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Optical Containers

January 18, 2017

I’d like to thank Jim Tilbury for this blog article.  Jim is the team lead of the IBM i removable media development team in Rochester, MN.

A common problem many IBM i users have is getting the cumulative group PTF media to their machine in a usable form when using a USB thumb drive.  Many users would first carefully format that USB drive on IBM i, move it to an office PC, then copy the cumulative group from IBM distribution onto the thumb drive.  When the thumb drive was put back into IBM i, the PTFs could not be loaded.

Why?   Because the cumulative group PTF package is a DVD (ISO) image, but with the above process, is a FILE on the thumb drive (not a virtual media).  Until recently, the only way to read the files on that DVD image would be to
  • Burn it to a real DVD.
  • Load it in an image catalog (IMGCLG), either locally IFS backed or on a NFS server.

Now, with 7.2 TR5 and 7.3 TR1 enhancements, you can easily store an optical image catalog on flash or RDX media.

Here are the steps needed to load the cumulative group and directly apply the PTFs to the system from that media:
  1. When you initialize the thumb drive on your IBM i, add TYPE(*CONTAINER) to the INZOPT command.  (This modifier is on the panel via F10.)  The media is formatted with the UDF file system which both Microsoft and Apple support.
  2. Download the cumulative PTF group from IBM fix central to your PC.  They will be ISO images named xxxxx.bin.
  3. Plug that flash drive into your PC and copy the cumulative group PTF to the flash drive.  
  4. When the media is plugged back into IBM i, the *CONTAINER option will cause the system to create a virtual optical device (632B-011), resource OPTVRT03 for example, and automatically load virtual media from the thumb drive just as if it were an image catalog.  If the partition has the QAUTOCFG system value set to 0, you will have to manually create the device description for the virtual device.
  5. You can install the PTFs from the virtual optical device using the standard PTF commands.

Detailed information is available on developerWorks, including the PTFs that are required for this new function:  IBM Removable Media on IBM i > Optical Containers.  From this web page, be sure to check out the links in the left navigation frame for all the details on using optical containers.



You may also want to review and bookmark the IBM Removable Media on i page as it has a lot of additional useful information on tape drives, tape media libraries, virtual tape libraries and optical devices can be attached to the IBM i.


Posted January 18, 2017 | Permalink

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