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Firmware Currency for IBM i

IBM i expert Dawn May explains this simple method of checking your firmware level.

Like PTFs, it is important to keep your server firmware current. The server firmware is responsible for many critical features within the Flexible Service Processor (FSP), PowerVM (hypervisor), and Power Firmware (PFWcode for AIX, VIOS, and Linux partitions). Nobody wants firmware problems as they could potentially impact all partitions on a system.
 
IBM provided the Display Firmware Status (DSPFMWSTS) command starting with the 6.1 release as an easy, IBM i-centric way to review firmware levels installed on the system. It used to be a bit difficult to determine if a newer firmware version was available, and I’ve seen far too many systems with very old firmware levels, which exposes you to problems IBM has already fixed.
 
With IBM i 7.4 and IBM i 7.3 SF99703 Level 15, IBM has made it easy to determine if newer firmware should be installed. Similar to the Group PTF Currency service, there’s now a Firmware Currency service.
 
It’s extremely easy to use:
 
SELECT * FROM SYSTOOLS.FIRMWARE_CURRENCY

If your firmware level isn’t at the most recent level, the results will tell you the recommended level, as well as an indication of whether the recommended level is an update (generally non-disruptive, but there may be deferred fixes) or an upgrade (upgrades to a new version and is disruptive). 

Similar to Group PTF Currency, your system needs internet access for this service to work. Firmware Currency connects to the IBM Fix Level Recommendation Tool (FLRT) to gather information about the latest firmware available for your system based upon the machine type and model. It uses the DSPFMWSTS command under the covers to determine the current level installed.

You can manually use the FLRT web site to generate a report on recommended fixes for both the firmware and HMC. How you install the firmware depends on how the partition is managed. If the partition is managed by an HMC, you install the server firmware through the HMC. If the partition isn’t managed by an HMC, you install firmware with an MHxxxxx PTF, which requires an IPL to activate. It should go without saying that good backup procedures need to be part of your fix management process.

There’s much more to learn about server firmware. Posts to the PowerVM blog on Firmware Best Practices to Minimize Downtime and PowerVM Firmware Maintenance Overview are good references. 

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