Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Welcome to the public AS/400 (pub1.de)
73 points by omnibrain on Aug 1, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 36 comments

If you're into operating systems design I defiantly recommend buying and reading through http://www.amazon.com/Fortress-Rochester-Inside-Story-iSerie....

The i OS is very different than UNIX and this book was quite enlightening to me. Some of the stuff done is quite visionary. The hardware micro-architecture has fundamentally changed four times, but the upper OS and users doesn't care.

That looks great, too bad it's currently $80 used! I really enjoyed Soltis' more formal "Inside the AS/400"[1], available for a mere 77¢!

[1] http://smile.amazon.com/Inside-AS-400-Frank-Soltis/dp/188241...

According to one of the reviews, it's the same book.

This is the second edition.

Really, in spite of everything?

Care to add some substance to your question?

That was his way to say " you meant definitely but wrote defiantly "

I'm happy to see this. I'm only in my 20s so I haven't grown up with mainframe computing in my life, but I did get to use both an AS/400 and z/OS about 5 years ago. I've been tweeting and emailing into the dark asking IBM to just provide a free VM of one of these so I can at least play around and learn about them more. I was just getting into assembly on one when I lost access.

Having had the privilege of working with 2 different AS/400 systems (one a v4 and another a v6), I can say these guys are really bullet proof.

Rarely are the OS level issues -- almost all of our issues have been hardware (hdd's failing, not surprising though), or our vendor app messing up (too frequent to be happy about, but hey, it's written in RPG V, so can't complain too much).

The problem with learning to work with an AS/400 system is that they are ludicrously expensive to get your hands on -- So I am very glad to see something like this out there in the wild.

You mean like this?


EDIT: Sorry, that's a link to an OS/390 VM, not AS/400. That was how I originally read your post, that you wanted a z/OS VM to play with. But, it's a useful link nonetheless ;)

Well this brings back memories. I took an AS/400 class in college (local tech school) since that was the only way to learn SQL back then; none of the other CIS classes offered database programming. The class was geared towards prepping the student for working at one of two companies in the area that hired AS/400 programmers, so it was very narrowly focused to their needs.

I have to say, that was a simultaneously challenging and frustrating experience. It soured me on being a programmer of any sort, and I ended up shifting to network administration as a field of study. I'm glad I did.

All that said, this seems like a generous and handy service for those who need it.

There is still great pay if you are an AS/400 guru. About 3 years ago I interviewed for a job where I would be maintaining code which was running on an AS/400 running in System 36 emulation mode. The code had been certified by the government for a 50 year contract. The 3 previous employees had all died. Which didn't make me anxious to take the job, but the pay was $450k a year. And with job security through 2030 it had some appeal. But what do you do after?

"I have experience with 50 year old software" is kind of like the resumes people send me saying they know Office XP and Word Perfect.

Sure if you can fix the things nobody else can you can charge top dollar, but eventually the last of those things come out of service.

Do you really need to do something "after" if you earn 450k$/yr for few years?

In an ideal work I'll probably take that job, ask for 80% part-time and use the remaining 20% of the time to maintain my brain active :)

BTW in my previous companies (banks) we were using banking software running on AS/400 (and DB2) and interfacing from IIS/SQL Server via OLEDB for querying the data / executing stored procedures. Actually the service was hosted, but I'm quite sure the AS/400 developers were taking 1/10 of that amount... ;)

In 2006, Gartner estimated there were still 180 billion lines of COBOL code running in production [1].

I don't believe a significant proportion will have been retired since.

Languages never die - they just keep running...

[1] http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9004821/Cobol_The_New...

RPG has a significantly lower install base, and I would say it is mostly dead.

I wonder how long it will take for someone to get QSYSOPR privs and invoke pwrdwnsys *immed ?

If anyone is looking for some good discussion about mainframes, there was a lot of good content that came out in this thread:


RZKH welcomes all friends and people interested in AS400. It's always the same situation - when they come from the unixoid world - they are confused. But you should stay on the path and learn some bit about AS400 (or IBM i as they are called now). It's the only commercially used 128Bit operating system with high level security and low level problems :)

Have fun, Holger

Wow no idea why someone would need that, I have to work with an AS/400 and let me tell you it's no fun !

I worked on AS/400 for quite a while. Really enjoyed it.

Updating old RPG terminal based code to Java web based stuff was interesting. Simple CRUD interfaces port easily.

And once you're running Java stuff on OS/400 it's also easy to port to the linux environment. And from there is just an argument over databases to bye-bye proprietary hardware.

That's my experience too, it's mostly basic CRUD interfaces. People say it's fast but that's because it gives you the most barebones user-hostile interface you could have.

The company paid IBM $100k to upgrade a single server and this shit is locked with licences for cores and memory. It's not even that fast.

The problem is they are too deep in it now but this shit needs to die.

We used one of these at my old job, well the IMB iSeries but the database was started in the early 80s. Fun times, all the employees where still on green screen when I was there (2011-2012). We started to move everyone to a web application that accessed the AS/400 data.

Ugh, i remember working on an AS 400 at school. I hated that and if i'm not mistaking, there wasn't support no more, when we had to learn it :-s

I suppose those jobs earn well (think of AS 400 as watching the Matrix in code (black screen, green letters) and Neo is losing the fight )

No, they don't, because it's a buyer's market.

(My dad is an AS/400 programmer. There's a lot of competition and not much work.)

It depends. If you have only traditional RPG/400 etc experience there are 10 programmers for each job, yes. But, in this marketplace, if you have experience with (traditional) RPG but also modern techniques like OO, Java, etc, you have lots of work for the coming decennia i assure you. These systems don't disappear, but they do have to be "modernized" and refitted to accommodate the changing environment. There is demand for it, but business do not know it's a modern system for which you can build modern software. The traditional RPG programmer will say something like "well XML and web services etc is too difficult, let's just use CSV and FTP like always". These days it's called "IBM i" and you can do about anything with it, there's even a port of node.js for example. It also has a binary compatible AIX subsystem which integrates with the rest. You can even call it (from a programmer's standpoint) - and it officially is - a UNIX system (POSIX compliant that is). Etc. When you see a green screen you see old software, not an old system that only supports green screens. And there are still more than 100.000 individual customers/companies using this system. And lots and lots of old RPG code, which only grows.

Excellent, now I have somewhere to try out tetris for the AS/400

So, 2048 on AS/400?

Can someone give a guided tour to something cool that shows how different AS/400 is from a Unix machine?

One of the more unique aspects of the AS/400 is the single level store. I haven't ever used it, but the general idea is that it does away with the file system in exchange for a single, flat address space. This simplifies the programming model.


The AS/400 also runs something like bytecode, rather than directly on the hardware. This has given IBM the flexibility to change the underlying architecture in fairly radical ways. (new CPU ISAs, etc.)

Historically, the AS/400 has some significance to IBM beyond the fact that it's been a commercial success. After IBM did so well with the System/360, they started work on the next big thing: IBM Future System. The idea was that FS was something only IBM could do, because only IBM had the research budget and staff to pull it off. As these things often go, FS didn't achieve its grander goals, but it did spin off several technologies that IBM did commercialize. In addition to several System/370 processors, the Future System work also ultimately resulted in the AS/400.

To be specific, the IBM Future System project was a failure, but the System/38 was one of the outcomes. Later the S/38 was renamed AS/400.

AS/400 descended from S/38, but is not the same. In particular the System/38 architecture had capability-based addressing¹ — essentially, you can perform a particular kind of access if and only if your pointer contains the necessary permission.

¹Levy, Henry M. (1984). Capability-based computer systems. http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~levy/capabook/index.html Chapter 8 covers the IBM System/38.

"in June 1988, IBM announced the results of Silverlake as the Application System/400, or AS/400. In many ways, the box was a repackaging of the System/38, with some left over Fort Knox parts,"

Brian Kelly was an IBM Midrange Systems Engineer for 30 years, and has spent nearly a decade as a System i5 consultant based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is also author of thirty AS/400, iSeries, and System i5 books and he serves as an assistant professor at Marywood University, which uses the OS/400 and i5/OS platform and teaches courses in the box as well. http://www.itjungle.com/tfh/tfh040708-story05.html

My point was that the S/38 used some of the detritus from Fort Knox not, directly, the AS/400.

Quite a lot of work went into the AS/400 so it wasn't just a renamed S/38, but any discussion of the AS/400 should recognize its origins.

Unix and AS/400 are similar in that both can have uptime measured in years. Typically, with an AS/400, you unpack it and plug it in, and it just works. No drama.

Does it have a fancy UI? No. It's designed for line-of-business applications where there's heads-down data entry and reporting.

The AS/400 (I refuse to call it "iSeries") is one of the best parts of IBM. I am in dread of how Ginni will fuck up the division.

I worked on AS/400s for 10 years and still consider it the most productive environment I've ever used. Uptime was indeed legendary - our IBM rep told me he knew of an AS/400 running at another site that had been up for over 7 years.

The company I work for still uses an AS/400. I hate it.

I spent about a week as an AS/400 operator in-training (they hired me for an available IT position while they worked on getting the real position created). Training was basically a list of "press 3 at 10pm; press Z at 10:02pm; wait 15 minutes".

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact