCP/IP servers that are running on your system. Go into System i Navigator and open the following path for your target system: Network→Servers→TCP/IP. Take a printout of the all the servers on this screen. This will show you which servers are running while the system is active.
Once you have these printouts, you’ll have what you need to ensure your system restarted correctly after an IPL. Be sure to update these printouts once or twice a year.
After The IPL
When your system restarts, bring out the printouts in your IPL startup kit. Perform the following comparisons to the jobs, connections, and servers that are currently running versus what was running before you IPLed.
• Run the WRKACTJOB command and compare the system jobs running post-IPL with the jobs listed in the pre-IPL WRKACTJOB printout, including printers, entries in the QCMN subsystem, and third-party software subsystems. Restart any jobs, connections, or subsystems that aren’t running.
• Check to see that your critical QFILESvr.400 and QNTC connections are running on the IPLed system. Restart them, if needed.
• Check that the TCP/IP interfaces and addresses that were running on the pre-IPL system are running on the system after IPL. Do this by once again running one of the following functions and comparing them against your printouts:
• Check that all TCP/IP servers that were running before the IPL are running after the IPL. Do this by opening the Network→Server→TCP/IP path for your partition and comparing it against the printout you took earlier.
By incorporating these checks into your IPL routine, you can be sure that all the critical functions that were running on the pre-IPL system are now running on the post-IPL system, avoiding any ugly scenarios when something that should be running isn’t running. And when you find a function that didn’t restart after an IPL, correct the problem. Add a startup routine for any missing functions to your system startup program or set up an automated job that periodically checks to see if these functions are running and restarts them if they are down.
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Joe Hertvik is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company that provides written marketing content and presentation services for the computer industry, including white papers, case studies, and other marketing material. Email Joe for a free quote for any upcoming projects. He also runs a data center for two companies outside Chicago. Joe is a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column since 2002.