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LinuxPlanet: S/390: The Linux Dream Machine

Feb 23, 2000, 16:56 (22 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Scott Courtney)

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"About a month ago, our resident mainframe wizard came to see me and said he needed some help with a Linux problem. I should point out that this didn't surprise me. Several mainframe mavens that I know are very interested in Linux and Java and other new technologies. I've found the mainframe crowd to be much more open to new ideas than a lot of my PC-oriented colleagues who think the world ends at the edge of their LAN. So when Ralph asked me for Linux help, I assumed he had installed it on a spare PC to play around."

"Wrong. He had installed it on the company mainframe...."

"Stop and think about this for a second. The VM host operating system creates thousands of virtual machines, most of which run the CMS operating environment for normal users. One virtual machine, however, happens to boot Linux into its virtual hardware instead. That Linux system is still fully multiuser and multitasking, though. So I could have dozens of telnet sessions logged into a single VM Linux virtual system."

"This gets better: nobody ever said you could only run one VM Linux system at a time. In fact, you can run multiples of Linux just as you run multiples of CMS. Just imagine one physical computer with several thousand copies of Linux running on it simultaneously, and each of these supporting multiple user connections. Fantasy? I have heard from one system administrator, David Boyes at Dimension Enterprises, who decided to push the envelope on this. His test system finally ran out of resources at 41,400 Linux images. That's not a typo -- there were forty-one thousand copies of Linux running on one logical partition of one mainframe, under VM. This isn't a practical number for real work (yet) but it's still impressive as a demonstration of just what VM can do. David joked about wanting to get some standalone time on a bigger box -- after all, he didn't have the whole machine to himself for this little test! Remember those forty thousand raptors I mentioned in the introduction?"

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