IBM i began supporting USB flash drives back in 2012, but their use was restricted to save/restore and IFS options (refer to the blog IBM i Now Supports USB Flash Drives for additional background information). Many users downloaded the IBM Fix (PTF) DVD images, copied them to a flash drive, and then discovered they could not access the fixes because the entire DVD image was “just a file”.
With IBM i 7.2 TR5 and 7.3 TR1, IBM introduced “Optical Containers.” This allowed me to see the DVD image as a separate file system (in a OPTVRT device)… that was cool, and I already could do a SAVSYS to a flash and on some machines IPL from it. But I couldn’t create a *CONTAINER volume that was IPL capable.
With the new 7.2 TR7 and 7.3 TR3, I now can create a flash drive that will IPL the machine, and complete the XPF install from the same media without having to do a SAVSYS to create the media myself.
- First, I need to verify my machine can IPL from USB and my flash drive works on i. The announcement says the flash drive should be USB 3.0 (no problem) and shouldn’t be bigger than 100GB. I chose a 16GB device that can hold about three DVDs and plugged it into the system. It shows up, and that should be enough to tell me it works.
To IPL from it, I need a POWER8 system with an HMC. Why not POWER 7? It seems that it should work but the integrated USB is USB 2.0 and so slow that IBM doesn’t think that is an interesting case.
- I have two choices for creating the media: I can download the I_BASE_01.USB image, and maybe two XPF DVD images and the Cumulative Group to my partition, or I can download the I_BASE_01.IMG (new) and the DVD images to my PC.
- On the IBM i, I can create the bootable flash by loading my I_BASE_01.USB in an IMGCLG, and then doing a DUPOPT FROMVOL(I_BASE_01) TOVOL(201710251005) NEWVOL(I_BASE_01) FROMDEV(OPTVRT01) TODEV(RMS01). But I don’t want to USE my system, so I download “Bootable LIC USB Utility for IBM i,” extract the Java program from the zip file, and run java -jar USBUtility-126.96.36.199.jar E: I_BASE_01.IMG. There is a readme file in the zip with detailed instructions.
- Next, I just drag the three DVD images to the same media in the root directory.
- My media is now ready to take back to my i and IPL from the USB adapter and install or re-slip the machine code and base OS.
This first release of this function has an implementation restriction that when XPF is installed, a CPA2050 is displayed, requesting the language. I can just change 29XX to the proper language and press enter. I understand that this will be corrected in the future.
The IBM i Removable Media Welcome Page is a great starting point for more information on this topic.
There’s also a previous i Can blog on the general use of Optical Containers.
I’d like to thank Jim Tilbury for guest writing this blog. Jim is the team lead of the IBM i removable media development team in Rochester, Minnesota.
This blog post was edited to fix broken links on November 11, 2020.
This blog post was originally published on IBMSystemsMag.com and is reproduced here by permission of IBM Systems Media.