back to article IBM: Mainframe emulator part of a conspiracy

Let's start with the obvious: there was never a poor bald geek's chance with a supermodel that IBM was ever going to willingly license its z/OS and related systems software so it could run on the commercialized version of the open source Hercules mainframe hardware emulator for x64 iron. So the launch of the TurboHercules …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bundling the OS - Apple is not like IBM

    "is it against the law to tie an operating system to a device? Cell phone operators do it, Apple did it with its own variants of Power platforms and still does it with Intel-based systems."

    Apple get away with it because they're not a convicted monopolist in that regard. MS get away with it, despite being convicted monopolists in that regard, by having someone else do the bundling for them (Dell, HP, whoever) - you can't buy a Window box without the Window tax.

    IBM is a convicted monopolist (though is the conviction now "spent?") in this regard and IBM are doing the bundling. Sounds to me like there's a case for IBM to answer.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      ""is it against the law to tie an operating system to a device?"

      Not this shite again:

      The OS *IS* the device! The device would just be a bunch of useless components without it.

      Given that writing an OS, while difficult, is certainly not impossible, there is absolutely zero excuse for demanding that Company A's rather good OS be made available to you free, gratis and fer nuthin' just because you can't be arsed to invest your own money where it matters.

      The vast majority of people don't give a shit about hardware or technology in itself. They don't care about *how it works*. They ONLY care about *what it lets them DO*.

      It's about the *interfaces*, people. Nothing else matters.

      1. prathlev


        Who says anything about free?

        Please read the article another time. Nobody wants IBM to give away z/OS for free. They just want their potential customers to be able to legally buy and use z/OS software on their "hardware".

      2. Anonymous Coward


        Sean Timarco Baggaley, you are so fulla shite that you must be an olfactory assault on those near you.

        Computers are worth a great deal without the OS that runs them. The biggest value being your ability to hunt down an OS, and put it on there. In a world where the OS isn’t tied to the hardware, they would be completely separate items. The hardware being purchased based on performance, reliability and power consumption; the software based on what you could get it to do, or what additional devices you could convince it to talk to.

        A great example is the DD-WRT OS for my router. The native OS that came with this thing was pretty limited, so I upgraded to DD-WRT. DD-WRT itself wasn’t doing all I needed it to do, so I got SSH working on it, and started installing packages. Now I have one that runs a cheap robotic arm; it air gaps itself when it detects certain signatures consistent with some viruses I hate. (It should be noted that particular device is hooked up to my honeypot box, and thus airgapping is a grand thing.)

        *Interfaces* only matter to *consumers,* and not even all of them care. (How many people still use [insert OS or GUI you wish to insult here.]) What matters, (the only thing that matters), is what a computer system can actually accomplish, and how much it costs you to get it to do so.

        This has nothing to do with interfaces. Businesses are where the real money in computers is, and many of the systems they use are embedded. While some embedded systems run GUIs, many run only command lines. If you think interfaces are so important then go tell a robotics programmer that he needs Mac OS ten-point-ocular-bleeding in order to program his ICs. Or go hunt down programmers for just about any software package that lets businesses actually accomplish things and tell them that the critical component of Windows is Aero.

        Computers are there to increase the efficiency of our daily lives; they aren't there to blink and glow and look pretty. Interfaces matter only to the bored and the stupid; what matters is how much time and/or money you must put into a system versus the benefits of efficiency that you receive.

  2. Alien Doctor 1.1

    Town/city, country?

    I'm sorry, call me naive, but why the hell do we have to keep having the country named after the town or city in another (in my case) unwanted americanism? Most people are intelligent enough (O.K. naivety again) to realise what is then hammered home.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Intellectual Property

    Now that there exist plenty competing alternatives to zOS like HPUX, Solairs, NonStop OS, Linux, BS2000 and the Unisys OSs, I do think it is legitmiate for IBM to restrict the use of zOS to their hardware. Indeed they invested a lot of money into zOS R&D and it does not matter what the profitability rate is. We don't question "excessive" Intel or Apple profits, do we ?

    This is the system of free enterprise that brought a 64bit computer into every household. Were this the soviet union, we would barely have 8bit machines with 16k RAM or something in that class.

    IBM would be well-advised to make something like Hercules available to developers, but that is their decision. They correctly argue that they were faithful to the mainframe in a time everybody though Unix and Windows would take over the world and now they reap the profits. That's OK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Intellectual Property

      There are two areas which IBM seem to be fighting this. One is that small users do not need big systems to do what little small work is needed. I understand that IBM wants to make a lot of money but at the same time they are killing themselves because small users do not want to invest big $$ in a MF, One the other hand small users just want small (little of small cost) systems to do their work. Ibm may be afraid that they will looses the BIG $$ for large systems.

      IBM has put itself in a lose lose situation. By concentrating on only large computers it is shutting itself out on the hobbiest and the real small computer user. Neither of these are big profit makers to IBM.

      Having said that IBM got itself in a corner and they are not making people happy. Alas the small user over time becomes a big user. So IBM is being short sited.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    This is not a word. You make kitten sad.

  5. Peter H. Coffin

    Innovation? Who needs it?

    Seriously, technical innovation is only an actual real selling point to marginally small numbers of hardware wonks. Businesses, like most people, really don't actually want innovation. They may like more power to make their stuff run faster, or less power needed to actually light up the hardware, but the means by which those things are accomplished may as well be JFM (Just Fucking Magic) as far as the owners, buyers, and decision-makers are concerned. It's entirely irrelevant to their actual concerns, and it's not going to sway anyone pay close attention to their actual needs.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Eventually even the pointy-haired will notice innovation. They probably will not figure that IS innovation which makes them buy a certain product, but their buddies will tell them that "projects using product X are doing very well", so they buy product X. They don't know X innovated in some way three years ago.

    IBM's Power is a good example of great technology reaping great sales. And the same can be said about Intel, if you look at their process technology. Or Microsoft, if you compare NT, OS/2 and MacOS 9. Or about DB2 and the network databases.

    Innovation is important on the long run, but it does not necessarily sell a product on the short run, that is true. Other factors like services, a good sales and consulting force play a huge role. HP vs DEC is a good example of this.

  7. Bilgepipe


    I wish people would stop using the word "iron" to describe a computer, it's nauseatingly pretentious and makes you sound really quite sad.

    An iron is used to make clothes crease-free.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Big iron is here to stay

      And if you ever worked on the old mainframes you would completely understand and not come across as a sniveling dork.

  8. Morten Bjoernsvik
    Thumb Down

    port away

    I'm still puzzled why people still choose IBM mainframe lockin.

    At the Intel Developer Forum in September the IBM DB2 linux team quite openly indicated the benchmarks on Nehalem Xeons compiled with intel v11 compilers were better than on power.

    But if you entire IT-dept is outsourced to IBM it may be hard to resist.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Peter H Coffin

    You've missed the point, these days the innovation is in making the workload run faster or use less electricity (or both).

  10. Anonymous Coward


    No, iron is a metal. As in what the chassis of a server is made out of. The device you refer to is a heated piece of metal. It's like calling a vacuum cleaner a "hoover". There is no such device, but it's a common name.

    Oh and Sean - The OS is NOT the device. When you were coding Lotus Turbo Esprit on the Amiga, did you use AmigaOS or write your own mini-OS instead? If you wrote your own, then the OS and device are SEPARATE. If it was the same thing, you wouldn't be able to seperate it.

    1. Probe

      There is no such device?

      So, Hoover have never made vacuum cleaners then?

  11. Stephen Channell

    Turbo cash

    Turbo Cash

    What a wonderful wheeze.. every vendor that has come up with a mainframe emulator has been bought or paid-off by IBM.. so why not standard up for the open-mainframe.. be principled in your augments, use a friendly open government and.. then take the cash.

    Turbo Hercules offering sounds like a neat cheap DR option (which you never plan to use).. but kinda misses the point for production environments..

    Mainframes were the first cloud-computing environments, shared data-centres with shared DR have been around since the very beginning.. it is likely that most companies operating their own mainframe can save more money through outsourcing than Hercules can offer + outsourcing will get cheaper with cloud offerings.

  12. Michael C

    Lots of people need this for development

    We have several data centers containing big iron. We support lots of customers, internally and externally. We also lease MIPS to local governments and various universities around the country. MANY of those same have requested access to OS390 development resources, so they can write code appropriately, without having to create additional text networks, segregated connectivity, additional host regions, and without the risk of runaway dev code eating up tens of thousands CPU seconds. A small scale Hercules system, configured by us and leased, loaned, or owned by them could provide a small scale mainframe environment for the to develop their own code on. IBM themselves sell no such solution. Worse, for internal only processing, many of our customers can't even connect to a dev environment, they have to physically come to our facility, incurring great expense for months on end developing code.

    if IBM won't sell small scale OS390 systems, then they should be forced to let their competitors license that code to do so on their own.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Michael C

    Maybe this helps:

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    convicted monopolist

    I didn't know MS was hauled off in front of a criminal court ?

  15. Nick 6

    Pig lips

    "If Microsoft wanted to really cause some trouble, it would blackbox a version of z/OS that runs on a Windows kernel, slap a DB2 emulation layer on top of SQL Server, put natively compiled z/OS code atop the Hercules emulator inside Hyper-V partitions, and be done with it. "

    Yes, but a pig wearing lipstick is still a pig.

  16. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Can you force someone to sell something?

    Since software comes under copyright law... If a publisher puts something out as a hardback edition and refuses to produce a paperback (or even an eBook) edition, can a rival publisher go to court and say "We demand that you make the text available as a separate product so that we can buy that off you and re-package it in these other editions to try to steal your customers from you."? Presumably not, since I'm pretty sure it would happen.

    Similarly, I can't think of any case where a software vendor has been compelled to make supporting libraries available on the open market to permit rivals to offer lower-priced products targetting similar markets. Microsoft, for example, might be compelled to offer all the Win32 user-space libraries for sale to anyone who can find a cheaper implementation of the kernel-mode interfaces, or vice versa.

    Can't see it happening myself.

  17. John Savard

    Real Issue?

    Why would people spend so much more on an IBM mainframe than an Itanium box of equivalent horsepower? Evidently, it's because IBM makes software that runs on its mainframes that does things better.

    If IBM can't make their mainframes price-competitive with Itanium boxes running emulation software, why can't they just leave the hardware business, and charge more money for that great software of theirs?

    If that question could be answered, there would be no need for this lawsuit.

    1. Nick 6

      Mainframe professionals prefer Z

      I guess some people view Itanium as a failed experiment or a technological cul-de-sac, especially in the light of x64 development of much more capable chips. On the otherhand z has a long and proven pedigree with continued investment.

      But I'd be suprised to see any unbundling of software+hardware because just as they are greater than the sum of their parts, their sales price reflects that fact.

  18. the bat
    Thumb Down

    IBM has forgotten !!

    IBM also failed to mention that is was the OPEN SOURCE community that revived the mainframe brand at an expo way back then. Red Hat linux was the angel from above, engineers from CRAY computers made a bet that their xSeries server couldn't outperform their CRAY server. The IBM guys deleted OS/2 yes deleted OS/2 and installed Red Hat and own the bet by out perform the CRAY system and it was from that day IBM embraced the Red Hat Guys. So the opensource community also have an obligation to make IBM remove all derivatives of open source work currently running on their platforms.

  19. the bat

    FOSS gave IBM the new lease on life!

    IBM also failed to mention that is was the OPEN SOURCE community that revived the mainframe brand at an expo way back then. Red Hat linux was the angel from above, engineers from CRAY computers made a bet that their xSeries server couldn't outperform their CRAY server. The IBM guys deleted OS/2 yes deleted OS/2 and installed Red Hat and own the bet by out perform the CRAY system and it was from that day IBM embraced the Red Hat Guys. So the opensource community also have an obligation to make IBM remove all derivatives of open source work currently running on their platforms.

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