Linux and MCA - A Pain?

Content by Michael Lang (original archived HERE). Edited by Major Tom.
Last content update: 18 Mar 1999

For a long time, after the Linux-development started in 1992, there was no support for IBM-Micro Channel (MCA) equipment at all and system-administrators always reacted with strange comments, when asking for the availability of Linux for MCA. But, the Slackware distribution contained patches from a dedicated development-group, that got Micro Channel machines running with ESDI hard-disk interfaces. After a short period, this group has been dissolved and there was no further Linux-support for MCA-systems, as the PS/2 series was assumed to be after its sunset and no longer in use. One day, the development continued and the old code has been taken over, renovated and extended. The request for Linux and MCA is still quite steady and is obviously based on the fact, that for desktop usage, the old PS/2 series may not be fast enough, but those machines work really great as network servers still today. As Linux is a very cheap and transparent operating-system solution, it is one of the first choices, when connecting the old PS/2 to a network.

Different patches for Linux on MCA are available, yet and on from Kernel 2.1.30, the MCA support is included within the default Kernel release, so there is really no need for patching. Kernel 2.2 will contain MCA support by default. If you like to get a running Linux system, even on PS/2, this should be no longer impossible. After this, you have a running Micro Channel, but as you need some harddisks, support for harddisks must be given, too. Most PS/2 machines offer a SCSI-interface, which is called SCSI-subsystem. This driver has been developed over the last years and should now be in some useable status. Anyway, as one person cannot own the whole palette of PS/2 machines in his cellar, it is not easy for the programmer to take the individual problems of each PS/2 model into account. Therefore, it could be possible, that this driver does not run on your own PS/2. As IBM states, that the IBM SCSI-subsystem works the same way on every PS/2, these problems could be caused by the driver, which does not yet take into account the common prescriptions - in fact, a bug. If you find such bugs, first remember, that even programmers are human beings and that it would be always the best to send the bugreport as soon as possible to the programmer/maintainer, so he is enabled to look for the problem inside the code. With this you can help to get MCA-Linux into a nice shape.

Linux? Who cares for it?

In the meantime, Linux got more and more popular up to the leading people, sitting in the headquarters of very important enterprises all over the world. Currently, the most important partners that officially support Linux customers, users and developers are:

  • IBM Corp. On 2 March 1999, IBM declared that they will support Linux. With IBM machines, the Redhat distribution should be available, if desired by the customer. IBM guarantees full support, also for the Linux developers. ... We are going to deliver our machines with the new operating system Linux ... (from an interview between ARD and IBM officials at the CeBit'99).
  • SAP AG On 18 March 1999, SAP declares on the CeBit'99 to build there software products not only for the Windows environments, but also for Linux.
In addition, I like to personally express my special thanks to the IBM Deutschland GmbH for their marvelous support via the 'Hallo IBM' helpline and the help and info from background and subsidiary organizations! The support is in a splendid shape and since the official support of Linux I refeel a very intense care for my driver development works here.

Content created and/or collected by:
Louis F. Ohland, Peter H. Wendt, David L. Beem, William R. Walsh, Tatsuo Sunagawa, Tomáš Slavotínek, Jim Shorney, Tim N. Clarke, Kevin Bowling, and many others.

Ardent Tool of Capitalism is maintained by Tomáš Slavotínek.
Last update: 08 May 2024 - Changelog | About | Legal & Contact