Node.js up and running on IBM i

We have Node.js up and running on two of our systems. Our initial attempt failed due to a problem with PTF’s on V7R1 but with IBM’s help we finally got everything up and running.

We have 2 working instances of Node.js running, one on V7R1 and one on V7R2. I have listed below some of the actions we took as part of the installation so that others should be able to follow, we did spend a lot of time and effort getting to a working setup with many of them being dead ends so we have left those out..

First of all you need to make sure you get TR9 installed, I would strongly suggest that you also download and install the latest CUM and PTF groups. When you read the documentation on the IBM Developer website you will notice that it asks for SF99368 at level 31 for V7R1 and SF99713 level 5 for V7R2, these are not available at present so just get the latest for your OS and for V7R1 install and additional PTF SI55522. It does not install on V6R1 so upgrade if you want to try it out.

Now that you have your System running the latest PTF’s and TR9 you can start to install the Node.js LPP from IBM. You will need a SWMA contract to get the download from the IBM ESS website, it is available under the SS1 downloads as 5733-OPS. It is available as a .udf file which can be used with an IMGCLG to install. If you don’t have the ability to set up an IMGCLG you could download the file, unzip everything and then go to the .udf file (note the package has a directory which ends in .udf!) once you have the file you should be able to convert the content to a .iso file and use it in the DVD drive of the IBM i. (Note: we struggled to find a way to convert the .udf to a .iso but a google search does show some options on how to achieve it, for us setting up the IMGCLG was by far the easiest route.)

You install the LPP using the IBM LICPGM commands, it will install the Node.js objects in the IFS ready for use. We created a link to the directory (ln -s /QOpenSys/QIBM/ProdData/Node/bin /Node) to make things easier as typing the path in every time was a real chore. You could amend the paths etc but we had varying success with that.

To test everything works you can use npm -v (npm is the node package manager) which should return the version installed (1.4.14). If that works you now have Node.js up and running.. Next we wanted to test the ability to install packages, the documentation does mention this requires some additional open source binaries to be installed. The best instructions we found for doing this are on the YIPS site. They are a little daunting when you first look at all of the command line stuff you have to do, but after some careful thought and review they are very simple to follow. (The YIPs site was down when we wrote this so we could not verify the link). We installed the curl,python and gcc binaries because we wanted to have as much covered as possible for testing. (Note about the aix versions, as you are only installing on V7R1 and above, aix6 are the ones you need.)

Once you have the binaries installed you can then go ahead and test installing a few packages, we did twilio and express, express is considered a good start for most. If you have any problems check out the node.js group (sub group of IBM i Professionals) on LinkedIn, someone will probably help you faster there than anywhere else at this time.

I would also recommend a couple of other things to do as part of setting up the environment ready for your first test. I installed SSHD and putty for the terminal, it is far better than using QSH or qp2term on the IBM i and it appears faster?? I also used RDi as the editor for creating the scripts for testing (plenty of test scripts out there on Google) because it was much easier than trying to use any editor in the shell (vi etc) or using edtf from a command line. Maybe at sometime IBM will provide a code parser for RDi? I am sure other IDE’s can be used as well just as long as you set up shared folders etc on your IBM i.

We have already seen a few flaky things happening which have cleared up and further retries of the same command and I am sure there are going to be others, it is very new and we expect to break a few things as we go along. As we find things out we will post our progress and post some sample scripts we use to investigate the various features on node.js on IBM i, not sure how far we will take this but it does seem pretty powerful technology so far.. Next we need some documentation on the os400 features 🙂

Chris…