Db2 For IBM i 7.3 Hits A Bad Patch
December 2, 2019 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As you know, we are among the people in the IBM i community who are always telling you to keep current on your PTF patches for the best operating system available on Power Systems. (No, we are not talking about AIX or Linux.) But every now and again, as happens with all operating systems, something gets fixed and the fix is worse than the problem it was solving.
That has apparently happened with the database patches for the Db2 for i relational database management system embedded in the IBM i 7.3 release once the Db2 Group patches from November 13 are applied.
We just found out about this as the Thanksgiving Holiday was starting and have not had a chance to get comment from Big Blue as yet, but Doug Bidwell, president of IBM i reseller DLB Associates in southern California, found the issue the hard way by keeping one of his IBM i 7.3 customers current on patches. To be precise, Bidwell was installing IBM i 7.3 DB2 for IBM i Group SF99703, Level 16, dated November 13, on a Power9 machine and it made the machine crash. Bidwell’s understanding is critical PTFs for the database were not included in Level 16, and the resulting issue is that both the A and B side of the software update (a sort of before and after the patch setup) will lock up. This will require what is called a “SLIP install” to repair, which is a big pain in the neck. If you are unfamiliar with the SLIP install process, you can read about it here and you can also count yourself lucky.
Let’s explain a bit. So a SLIP install allows you to replace the Licensed Internal Code at the heart of the operating system – what people in other operating systems might call the kernel – independent of the surrounding operating system, or to change the operating system independent of the Licensed Internal Code. In this case, it is the operating system that is somehow corrupted, not the LIC, and in this case it is the database group that is corrupted and it locking up the operating system. This is a weird one in that the A side – the part of the operating system that has PTFs permanently applied – and the B side – the part of the operating system that has the PTFs temporarily applied and therefore you can go back to where you were before the PTFs were applied – were both corrupted. So at that point, all you can do is SLIP the operating system and reapply known good PTFs to the system. Depending on the size of the system, this could take a few hours. The issue will be finding someone who knows what to do, and who doesn’t crack up when they are told to SLIP the LIC. (Well, technically they are not SLIPing the LIC but SLIPing the OS, but the joke is too good.)
Bidwell says to install SF99703 Level 17, made available on November 25, which was issued to fix this issue. If you are not able to do that, contact IBM for assistance.
One other thing the DB2 group PTF SF99703, Level 16 was included with Cume orders, and the SF99731 Group (all the groups except the cume).
By the way, the planned schedule for updating of the SF99703 group of PTFs is every four months, so that the fact that it was updated twice in two weeks is significant. As far as we know, there is no issue with the database patches for either IBM i 7.2 or IBM i 7.4, but we will keep an eye out. We will keep you updated if conditions change.