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Meet The New Linux Distributions Working Group For Mainframe


Guests: Elizabeth Joseph (LinkedIn, Twitter) | Sarah Julia Kriesch (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Project: Open Mainframe Project (LinkedIn, Twitter)

Just over a year old, the Linux Distributions Working Group aims to bring together stakeholders from all the Linux distributions to discuss shared challenges and collaborate on solutions.

In this episode of TFiR Mainframe Matters, Swapnil Bhartiya attended the Open Mainframe Summit in Philadelphia and caught up with the Co-Chairs of the Linux Distributions Working Group: Elizabeth Joseph, Developer Advocate at IBM, and Sarah Julia Kriesch, DevOps Specialist at Accenture. Together, they discuss the latest about the Working Group and its goals.

Highlights of this video interview:

  • Joseph joined IBM about 3.5 years ago as a developer advocate for IBM Z Systems and Linux. Even though she had been working in the technology space for 15 years, she did not initially know what a mainframe was. She discusses her journey and sharing with communities to build awareness.
  • Kriesch is a DevOps consultant at Accenture, a contributor to openSUSE, and an openSUSE Systems team lead. She explains how she founded the Readiness Distribution Working Group and her role in it.
  • The traditional mainframe proprietary software is a little challenging to work with and does not necessarily integrate into modern DevOps and other pipelines. So, a key focus right now is modernization. Joseph discusses how the Open Mainframe Project is bringing together lots of stakeholders who are interested in modernization efforts.
  • Joseph explains why they formed the Linux Distributions Working Group and its benefits, particularly in collaboration. She tells us that they were able to quickly get contributors from organizations like openSUSE, Debian, and Ubuntu. The group shares issues that come up and bugs that need to be fixed. They have monthly meetings and a mailing list.
  • Kriesch discusses how she saw that Linux distributions often had the same problems, but the processes were not in place to receive information. She tells us that the Linux Distributions Working Group helps solve this problem and benefits all.
  • The Working Group’s short-term goal is to pull in all the Linux distributions that have s390x ports. Long-term goals would be to participate on some of the big projects like OpenJDK so that they can work more closely to get patches.
  • Linux is unique since you are working with a different hardware architecture. Kriesch explains how people are working on the different Linux distributions and putting their development work in at the same time.
  • Joseph discusses how the Linux Distributions Working Group fits in with the Open Mainframe Project. They are often seen as separate because they are different, but they would like to change that because of some of the hybrid cloud interactions. She explains how they are trying to bridge the gap between Linux and z/OS.
  • Kriesch goes into detail about integrating the mainframe into the cloud. She explains how SUSE Rancher gives you the choice between multiple Kubernetes distributions that can be used and then it can be deployed in mainframe sites the same as in the public cloud. She discusses how the hybrid cloud solution enables you to combine it and monitor all the Kubernetes clusters.
  • Mainframe is used as a point of record for source data from which you can build cloud technologies onto it. Joseph explains how AI and ML is being used in credit card transactions to decipher whether a transaction is fraudulent and the role mainframe plays in this space.

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.