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An Ubuntu expert describes what the latest distribution has to offer those who are working on the IBM mainframes

At IBM Z Day, we welcomed representatives from SUSE, Red Hat, and Canonical (Ubuntu) to showcase the latest that their respective distributions have to offer for running on IBM Z. In the following guest post, Frank Heimes, Technical Lead Ubuntu Server on Z at Canonical, gives us a rundown of his talk, including some details about Ubuntu itself and why Ubuntu on Z is such a great pairing.

At the IBM Z Day on November 21, I had the honor to give a technical session about Ubuntu Server on IBM Z and LinuxONE, and explained what it is, where we are, our releases, their contents, their lifetime and support, selected components, and complementing Canonical technology.

In this post, I want to focus on the following three areas:

  1. Ubuntu mission and philosophy
  2. Ubuntu’s strength
  3. Why Ubuntu on IBM Z and LinuxONE

Ubuntu mission and philosophy

The Ubuntu mission is as clear and open as open source itself, and it is best illustrated by the freedom to download the distribution: study, use, share and (re-)distribute, contribute, improve, and innovate it.

Now, going a step further and mapping this to Ubuntu on IBM Z and LinuxONE, the goals are to:

  • Expand Ubuntu’s ease of use to the s390x architecture (IBM Z and LinuxONE)
  • Unlock new workloads, especially in the open source, cloud, and container spaces
  • Tap into new client segments
  • Quickly exploit new features and components in two ways:
    • Promptly support new hardware
    • Roll out releases that are built and based on the latest kernels, toolchains, and optimized libraries
  • Provide parity with other architectures, in terms of release and feature parity and closing potential gaps
  • Provide a uniform user experience and look-and-feel
  • Be part of the collective worldwide open source power in action
  • Deal with upstream work and code only — no forks
  • Offer a radically new subscription pricing model with drawer-based pricing — or alternatively provide entry-level pricing based on up to 4 IFLs

Ubuntu’s strength

The openness described above is probably also Ubuntu’s biggest strength as it allows you to use Ubuntu however and whenever you like. Ubuntu’s ease of use and its roots in the desktop make it an increasingly popular way to consume new and innovative generations of open source. This leads to significant community participation, new technologies, innovations, and streamlining (like LXD, snaps, and uvt), which has resulted in a huge number of packages (over 25,000) in all the Ubuntu archives (including cloud archive, partner archive, and snap store).

Ubuntu has followed a fast but consistent development cycle for more than a decade — with long-term support (LTS) releases every two years and non-LTS releases every 6 months in between. The LTS releases are again updated and respun as point releases. (For more background, see “The Art of Release” by Mark Shuttleworth — it’s still valid.)

Base support for an LTS release is 5 years, but Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) is optionally available with up to another 5 years on top. And all of this is available on a broad variety of architectures, starting with IoT devices, mainly driven by ARM64, spanning and covering the most popular architecture, amd64 (x64_64), up to the s390x mainframe platform (the IBM Z and LinuxONE families). If you work with Ubuntu on one of these platforms, you should be able to work with it on the others, too.


Why Ubuntu on IBM Z and LinuxONE (in a nutshell)

There are big advantages to using the most widespread Linux distribution not only on your workstation, but also on your IBM Z and LinuxONE server, and getting the most out of your IBM Z hardware — namely usability, functionality, efficiency, security, and availability of all the latest features.

The following is a (non-exhaustive) list of functional and non-functional highlights, unique features, and arguments in support of using Ubuntu on IBM Z — all of which speak to the unique features and values of Ubuntu on IBM Z:

  • Supports the latest IBM Z and LinuxONE generations
  • Point releases and Ubuntu LTS releases with regular package updates and updated ISO images
  • Different kernel options (GA and HWE)
  • Release and feature parity across all platforms, including the same look and feel
  • Platform- and distribution-agnostic snap package format in addition to debs, which are perfectly suited for ISVs
  • ZFS — feature-rich file system with snapshot capabilities, provided as a native kernel module
  • Juju/Charms — for service orchestration; modelling, deployment, scaling, and upgrade, even of bundles of services
  • LXD — enables management of containers, just like full virtual machines but with (machine) container performance
  • Canonical’s Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) — systems running on KVM or LXD with containers based on Docker or containerd
  • Canonical’s Distribution of OpenStack (CDO) — supports single and cross-LPAR scenarios with KVM and LXD
  • Cloud and LXD images — pre-packaged and ready-to-use KVM cloud and LXD container images
  • Broad deployment options with LPAR (DPM and classic), IBM z/VM, Ubuntu KVM, LXD/LXC, Docker, CDO, and CDK
  • Security certifications — for FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria (EAL2), DISA STIG, and CIS
  • Ubuntu Advantage -Infrastructure, UA-I (Enterprise-level support and subscription), already includes CDO and CDK

Or just take a look at these “bubbling benefits”:

Ubuntu benefits

Does this smell good and does it quicken your appetite? Then be sure to keep an eye on the Ubuntu on Big Iron blog.

Finally, I want to wish Linux on the Mainframe (going back to Linux on s390) a

Happy Birthday!

…because it largely started on that platform 20 years ago with kernel 2.2!

Thanks again to Frank for joining us, and writing up this post-event summary! You can view his talk at the IBM Z Day site.

Note: Registration is required to view the presentation. To download the presentation file, click the “SEE MORE” link in the upper-right corner of the video window.