Mainframe support

Johnson David DavidJohnson at
Mon Mar 29 10:30:28 PST 2004

On Sunday 28 March 2004 08:41 pm, Charon wrote:
> IBM is currently pushing Linux on its big iron offerings. What
> similar capacity options are available for FreeBSD based
> installations? Has IBM actually ported Linux or are they running a
> smoke and mirrors setup with Linux running in a vmware like
> environment?

IBM ported Linux itself to their mainframes. It wasn't a community 
project in any sense of the word. We could do this, but I don't think 
anyone here can afford an IBM mainframe. Heck, most of us couldn't 
afford the real estate to house one :-)

There are practical and philosophical problems with Linux on their 
mainframes. First, this is a niche market. The only customers are going 
to be banks and other transaction-heavy Fortune 500 companies. It's a 
"brownie point" for Linux, but nothing to be ashamed of if you don't 
have it. Second, Unix and mainframes have completely different skill 
sets. Going with this solution means you need both mainframe and Linux 

Philosophically, from the Free Software side of things, it's kind of 
strange. You have a Free Software kernel running in a VM in a 
proprietary operating system on proprietary hardware with only one 
vendor available for support. Overall, there's few advantages for the 
customer, but large advantages to IBM.

It would be nice if FreeBSD could run in the Z-Series, if only for the 
brownie points we would earn. But it would be little more than an 
experiment. You're not going to run a webserver on an IBM mainframe, or 
make it your development workstation or desktop. The only applications 
that would make sense could still be done cheaper on a cluster.

If FreeBSD needs to expand out of its workstation/server niche, the 
logical area to expand to is not the mainframe market, but the embedded 


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