Operating Systems

The Linux world is marvelously idiosyncratic. However, with the recent IPO of Twitter, everywhere I go, people are making stupid bird-related jokes, with the Linux penguin mascot in play everywhere, poking fun at the traditional media and pundits. Hopefully, this column can resist the tide.

Linux Africa

In a general sense, we’ve been observing and working recently with several Linux implementations outside North America, particularly in Asia and Africa. Linux Africa (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linux-Africa/114584914680), an organization we recently encountered when planning global rollouts for a customer, has some very interesting viewpoints on how Linux is used and developed in Africa, and the cultural and social differences to the adoption curve in the continent. Several postings on language adaptation and how open source development is subtly different in Africa provide fascinating windows into the often English-centric world of software development, and the increasing role of African developers and architects in designing software solutions for Intel and System z. These posts are interesting and thoughtfully presented; definitely worth a read.

A New Version of SWAPGEN

Over the past few months, several people have reported complaints when installing the latest versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) using swap disks created with SWAPGEN, a popular tool for creating swap disks in CMS using z/VM VDISKs or minidisks. Version 1310 of SWAPGEN (released in October 2013) addresses these concerns and adds several new improvements, including the ability to display all the messages and text output in languages other than English (no one responded to the call for translators, but it’s now easy to add languages), the removal of the dependency on the external RXDASD MODULE, new help files and a whole bunch more. The updated SWAP1310 VMARC file for the new version is available for free download at http://download.sinenomine.net/swapgen. If you’re planning updates to RHEL 6 or SLES 11 SP3, I’d strongly encourage you to update your copy of SWAPGEN (in fact, everyone should) to avoid problems with installing the latest code.

A Bug Fix

Also, IBM has located a few bugs in the way the z/VM System Management application program interface (API) code works that will affect code that uses SMAPI to allow Linux and UNIX systems to manipulate z/VM and z/VM guests. APAR VM65290 (hopefully closed by the time you read this) changes the response to several queries related to VSWITCH connectivity, so tools that use the SMAPI interface also need modification to interpret the new response formats. This impacts both commercial code (such as the IBM ensemble management code) and open source tools. To cope with the change, a new version of smaclient (Leland Lucius’ command line tool to allow Linux and UNIX systems to exercise SMAPI functions from shell scripts) is also being made available (just in time for the holidays!). The new version will be available from http://download.sinenomine.net/smaclient, adding new features such as a real help file, packaging as an RPM to allow it to show up in the system software RPM inventory and a precompiled binary for the inter-user communications vehicle (IUCV) transport-based version—which removes the need for a compiler and tool chain to use IUCV connections on the s390x platform. The repackaging into RPM format also allows the package to be more friendly about installing on non-s390x systems, as it’s all architecture-independent code. If you’re interested in a Solaris or AIX package, please contact me; I think it would be a useful thing, but I’d like to know your opinions.

A Bird in the Hand ...

So, at the end of the column, you have two birds and one bush. I can’t help it; the industry just isn’t strong enough to resist the birds. I’m waiting for a z/VM Angry Birds—now wouldn’t that be fun? If they can make it with “Star Wars” characters, I can’t wait to see what they do with virtual card decks.