Free Stuff for Your Mainframe

While IBM says "no additional charge," the rest of the world says "free." Either way, if you've got a mainframe, or you're getting one, there's a lot of new free stuff beyond Linux that you should grab and enjoy. Here are some of my favorites. Do you have any favorite freebies?

1. LPARs. Every z/Architecture mainframe supports at least 15 LPARs. If you don't have an LPAR devoted to new technology exploration, create at least a small one and go have fun. It's safe and, yes, you can almost always create it in ways so that it's free.

2. Friendly z/OS monitoring. Go grab the IBM OMEGAMON z/OS Management Console. If you're still trying to get by only with SMF and RMF (or CMF), you're working way too hard. The OMEGAMON z/OS Management Console monitors at least basic z/OS conditions, provides graphical interfaces, and interoperates with IBM Health Checker for z/OS (another freebie).

3. z/OS UNIX System Services tools, including PHP. If you've got z/OS you've also got UNIX(TM). It's built in. And there are lots of z/OS UNIX freebies available at the IBM Ported Tools for z/OS Web site, including the hot PHP Web development language. Click on "Tools & Toys" to find zip and unzip, among many other staples. [Update on July 4, 2007: Python is also available, as is Ruby in the form of JRuby.]

4. Ease your z/OS installation. The IBM Customized Offerings Driver is a mini z/OS distribution with JES2 to help you get full z/OS up-and-running quicker and easier.

5. Java batch program support. Write Java batch programs using the JZOS Toolkit.

6. Full graphical development workbench. If you have a CICS Transaction Server 3.1 or (when available) 3.2 license, you receive one free copy of WebSphere Developer for System z. You can use this one copy for any purpose. In addition, you may use up to 10 copies for any of several CICS-specific purposes as published in the official CICS announcement letter. It's a marketing promotion copy, though, so if you need IBM support that's an additional fee.

7. Use gcc to compile new z/OS applications. If you cannot afford a commercial C/C++ compiler for z/OS (check the price; it's a lot lower than you probably think), then you can use the free gcc as your compiler. There are many ways to do that, but there's a good write-up and necessary downloads at Tachyon's Web site. (Thanks, Tachyon!) You can also use WebSphere Developer for System z Version 7 or higher to produce and edit z/OS C/C++ code graphically, then compile on your PC with gcc. WDz's Eclipse foundations are open and should allow you to choose your preferred compiler.

by Timothy Sipples June 14, 2007


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I have a large installation of Solaris machines, running across SPARC and HP systems, and I'd like to know if IBM would ever be interested in running Solaris on a manframe? It sure would help me out...

Posted by: Lisa Sweartner | Jun 16, 2007 6:45:56 PM

What you really need is a free z/OS, one that will run on "free" hardware.

From little clients big clients grow.

Posted by: | Jun 18, 2007 4:56:28 AM

Are you aware that there is another port of GCC to the mainframe, even MVS 3.8? You can find it here:

Posted by: Paul Edwards | Jun 19, 2007 9:42:26 AM

Timothy, Timothy, Timothy...

*repeat same points from IBM-MAIN thread*

Plus - compile != test. Just because I can use gcc to compile on a non-z/Architecture platform doesn't mean the damn thing will work under z/OS, z/VSE, z/VM or z/TPF.

True example: I'm working on a program that is designed to run on z/VSE and BS2000/OSD. I'm writing the prototype using Don Higgins' z390 ( Java emulator. I can get the basic logic worked out - not a problem. Heck, I'm writing it with platform dependent and independent modules. But I still must ask you - how can I, a relatively poor BT, find a z/VSE (and, well BS2000/OSD) platform for true testing at about the same investment as I've put into my hardware and software?

Posted by: Ray Mullins | Jul 4, 2007 12:44:04 PM

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