IBM i Access Client Solutions: Customization and deployment questions answered
Chapter 2: Get the answers to the most common deployment questions
Chapter 1 review
You are probably wondering, “Where’s Chapter 1 ?” It wasn’t actually called Chapter 1 at the time. It was written a couple of years ago and was called, “IBM i Access Client Solutions: Customization and deployment made easy“. Since that time, a lot of questions about deployment have been asked and answered. The purpose of this article is to share some of those answers and provide the steps to implement them.
I’m going to assume you’ve read Chapter 1 and are familiar with it because some of the items in this article will reference the types of deployments mentioned there. For example, I am going to assume you know how to do an Admin Customized configuration using the install scripts with the
/AdminConfig parameter as mentioned in that article.
Summary of deployment options mentioned in Chapter 1
The following deployment options were covered in Chapter 1:
- Single User PC The QuickStartGuide contains instructions about how a single user can deploy and customize IBM i Access Client Solutions on Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, or Linux systems. As a variation of this option, you may also choose to deploy the product from a central location as mentioned in Chapter 1, Option 1: Local and User Customized.
Windows Multi-User PC
The QuickStartGuide contains instructions about how to customize and deploy IBM i Access Client Solutions on a multi-user PC on Windows using the install_acs_xx_allusers.js deployment scripts. As a variation of this option, you may also choose to deploy the product from a central location as mentioned in Chapter 1, Option 1: Local and User Customized.
Local and Admin Customized
For a deployment that copies the product files to a user’s PC that was previously customized by an administrator to only include specific features, see Chapter 1, Option 2: Local and Admin Customized.
Remote and Admin Customized
For a deployment that does not copy the product files to a user’s PC and instead uses them from a remote location that has been previously customized by an administrator to only include specific features, see Chapter 1, Option 3: Remote and Admin Customized.
Combine deployment options
Many of the deployment options mentioned in this article can be used in combination with those just described and with each other. To avoid being repetitive, all the various combinations are not detailed in this article. You can pick and choose the ones that suit your requirements.
Chapter 2 overview
Here are the additional deployment options covered in this article:
Deploy a predefined configuration for a single user and prevent the user from getting prompted, including not being prompted to accept the End-User License Agreement (EULA).
Accept End-User License Agreement (EULA) for all users on a multi-user PC
Accept the EULA for all users on a multi-user PC so they are not prompted the first time they start IBM i Access Client Solutions.
Custom location for product files
Change the location where the product files get deployed on the PC.
Custom location for configuration
Change the location where the user’s configuration is stored.
Importing a configuration
Propagate a specific configuration to other users.
Deploy IBM i Access Client Solutions on a flash drive and use it on any PC.
AdminConfig for Mac and Linux
Customize a deployment for Linux and Mac users with /
While experimenting with various deployment options, you can start over by removing the product files and configuration.
To deploy IBM i Access Client Solutions in silent mode using the provided install scripts, the following three items need to be silenced to prevent user interaction during deployment:
- The prompts for selecting features
- The deployment completion message
- The prompt to accept EULA
To prevent the prompts for selecting the features that occur during deployment, you need to customize the deployment using the
/AdminConfig parameter. /
AdminConfig allows the features to be pre-selected by an administrator before deployment so that the user is not prompted to select the features during deployment. For example:
Further details about using /
AdminConfig are described in Chapter 1.
To suppress the deployment completion message, specify the
/Q parameter on the installation script during deployment.
/Q can be used during the initial deployment and on subsequent invocations of the script when applying updates. In either case,
/Q suppresses the completion message.
To suppress the EULA prompt, use the
/Q parameter on a deployment that has been customized using
/Q parameter is specified on a previously configured deployment using
/AdminConfig, the EULA will be silently accepted, and the user will not be prompted to accept it.
Accept End-User License Agreement (EULA) for all users on a multi-user PC
When deploying to a multi-user PC, by default, each user will be prompted to accept the EULA during their initial use of IBM i Access Client Solutions. This is true whether or not you were able to successfully use the Silent install option previously mentioned. In order to prevent each user on a multi-user PC from having to accept the EULA, the EULA needs to be accepted by an administrator running IBM i Access Client Solutions as an elevated administrator. This can be done from an elevated command prompt by an administrator who has not yet accepted the EULA.
Note: This must be done from a command prompt that has been elevated. It is not enough to perform these steps from an ordinary command prompt or with just an adminstrator’s user ID. They must be done from an elevated command prompt using an administrator’s user ID.
To bring up an elevated command prompt, go to the Microsoft Windows Start Menu and search for Command Prompt. Right-click Command Prompt and then click Run as administrator. If you are prompted for credentials, provide the credentials for a Windows administrator who has not accepted the IBM i Access Client Solutions EULA on that PC. From this Command Prompt, change directory to the root folder where the IBM i Access Client Solutions product files exist. If you have already called either install_acs_64.js or install_acs_32.js then the product files exist at:
If you have called either install_acs_64_allusers.js or install_acs_32_allusers.js then the product files exist at:
If you have not called any of the install scripts, then extract the contents of the IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file to a location of your choice. Then, change directory to the folder where you extracted its contents.
After you have changed the command prompt’s current working directory using
cd, launch the product from that same command prompt:
The EULA should be displayed. When the EULA is displayed, read it and accept it. The EULA has now been accepted for all users on that PC.
If the EULA is not displayed during these steps and the product’s main GUI window appears, then the current user has already accepted the EULA and you need to use an administrator’s user ID that has not yet accepted the EULA.
Custom location for product files
Using the installation scripts provided with IBM i Access Client Solutions, the product files are copied to the following locations:
On Mac using Mac_Application/install_acs:
On Linux using Linux_Application/install_acs_64 or Linux_Application/install_acs_32:
On Windows using Windows_Application\install_acs_64.js or Windows_Application\install_acs_32.js:
On Windows using Windows_Application\install_acs_64_allusers.js or Windows_Application\install_acs_32_allusers.js:
To deploy IBM i Access Client Solutions to a custom location on a PC for a single user, determine the folder where you want it deployed and move the IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file to that folder. Extract the contents of IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip to that location.
For example, on Windows, use Windows Explorer to locate IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip. Then right-click IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip and click Extract All… to extract its entire contents to the current folder.
Windows Explorer – Extract All…
On Linux and Mac, you can use the
unzip command to extract the contents of IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip.
At this point, you can start IBM i Access Client Solutions using the platform-specific launchers by locating the folder where you extracted the contents of IBMiAccessv1r1.zip. Then look in the following sub-folders for the version of _acslaunch that corresponds to your platform:
If you are using your platform’s file browser (for example Windows Explorer on Windows, Finder on Mac, File Browser on Linux, and so on), you can double-click the version of acslaunch for your platform to start IBM i Access Client Solutions. You can also start it from the command line using a Command Prompt (on Windows) or Terminal (on Mac and Linux).
There are two disadvantages of using a custom location on Mac and Linux:
- You will only be able to start the product by invoking acslaunch as just described instead of invoking it from an icon on the desktop.
- You will not be able to set file associations to the various product file types (such as .hod, .bchx, .dtfx, .dttx, .sql and so on).
On Windows, you can place the product in a custom location and still start the product from a desktop icon and also set the file associations, but the following additional steps are required:
- Extract the contents of the IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file to a location of your choice.
Locate the install_acs_xx.js file in the product’s Windows_Application folder and invoke it with the
/AdminConfigparameter from a command prompt.
- Answer the questions as if you were doing “Option 3: Remote and Admin Customized” in Chapter 1. This is the option you would normally use to deploy the product for users who would share the product files on a network drive. However, in this case, the product files are not necessarily on a network share. They can be anywhere including a custom location on the local PC. This step sets the configuration in AcsConfig.properties so that any deployment made from this location will not copy the product files, but will instead use them from their current location.
Now, invoke the installation script as you normally would to deploy the product:
This will place the desktop icons on the desktop and set the file associations based on the current location.
Custom location for product files: Apply updates
When an updated version of IBM i Access Client Solutions becomes available, extract the contents of the updated IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file over the top of the existing product files. For this type of customization, you do not need to run the install_acs_xx.js script to apply an update because the product files are being referenced from the location where you extracted the new version of the IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file.
However, there is one extra step needed. Administrators need to make sure to restore the customized AcsConfig.properties file by using
As an alternative, administrators can choose to save the AcsConfig.properties file themselves before updating the product files and then restoring their saved version of the AcsConfig.properties file after applying the update. Users can begin using the IBM i Access Client Solutions product update after they stop and restart all IBM i Access Client Solutions sessions (including all emulation sessions).
Custom location for configuration
By default, users will have their own unique location where their configuration is stored. The default configuration root directory is determined in a platform-dependent manner. The configuration directories are created the first time the user starts IBM i Access Client Solutions. To determine where the configuration directory is located, start IBM i Access Client Solutions and in the main GUI, click Edit -> Preferences. Then select the Local Settings tab.
The Configuration Root contains the path to the configuration location for the current user.
The configuration location cannot be changed while the product is running. To change the location of the configuration, see section 9.3 Changing Configuration Location in the GettingStarted document located in the product’s Documentation folder. By setting the property,
com.ibm.iaccess.AcsBaseDirectory, you can change the location of the configuration. For example:
Importing a configuration
The first time a user starts IBM i Access Client Solutions on Windows that has an existing installation of IBM i Access for Windows, the systems defined for IBM i Access for Windows are automatically imported to the IBM i Access Client Solutions system configurations. Other configuration settings for IBM i Access for Windows (for example, console, emulator, data transfer, and so on) are not automatically imported.
It is possible to set up a configuration for IBM i Access Client Solutions and then propagate that configuration to one or more users. Here are the steps:
- Customize the configuration to include all the settings you want for preferences, systems, consoles, emulation sessions, saved data transfer requests, and so on.
Export the configuration from the product’s main GUI panel by clicking File -> Export Configuration.
You will be prompted to save the configuration to a file with the default name of acs_bak.zip. You can choose a different name or location before saving.The Export Configuration process will save your entire configuration including preferences, system configurations, emulation sessions, consoles, saved data transfer requests, and so on.
After you export your customized configuration to a file, you can rename or move the file to any preferred location where it can be read by other users. This file contains all the saved configuration files that existed at the time of export. This saved configuration can be imported by other users or just saved as a backup resource of your configuration.
Importing a configuration: Options
To import the saved configuration to other users, there are several options.
- Have each user manually import the configuration by clicking File -> Import Configuration from the main GUI. They will be prompted for the location of the acs_bak.zip file. After importing the saved configuration, users must restart IBM i Access Client Solutions.
- The Restore command line plugin can be used to import the saved configuration. See section 9.1 More command-line Options and 9.1.2 Restore in the GettingStarted document located in the product’s Documentation folder. The Restore plugin provides the flexibility for users to import the configuration from the command line or be inserted in some other script or process. If IBM i Access Client Solutions is already running when the Restore plugin is invoked, it must be restarted to pick up the changed configuration.
IBM i Access Client Solutions provides a built-in way to automatically import a saved configuration at startup. The following properties can be set in the AcsConfig.properties file:
This example assumes you exported the configuration to the default name of acs_bak.zip. By not providing a path preceding acs_bak.zip, IBM i Access Client Solutions will look for acs_bak.zip in the same folder as the acsbundle.jar file. In addition, if you keep the saved configuration named acs_bak.zip and place it next to the acsbundle.jar file before deployment, the installation deployment scripts copy the acs_bak.zip file to the targeted deployment location automatically. This option allows you to deploy a saved configuration along with the product files.
You can also provide a path to acs_bak.zip and/or rename it if you don’t want the above flexibility:
The installation deployment scripts will not copy over the top of an existing AcsConfig.properties file. So, if you would like to use this option to deploy a saved configuration to a user who already has the product deployed, you have two options:
Add the following properties to the user’s AcsConfig.properties file manually:
Uninstall the product for that user and redeploy it using the installation deployment scripts.
For other ways to automatically import the configuration using the property,
com.ibm.iaccess.autoimport, see section 9.4.1 Automatically import configuration settings in the GettingStarted document located in the product’s Documentation folder.
Importing a configuration: How it works
Importing a configuration does not completely replace an existing configuration. Importing will add configurations that do not currently exist and will replace settings for an existing configuration. It will not remove an existing configuration. For example, assume a user already has systems A and B configured, and the user imports a saved configuration which includes systems B, C, and D. After the import, system A would still be there, system B would be replaced with the saved configuration, and systems C and D would be added.
Importing a configuration: Suggestion for administrator
If you need to set up multiple configurations for different sets of users, you may want to start with an empty configuration. You can retain your existing configuration and switch to a new temporary configuration by setting the
com.ibm.iaccess.AcsBaseDirectory property in AcsConfig.properties. See section 9.3 Changing Configuration Location in the GettingStarted document located in the product’s Documentation folder. By setting that property, you can start with a fresh configuration. For example:
Z:\SomePath\Developer_Configuration has never been used by IBM i Access Client Solutions before, you will begin with a freshly initialized configuration when you start the product. Each time you change AcsConfig.properties, you need to restart IBM i Access Client Solutions for the changes to take effect.
To switch back to your default configuration, change the property back to its default setting:
Restart IBM i Access Client Solutions and your default configuration will be back.
com.ibm.iaccess.AcsBaseDirectory property allows you to start with a new configuration, make an update to a previous configuration, or maintain as many custom configurations as needed for your various groups of users. When you have the configuration set the way you want it, click File -> Export Configuration.
There are times when it may be convenient to run IBM i Access Client Solutions from a portable media device (for example, flash drive). For this type of deployment, we will not use the installation scripts because we will be placing the product files on the portable media ourselves. Here are the steps:
- Copy the IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file to the media device. You can put it in its own folder.
On Mac and Linux, you can use the
unzipcommand to extract the contents of the zip archive.
On Windows, you can use Windows Explorer to extract the contents of the zip archive by locating and selecting the IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file on the media device. Then right-click the file and click Extract All… (as shown in Figure 1).
After you extract the contents of IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip, it is no longer needed, and you can delete it if you want to free up some space.
At this point, you can start IBM i Access Client Solutions from the portable media device on any PC, regardless of the OS (for example Windows, Linux, or Mac), that has Java installed. Locate the folder where you extracted the contents of IBMiAccessv1r1.zip. Then, navigate to the subfolder that contains _acslauch for the platform where the portable media is attached.
To start IBM i Access Client Solutions, double-click acslaunch. You can also start it from a command prompt (in Windows) or terminal (in Mac and Linux) by entering the fully qualified path to acslaunch.
Portable media: Plus configuration
Even when IBM i Access Client Solutions is on a portable media, it will not, by default, create or use a configuration on the portable media device. Instead, it will use the configuration on the PC for the current user. That may or may not be what you want.
If you want to create and use a configuration on the portable media device, you need to make a change in the AcsConfig.properties file. This file exists in the root folder where you extracted the contents of the IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip file. Using a text editor (for example, Notepad in Windows), open the AcsConfig.properties file on the portable media device. Replace the following line:
You can keep the name
Portable_Configuration or choose something more meaningful. Save and close the edit session.
PRODUCTDIR is a special keyword indicating that the configuration’s root folder is in the same folder as the acsbundle.jar file. If the
Portable_Configuration folder doesn’t already exist, it will be created in the same folder as the acsbundle.jar file. The first time IBM i Access Client Solutions starts with this setting, it will prime the configuration with any systems configured for IBM i Access for Windows for the current user of the PC. The configuration is primed like this only the first time IBM i Access Client Solutions starts. It will not automatically import the configuration from other PCs.
At this point, you can add, update, and change the configuration however needed. Both product files and the configuration on this portable media device can be used on any PC where Java is installed.
AdminConfig for Mac and Linux
/AdminConfig parameter to customize IBM i Access Client Solutions before deploying it was previously explained in Chapter 1.
Then to deploy the customized version, you must remove the
/AdminConfig parameter is supported only when using any of the following deployment scripts for Windows:
No matter what deployment script you use with
/AdminConfig, the AcsConfig.properties file will be updated based on the selected options. Note that the
/AdminConfig parameter only customizes the deployment, and it does not actually deploy the installation.
The Linux and Mac deployment scripts do not support the
/AdminConfig parameter. However, you can still use the Mac and Linux deployment scripts to deploy any previously customized version, including those customized with
/AdminConfig on Windows. There is one caveat. The Linux and Mac deployment scripts will always copy the files to the local PC and will never try to access the files from a remote location (for example, network share).
In the process of getting IBM i Access Solutions ready to deploy in your organization, you might want to experiment with the various options, features, and ways to deploy it. As part of testing out your deployment strategy, you might want to start with a clean slate where your PC has neither the product files nor any configuration. This section covers the following topics:
- Removing the product files from the default deployment location and from a custom location
- Removing the entire configuration
Note: Removing the product files does not remove the configuration.
Starting over: Deleting the product files
To remove the product files that were copied by one of the deployment installation scripts, invoke the corresponding
uninstall_acs script in the same folder:
… This will remove the product files copied by the install script. On Windows, it will also remove the desktop icons and file associations that were created by the installation script.
If you deployed the product files in your own custom location by just extracting the contents of IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip or copied the product files using your own customized deployment, then you need to delete the product files from that location along with any subfolders that were created by extracting the contents of IBMiAccess_v1r1.zip.
Note: Removing the product files does not remove the configuration. You can run the install and uninstall scripts repetitively without affecting the configuration. However, because AcsConfig.properties is one of the product files that gets removed by uninstallation, any customizations in AcsConfig.properties (for example, restricted features) will also be removed.
Starting over: Deleting the configuration
To delete the entire configuration, you need to delete the Configuration Root folder and all its subfolders. If you want to save the configuration before you delete it, you must export the configuration from the product’s main GUI panel by clicking File -> Export Configuration.
You can save it with the default name acs_bak.zip or provide a different name. By default, File -> Export Configuration will choose a path in the Configuration Root. You need to make sure you save or move acs_bak.zip to some other location so that when you delete the Configuration Root, you do not delete your saved backup too.
To delete the entire configuration, locate the Configuration Root folder as follows:
Start IBM i Access Client Solutions and in the main GUI, click Edit -> Preferences. Then click the Local Settings tab.
The Configuration Root folder contains the path to the iAccessClient folder.
Configuration Root folder
By deleting the iAccessClient folder, your configuration will be deleted. Clicking Clear will not delete the configuration. You need to use your system’s file browser or command prompt to delete the iAccessClient folder. Before deleting the iAccessClient folder, you should end IBM i Access Client Solutions first by closing all windows including any 5250 emulator sessions.
This article has covered several options about how to deploy IBM i Access Client Solutions. The options can be used in combination with each other or with those mentioned in Chapter 1. You can pick and choose the ones that suit your requirements.
More information about the product and how to download it is available at the IBM i Access for Client Solutions website.
For instructions on how to provide feedback or to get support, refer to IBM i Access for Client Solutions support.
Keep an eye on the above websites for future updates and enhancements.
- Refer to IBM i Access Client Solutions Resources for more articles and videos.
- Refer to the IBM i Access Client Solutions home page.
- Refer to the IBM i Access Client Solutions – Feedback and Support page.
- Refer to the IBM i Access Family home page.