Aug 19 ’10

Pete Clark on z/VSE: Hints and Tips for z/VSE 4.2

by Editor in z/Journal

Earlier this year, IBM posted the latest and greatest version of Hints and Tips for z/VSE 4.2 on the z/VSE Web page. If you haven’t downloaded and read these latest hints and tips, you will be pleasantly surprised. In the last few versions, significant detail and new sections have been added. To view the most current Hints and Tips, go to For a list of Hints and Tips for earlier versions, scroll to the bottom of this page: Here you can download Hints and Tips for VSE/ESA Versions 2.6 and 2.7 and z/VSE Versions 3.1. 4.1 and, of course, 4.2. 

Note that if you aren’t up on the latest z/VSE release, some of the new release-specific information may not apply. However, many of the changes, additions, updates, and even new topics do apply and will be meaningful and helpful. One example in the Hints and Tips for z/VSE 4.2 is Chapter 19, which covers “VSE Health Checker.” This version is applicable to earlier releases that support the health checker.

If you’re planning a z/VSE upgrade, Hints and Tips is required reference material. In the past, recommended reading and reference material for planning a z/VSE upgrade included the Release Guide, Upgrade Buckets, Planning Guide, Installation Guide, and other user information. Now you should add the current Hints and Tips to the list.

For example, before you start an upgrade, be sure to read Chapter 17 on “Hints and Tips for Fast Service Upgrade (FSU).” While it may not be apparent from the title of the document, there are numerous bits of information on how to obtain information to help resolve or identify a problem. This includes information on how to use the documented (previously undocumented) commands.

An earlier version of Hints and Tips examined how to use a Lock Trace to identify the owner of VSE/VSAM lock. Naturally, that type of information is carried forward in every version. In Hints and Tips for z/VSE 4.2, Chapter 1 examines the various TRACE options. And yes, this is where the “undocumented” system commands are documented. In fact, many folks are first introduced to this document when they need to understand and use the undocumented commands.

Chapter 5 provides an excellent discussion on how Job Control works and what the $JOBCTLx phases do. If you need to know which JCL command is processed by which phase, a table provides that information.

Chapter 3 provides a current discussion of the Turbo Dispatcher. Please pay close attention to your current release level and the special noting of release levels and release level subtopics related in this chapter. The Dispatcher and PRTY command have been enhanced in ways that affect how you will specify and use them, depending on your actual release level.

By reviewing the “Summary of Changes” under the “About This Book” in any earlier version of Hints and Tips, it becomes obvious where a review is warranted, where new information has been added, and where information has been updated. So, if you’ve read an earlier version, you can quickly and readily become current without reading the whole volume; although reading the newer version in its entirety is often a helpful reminder of things forgotten.

Hints and Tips started as a simple Web vehicle to quickly provide information to the z/VSE user from z/VSE development. The intent was that it would always be a Web-based distribution, updated as needed, when needed, with no committed timeframe or publication schedule.

It’s a milestone document that’s indicative of the new relationship that has developed between the z/VSE user and z/VSE development team. This commitment and openness was an unstated promise that lived through the turmoil of the ‘80s and was initially delivered with the first Hints and Tips in the ‘90s. The latest version shows that IBM is paying attention, listening, and being proactive by providing information users need. The z/VSE user community conveys our thanks for a job well done.

News From z/VSE Development

IPv6/VSE is now available from IBM (licensed product of Barnard Software, Inc.). IPv6 supports 128 host addresses, which will limit the bi-annual press reports on "we’re running out of addresses" that have occurred since the early ‘90s. 
Current z/VSE news is available on Twitter at or visit

Thanks for reading the column; see you all in the next issue.