Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

Summary: Sources close to Canonical and IBM are telling me that Ubuntu may soon be certified on IBM's System p mini-computers and blades and System z mainframes.

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When you think of "Ubuntu Linux," you probably think of the community Linux distribution and the Linux desktop. That's great, but Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, also wants you to think of Ubuntu as a server and cloud operating system platform. To that end, Canonical has been working with IBM to get Ubuntu certified on IBM's high-end System P Power hardware line and System z mainframes.

Yes, that's right little Ubuntu Linux may soon be certified and running on top-of-the-line IBM enterprise hardware. Before this, Canonical worked successfully with IBM on bringing Ubuntu certifications for IBM's x86-powered System x and BladeCenter lines.

Officially, all Canonical has to say is "Our company policy is that we don't comment on any rumours that might be circulating. We'll of course keep you well informed of any news that comes out of Canonical." Away from public relations though I'm hearing that Canonical and IBM have working hard on expanding Ubuntu's reach on IBM hardware.

If all goes well, Ubuntu will be officially supported on System p within the month and it will be certified on the Z mainframes by year's end. This is happening because Canonical is working hard on increasing its business market share. While Ubuntu is arguably the single most popular Linux distribution with individuals, it's always lagged behind most Red Hat and SUSE, formerly Novell, in business. Canonical wants to change that.

In order to do that, Canonical has been improving its partnerships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs); major server companies such as Dell, and its enterprise customers. This next step into high-end business computing with IBM makes perfect sense in pursuing this strategy.

As for IBM? Linux has been very, very good for IBM over the last decade and they're getting to like Ubuntu. Historically, IBM has allied with Red Hat and Novell/SUSE. But, as IBM's VP of Open Systems Development, Dan Frye told me recently, IBM is operating system and Linux agnostic. IBM will support what its customers want, and so, it appears to me, that IBM's customers must now be asking for Ubuntu. Sometime soon it looks like they'll be getting it.

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Topics: IBM, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

    Congrats to Canonical and IBM
    daikon
  • A question about money -

    If Ubuntu Linux runs on an IBM mainframe, what does Ubuntu get out of it? Does anyone know how much $$ per installation of Ubuntu? Since the desktop is pretty much free unless a service agreement is purchased, what's the cash incentive to work so hard on the mainframe gig?
    Cynical99
    • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

      @Cynical99

      lawl. Oh you troll sir, you troll. But let's move on with the obvious. Simple: Support.

      As simple as that. IBM will have its support side, but so will Ubuntu. With SMBs and servers, generally there's a couple of Linux techies that know enough not to need support- and thus they get away with simply running CentOS/SuSE/etc without the need for licensing or support.

      Mainframes? Ahh. Big dog stuff. IBM provides the low level, hardware support & other backend stuff- whereas Ubuntu provides the software/interaction with hardware side of the support. You think anyone in the place that is using a mainframe might know enough Linux to do the task- however, I would equally wager that this person already has a role and no time to do so :)
      CommonOddity
      • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

        @CommonOddity <br><br>Don't know if you've ever used mainframes but they are a very different beast to anything *nix based if you are running native.
        the.nameless.drifter
      • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

        @the.nameless.drifter

        Oh yes, yes they are :)

        Getting into distributed SMP and queueing theory on mainframe boxes (more like mountains) is a whole universe of its own...
        CommonOddity
      • but the answer the the question is?

        @CommonOddity

        How much will Canonical charge for that contract you speak of? and How many sales will Canonical need to make to see a profit?

        After all, if it's expensive to run Canonical's Ubuntu, what's the customer's incentive if IBM has alternatives that are already proven?

        Oh, and assuming that mainframe folks know anything about Linux, it's a different world out ther and unless their shop is already running an IBM mainframe running a Linux IBM supports, they won't have a clue.

        That brings up another question -
        If IBM is bringing Canonical online, are they booting someone else out the back door? I find it hard to believe that IBM wants to support loads of Linux distros on their mainframes.

        Ubuntu in, but who?s out?
        Cynical99
      • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

        @Cynical99

        1. It should be no more expensive than RH/SuSE. The difference between the aforementioned and Canonical is that Canonical's focus is not profit right now. That is likely their end goal. Anyone in their position would probably strive for market entrance, and a growing client base before worrying about profits. They've the assets and profits from other corners of the company to balance this out.

        2. It is good to have choices. Some people are just fanboys (I would sincerely hope that is not the case with folks that get to play with mainframes), others find true technical merits to running OS A over OS B. To each their own. I'm a SuSE guy myself, but I'm pretty sure someone out there that loves his RH would argue the point with me :)

        3. I like how you conjecture the lack of Linux knowledge leaving people clueless, say, in a non-Linux IBM mainframe shop. Was it 80%+ that is running Linux with their mainframes/supercomputers? The leftover minority I'm sure would have enough technical know-how to call on some help, google, or just rtfm. For that matter, any half-decent business that has the assets/capital to actually run a mainframe would most likely have enough chump change to spare on one senior experienced Linux techie. Problem solved.

        4. For that matter, yes, you are right, it is a different world out there. Things don't scale the same for SMBs and places running mainframes. Different environments. Different reasons. Quite likely, the ones with the big shiny boxes have a lot more money to juggle than someone that is worried about splurging on Linux support, letalone a Windows 2k8 license.

        5. Interesting point you make here. I don't see why they would need to push someone out. Diversity is good for business, any way you cut it. If you went to a shop looking for a laptop and all they sold with them was Windows Vista- wouldn't you care to look elsewhere for more variety? Mayhaps a place that has 7 on their laptops?

        6. IBM would support the hardware. As simple as that. The interaction between hardware and the OS might require some collaboration between IBM/Canonical- but ultimately this is not IBM's problem. Actually, it's generally out of their scope.

        Ubuntu in, got jam?
        CommonOddity
      • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

        @Cynical99<br><br>I think you misunderstand. IBM provides IFL which is a chip specifically for running Linux on the mainframe with or without zVM, Canonical will certify its distro and it will be an option for customers to purchase instead of SUSE or Red Hat it really is a pick for favourite disto. IBM will support any hardware problem, or problem found on the zVM side if its above that then the linux vendor in question is on the hook for support.<br><br>They won't be booting anyone out the door this will simply be a reaction to customers expressing a desire to purchase Canonical on Power or Mainframe, hell if there were enough demand you'd probably see windows server on the mainframe
        the.nameless.drifter
    • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

      @Cynical99 Ubuntu contracts from Canonical cost $1200 per year per server installation in a configuration that would make sense for a mainframe system. That includes virtualized instances of Ubuntu, as well. So, 40 VMs would be $48,000/yr.

      Edit: To be clear, Ubuntu gets IBM mainframe support out of it. Canonical is doing the work and they get the monetary benefit out of it. Canonical != Ubuntu
      cabdriverjim
    • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

      @Cynical99
      Businesses want to have continuity, and require recoverability. Therefore they buy service agreements from Canonical. And guess who runs Ubuntu on mainframes to take advantage of their long time between failure, and recoverability ? Businesses which don't mind paying for service agreements. So the incentive is simple: greater market.
      bigbigboss
    • CommonOddity has shown why the Linux community is shuned as it is

      @CommonOddity

      Cynical99 asks a valid, question, out of curiousity, and is deemed a troll by a memeber of the community. Why bother if that is how you'll be treated when looking for some help, right

      I wonder, who is the real troll in that conversation, Cynical99, or more likely CommonOddity?
      William Farrell
    • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

      @William Farrell

      I guess you don't get it. Lulz.

      I didn't call him a troll, if you haven't noticed (obviated by your remark). I like Cynical99. He makes a lot of good, sensible posts. But I've seen the style he upholds, and I'm pretty sure he's on the level; enough to understand a joke when it's uttered :)

      If you were to read the other three bloody quarters of what I wrote, you'd realize I did legitimately answer his question.

      Who is the real troll William? The one that cracks a joke, or the one that points the finger with unnecessary conviction?
      CommonOddity
  • z/OS

    OK, will this be a z/OS partition or will Ubuntu run the big iron directly?
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

      @facebook@... <br><br>Nothing a little research couldn't find out.<br><br>PS. Only if you are that interested. But I doubt you are.
      Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

        @Return_of_the_jedi

        "Nothing a little research couldn't find out."

        True. I wish SJVN would do a little more research before he puts out an article like his associate Ed Bott does. If this was an Ed Bott article, I would already know the answer to my question.
        Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

        @Return_of_the_jedi
        Try to research out how fast Mainframes are compared to x86, it is impossible to find. IBM refuses to publish benchmarks: Mainframes vs x86 - the reason? Mainframe cpus are very slow. You need several IBM Mainframe z196 cpus to match one Intel Nehalem-EX when we talk about cpu performance. For example, an 5.26GHz with almost half a GB cpucache z196 reaches 50.000 Dhrystone, whereas a Core i7 gives 160.000 Dhrystone:
        http://wikien4.appspot.com/wiki/Instructions_per_second#Timeline_of_instructions_per_second




        Regarding if Ubuntu will run on the iron directly: I have heard that no OS is allowed to run on the hw directly. Every OS is run on a hypervisor. Something like this. Can anyone confirm / deny with links?
        Orvar
      • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

        @Orvar

        Can't find a link but you can run any zlinux distro on the IFL directly but its probably more efficient for you to run zVM and have a number LPARs per IFL
        the.nameless.drifter
    • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

      @facebook@...

      I imagine it will work like the other zlinux invarients so run on the iron or via LPARs
      the.nameless.drifter
    • RE: Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

      @facebook@...
      Mainframes have 2 hypervisors the free PRISM and z/VM. Both have been around for 30+ years.

      Linux has been available on the mainframe for 11 years now. Also, many mainframers are quite familiar with nix... since z/os has a UNIX subsystem built into the OS for close to 20 years. This doesn't even take into account that most mainframe shops do have nix systems running on the same floor.

      FYI... The new mainframe also has p-series blades, and in 3 weeks, will have x-series blades in addition to the IFL engines(linux specialty engines) and the traditional mainframe engines. IBM's statement of direction is that they will be running Windows on the mainframe shortly. The x-blades and p-blades for the mainframe will/are running KVM, but are being management by a hipervisor manager.
      scotth_z
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