Mainframe Linux


So you’re working with SLES or SLED, and someone asks you if a particular package or product is supported. What do you do? Of all the options available, I refer constantly to the following pages and references to make sure I give accurate and helpful information to the querying person.

Where to Go

The top page I usually refer people to in this case is the Tech Specs section. On this page is listed SLES, SLED and Partner hardware and software support links. If I click on the “SuSE Linux Enterprise Server” link, I will reach the technical specifications page for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. We’ve seen this page in other posts, such as How Many ____’s Does SLES Support? – Part I, where we discussed Kernel Limits and File System Features.

The chief thing I want to determine when someone asks me about a particular package’s support is that we do include it in our distributions. I query the person about what version and patch level they want to know about, and then click on the appropriate link, which is listed in the paragraph below the menu tabs, “see the list of supported packages”.

This link leads me to the “SuSE Linux Enterprise Server Supported Packages page, where for example I will pick the link for “SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1 for X86“, a PDF file that I can then search for a package by pressing Ctrl-f, and typing the name I’m looking for, either in my browser, or my PDF reader that popped up.

All Together Now

My example would be someone asking me if there is support for Mono (a Dot Net compatible server solution) on SLES 10 SP1, both on the X86 and System Z platforms.

Those PDF files will tell me very quickly that there is support all the way to Level 3 for SLES 10 SP1 on X86 and the IBM System Z Mainframe.

Hopefully this will help you determine quickly what packages are included in the various distributions and patch levels, and make it easier to find what level of support is provided for those packages.




From the article:

CHICAGO — At the Data Center Decisions conference in Chicago on Monday, Oct. 22, controversial comments from Jon Toigo, CEO and managing principal of Dunedin, Fla.-based Toigo Partners International LLC, had attendees shaking their heads in bewilderment.

For one, Toigo advised attendees against using VMware in favor of mainframe systems, calling the virtualization software “shoddy” in comparison. But nearly all conference attendees were assembled to learn about implementing virtualization in their data center.

Toigo is knowledgeable about disaster recovery (DR) planning, which was the topic of his keynote session, but he warned users against ever feeling completely secure with their disaster recovery plans.

More here.

As if there weren’t currently enough companies with a virtualization play, Hitachi has announced that it has placed it’s Virtage virtualization code on the firmware for it’s Xeon-based blade solution, the BladeSymphony 1000, which combines Itanium and Xeon CPU’s in a single chassis.

More here.

Nationwide Insurance is a posterchild for the right use of virtualization, on all their platforms. A huge IBM Mainframe shop, they also use Linux in their X86 environment to cut costs and be more green.

“While many IT shops see virtualization as a question of adopting EMC’s VMware on servers running Windows or Linux, Nationwide Insurance has adopted the technology for both x86-based and mainframe-hosted servers.  After all,” notes Buzz Woeckener, the company’s zLinux/Unix server manager, “virtualization was invented for mainframes.”

More on Nationwide’s virtual environment

I’d buy that for a dollar. Well, lots of dollars, since it’s priced similarly to our friends at IBM’s mainframes. PSI (Platform Technologies Inc.) makes a plug-compatible set of machines called the System64 DS and ES, formerly only available through a 3rd party.

DS or Distributed Server and the ES or Enterprise Server hardware are currently shipping to early adopters and are competitively priced with IBM’s per-MIPS pricing of approximately $1200 to $1400.

The key to PSI’s systems are the ability to not only run OS/390 (IBM’s Mainframe OS) but also Linux and Windows. The DS system sports up to 8 Itanium v2 CPU’s and the ES supports up to 64 Itanium cores. Both support the production versions of z/OS, OS/390, HP-UX, Linux including SLES and Windows Server versions.

“Our customers have repeatedly told us that standardization and virtualization are key to their business success and an imperative for their IT strategy – today and for the future. We’ve developed the System64 product line to meet the industry’s challenges and drive customers’ success.”

You can get a lot more information from the PSI site, including quotes and whitepapers.



Linux, specifically SUSE Linux Enterprise, that’s why.

Techtarget has the first in what promises to be a series of articles reporting on the IBM SHARE conference, where a lot of new technology and software gets introduced and this year it was clear that Linux on the Mainframe (System Z) is growing the Mainframe market.

Read Robert Rosen’s first in the series of articles and keep checking for more, Mainframe Linux is the most exciting thing that has happened on that platform since, well, ever.

It could go without saying, but I’ll take the hit, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a runaway hit for the System Z Mainframes, we have over 85% market share and growing.

I do a lot of work with customers who have Linux on System Z, and IBM’s direction next year will focus more on server consolidation using the System Z as a platform for virtualization.  (Sounds of things ramping up in the background).


RossB has a great guide to understanding Virtualization in the Data Center online, it covers:

  • Management and Metrics
  • Saving Power
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Best Platforms for Virtualization
  • Server Virtualization Software
  • Support and Management Tools

This is just the right article to introduce someone to the concepts and tools involved in Data Center Virtualization.



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