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IBM i History & Key Features


IBM i is an integrated operating system that runs on IBM Power Systems server with built in DB2 installed. The name 'IBM i' was introduced in 2008, and it is the current evolution of the operating system, previously named i5/OS, and originally named OS/400 when it was introduced with the AS/400 computer system in 1988.

IBM calls it as "IBM i: A platform for innovators, by innovators". DB2 Mirror for i provides continuous availability. IBM i can easily integrate with IoT, AI and Watson. 


History of IBM i goes back to 1978 when the first operating system CPF (Control Program Facility) was introduced for system/38. 

OS/400 was released in 1988 as an extended version of CPF to support the AS/400 (Application System/400). Current version of IBM i is still being called as AS/400 by many users. 

IBM released various updates to OS/400 (Version 1 to V5R3) between 1988 and 2006. 

One of the major addition to the server was LPARs (Logical Partitioning) introduced in 1999 to support multiple virtual servers on a single Hardware. 

OS/400 was renamed to i5/OS to 2006 for the newly introduced System i servers, these were in market till 2008. 

IBM i was released in 2008 with it's initial version IBM i 6.1 on IBM Power systems. IBM has also changed the way versioning is done from IBM i as 'IBM i V.R' (Version, Release) where as versioning was done as VxRxMx (Version, Release, Modification). 

One of the greatest advantages of IBM i is support it's earlier versions.

IBM i 7.1 was released in April, 2010 and Technology Refreshes for IBM i 7.1 until October 2015.

IBM i 7.2 was released in was released in May 2014 and last Technology Refresh was released in September 2018. 

IBM i 7.3 was released in April 2016 and latest Technology Refresh (TR9) was released in November 2020. 

Latest version IBM i 7.4 was released in April 2019 and latest Technology Refresh (TR3) was released in November 2020. 

No End of Support has been announced yet for IBM i versions 7.3 and 7.4 and IBM is committed to releasing Technology Refreshes for these two versions. 

Key Features

IBM i has a built-in database (DB2) and doesn't require separate installation this makes it easy to use system. 

IBM i supports the applications developed on it's earlier versions like system/38, AS/400. And, IBM i is one of the earliest Object-based operating system. 

IBM PASE for i (Portable Application Solutions Environment for i) enables port of AIX applications (which are also hosted on power systems) to the IBM i platform. PASE for i provides an integrated run time environment enabling AIX applications on IBM i.

Integrated Language Environment (ILE) allows binding of program modules written in different languages like RPG, COBOL, C and C++. 

Integrated Web Services for i enables ILE applications to perform in the web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA). 

TCP/IP on IBM i allows TCP/IP applications, protocols and services to direct the data to flow in and out of IBM i. 

IBM i Access Client Solutions is a Java based client provides Development and System management solution and is supported by Windows, Mac OS and Linux. 

Open source software can be installed on IBM i using IBM i Access Client Solutions. 

IBM i supports databases MySQL, MariaDB and Redis along with DB2 for i. PostgreSQL and MongoDB are currently in beta release. 

IBM Rational Developer for i is the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) published by IBM for working many programming languages like RPG and COBOL. This becomes extremely helpful when working with open source languages. 

IBM i supports many programming languages.
  • RPG
  • CL
  • SQL
  • Assembly Language
  • C
  • C++
  • Pascal
  • Java
  • EGL
  • Perl
  • Smalltalk
  • PL/I
  • REXX
  • QShell

Open Source on IBM i

Below are the open source technologies supported on IBM i. 
  • Apache HTTP server.
  • Java
  • Node.js
  • OpenSSL
  • Git
  • GNU Compiler Collection
  • Nginx
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Lua
  • R
Apart from these there are many more packages are available. 

IBM i can hold applications like Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, Mantis Bug Tracker, MediaWiki, Moodle, PhpBB, SugarCRM, WordPress, XOOPS, ZenCart with MariaDB or MySQL as database. 

IBM i is not the same AS/400, it is much more powerful. 


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