back to article Mainframe big boy Big Blue tries to drum up new biz via Linux

Big Blue is attempting to drum up new mainframe business with the launch of its LinuxOne machine. IBM has teamed up with Ubuntu outift Canonical to build two versions of a mainframe running Ubuntu Linux. The new mainframe comes in an "Emperor" version – which runs on the IBM z13 – and the smaller "Rockhopper", designed for “ …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. asdf


    Nothing like spending a king's mint on the hardware and then choosing to throw away POSIX. GNU/Linux is quickly catering more to laptops than mainframes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sigh

      Lack of a POSIX certification hasn't seemed to hamper Linux at this point on other platforms, or on the mainframe. Why should it now?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sigh

        >Lack of a POSIX certification

        Its not the cert itself but the fact that Linux is moving away from even trying to be POSIX compliant. Linux wants to be the new POSIX (more and more FOSS is moving towards having a hard dependency on Linux). It may well succeed which is not necessarily a good development in the enterprise server space.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: sigh

      You have lost track of what is going on since very long ago completely, or just trolling.

  3. thames

    "The new mainframe comes in an "Emperor" version – which runs on the IBM z13"

    So does that make the OS the Emperor Penguin version?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      I've seen a dozen takes on this story, and NOBODY has mentioned that the Emperor and Rockhopper are species of penguin....

  4. Herby

    But does it have...


    Inquiring minds, etc.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: But does it have...

      No doubt, there is an incredible amount of that around in banks, insurance and most likely in the stock exchange too. Had no particular problems with COBOL. As a programmer you use the tools you are given and the problem is never the language but your ability to use it and understand the problem. nothing new there and most cars still have four wheels.

    2. aqk

      Re: But does it have...

      LOL! That's the first thing I thought of when I saw this headline! Maybe a BAL translater/ interpreter too?

  5. thames

    Perhaps a change in direction for IBM?

    I just had a look at Canonical's (Ubuntu) web site to see their version of the announcement, and apparently this will include things like the Ubuntu cloud management software (Juju) and their container system (LXD - which they seem to pitch as a sort of hybrid hypervisor/container). It's not "cloud" in the sense of putting all your stuff on AWS, but rather "cloud" in the sense of rapid and easy deployment and management of thousands of Linux VMs and containers on IBM hardware using software tools already familiar to people managing Linux systems.

    I also had a look at IBM's video of the announcement. They talked a lot about how mainframe design, especially the dedicated IO processors gave their hardware much more usable capacity than an equivalent x86 system. They also talked in terms of how many hundreds of VMs and tens of thousands of containers it can run.

    I'm going to take a guess that IBM will be pitching their hardware to companies that would otherwise be buying loads of x86 servers in consolidated data centres. Running Linux as the OS could let IBM cut the price of the hardware without cutting their own throats in terms of pricing with legacy customers. It will also let IBM offer the huge selection of software which is available off the shelf for Linux distros. It would be interesting to know just how the two options (x86 server versus mainframe) will compare.

    The strategy behind this might be something that could use more investigation, as it may be signalling where IBM sees the future of the mainframe going rather than just being another option.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps a change in direction for IBM?

      "The strategy behind this might be". It seems to me that IBM is just adding Canonical to the list of Linux companies they support alongside RedHat and Suse. And perhaps indeed Canonical has something new to add. Not a Canonical user my self but one has to admit that Canonical has had a lot of energy in expanding itself.

      I wonder if people actually know for how long IBM has supported Linux, must be more than 15 years by now. IBM was the first ever (and last) that run Linux ads on TV. A small guy representing Linux, I wonder if anybody understood anything about that TV ad.

      IBM has spent more effort on Linux than on AIX for a long time. Nothing wrong with AIX, had several customers using it, but it's POWER only and will remain so,

      Linux is never sold with a "Linux inside" sticker, it's just used.

      In my home I have a few laptops a router, a defunct vacuum cleaner, a TV, e-reader, and a cell phone.

      And it would not surprise me if my printer and washing machine and a Huawei dongle run Linux too.

      Linux is the world's most used OS to day. (if not on the desktop).

      1. thames

        Re: Perhaps a change in direction for IBM?

        @Lars - They're not just announcing Ubuntu support, they're announcing a Linux-only mainframe that also happens to run Ubuntu. For IBM, it's the new mainframes (two models) that is the centre of their announcement. I believe that up to know they've only supported Linux in an isolated VM (LPAR) on the side, not as the main OS.

        They're also claiming that if you install a large system it will cost you half as much as running the workload on a public cloud. So, it looks to me as if they intend to undercut public cloud on price for large customers. That's an interesting answer to those who say that mainframes are too expensive and everything should move to AWS.

        As to why someone would want to run Linux rather than Z/OS, there's a huge selection of open source software which will run on Linux, and porting that to Z/OS would be an impossibly large effort for IBM. Of the stuff they have ported to Z/OS, many are very old and unsupported versions (e.g. Python 2.4). By using Linux, the applications gap between x86 and Z/OS almost completely disappears.

        In other words, is IBM's plan to make the mainframe becomes a fully modern competitive platform again, rather than just a slowly dying legacy system for old COBOL programs? If so, then that's worth knowing about.

  6. Ian Michael Gumby

    Meh! Nothing really new here.

    IBM has had Linux APARS on the mainframe for a long time.

    I seem to recall DB cheats using Linux LPARS for DB2 because it was cheaper.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Meh! Nothing really new here.

      It would be helpful if those who vote against statements that purport to be factual provided statements of the reason why. If the claim is incorrect, evidence of that makes sense; a simple downvote leaves readers with no particular knowledge to wonder why. There is a difference between contesting a claim because it is false and contesting it because the downvoter, recognizing it as true, is unhappy about that.

      Upvoted, based on the knowledge or belief that the Linux kernel is able to run on bare zSeries hardware and that DB2 for Linux will run on processors with IFL engines, i. e., that Gumby's statements are correct.

      1. MarcvdM

        Re: Meh! Nothing really new here.

        Actually nothing runs on bare metal System z hardware, it would be a silly thing to dedicate even a business class server to a single operating system image. Everything that runs on System z (z/OS, zVSE, zTPF, z/VM and native Linux LPARs) sits on top of the low level Hypervisor PR/SM, the layer that allows for logical partitioning, and hardware resource sharing between the LPARs.

        It's a fact that already now an IFL only machine can exist which only runs zLinux either on top of the z/VM hypervisor or within its own LPAR. What is new with the LinuxONE machines is the way it is marketed (and likely the hardware pricing), and a new offering to virtualize Linux VM's under z/KVM.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: Meh! Nothing really new here.

        Considering that before I escaped from the borg... there were customers running DB2 on zLinux... many moons ago... I guess the 3 thumbs down must be IBMers who are supporting zSeries.

        The truth is that there's more to this... While I am not under any NDA and what I am about to say is pure speculation... think Hadoop ports / Mesos ports so that you can do 'Big Data' on the 'Big Iron'.

        But you didn't hear that from me.

        I believe its a better path than trying to port Linux and Hadoop to the p series chips.

        1. Jesper Frimann

          Re: Meh! Nothing really new here.

          I don't get it "Trying to port" ? It's there already. AFAIR their hadoop 'appliance' is LInux on POWER based.

          The big mistake that IBM made was not merging the z and i/p hardware.

          Although the z13 is a nice processor it's not POWER8, which is IMHO is quite a bit bigger and bad'er than the z13.

          // Jesper

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Emperor or Rockhopper, nothing in between

    No Prince, Admiral or Commodore ?

    No Marechal, Colonel or even Lieutenant ?

    Come on, people, have a sense of scale !

    1. GrumpyOF

      Re: Emperor or Rockhopper, nothing in between

      I think your are on the wrong track here.

      As mentioned in an earlier comment, Emperor and Rockhopper are penguins, so give the IBM marketing guys some credit for linking the names of the systems to the Linux mascot.

      If you are looking for an intermediate sized MF then perhaps the 'Jackass' penguin could be a suitable name!

      If you are Italian then the 'Macaroni' might suit you.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        @ GrumpyOF

        Thanks for the tip.

        Indeed I didn't know that. Puts things in quite another light.

        I conclude that we need a new penguin and to call it Admiral.

    2. ToddR

      Re: Emperor or Rockhopper, nothing in between

      No Prince, Admiral or Commodore ?

      Your post would make sense if:

      No King, Humboldt, Gentoo, Adele, Chinstrap etc

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Escape tunnel

    Maybe it's a way out for the M$ zombies?

    A plan B against the constant push for SaaS.

  9. aqk
    Paris Hilton

    Didn't IBM port Linux to the mainframe years ago?

    Think it will use ASCII or EBCDIC?

    Fifteen+ years ago I remember them advertising Linux as an optional OS on their Z series VM system

    But of course this is when an IBM sales rep gave me a "real cool groovy" IBM t-shirt that said "@me", which I still treasure, even though I don't understand what it means...

    Back then, IBM was jumping on any trendy bandwagon - PS2 and "WARP" come to mind - maybe they still are.

    Now, where did put my green card...?

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