Installing MVS 3.8

Gathering Prerequisite Materials

Required Materials

Before you begin, you need to acquire the following:

1.  the latest version of the Hercules emulator:

This is available from the Hercules' home site - - you can download both the source and precompiled versions from there.  You must use a version of Hercules at level 1.71 or above, although it is unlikely that anyone will be installing a version that old.  There was a track overflow problem in earlier versions which will prevent successful generation and use of MVS 3.8.  This revision of my instructions is being written using release 3.13 built 30 September 2017. You will not be able to build the MVS starter system with Hercules version 3.07.

November 21, 2019 Although I have been aware that Fish (David Trout) has for some time been maintaining another version of Hercules, which he himself describes as 'bleeding edge', I had not followed up that knowledge by trying his version. Recently I had a question from someone that prompted me to download and build his version, which is available from  The version I installed (on my Linux desktop, which is 64 bit LinuxMint 18.3) is 4.3.999.0-SDL. The installation is painless and quick. I did not go through an entire build of MVS 3.8 under the SDL version of Hercules, but the person who asked my the original question did and reports that it worked flawlessly. My own experience, so far, has been to confirm that the SDL version installs quickly and will execute an MVS 3.8j system built using my instructions.

If you are running on a version of the Windows operating system, you no longer need the Cygwin package.  The current Windows' version of Hercules runs natively under the Windows Operating System.  You can still run under Cygwin if you choose, but you will have to build Hercules yourself from the sources.

Instructions for installing precompiled binaries for whatever host platform you are running on or downloading the source and building your own executable binaries for your platform can be found at the Hercules' home site.  I do not attempt to provide any information here regarding the installation of Hercules itself.

If you build the Hercules' executables from source, you must include compression capability in order to be able to process Hercules Emulated Tape images and compressed DASD images.

2.  the MVS starter system and MVS 3.8j distribution tapes:

The MVS starter system is simply a MVS 3.7 system that is contained on two 3330 DASD volumes.  The starter system is provided by IBM with the MVS 3.8j product on two tapes, each of which contains a stand-alone DASD initialization program, a stand-alone program to restore a tape dump to DASD, and a tape dump of the DASD volume.  These tape images may still be available from sources online, but I am also making them available for download from my site @  (6.6 MB)  [MD5: 3504f627f4bb6ec0a6c46a3ced6c8cf4].

The MVS 3.8j product is distributed on two tapes.  The first tape contains the System Modification Program (SMP) load modules and procedures.  The second tape contains the product libraries for MVS 3.8j.  I believe that all the sites that were providing these tape images for download have removed them because of their size.  They are still available to order on CD-ROM from the CBT Tape site.  I am also making them available for download from my site @  (17.8 MB )  [MD5: 0e793cacf886b32be4295987ddc781ff].

3.  my installation objects archive, which contains Hercules' configuration files, jobstreams, some additional AWS tape images, and scripts:

The nature of each file contained in the archive, as well as where to extract each file is discussed in the next section below - Environment.  The archive is available for download from my site @ (15.9 MB) [MD5: b37e6330cb246adedc7d79b1027bbddf].  The most recent update to this archive was created on a Linux system with tar, but the archive may be decompressed using a variety of programs - WinRaR, 7zip, etc.

Although not required, the base program directory for MVS 3.8j is an interesting read, and it is available at: ../downloads/pdf/mvs38bas.pdf  This is the documentation that accompanies the product tapes distributed from IBM and contains detailed information about what is contained on the tapes.



The goal of these instructions is to guide you through the installation of MVS 3.8j and, as such, I will not detail the installation of the Hercules emulator here.  If you have not already installed Hercules, you can find instructions on the steps to follow at the Hercules' home site -  

For all the files relevant to MVS 3.8j (DASD and TAPE images, jobstreams, source code, etc), I would suggest the following directory structure, since it is the one that I use and it will be easier for my references to be understood if we are working in a common reference frame.

The top level directory, hercules, may have other directories beneath it besides those I show here.  When the Hercules emulator was first being distributed, the executable binaries (as well as documentation and some other files distributed with Hercules) could be placed in the main hercules directory; that was true on both Linux and Windows host systems, at least that was my experience.  Currently the Hercules installation package will install the binaries, documentation and other files included in the installation package into the appropriate location depending upon the host operating system.

If you have other mainframe operating systems installed (or plan to do so in the future) - MVT, VM, DOS/VS, Linux/390 - they can each have their own directory at the same level as the mvs directory, and their operating files (jobstreams, print, punch, configuration, tape and dasd files) will not interfere with each other.  On my system, for example, I actually have several different MVS configurations, each located in their own mvs? directory under hercules.  

Some Hercules' users choose to place their print and punch output in a separate directory beneath the main OS directory.  For simplicity, as I proceed through these instructions, the print and punch output will be placed in the main OS directory; mvs in this case.

When I created my installation objects archive (installmvs), the files the archive contains were pulled from this directory structure and the archive was created in the mvs directory level.  So, the files from the subordinate directories contain relative path information that will place them back into those directories if the archive is extracted from the mvs directory.  There will be some files in the archive that will, and should, extract to the main OS directory, mvs.

When I start Hercules, I always ensure that my working directory is the mvs subdirectory of the hercules main directory (as shown above).  This way, all of the relative path references in the configuration files will be correct and commands I cite will be correct.

I have received feedback stating that this archive (installmvs) is confusing.  So in an attempt to alleviate possible confusion, the complete contents of this archive, along with relative directories to which the files should be extracted, is:

mvs directory

conf directory

jcl directory

sajobs directory

tape directory
dlibs.script date.jcl inspool0.sajob j90009.het
ibcdmprs.cnf fdz1d02.jcl instart1.sajob ptfs.het
nc.exe mvs.cnf HELP rsspool0.sajob
mvs.script LOAD rsstart1.sajob  
submit.bat smp1.cnf mvs00.jcl    
  smp2.cnf mvs01.jcl    
  sysgen.cnf mvs02.jcl    
  sysgen.script null.jcl    

The three sets accompanied by the notation and/or each include two scripts that accomplish the same function.  In each case, you can choose the one you prefer to use.  If you are using these instructions on a system where neither of the choices will execute, you may need to choose the one you will be able to modify or follow manually to achieve the same purpose as the provided script.

The next step is the relatively short process of building the starter system.  So, when you are ready, proceed to the next step - Building the Starter System.

I hope that you have found my instructions useful.  If you have questions that I can answer to help expand upon my explanations and examples shown here, please don't hesitate to send them to me:

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This page was last updated on March 30, 2020.