…but it is pretty cool. I ordered a raspberry pi for work, in an effort to replace the thin clients that we use to connect to our IBM midrange system. (kickin’ it old school) It works pretty well for the task, and seems like it is ideal for random niche uses, but I still stick by my original statement. Read on if you are interested in ancient computer systems, and how Brits with big ideas can connect the old with the new.
IBM launched their original midrange system, the AS/400, in 1988. Even then, they were supporting legacy systems. The idea behind the AS/400 was that it was a smaller, scalable system, that would run software (usually COBOL and RPG) that was intended for the old System/36 minicomputers, without having to recompile for the new processor. To this day, you can still run binaries compiled for a System/36 on a POWER7 box.
As a result, many companies around the world continue to use IBM midrange systems rather than convert to linux or *shudder* Windows data and application servers for mission critical business processes. My company is in that boat, which means each and every computer in our company needs a working IBM 5250 terminal emulator, “green screen” program, to connect to the iSeries.
Enter the raspberry pi. A tiny, ultra-cheap, linux computer. For some of our specialized situations, and in case a massive computer plague takes out all of our Windows PCs, we use thin client computers, “dumb tubes”, that just connect to the iSeries. Nothing else. The computing requirements for such a task are laughably modest, amounting to basically a keyboard, monitor, and network connection. The raspberry pi is more than capable, as long as you can find some terminal emulation software to run on it.
TN5250 fit the bill, and after a minimum amount of fuss , I have a working raspberry pi thin client! For other iSeries shops looking to run a 5250 emulator on a raspberry pi, I will add a how-to (or maybe learn how to make a .deb package) if there is any interest.