Clarkson University

Mainframe Computing CS 453/553

Course Syllabus

Course Website:
Lectures: 11:00-12:15 Tuesday (SC 342) & Thursday (ITL: SC 334)

Professor: William Hesse
Office: Science Center 383
Phone: 268-2387

Office hours:TBD

Official Course Description
Mainframe computers are used for tasks requiring high reliability, availability, and security. Mainframe computing hardware and software environments are quite different from UNIX and Linux operating systems running on commodity server hardware. This course introduces students to IBM zSeries mainframes, the z/OS operating system, and Linux on the zSeries mainframe. We take a comparative approach, learning the features of mainframe hardware and operating system software, and comparing them to the Linux OS on x86 hardware, to deepen students' understanding of fundamental OS principles. An additional topic of study will be the use of virtualization in implementation of Linux on zSeries. Students will learn to use and administer system and application software on a mainframe, and will investigate the workings of various operating systems on the mainframe. Students taking CS 543 will research and present reports on aspects of the course material.

Course Objectives:

  1. Students will learn the fundamentals of mainframe environments and operating systems.
  2. Students will learn the z/OS operating system, and be able to program and run applications in this system
  3. Students will learn the priciples of a mainframe OS by learning to configure and administer the z/OS operating system
  4. Students will examine the differences between mainframe operating systems by investigating zSeries virtualization and the porting of Linux to the zSeries architecture.
  5. Students will research assigned topics in mainframe operating systems, and present their findings.


"Introduction to the Mainframe: z/OS basics", by Ebbers, O'Brien, and Ogden. IBM Redbooks (
Extracts from IBM reference manuals and Redbooks, all available on the Internet from IBM
"Linux for IBM System z9 and IBM zSeries", by Geiselhart, Dow (Clarkson grad), et. al.

Mainframe hardware and fundamentals

z/OS operating system Linux on zSeries

The grading in this class is a numerical score, based on all components of the course. Assignments, and tests will be curved at the time they are graded, and there will be no curve applied to the final class averages. The components are weighted according to this table:

There will be two exams during the semester, and a final exam. You are responsible for all material in the lecture, as well as the reading assignments. Important topics from the reading assignments and from student presentations will be discussed in lecture.

Assignments must be completed individually, unless noted otherwise. This means all of the obvious things, like no copying of code, etc. Within these guidelines, I strongly encourage students to study and work together, and to discuss assignments. This is a major way to learn more and to get better grades. If you get a significant amount of help from someone else, note this on your submission. This won't affect your grade, it just verifies that you aren't getting excessive help from others and also trying to hide it. If you tell me about the help you are getting, then you are not cheating. I may tell you to get less help in the future, but you will not be subject to any penalties.

Class Participation includes presenting topics you have been assigned to research and present (for graduate students), and participating in all discussions.

Late work is subject to a penalty of 20% per week.

Author: William Hesse
Last Modified: Aug 15, 2007