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IBM Launches New Linux Mainframes and Open Mainframe Project

SEATTLE - Linux on the IBM mainframe is nothing new, but IBM is now doubling down with a pair of new Linux-only mainframes and the launch of the Open Mainframe Project at the Linux Foundation. IBM's big mainframe announcements are all being made today at the LinuxCon conference here where IBM's mainframe leader Ross Mauri is delivering a keynote address.IBM LinuxONE

"IBM is betting big on open on the mainframe," Ross told ServerWatch.

Ross said that at least a third of all IBM mainframes are running Linux today, and IBM has been supporting Linux on its mainframes for 15 years. To date, Linux has been an addition to the mainframe and there hasn't been a Linux-only system in the same way that IBM has Linux-only Power servers.

LinuxONE Debuts with Two Mainframe Machine Options

Due to increasing demand and a need for continued optimization on Linux, IBM is now launching a pair of Linux-only mainframes under the moniker LinuxONE. The top-end of the LinuxONE is the Emperor system which is based on the existing IBM z13 mainframe. Mauri said that the Emperor is the most powerful and secure Linux system IBM has ever built.

The other system is the LinuxONE Rockhopper, which is based on the bc12 mainframe and has a small footprint.

Mauri emphasized that the Linux IBM runs on its LinuxONE mainframes is a standard Linux, but there are optimizations to help it make the best use of the hardware.

"The optimizations are to ensure Linux runs very well and gets the raw horsepower," Mauri explained. "So we tweaked stuff underneath Linux so it inherits the full power of the mainframe."

The Open Mainframe Project

Going beyond IBM's own standalone efforts, Big Blue is also helping to seed the new Open Mainframe Linux Foundation Collaborative project. Mauri explained that the idea behind the Open Mainframe project is around having an open collaboration project that can work across the industry to help develop software for the mainframe.

To help support the effort, IBM is making one of its largest contributions of code ever, with approximately 500,000 lines code, to help seed the effort.

As to why IBM decided to launch the Open Mainframe Project as opposed to launching its own foundation as it did wit the OpenPower Foundation, Mauri said it's all about focus.

"With OpenPower, we're going deep into the microprocessor and hardware," Mauri explained. "We're not going that deep here; it's just about software and fostering collaboration, and we thought that the Linux Foundation is the best place to build this effort."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on August 17, 2015
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