Operating Systems

As I’ve mentioned before, the z/VM and Linux worlds are a fairly tight community, and a new face deserves a bit of a welcome when entering an important position within that community.

Brad Hinson was Red Hat’s representative to the System z Linux community, but recently he took on the role of a technical architect at Red Hat. Brad’s position stood empty for quite awhile until the company found a replacement to try to fill a set of very big shoes. Unfortunately, during the interim, I think Red Hat suffered for the lack of an articulate advocate for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) on System z.

I finally had the opportunity to meet Brad’s replacement, Filipe Miranda. We crossed paths on a technical visit to Brazil, of all places. He’s already been posting helpful stuff on the Linux-390 and IBMVM mailing lists, and seems to be an eager and affable chap who has a lot of interest in the platform and the people who run it. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing him speak (and hopefully, Red Hat will let him attend more user group meetings), and wish him well in the new post. (I’ve already badgered him about the VM Workshop and SHARE, as well as the regional groups.)

Tools and Useful Gadgets

There are some new and interesting things going on in the area of tools for making Linux on System z a little easier to manage and experiment with. One of these items is a new release of Leland Lucius’ command line client for the z/VM System Management APIs (SMAPI). The new client (renamed smaclient to avoid a conflict with some other IBM-supplied utilities) updates the tool to enable the z/VM 6.2 level of SMAPI. This update allows you to drive creation and modifications of z/VM virtual machines (both Linux and CMS) from Linux or even other platforms. The 6.2 level of VM added a lot of nifty new capabilities. The new version is available from http://download.sinenomine.net/smaclient and should install on both SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and RHEL systems.

The second tool has been around for a while, but has received some recent coverage as part of the integration process of System z guests with Fibre Channel (FCP-based) disk storage. SCSIDISC is an IBM-supplied tool that triggers various diagnostic features/functions in the z/VM SCSI disk subsystem and prints all sorts of useful diagnostic information. It also can trigger FCP switches and System z FCP I/O cards to perform actions such as probing disk adapters, logging into SAN fabrics, and other things that aren’t normally directly accessible via z/VM commands. The SCSIDISC tool is located on the MAINT 190 disk, and the help file (HELP CMS SCSIDISC) includes many examples of how to use it to do various tasks.

Third, there have been numerous submissions to the VM Workshop virtual tools tapes in the last few weeks. For those of you who haven’t discovered this collection, http://vmworkshop.org/tools will take you to a large assortment of useful gadgets, developed and contributed by the VM community over the past two decades. Recently added is Mike Walter’s REHALT (a tool to attempt to recover CMS userid in a LOGOFF/FORCE PENDING states), SESSION (a user-level tool for multiple CMS sessions on a single terminal written ages ago by Arty Ecock at City University of New York), and a whole lot more stuff. Check it out; there are all kinds of goodies there. I have most of the old Workshop tapes read onto disk now, and those tools will be appearing as soon as I have time to push them to the vmworkshop.org site.

VM Workshop 2013, June 20 - 22, Indianapolis

Planning is well under way for the 2013 VM Workshop, which will be held at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). If you want to be involved in the process of creating the Best Little VM Workshop in Indianapolis for 2013, we’d be pleased to have you. It’s only a small time commitment, and you, too, can be Famously Fabulous (and better dressed than your non-Workshop colleagues in the ever-stylish VM Workshop limited-edition shirt). Contact me offline and I’ll hook you up.

Best wishes for a safe and peaceful New Year.