Proposal: Mainframes

Is this proposal specific to the mainframes descended from the IBM System/360, or does it also include architectures from other vendors or no longer in use? I favor the proposal either way, but people should know what they're voting on.

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    I second. How about the Soviet BESM, ES, and Elbrus architectures? – DYZ Jun 5 at 6:18
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    My strong preference would be that this focus on currently active development mainframes systems, e.g. z/OS, zVM, TPF, Linux on z, and perhaps VSE – mike Jun 5 at 16:38
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    I second the idea that we should focus on architectures in current use. That will strongly drive it towards IBM zSeries hardware and software. I'm not sure how other kinds of heavy-weight machines such as the Fujitsu BS2000, GS21 and VME or the NEC NOAH-6 based machines would be represented, but I think it's worth not excluding them. – rbanffy Jun 5 at 18:35
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    What about things that run on mainframes but aren't mainframe specific? Db2 for z/OS is different in some ways, similar in others, to Db2 LUW. Where would those questions go? – Kevin McKenzie Jun 6 at 16:20
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    Db2 for z/OS specific questions should come here. I imagine if you are asking general SQL questions, database questions, relational database questions you'd probably not ask them here but in a more generic forum. – Patrick Bossman Jun 27 at 12:50

Focusing on current issues / how tos on mainframe technology like z/OS, z/VM, zLinux, etc. and the related subsystems like would be preferable as it helps existing practitioners.

  • Off-topic: by any chance did you happen to attend a community college in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s? – zarchasmpgmr Jun 28 at 21:58

My original intention, when proposing this SE, was to host a Q&A for platforms that are not adequately covered on the general SO and are "alien" for people who grew up on Windows and Linux. The main intention was IBM machines derived from the 360 family, possibly covering the AS/400-derived ones (as they are pretty alien too). Other "exotic" platforms should also be welcome, such as the various Fujitsu and NEC families and Unisys MCP machines.

I would exclude large machines that run Unix/Linux (such as the big Solaris boxes and the Cray single-image supercomputers) as they are, AFAIK, adequately covered by other SE websites.

The focus should be on helping current users of machines in production roles. For that, I'd avoid older architectures unless they are sufficiently similar to current production hardware and software. Retro platforms would be better served by separate SE sites that also cover hardware maintenance, as those machines no longer enjoy manufacturer support.

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    In terms of mainframe I think the historical view is interesting, but most practitioners are probably more interested in how do I, why is that kinds of questions. For me, when one says mainframe to those actively in the industry they are thinking OS level (z/OS, TPF, etc) and less about other technologies that are older and perhaps more a curiosity than an active system. I think this topic would naturally break down into multiple constituencies that are "mainframe" – Hogstrom Jun 5 at 19:36
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    The Hitachi mainframes are in scope too, especially since the most recent models are made by IBM. – Anthony Giorgio Jun 6 at 3:22

IMO, this needs to stick with currently in-use technology. Of course there's a bit of subjectivity there, given some companies use some pretty old stuff. I'd rather see things stay at the level of "help people do stuff" rather than "I remember in the good ol' days"...which is where a lot of mainframe discussions wind up.

I also wouldn't rule out covering other architectures/software in current use such as the IBM i family. Even if the hardware is now fairly standard POWER, their OS is unique enough to warrant special consideration outside more mainstream SE sites.

My thought is that if we call it "Mainframes", what is currently thought of as mainframe hardware and software running on that hardware would be in scope. This includes IBM Z, the Fujitsu and Hitachi hardware platforms that have their origination from IBM System/360, Unisys, and Bull. I've written an answer over on Quora that uses this definition.

Operating systems should include the five that run on IBM Z, the Fujitsu and Hitachi ones which came from the pre-licensed IBM operating systems, BS2000/OSD (and VM2000) (Fujitsu), OS2200 and MCP (Unisys), and GCOS (Bull).

For IBM i, I think common perception is that it is still a mid-range platform. I wouldn't mind including it, but to me that is stretching the perceived definition of "mainframe".

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