To get the 100% authentic IBM i experience you have to download a green screen terminal emulator. Way back when, and even when I started, the only way to interface to an old school AS/400 were through a green screen terminal or a green screen emulator on your PC. For more info here’s a link to the wiki IBM 5250 page.
Most IBM i professionals are familiar with IBM i Access client which has a terminal emulator and a bunch of other utilities. However, as with most IBM software, this is not free but luckily there are free alternatives out there. Here is a list that are compatible with Windows.
http://www.ericom.com/tn5250.asp – Powerterm – 30 day free trial only
Currently, at home, I am using first one on the list which is written in java. It’s simple to download and install. Once done, set up your connection to your server. Below are the settings to the pub400 free IBM i resource.
Most people usually come across the IBM i through work. In the “real” work it’s pretty hard to get access to one unless you know what you’re looking for. You can usually find the odd iSeries on eBay for under a grand, but it’s unlikely to be running the latest OS release.
So where do we get the next generation of programmers and tech savvy kids interested? One answer is to provide free access to this platform and one of the very few places you can do this is at www.pub400.com.
This resource is kindly provided by a German IBM i hosting company. Once you’ve signed up you get 3 libraries (the native OS file system directory) and an IFS directory (akin to the directory tree file system most people are used to) to play with. The security settings are a little limiting so you cannot restore any save files for example (think zip files on your PC) but you get FTP access and there are various links off to free resources that you can download to facilitate your coding. More on those free resources later.
To get started, you sign up through a simple form, where you will get your user id and password via email. Before you download anything more there is a simple and easy way to access your account and that is through your PC’s humble command prompt.
Type telnet www.pub400.com and login with your details:
Next time we’ll look at a few free terminal emulators that can upgrade your terminal experience.