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Leveraging mainframe skills with Linux

At present I am working as an application programmer in a mainframe environment using Assembler, COBOL, CICS, REXX, JCL, etc. I also have knowledge in C, C++ and Perl. I would like to know how can I use my existing skill set with Linux on mainframe?

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Your C and C++ skills will likely transfer directly. The other skills you mention are both rare and unlikely in the Linux world -- JCL is completely absent, and COBOL, assembler, etc are rare if used at all. Linux does not use the OS standard linkage conventions, and the syntax (unless you use commercial tools like Dignus' HLASM port for Linux) is totally different. REXX is supported, but extremely rare.

Sorry to say, but other than your C and C++ programming skills, little or none of what you do today will transfer over. That said, porting applications is a growing market and few, if any, Linux-trained programmers understand the concepts of the mainframe world, so knowing what *used* to be there is likely to be a selling point, if you can work out a good set of replacements, eg, JCL -> Perl scripts, REXX -> Perl, etc.

This was first published in December 2005

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