SMP/E HOLDERROR Processing in IBM System z Software Management

Recent discussions with some colleagues showed me that this is an area which requires some clarification.

SMP/E (System Management Program/Extended) is the tool for performing maintenance on z/OS systems and System z components like DB/2, CICS, WAS etc. Program products are organized as FMIDs (Function Modifier IDentifier). Modifications are organized as PTFs (Program Temporary Fix). PTFs are corrective code updates for defective programs and organized as PUT (Program Update Tape). They are not delivered in cartridges anymore but name is not changed anyway. PTFs are primarily identified like PUT1302 which means belonging to year 2013 second month PUT tape.

Although PTFs are prepared to fix some erroneous code, some of them are erroneous themselves. They are called PEs (PTF in Error). PEs are marked in accompanied documentation called HOLDDATA. New superseeding PTFs are prepared and included in more recent PUTs.

As time passes some PTFs are observed as correct and included in a more reliable categorization RSU (Recommended Service Upgrade). RSU is also identified as year and month format like RSU1304 meaning RSU PTFs belonging to fourth month of 2013.

As an example, suppose that UK12344 and UK12355 are PTFs in PUT1303. In PUT1304, UK12344 is marked as PE and superseded by a new PTF UK12366. Again suppose that PTFs UK12355 and UK12366 are added to RSU1305. If you APPLY RSU PTFs instead of PUTs, it is less likely that you apply PEs.

Let me get back to HOLDDATA. I mentioned that HOLDDATA keeps information related with ERROR PTFs. HOLDDATA also keeps information related with other requirements of application of PTFs. For example a system RESTART may be required after application of a PTF, some command, parameter, message or documentation CHANGE may be introduced.

Before APPLYing PTFs, we always run an APPLY CHECK and mention BYPASS(HOLDSYSTEM, HOLDERROR)

With these parameters we mention “I noted SYSTEM HOLDS, go ahead and pretend apply PTFs with system holds” and “I noted ERROR PTFs, go ahead and pretend apply PEs”. Since this is a CHECK run, we observe any difficulties available in application of PTFs. Otherwise we receive GIM30206E error messages and return code 8 which may hide some other errors.

When it comes to real APPLY never use BYPASS(HOLDERROR) as mentioned in above documentation unless you have a good reason to apply a PTF in error. The reason may be PE would be related with a component you do not use – like cryptography for example – and PE may be prerequisite for another PTF you have to apply.

Majority of IBM System z customers do not apply PUT PTFs. They apply RSU PTFs, so that they would like to minimize the risk of applying error PTFs and introduce defects in their systems.

This may not be a frequently confronted problem as PEs are not included in RSUs most of the time. Do not forget that mentioning BYPASS(HOLDSYSTEM) means that BYPASS HOLDs and APPLY PTFs with system HOLDs and mentioning BYPASS(HOLDERROR) means that BYPASS ERRORS and APPLY PEs.

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