Getting Started
Part Two - Challenge #01


Congratulations on your decision to participate in Part 2 of the journey.

Click twisty to view Reminder
Contest ID in the instructions:
  All references to Z##### are examples.
  Substitute your assigned ID in all cases.

The Basics

IBM Z is a powerful computer known as the mainframe in which z/OS is the IBM Z flagship operating system.

z/OS consists of many components. The components supply a rich collection of features and functions inclusive of API's to web enable any existing business application.

Classic components are available to interact with z/OS and will always be available.
-- Exposure to the classic interfaces will help you understand and master advanced z/OS interfaces
-- Many experienced z/OS System Programmers and System Administrators use both the classic interfaces and the advanced z/OS interfaces.

What is a z/OS System Programmer?

A mainframe System Programmer, usually shortened to Sysprog, plays a central role in running mainframe operations. They are responsible for coordinating, and sometimes executing, just about every change that happens on the system. If a new release of software is coming in, a storage unit is getting upgraded, or a decision needs to be made on how to handle a problem, the sysprog will be involved.

You don’t become a sysprog overnight. Most sysprogs start in one specific area and accumulate knowledge over time until it makes sense to take on a more central role. While they may not have to actually configure that storage device or bring up that new piece of software, being able to effectively plan and communicate with the specialists in those respective areas is part of what makes a sysprog so useful.

See Other mainframe jobs #MyMainframeJob

TSO, ISPF, and SDSF are classic interactive components.

  • TSO, Time Sharing Option, is a command line interface, CLI, analogous to personal workstation MS-DOS as the underlying CLI for Microsoft Windows.
  • ISPF, Interactive System Productivity Facility, is a full screen text based interface which is analogous with Microsoft Windows minus the GUI icons to launch features and functions.
  • SDSF, System Display and Search Facility, is another full sceen text based interface with system operation and monitoring facilities.

z/OS has a clever and unique mechanism for program execution regardless of the programming language.
-- The same mechanism includes an ability to associate program file names with z/OS managed physical resources.
-- The mechanism is Job Control Language, JCL.

One thing just about every sysprog will have to be able to do is use JCL. JCL (Job Control Language) is one of the ways you can tell the system what to do. Tasks submitted through JCL enter the JES (Job Entry Subsystem) for processing.

Having JCL and JES available to you is kind of like being the boss of a construction crew. You don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting, but you need to be able to say WHAT to do, WITH what resources, and WHERE to put the finished product. On z/OS, the WHAT is generally a program that has already been written, and we’re just telling it to run that program on some data, and then put the output somewhere else.

  • JCL, Job Control Language, consists of operational statements. JCL is roughly analogous to shell scripts.
    EXEC operation instructs z/OS what program to load and execute.
    DD operation statements associate program file names with z/OS physical resources,
      the program inputs and outputs.

Part 2 outcome includes hands-on z/OS experience with:

  • TSO, ISPF, SDSF, and JCL
  • System log
  • System commands
  • System utilities
  • Unix system services
  • Unix file systems
  • Data set types, attributes, and characteristics
  • Data character encoding schemes
  • Disk storage management
  • Data Security
  • Network communications

In challenge #1 you will learn about z/OS TSO, Time Sharing Option

The challenge objective is familiarity with TSO, Time Sharing Option.

  • TN3270 LOGON results in a session with TSO.
  • The contest system is customized to automatically start ISPF,
    a panel driven interface with full screen support.
    --- Therefore, you do not see the TSO READY prompt during LOGON process.
  • TSO is a command line interface, CLI, without full screen support.
  • TSO CLI is accessible by terminating ISPF entering x from ISPF Primary Option Menu.
  • TSO CLI displays a READY prompt for TSO commands to be entered.
  • Entering ISPF from TSO READY prompt displays the ISPF full screen support interface.


  • The purpose of challenge is basic navigation of z/OS TSO/ISPF
  • Initial exposure is the objective of challenge 1 with repetition and explanation to follow in later challenges
Access TSO Ready prompt, then complete TSO tasks as instructed

Logon to z/OS TSO/ISPF as you learned in Part 1.

Keep in mind the following:

  1. Right side Ctrl is TN3270 enter key by default
  2. Substitute your personal ID when instructions reference Z#####
  3. Left side Ctrl is TN3270 reset keyboard
  4. Tab key, arrow keys, and mouse click can be used to reposition cursor for data entry
  5. TN3270 display has 'protected' fields disabling ability to type into those protected areas on the display
       Use tab or left side Ctrl key to reset keyboard in the event of keyboard lock as the result of attempting to type in a 'protected' area on the display
Once logged on to TSO, then ISPF Primary Option Menu is displayed.
Enter pfshow off in the Option ===> This will suppress the function keys.
Observe the bottom of your TN3270 session. Suppressing the function keys now lets you see the "Enter X to Terminate .."
Time to logout. From ISPF Primary Option Menu, enter x to terminate the ISPF session.

The following display may or may not appear.

If the following screen appears, then tab to Process Option and enter 2 to Delete data set without printing.

The Log Data Set contains activity from session which is no longer needed.

When you are in a terminal session all of your activity is logged. Keep the planet clean and delete these unneeded data sets.

Upon successful termination of ISPF, a TSO READY prompt appears.

Actions to complete challenge #01

Complete the below actions to become familiar with some basic commands.

  1. Enter time to display time and date
  2. Enter netstat home to display system IP address
  3. Enter listc to display a current list of your personal data sets
  4. Enter submit 'zos.public.jcl(part2)' to process a background job allocating new personal data sets
  5. Enter listc to display a current list of your personal data sets
  6. Enter submit 'zos.public.jcl(tsojcl)' to process a background job which executes the same commands
  7. Enter ispf to launch the full screen ISPF Primary Option Menu
  8. Enter pfshow on to display function keys at bottom of ISPF screen

**Helpful hint: Text in bold can be copied and pasted into TN3270 session.

Enter TSO commands shown in screen shots below to complete the challenge.

Following the READY prompt, enter time as shown below
Following the READY prompt, enter netstat home as shown below
Following the READY prompt, enter listc as shown below
Following the READY prompt, enter submit 'zos.public.jcl(part2)' as shown below

Note: Enter a character of your choice when ENTER JOBNAME CHARACTER(S) - appears.

When JCL does not begin with a JCL JOB operand, then the system will generate a JOB statement beginning with your ID followed by a character(s) of your choice.

The above background job allocated new personal data sets.

Following the READY prompt, enter listc as shown below to list the new data set names
Following the READY prompt, enter submit 'zos.public.jcl(tsojcl)' as shown below
The above background job processed the same commands and wrote the output to a personal data set

Following the READY prompt, enter ispf as shown below
From the ISPF Primary Option Menu, enter pfshow on to display function keys at bottom of screen.
If you want to prove successful completion of the challenge, then take the following actions:
  From the ISPF Primary Option Menu, enter dslist p2.output
Tab to the left of the data set name and enter b to browse P2.OUTPUT data set name
Tab to the left of the member name #01 and enter s to select
Observe the member name in the data set has is the result of TSO READY prompt commands

If member #01 includes output from time, netstat home, and listc, then you successfully completed challenge 1

Enter return to return to ISPF Primary Option Menu

While many interact indirectly and unknowingly with an IBM Z mainframe each day,
few can say they interacted directly and knowingly with an IBM Z mainframe today.

You can!

Next: Challenge #02