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I found this link for a group that is converting fedora RPM's to run on S/390 hardware. Wikipedia tells me that the S/390 was made by IBM as a mainframe computer in the 1990's (and run out of service before 2000). So I have two questions: Why would you run a "standard desktop" OS on a (deprecated) mainframe? and are there any practical applications for a 1990's mainframe nowadays? The site seems to be pretty active, so I feel I must be missing something in its purpose.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Like most distributions, Fedora is not really only a 'desktop' OS - it is a 'server' OS as well. It depends on what packages you install since in the repositories are both desktop and server applications available.

Thus, I guess that you want to use Fedora on S390 for server stuff (mainframes are advertised for their IO performance/throughput, batch processing, right?).

As with other vintage hardware there are probably three major reasons to run Linux on it:

  • Because you can, as a hobby project, to learn something about porting, the hardware

  • Because you don't have the money to buy new hardware

  • You want to interface with a proprietary subsystem you don't want/can't replace yet.

How active the Fedora s390 project is I don't know. I mean, some packages you care about you have to port, but other portable software just need to be recompiled and once a buildserver is configured for yet another architecture, new incoming packages are automatically built.

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Thanks for good explanation... I definitely understand that Fedora can run those things. It just looked to me like the site was converting the breadth of the fedora repo library, from games to media players to guis to server apps. My point was that it seemed like the site had a good number of users converting the RPM's and submitting them, and it seemed like a bit more than a hobby project. I had never even heard of the S/390 Architecture (not thought that my knowledge is very deep in that regard). I just though was missing something with the hardware. –  Hari Seldon Jun 13 '11 at 21:08
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Wikipedia also notes:

z/Architecture retains backward compatibility with previous 32-bit-data/31-bit-addressing architecture ESA/390 and its predecessors all the way back to the 32-bit-data/24-bit-addressing System/360.

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