Monday, January 11, 2010


I need some sample IBM mainframe COBOL data at work for some testing, so I decided to have a go at installing the latest version of Hercules, an IBM mainframe simulator. It was remarkably easy, although having been an MVS systems programmer in a prior lifetime no doubt helped.

The key pieces are:
  • The Hercules simulator itself, which simulates the hardware.
  • The Turnkey MVS 3.8 system, which contains a full, ready-to-run MVS operating system, including compilers for COBOL, PL/I, FORTRAN and Algol 60 from the last release of MVT.
  • A slick little Windows program that provides a nice front panel GUI. It also includes a utility for submitting jobs to MVS.
  • x3270, a Windows tn3270 client; you need such a client for the MVS console and to log in to TSO.
It took perhaps two hours to get all this stuff downloaded and running.

It's striking just how small system software used to be. The entire MVS 3.8 download, including the pregenerated MVS disk volumes, source for much of the operating system, compilers, utilities, etc. is under 500MB.

Update: My buddy Dave has installed Hercules on his "high-zoot cell phone", with this scary result:

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