Another technology that breathed new life into VM was the arrival of John Hartmann's CMS Pipelines. A tremendous amount of community interest was generated and new applications started being developed and shared. When it appeared IBM was freezing the addition of new features to the official product, the community enabled the distribution of a “Runtime Library Edition.”
OpenEdition was a brave, important addition. The fact that it didn’t become a true UNIX-like environment for doing new application development is less important than the recognition of the importance of open standards and support for such concepts. In reality, several future enhancements were facilitated by the OpenEdition environment. Distributed Computing Environment (DCE), on the other hand, was a technology that promised much but just didn’t catch on.
Rising From the Ashes: 1999 to Today
By 1999, VM was like Oliver Twist, being marched around to various divisions within IBM to see who would take it on. All that was missing were the cries of “Boy for Sale.” One wag even suggested the community hold a bake sale to help fund VM development.
Web-enablement of VM helped keep the wolves from the door—thanks to the folks at The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Rick Troth’s Web server (courtesy of CMS Pipelines), and to Carl Forde, Jonathan Scott, and Perry Ruiter for the Charlotte Web browser.
However, “it’s always darkest before the dawn” is a cliché that proved true. Salvation was just around the corner. Primarily this came from the now famous skunkworks project within IBM Germany to bring Linux to the mainframe (see Figure 5). For anyone who saw behind the curtain during this time, it was no easy sell to make this happen. Stories of last-minute code drops to beat the IBM legal team have become legend even if they may be apocryphal.
How times have changed. More than 12 years later, it’s hard to find anyone at IBM who claims not to have supported this endeavor. To a lesser extent, the Bigfoot project run by folks outside IBM attempting a parallel port of Linux to System/390 was able to keep this possibility in the public space and, hopefully, increase support within IBM (see Figure 6). It was certainly an exciting, uncertain time for the VM community.
There’s no way to overstate the importance of Linux to the VM community (and beyond). Consider these points: