In this article I'll cover one of the sites that IBM uses to improve it's interaction with customers. As many Informix customers know, traditionally we would only have access to the normal releases.
Theese would be like IDS 10.00.FC8, or CSDK 3.00.TC1 etc.
I won't go into details explaining the meaning of all the release code fields, but you probably know that any two letters and one numeric digit following major and minor versions (FC8 and TC1 in the examples) mean that this is a standard, generally available release level (internally called Interim Release). It includes mainly code fixes, but can also include some new features and they are cumulative (FC8 should include all the corrections and features that went into FC7).
But, if you ever hit a bug and contacted support, then you probably ended up with a patch level like 10.00.FC7X5 or 11.10.FC2W1. These have special meanings... The "X" letter, followed by a numeric digit means this is a special build, generated from a customer request, and it includes one or more bug fixes. It is not cumulative, meaning X2 may have a completely disjunct set of fixes from X1 and also X1 on one platform may have nothing in common with X1 on another platform.
"W" means it's a Post Interim Drop (PID). These were introduced a few years ago, and they are build for the major platforms. These release levels include a set of fixes (no new features) and are made from time to time. They are cumulative, meaning all W1 fixes will be included in W2 (unless the fix itself has problems and has to be removed).
The idea behind all this is that the customer should not have to wait for the next commercial interim release to get a product fix, if he hits a bug.
Until June 2007, you would have to open a support case before you could have access to one of this special builds. Then your support engineer would give you specific instructions on how to download the fix from a temporary location (or you could receive the fix by mail if you prefer).
Since that date, IBM made available many of these fixes in a new system or web site, called the Fix Central.
You will need a valid ibm.com account, associated to a valid Passport Advantage customer account. Then, assuming your PA account entitles you to use the specific version you will have access to some of these fix releases.
This makes the interaction between customers and IBM technical support easier, and it also gives the ability for a customer to access and test the most recent releases by himself. If you fill you're hitting a bug, and after searching the support site you find an APAR (Authorized Program Analysis Report) that matches it, you may search for a fix that solves it in the Fix Central site.
The searches can be made by product family, APAR, release level and platform. So this means you have a lot of flexibility and ease of use.
I'll end this post with some references where you can get more details about all these:
- Fix Central website:
- Fix Central website announcement:
- Explanation about IBM Informix non commercial fix packs:
- Passport Advantage website:
- A glossary of IBM support jargon (things like APAR, PMR, EOS...)