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IBM encourages easy ISV application porting to Linux on System z

IBM encourages easy ISV application porting to Linux on System z
Illustration by Matt Collins

Innovation and the right idea at the right time—and a lot of hard work—helped Linux* become available for IBM’s high-end System z* server starting in 1999. A decade later, IBM supports not only Linux on System z, but also the ISV applications that continue to be ported to the platform.

Ten years ago, IBM announced Linux software and services for the S/390* enterprise server. That announcement was S/390’s contribution of the IBM strategy to infuse Linux throughout its portfolio of e-business servers and services. It brought the benefits of Linux and new applications to the industry’s most reliable server. Today, more than 3,000 Linux on System z applications are available, and the reasons go beyond the security, high availability and other qualities of service inherent in the IBM mainframe. Let’s examine the hard work IBM continues to invest in ISV development for Linux on System z.

Humble Beginnings

The original port of Linux on System z, into what’s referred to as the 390 source tree for the kernel itself, wasn’t all that difficult for the combined efforts of the open-source community and IBM researchers involved. The most difficult task was dealing with some System z capabilities that are architected differently from other servers, such as the drivers for disk storage, networking and back-plane data movement. There was also work in integrating memory management and the capability to leverage system resources such as a cryptographic processor. (For more on the beginning of Linux on System z, read “Ten Years With Tux.”)

At the time of the initial port, the Linux kernel was at version 2.2.16 and the System z architecture helped expose issues regarding memory leaks in the code. Because the port was part of the overall open-source and Linux source-tree initiative, those memory-leak fixes found their way back into the overall Linux source tree, where they helped stop the code leaks in every other architecture.

For more than two decades, IBM has provided a robust set of programs and offerings to assist ISVs in porting and enabling their applications to the System z platform.

Andrew Schmidt is an advisory software engineer with IBM.

Bill Reeder has been with IBM 13 years and is currently responsible for System z sales and strategy for the Americas Group.


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