Micro Mainframe
MVS and OS/390

Although I have never officially held a position that would allow me to claim to be a Systems Programmer, in several of my jobs I performed functions that would typically be performed by Systems Programming staff.  So I have constantly sought ways to improve my own education in that area.

Listed below are some resources (Internet accessible and books currently in print) for IBM MVS and OS/390 Systems Programming information.

The ABC's of Systems Programming is a five-volume set of IBM Redbooks designed to introduce the structure of the OS/390 and S/390 operating environment. The set is an invaluable reference to help the beginning systems programmer in the installation, tailoring, and configuration of an OS/390 operating system. The series is available for download in Adobe™ Portable Document Format at:

bulletVolume 1 (SG24-5597-00)
bulletVolume 2 (SG24-5652-00)
bulletVolume 3 (SG24-5653-00)
bulletVolume 4 (SG24-5654-00)
bulletVolume 5 (SG24-5655-00)

To view PDF's on the web or offline you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader. It installs as a plug in to your browser and gets launched when you click on a PDF. The free Acrobat Reader can be downloaded from: Adobe Acrobat Reader

Two books that thoroughly cover the territory of advanced assembler language programming and MVS systems programming are:  MVS Systems Programming, by Dave Elder-Vass and Advanced Assembler Language and MVS Interfaces, by Carmine A. Cannatello.

MVS Systems Programming has been out-of-print for a while, but has recently become available again through a "print on demand" company. Although the content is the original text as published in 1993, which does not include OS/390, it is an excellent introduction to MVS fundamentals. And, the price of this edition is less than that of the original edition. The entire text of the book is online and can be viewed without purchasing the book, although some of the pages will appear grainy when viewed online. View/Order at iUniverse


Advanced Assembler Language and MVS Interfaces is an excellent reference to learn good assembler coding techniques. This book is more about assembler coding than it is about MVS basics and how-to information, but is packed with complete coding examples and lessons on developing good problem solving skills. The text was updated and reprinted in September, 1999. Order at Amazon.COM

IBM Manuals on the Web

bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS JCL Reference
bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS JCL User's Guide
bulletTSO Manuals list (CLIST, REXX, etc)
bulletIBM Utilities
bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS System Codes
bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS System Messages, Volume 1 (ABA-ASA)
bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS System Messages, Volume 2 (ASB-EWX)
bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS System Messages, Volume 3 (GDE-IEB)
bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS System Messages, Volume 4 (IEC-IFD)
bulletOS/390 V2R4.0 MVS System Messages, Volume 5 (IGD-IZP)
bulletVSAM Access Method Services Reference

IBM manuals are also available in BookManager format, which can be viewed with reader software that is available for DOS, Windows, and OS/2 (the DOS version may be used on UNIX systems under DOS emulation software).  To download the free IBM Library Reader, use the link: http://booksrv2.raleigh.ibm.com/homepage/ilrserv.html

In order to download a publication's BookManager file, first use your browser to navigate to the desired document's title page.  Near the top of the page you will find this entry:  Book Path: /u/ftp/books/...  Utilizing this path information, construct a URL of the form:  http://www.s390.ibm.com/ftp/books/...  The resulting URL will utilize anonymous FTP to retrieve the BookManager file to your hard drive. 

Mainframe Discussion List

To subscribe, send mail to LISTSERV@BAMA.UA.EDU with the command:  SUBSCRIBE IBM-MAIN.

MVS Utilities Discussion List

To subscribe, send mail to LISTSERV@VM.MARIST.EDU with the command:  SUBSCRIBE MVS-UTIL.

CICS Discussion List

To subscribe, send mail to CICS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU.

Mainframe Newsgroups


Other Resources on the Web

XMIT Manager

Xmit Manager is a Windows based utility written by Neal Johnston-Ward which decodes datasets created on IBM mainframes using the TSO XMIT command.  The utility allows for viewing or extraction of the content data.  Update December 2006:  The original host site for XMIT Manager is no longer available, so the link above is to the last available versions of the program now maintained on the CBT Tape site.  You may also download Version 3 of XMIT Manager from my site: XMIT Manager V3 (1,302kb).

VSAM Knowledge Base

The searchable IBM Catalog and VSAM Knowledge Base.

Smart DFSORT Tricks

This page contains examples of many clever ways to use DFSORT and Icetool.

S390 Search Site

This page is a great collection of all things S/390!

This page was last updated on July 31, 2008.