IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

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MrBill
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IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby MrBill » Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:50 pm

Got this cube of an ibm machine sandwiched between two sgi crimsons not getting much attention. It's an ibm E series model 170.

I think it came with a valid licenced copy of the os/400 installed, although i have not been able to get into it yet. I fear that the old drives are failing, they certainly do not sound good.The machine appears to need special drives made specifically for the as400, special hardware or firmware or something. I know nothing of the operating system, and the hardware is proprietary as hell and different from anything i have ever worked on.

If i can get into the system, is there a way to dump the entire machine as it sits to a tape or an external disk, to be restored later, and will my valid licence for os/400 still remain?

Where can i find documentation on this thing? Can the os/400 software still be downloaded from somewhere, or did it only come on disk or tape?

I just do not know enough about the hardware. I am attempting to make a disk image of all the drives in case they fail, however they appear to be in some kind of raid or other ibm proprietary-ness, and can not make much sense of the images. I think i read somewhere that DES was used for the password, i thought i could just go mucking around on the drive looking for password hashes. Doesn't look like it's gonna be that easy.

This seemed to be the best place to ask, someone else around here picked up two mammoth as400 machines in the past,and there was a lot of interesting discussion, so hopefully the knowledge is out there.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby ibmfiles » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:46 pm

That's funny if they do use "special firmware" U320 HDDs, I assumed they were standard since I removed the original drives as the bearings had seen better days...

I have a spare OS/400 license that I'll NEVER use since my AS/400e which was also a 170 has been recycled (obviously I can't post it publicly or I'll have my hands removed). I even have all of the OS installer discs (V5R3), although I'm a bit lazy at the moment to dump the ISOs--there are a lot. 170s are pretty common AS/400s, and fairly slow (sadly). They enjoy taking their time to "initial program load".

To answer your question, all of the OS/400 and AS/400 guys live in a clandestine huddled community rarely talking to anyone or enthusiasts. And you need special connections to communicate with them and access their resources (which I don't). I just forced my vendor to fork over the CD-ROMs and license key since the RAID controller was smaaaaashed to pieces.

170s are heavy, btw. UPS thought so too, which is why they smashed mine :)


P.S. you need a terminal (IBM 3489) to communicate to the thing over some TWINAXIAL cables. Along with the octopus breakout... I had all of that too and it is scrapped. Sure got a lot of puzzled looks from people in I.T. who never dealt with it before.

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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby MrBill » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:19 pm

The terminals are really clear, the keyboard is NICE. Not sure what exactly could be done with it aside from generate even more heat, but it is certainly an appealing looking machine for me. If the drives are not special, and i can back up and restore to new drives, then i will do so.

From what i can tell from the professional forums, they don't want to hear about hobbyists. Read a few beginner posts that were swiftly shot down. Not the most welcoming group.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby ibmfiles » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:54 pm

Oh, you already have all of that up and running--great! (honestly it can be irritating because you never know what can be at fault, and many of the terminals don't have the documentation public anymore). And you got the double-decker 170 unit--sheesh... those are even HEAVIER. Hope your back is doing okay, even lifting the single tower 170 was a generous workout. Kind of like that 22" CRT I had, but less awkward.

Hmmm... AS/400 jerks sound a lot like Amigans. I guess that's what happens when you have an isolated group, they turn feral with a fervor and attack who they deem "outsiders". :p

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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:10 am

IBM System i is very interesting. I want to get one of the deskside POWER6 with IBM i installed but that will be a while before I can afford it.

Sadly the community is pretty elitist. But documentation is out there if you look hard enough.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby uunix » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:44 am

I had an As/400 (also System/32) and I did an on-line rpg course on it. If the truth be known though, apart from the challenge of learning it all and setting up the networking etc, it was pretty un-interesting. Saying that, since it was a licenced box, I was rather scared of doing anything drastic with it. I recall some years back that there was a PC card for it that allowed you run a full NT system, a bit like the SUNPCi card, I may be wrong though and just imagined it.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:32 am

IBM i is very advanced compared to UNIX. There's an extension that allows AIX to be run from within it, not only that but it has a full object-based memory map, structured files (basically the filesystem can create databases within itself without relying on Berkeley DB, sqlite etc.) and superior memory management. It's not as user friendly, for sure, but it's featureset more than makes up for it.

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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby Y888099 » Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:13 pm

Raion-Fox wrote:basically the filesystem can create databases within itself without relying on Berkeley DB, sqlite etc


Relational filesystem? like BeFS?
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby kokoboi » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:55 pm

I've made a dd image of AS/400 disk(block size is 520) before using sg3 driver.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby MrBill » Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:54 am

Might be a little too late for me to image the drives, today it will not ipl, not sure what is the issue, suspect one of the drives went bad.

Even if i do image the drives, are they in some kind of standard format that can be read on another machine?
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:57 am

IBM I has expanded support for structured files compared to BeFS. VMS is broadly comparable to i in its features.

IBM I has a different binary format than UNIX, and it uses a binary translation layer so it is architecture independent.

IBM i OS/400 does not use a filesystem readable by anything other than i itself. Maybe AIX has support but definitely not Linux.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby MrBill » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:00 am

Quite irritating come right down to it. Ive seen thermostats with better interfaces than the three buttons on the front of this machine.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby MrBill » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:03 am

Alright, so that answers that question. Still learning all the IBM lingo. So reading them on another machine is out of the question. If i were to get a working install going on the machine, perhaps on a different drive, is it possible to perhaps "mount" a couple of these disks and see whats on them, or are they in some kind of raid and have to stay together?
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby MrBill » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:25 am

OK, progress. Not a doorstop quite yet. Read over some documentation, and managed to IPL into DST or Dedicated service tools.

After a wait i am greeted with the first screen, complaining about something hard drive related.

I proceeded to tell it to reset the qsecofr account to the default password and proceed to ipl. From there it has been hanging on the second scrren for a while, again, something hard drive related.
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Re: IBM AS/400 OS/400 questions

Unread postby MrBill » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:54 am

Progress i think?
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