Can’t get enough of porting old software? How about getting Doom ported to and running on an old version of AIX for PowerPC? You know what ever computer needs? DOOM. Do you know what I couldn’t find? DOOM for the IBM RS/6000, but that’s not surprising. These machines were never meant for gaming, but that’s doesn’t mean you can’t do it. If you like pain anyway. In this extra long NCommander special, we’re going to explore AIX, discuss the RS/6000 Model 150 43p I’m running it on. Throughout this process, I’d explore the trouble in getting bash to build, getting neofetch to work, then the battle for high colors, SDL, and more. This video is over an hour long, but incredibly detailed and lovingly obscure.
IBM has announced it has cleared a major hurdle in its effort to make quantum computing useful: it now has a quantum processor, called Eagle, with 127 functional qubits. This makes it the first company to clear the 100-qubit mark, a milestone that’s interesting because the interactions of that many qubits can’t be simulated using today’s classical computing hardware and algorithms. But what may be more significant is that IBM now has a roadmap that would see it producing the first 1,000-qubit processor in two years. And, according to IBM Director of Research Darío Gil, that’s the point where calculations done with quantum hardware will start being useful. I feel like quantum computing is one of those things that will eventually have a big impact on various aspects of our world, but at this point, it’s far too complicated and early days to really make any predictions.
In today’s era of hybrid cloud, there is an increased demand for flexible infrastructure, continuous availability, scalable and sustainable compute, enhanced security and data protection, and increased integration with open technologies. As businesses navigate these dynamic market conditions and IT infrastructure demands, they require an operating system they can rely on that can be optimized to adapt to these changing business needs. With the introduction of IBM AIX 7.3 Standard Edition, IBM addresses these needs while also continuing its tradition of providing new functions that can help dramatically improve system availability, scalability, performance, and flexibility while maintaining binary compatibility to ensure a quick and seamless transition to the new release. Combined with Power10, AIX 7.3 enables clients to modernize with a frictionless hybrid cloud experience to respond faster to business demands, protect data from core to cloud, and streamline insights and automation. AIX 7.3, coupled with IBM POWER8®, and later, technology-based systems, delivers a computing platform designed for hybrid cloud that is optimized, secure, and adapts to evolving business demands. This means AIX 7.3 has been released – well, sort of, since it won’t be actually available until 10 December.
This is an introduction to getting IBM’s OS/360 operating system loaded and running on the Hercules emulator for the System/370, ESA/390, and z/Architecture systems. It assumes you have some familiarity with the 370, and with OS; in particular, you need to have some understanding of JCL, and of OS/360 (or later versions, like MVS or OS/390) usage and operation. It does not purport to be an introduction to the world of the 370. This is a bit more complicated to set up than just about any other emulator or VM out there. A great weekend project for people with the right skill set and inclination.
While POWER9 was big for open-source fans with the formation of the OpenPOWER Foundation and Raptor Computing Systems designing POWER9-based systems that are fully open-source down to schematics and the motherboard firmware, the same can’t be currently said about POWER10. While IBM has published a lot of the POWER10 firmware as open-source, remaining closed for at least the time being is their off-chip OMI DRAM bridge and their on-chip PPE I/O processor. This sucks. I am a huge fan of Raptor’s fully open POWER9 workstation and boards, and despite Raptor hinting for months now there were issues with POWER10’s openness, I was hoping things would be figured out before the release of IBM’s new POWER10 processors this month. Sadly, this seems to have been wishful thinking. Raptor’s POWER9 workstations are the only fully open performance-oriented computers you can get, and until IBM decides otherwise, it’s going to stay that way. That just sucks.
IBM today announced IBM z/OS V2.5, the next-generation operating system for IBM Z, designed to accelerate client adoption of hybrid cloud and AI and drive application modernization projects. I have several IBM Z mainframes running in my garage running our family’s Minecraft server. This update will surely lead to downtime, which is a major, major bummer, especially since IBM is shoving ever more ads into z/OS to get us to subscribe to IBM Music.
The IBM PC spawned the basic architecture that grew into the dominant Wintel platform we know today. Once heavy, cumbersome and power thirsty, it’s a machine that you can now emulate on a single board with a cheap commodity microcontroller. That’s thanks to work from , who has shared a how-to on Youtube. The full playlist is quite something to watch, showing off a huge number of old-school PC applications and games running on the platform. There’s QBASIC, FreeDOS, Windows 3.0, and yes, of course, Flight Simulator. The latter game was actually considered somewhat of a de facto standard for PC compatibility in the 1980s, so the fact that the ESP32 can run it with code suggests he’s done well. This is excellent work, and while there’s tons of better ways to emulate an old IBM PC, they’re not as cool as running it on a cheap microcontroller.
Recently, popular Apple blogger John Gruber has been on a mission to explain why, exactly, tech companies like Apple don’t need any stricter government oversight or be subjected to stricter rules and regulations. He does so by pointing to technology companies that were once dominant, but have since fallen by the wayside a little bit. His most recent example is IBM, once dominant among computer users, but now a very different company, focused on enterprise, servers, and very high-end computing. Gruber’s argument: It wasn’t too long ago — 20, 25 years? — when a leadership story like this at IBM would have been all anyone in tech talked about for weeks to come. They’ve been diminished not because the government broke them up or curbed their behavior through regulations, but simply because they faded away. It is extremely difficult to become dominant in tech, but it’s just as difficult to stay dominant for longer than a short run. Setting aside the fact that having to dig 40 years into the past of the fast-changing technology industry to find an example of a company losing its dominance among general consumers and try to apply that to vastly different tech industry of today is highly questionable, IBM specifically is an exceptionally terrible example to begin with. I don’t think the average OSNews reader needs a history lesson when it comes to IBM, but for the sake of completeness – IBM developed the IBM Personal Computer in the early ’80s, and it became a massive success. Almost overnight, it became the personal computer, and with IBM opting for a relatively open architecture – especially compared to its competitors at the time – it was inevitable that clones would appear. The first few clones that came onto the market, however, ran into a problem. While IBM opted for an open architecture to foster other companies making software and add-in cards and peripherals, what they most certainly did not want was other companies making computers that were 100% compatible with the IBM Personal Computer. In order to make a 100% IBM compatible, you’d need to have IBM’s BIOS – and IBM wasn’t intent on licensing it to anyone. And so, the first clones that entered the market simply copied IBM’s BIOS hook, line, and sinker, or wrote a new BIOS using IBM’s incredibly detailed manual. Both methods were gross violations of IBM’s copyrights, and as such, IBM successfully sued them out of existence. So, if you want to make an IBM Personal Computer compatible computer, but you can’t use IBM’s own BIOS, and you can’t re-implement IBM’s BIOS using IBM’s detailed manual, what are your options? Well, it turns out there was an option, and the company to figure that out was Compaq. Compaq realised they needed to work around IBM’s copyrights, so they set up a “clean room”. Developers who had never seen IBM’s manuals, and who had never seen the BIOS code, studied how software written for the IBM PC worked, and from that, reverse-engineered a very compatible BIOS (about 95%). Since IBM wasn’t going to just hand over control over their platform that easily, they sued Compaq – and managed to find one among the 9000 copyrights IBM owned that Compaq violated (Compaq ended up buying said copyright from IBM). But IBM wasn’t done quite yet. They realised the clone makers were taking away valuable profits from IBM, and after their Compaq lawsuit largely failed to stop clone makers from clean-room reverse-engineering the BIOS, IBM decided to do something incredibly stupid: they developed an entirely new architecture that was entirely incompatible with the IBM PC: MCA, or the Microchannel Architecure, most famously used in IBM’s PS/2. In the short run, IBM sold a lot of MCA-based machines due to the company’s large market share and dominance, but customers weren’t exactly happy. Software written for MCA-based machines would not work on IBM PC machines, and vice versa; existing investment in IBM PC software and hardware became useless, and investing in MCA would mean leaving behind a large, established customer base. The real problem for IBM, however, came in the long run. Nine of the most prominent clone manufacturers realised the danger MCA could pose, and banded together to turn the IBM PC into a standard not controlled by IBM, the Extended Industry Standard Architecture (with IBM’s PC-AT of the IBM PC renamed to ISA), later superseded by Vesa Local Bus and PCI. Making MCA machines and hardware required paying hefty royalties to IBM, while making EISA/VLB/PCI machines was much cheaper, and didn’t tie you down to a single, large controlling competitor. In the end, we all know what happened – MCA lost out big time, and IBM lost control over the market it helped create entirely. The clone makers and their successful struggle to break it free from IBM’s control has arguably contributed more to the massive amounts of innovation, rapid expansion of the market, and popularity and affordability of computers than anything else in computing history. If the dice of history had come up differently, and IBM had managed to retain or regain control over the IBM PC platform, we would have missed out on one of the biggest computing explosions prior to the arrival of the modern smartphone. To circle back to the beginning of this article – using IBM’s fall from dominance in the market for consumer computers as proof that the market will take care of the abusive tech monopolists of today, at best betrays a deep lack of understanding of history, and at worst is an intentional attempt at misdirection to mislead readers. Yes, IBM lost out in the marketplace because its competitors managed to produce better, faster, and cheaper machines – but the sole reason this competition could even unfold in the first place is because IBM inadvertently lost the control it had over the market. And this illustrates exactly why the abusive tech giants of today need to be strictly controlled, regulated, and possibly even broken up. IBM could only dream of
COBOL for Linux on x86 1.1 is the latest addition to the IBM COBOL compiler family, which includes Enterprise COBOL for z/OS and COBOL for AIX. COBOL for Linux on x86 is a productive and powerful development environment for building and modernizing COBOL applications. It includes an optimizing COBOL compiler and a COBOL runtime library. COBOL for Linux on x86 is based on the same advanced optimization technology as Enterprise COBOL for z/OS. It offers both performance and programming capabilities for developing business critical COBOL applications for Linux on x86 systems. COBOL for Linux on x86 is designed to support clients on their journey to the cloud. It enables clients to strategically deploy business-critical applications written in COBOL to a hybrid cloud environment or best-fit platforms, which includes IBM Z (z/OS), IBM Power Systems (AIX), and x86 (Linux) platforms. As I understand it, there’s still a lot of COBOL code all over the industry, so it makes sense for IBM to make its COBOL technologies available to more people.
By leveraging the strengths of the IBM Z platform’s computing power and resources, IBM z/OS(R) plays an important role in providing a secure, scalable environment for the underlying transformation process on which organizations are embarking to deliver swift innovation. IBM z/OS V2.5 is designed to enable and drive innovative development to support new hybrid cloud and AI business applications. This is accomplished by enabling next-generation systems operators and developers to have easy access and a simplified experience with IBM z/OS, all while relying on the most optimal usage of computing power and resources of IBM Z servers for scale, security, and business continuity. This is far beyond my comfort level.
How do you boot a computer from punch cards when the computer has no operating system and no ROM? To make things worse, this computer requires special metadata called “word marks” that can’t be represented on a card. In this blog post, I describe the interesting hardware and software techniques used in the vintage IBM 1401 computer to load software from a deck of punch cards. (Among other things, half of each card contains loader code that runs as each card is read.) I go through some IBM 1401 machine code in detail, which illustrates the strangeness of the 1401’s architecture and instruction set compared to a modern machine. I simply cannot imagine what wizardry these newfangled computers must’ve felt like to the people of the ’50s, when computers first started to truly cement themselves in the public consciousness. Even though they’ve been around for twice as long, I find a world without cars far, far easier to imagine and grasp than a world without computers.
This webpage describes the MIOS Project. MIOS is a chip-for-chip replacement of the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) on the IBM 5150 Personal Computer. On the IBM PC the BIOS is contained in a ROM IC Chip located on the motherboard at socket location U33. The IC is socketed and can be replaced with a custom ROM containing custom code. The purpose of this project is to explore controlling the IBM PC hardware in non-standard ways. The purpose is not to replace the BIOS with another BIOS that does exactly the same thing! We are going to describe how MIOS works by describing the path we took for development. Amazingly cool project. I’m not entirely sure for how long it’s been around, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.
International Business Machines Corp is splitting itself into two public companies, capping a years-long effort by the world’s first big computing firm to diversify away from its legacy businesses to focus on high-margin cloud computing. IBM will list its IT infrastructure services unit, which provides technical support for 4,600 clients in 115 countries and has a backlog of $60 billion, as a separate company with a new name by the end of 2021. The new company will have 90,000 employees and its leadership structure will be decided in a few months, Chief Financial Officer James Kavanaugh told Reuters. I have no idea what to say about this. IBM is so far out of my comfort zone these days.
For a lot of organizations that buy servers and create systems out of them, the overall throughput of each single machine is the most important performance metric they care about. But for a lot of IBM i shops and indeed even System z mainframe shops, the performance of a single core is the most important metric because most IBM i customers do not have very many cores at all. Some have only one, others have two, three, or four, and most do not have more than that although there are some very large Power Systems running IBM i. But that is on the order of thousands of customers against a base of 120,000 unique customers. We are, therefore, particularly interested in how the performance of the future Power10 processors will stack up against the prior generations of Power processors at the single core level. It is hard to figure this out with any precision, but in its presentation in August at the Hot Chips conference, Big Blue gave us some clues that help us make a pretty good estimate of where the Power10 socket performance will be and we can work backwards from there to get a sense of where the Power10 cores could end up in terms of the Commercial Performance Workload (CPW) benchmark ratings that IBM uses to gauge the relative performance of IBM i systems. ARM, RISC-V, POWERx – there’s definitely renewed interest in non-x86 architectures, and that makes me very, very happy.
The A2O core is an out-of-order, multi-threaded, 64-bit POWER ISA core that was developed as a processor for customization and embedded use in system-on-chip (SoC) devices. It’s most suitable for single thread performance optimization. A follow-up to its parent high-streaming throughput A2I predecessor, it maintains the same modular design approach and fabric structure. The Auxiliary Execution Unit (AXU) is tightly-coupled to the core, enabling many possibilities for special-purpose designs for new markets tackling the challenges of modern workloads. Intel’s current troubles and the rise in popularity of alternatives is creating a very rare and ever so small opportunity for smaller ISAs to gain some traction. I’ll take what I can get in our current stratified technology market.
IBM named Arvind Krishna as chief executive officer, replacing longtime CEO Virginia Rometty. Krishna is currently the head of IBM’s cloud and cognitive software unit and was a principal architect of the company’s purchase of Red Hat, which was completed last year. Rometty, 62, will continue as executive chairman and serve through the end of the year, when she will retire after almost 40 years with the company, IBM said in a statement Thursday. Good luck to the man, I guess. IBM isn’t exactly the most exciting company in the world.
The vast majority of PC users today have no memory of what PC keyboards looked like before the standard 101/102-key layout arrived, even though various OEMs do their best to mangle the standard layout in order to minimize usability, especially on laptops. OEM-specific modifications aside, the basic layout of the main block of alphanumeric keys has not changed in over 30 years, since 1986. However, up until that point the PC keyboard layout and the keyboard hardware changed quite a bit, and looking at the 1981-1986 IBM Technical References is key to understanding a) why the standard keyboard scan codes are so complex, and b) why there are so many seemingly odd vendor-specific modifications of the standard layout. With our modern operating systems and crazy fast processors, it’s easy to forget that the PC as a platform is almost 40 years old, and many of the PC standards we don’t even think of as standards have roots that date back that far – and the keyboard is no exception.
John Stanley Ford, my father, was the first black software engineer in America, hired by IBM in 1946. Passed over for promotions, discriminated against in pay, with many inside IBM working to ensure his failure, he still viewed his job as an opportunity of a lifetime. He refused to give up. Minority underrepresentation in high tech has been present since the earliest days of the industry. In reflecting upon my father’s career for a new memoir I wrote about him, I saw important lessons about the history and nature of racism in high tech, and about the steps that corporations and individuals can take to bring about much-needed change. An important and fascinating story – especially since it involves IBM, a company with a long and deep roots in racism, eugenics, and genocide.
On Thursday IBM unveiled their new mainframe, the z15. Overall, the z15 represents an evolutionary change over its predecessor, the z14. However, there are plenty of enhancements across the board. This goes way over my head, but it’s still immensely cool.
It has been a long time coming, and it might have been better if this had been done a decade ago. But with a big injection of open source spirit from its acquisition of Red Hat, IBM is finally taking the next step and open sourcing the instruction set architecture of its Power family of processors. Opening up architectures that have fallen out of favour seems to be all the rage these days. Good news, of course, but a tad late.