back to article IBM faces mainframe biz European antitrust probe

IBM faces yet another antitrust headache today, after French mainframe open source outfit TurboHercules filed a complaint with European competition watchdogs. TurboHercules has accused Big Blue of denying customers the right to run IBM's mainframe operating system on anything other than IBM iron. The Paris-based company filed …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why is it ok for apple to prevent people using their OS on non-apple machines, but not ok for IBM to prevent people from using their OS on other machines? I realise the mainframes are larger and more expensive but this shouldn't count as a reason, should it?

  2. Ken 16 Silver badge

    Why not?

    I don't think it would hurt IBM to license z/OS at enormous cost to use on any platform the customer likes...with no IBM support if it fails to work/perform.

  3. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    "Waaah! Big, evil corporation is big and evil!"

    Nothing to see here. This is just a bunch of freeloaders wanting to build a product that leeches off IBM's hard work—and R&D expenditure.

    It's not like IBM is the only company making and selling mainframes, so they don't have a monopoly.

    TurboHercules are more than welcome to write their own damned mainframe OS if they think it's so easy.

  4. SImon Hobson

    Oh what a surprise ...

    As I reached the bottom of the article and went for the comments button I was thinking "3,2,1, wait for the 'what about Apple' comment", and there it was !

    @ Fraser

    Well Apple are a fairly small player in a market dominated by Microsoft/Windows. IBM have an effective monopoly, or at least a dominant market position, in the mainframe market and by keeping out competition they are able to distort the market to their advantage and the customers disadvantage. It's exactly the sort of behaviour IBM were engaged in back in the 50's and 60's, and 70's, and ... IIRC back in the 70's/80's the US <something> department spent 11 years building a case against IBM for exactly this sort of behavior - but then by some pure coincidence it got dropped when a new President came to power, and there's no hint at all that the corporate sponsorship from IBM for his campaign had any influence.

    @ Sean Timarco Baggaley

    What's with the "freeloader" comment ? Note that they didn't want this for free, they asked to be able to BUY licences on reasonable terms. And it's not as if they haven't done any development work themselves to make it work on non-IBM hardware.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Not exactly, IBM may have the majority of the mainframe market, but by no means all. The main application that is run on IBM's mainframes is DB2, which is also available for AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, OS/400, Windows and Linux - this is hardly lock in. Also, most bespoke applications can be ported between architectures.

      Now, my personal opinion is that a software vendor (when we're talking about general purpose computing, rather than embedded devices) should not be able to say where their software is run after is has been purchased however, they should be able to state what are supported platforms. In the same way that at the start of PC OS virtualistation, many vendors said we won't support VM installations, but replicate the problem on our supported hardware list and we'll have a look.

      To say that because Apple aren't big enough means that they can get away with behaviour that would be deemed illigal by a larger company is not a valid argument, if it should be illigal, it should be illigal for all. Laws that are selective in where they are applied are bad laws.

      1. QuiteEvilGraham

        Not quite

        DB2 on a mainframe is not the same as the UDB or iSeries flavours; in fact, in some areas (eg. running stored procedures) it is quite different. It also offers some performance enhancements which are completely incompatable with UDB and iSeries DB2, so your comment about lock-in is not really valid. Depending on how an application uses DB2, the effort to port between environments can be considerable. You also fail to mention CICS and IMS, both in most likelihood used heavily by the people who make sure that your bank balance or pension balance is accurate every morning.

        But all this is to miss the point. Readers who have honed their current skills on commodity hardware and software, using common programming languages and technologies, many donated for free from a community of other programmers, might forget that for many of us the only way into this business was to be fortunate enough to work for companies who could pony up enough (ie. < £1,000,000) for a mainframe, plus attendant controllers, tapes and disks.

        The Hercules project has always been (IMHO) about allowing people to run mainframe operating systems on commodity hardware, thus allowing those of us who like to keep our IBM chops up to scratch, or simply scratching an itch, to do so; not ripping off IBM's IP to undercut their hardware business (as if a x86 and a z10 are remotely comparable).

        IBM's stance on modern operating systems frustrates those of us who would like to keep the mainframe ecosystem healthy by being to contribute at our own expense, and in our own time.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    does this sound *remarkably* like the microsoft DOS license

    To OEMs

    Run any OS you like

    We charge by the number of processors you sell.

    So if you sell a board with DOS loaded, you pay us. If you sell it DOS free, you *still* pay us.

    Note Hercules are *not* asking IBM to port z/OS, let them run it. At uses *own* risk. BTW a *long* time ago (mid 80s?) IBM did supply an AT with an s/370 type processor in it. Remember a Byte writeup but never very popular. Expensive by PC standards but (in theory) a bargain for training or offloading development before deployment to a real MF.

    IBM may not have taught MS all it knows about being a monopoly supplier, but they *sure* made a good teacher.

    Thumbs down for IBM's behavior.

  6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    No comment

    IBM is unable to comment on this story as it is currently pursuing an agreement to purchase the EU.

  7. Kebabbert


    IBM is noted for ugly and foul business methods. Read about "FUD" on wikipedia. IBM was the first to employ FUD in a wider scale.

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