OS/400: Is It IBM i, i OS, i 6.X, i/OS, Or What?
February 8, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The people behind the Four Hundred stack of newsletters live and work all over the country, and that means email and instant messaging are our equivalents of the water cooler. It is where we talk about what we are up to both personally and professionally, and it is also where we deal with the smaller issues that are facing us and can be solved without a phone call. (Both email and IM are essentially free, and Guild Companies is frugal.) Like many of you out there in AS/400 Land, we are confused about how to talk about the platform. Here’s an exchange between the editors that we thought you would find interesting.
I noticed you started using i/OS as a reference to the IBM i operating system. Since I use i OS instead, I figure we should get together and figure out what the hell we should call it, so we don’t look so discombobulated to our esteemed readers.
I use and prefer i OS. It seems the most accurate and concise. It still uses the lowercase “i,” which is accurate (if god-awful lame), and adds the generalized identifier OS after it. So it’s a nickname basically, and IBM, whose god-given right it is to name their own products with any stupid-*** thing they can think of, can’t say **** because it’s technically accurate.
i/OS is good, too. Hell, they should have named it this in the first place. But it looks to me like more of a formal name (that slashy hearkens all the way back to 1964 and the launch of the System/360), and the argument could be made that it’s technically wrong, because there is no such thing as i/OS at IBM. Besides I think Cisco has a trademark on it–that’s the reason they didn’t name it that in the first place.
Just my .02.
I don’t have a preference, but I can share my thinking.
The formal name is IBM i, sometimes i 6.1 and i 6.1.1 when you are being precise about releases. IBM itself doesn’t use this, and it doesn’t jibe with any operating system name in the history of IBM.
I use i/OS when I am talking generally–like the current releases and the future ones. I don’t like using “OS” as an abbreviation for Operating System, and I am used to the slash when it comes to mainframe and midrange stuff (it is still z/OS and z/VM and z/VSE and even z/TPF on the mainframe, and they also say z/Linux). I wish I could argue that “i/OS” was better for searching than “i OS” but I doubt that is the case. I just say i/OS because it is consistent with the other ways IBM is naming stuff–AIX and Linux being exceptions on Power, of course.
I prefer OS/400 V6R1! IBM marketing. . . .
Cisco’s trademark is for IOS, all caps, no slash. Which is why I said IBM should just use i/OS and **** ’em last year. And that is when I started saying i/OS when referring to anything 6.1 and beyond. I say OS/400 V5R3, which is its correct name, and i5/OS V5R4, which is its correct name, when referring to those releases. IBM tried to rename them and did so inconsistently. So forget that.
All of that said, I am happy to do what we agree to by committee.
I have also started saying “Power Systems i” when talking about the combined hardware and software platform, to distinguish it from just plain-jane Power Systems iron and to make an analog to “AS/400.” I kinda hate calling it the “IBM i” platform since that lacks precision in terms of naming the iron’s architecture. And though I hate it, I say “the i customer base” and stuff like that.
Alex and Tim:
For the sake of consistency, I can get onboard with i/OS when grouping all operating systems 6.1 and above.
I don’t really like i/OS or i OS. The fact that IBM gave it such an inconsequential name that it requires OS to follow it (with or without a slash) is a crime punishable by death. Do you think we could make money selling “I named it the i” T-shirts, dart boards, and other paraphernalia with an anonymous nerd wearing one of those arrow-through-the-head gags?
How about if we make up our own name for it and call it i400? That’s a little bit modern and a little bit retro. It would also allow people to continue to call a Power Systems box running i/OS “The Four Hundred”–which is what most people want to call it anyway.
Dan and Tim:
I can live with i/OS as the general term. It’s what they should have picked in the first place. I’ve seen others using i/OS recently, too. Maybe it will catch on.
In a way, the fact that it’s not an IBM sanctioned name is kind of a benefit. IBM has abused the brand with all the name changes almost to the point where it’s lost its authority and the name needs to be taken into protective custody. The latest change was such a major gaffe that nearly the entire community literally does not know what to call it.
I don’t like “Power Systems i” though, because it shortens to Systems i, and that just doesn’t seem right. I still kind of prefer System i when referring to the hardware. You get used to one stupid name and then IBM changes it to an even stupider name.
Here are the various wrong variations that I’ve seen in use and otherwise:
All I can say is: Aye yi yi yi yi!