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Creating An AS400 Terminal Client With An Old PC And Ubuntu


This how to uses Ubuntu 7.10 Server install. I am sure that this could be done with a much smaller install base, rather than server – I might have used the Alternative CD, or maybe even some other distribution like DSL, or Puppy Linux (if you needed GUI [graphical user interface] ). But for proof of concept this worked fine. I used an Old Dell GX100 Optiplex with 256 MB of RAM (I don’t think I need any more that 128 [maybe even 64MB], but this is what was in the box when I pulled it out of the pile). It has a small form factor, and runs pretty quiet. My steps are geared toward English & US, so you may want to change those if your using something else =).

Install the base system:

Boot the PC with the Ubuntu Server Disk.

Select Install to the Hard Disk.

Select English.

Select US.

Detect Keyboard – Yes.

hostname = what_you_want_host_name_to_be

Guided = Use entire disk

Press enter on the disk found.

Pres yes – to confirm the warning about clearing the disk.

Select Central for Time Zone – unless you somewhere else.

Yes to set UTZ

user name – for the Full Name

password for the password

password for verify

Installed base system

Dont select anything when prompted – TAB to select continue

Return to continue

Return to continue and reboot

Login as uname with password

sudo apt-get install tn5250


Worked like a charm.

To add a static persistent route:

I needed this as my Internal private network is different than my default.

sudo pico /etc/network/interfaces

Change the contents of file to look like the following:

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp
up route add -net netmask gw eth0

To make the tn5250 run automatically after login:

Login as uname with password

pico .bashrc

Add the line:


to the very end of this file.

To automatically login to virtual terminal 1 (tty1):

Login with uname and password

First make sure your root account is accessible

sudo passwd

enter new root_password for root

verify root_password for root

The above will allow for you to log in as root with root_password. This way, if you need to do any administration you can switch to another terminal.

sudo apt-get install mingetty

sudo pico /etc/events.d/tty1

Change the line:

exec /sbin/getty 38400 tty1


exec /sbin/mingetty --autologin uname tty1

Reboot with Ctrl+Alt+Del to test

Now if you need to administer the computer — boot the PC, after it auto logs in, press CTRL-F2 (or F3 –> F6) to open a new virtual terminal and login as root. (If you use uname – it will just auto run the tn5250 again).


With the above set up, we have a stand alone AS400 client PC that should work for most applications used by our AS400 users. It is a quick and easy way to re-use old hardware. These steps can be modified to also create Telnet client, ICA clients, RDP Clients, and numerous others.

Please note – you should use your own substitues for:

uname, password, root_password, and any IP addresses