, 4 min read

Installing IBM COBOL for Linux on Arch Linux

Task at hand: Install the 60-day trial of "IBM COBOL for Linux" on Arch Linux. Please see the updated installation description here: Installing IBM COBOL for Linux on Arch Linux #2.

1. Download. Downloading the compiler is at IBM COBOL for Linux on x86 60-day Trial or here.

2. Unpacking. Downloaded file is marked as gzipped tar, but in actuality it is just a tar file:

$ file IBM_COBOL_V1.1.0_LINUX_EVAL.x86-64.tar.gz 
IBM_COBOL_V1.1.0_LINUX_EVAL.x86-64.tar.gz: POSIX tar archive (GNU)

Unpacking this tar-file provides 4 deb-files and 4 rpm-files. I picked the deb-files:

  1. Not required: cobol.cmp.license-eval.1.1.0_1.1.0.0-210903.864_amd64.deb
  2. Debugging part: cobol.dbg.1.1.0_1.1.0.0-210903.864_amd64.deb
  3. The compiler: cobol.cmp.1.1.0_1.1.0.0-210903.864_amd64.deb
  4. Runtime: cobol.rte.1.1.0_1.1.0.0-210903.864_amd64.deb

deb-files can be unpacked with ar, see How to extract a .deb file without opening it on Debian or Ubuntu Linux. I unpacked the four deb-files. Each deb-files contains

  1. Can be ignored: debian-binary
  2. Can be ignored: control.tar.gz
  3. data.tar.xz

File data.tar.xz is then extracted with tar xf. The resulting subdirectories are then copied to /opt/ibm. Finally

chown -R root:root /opt/ibm/cobol

3. Prerequisites. Installation guide specifies that the compiler needs 32-bit libraries. Without 32-bit libraries you will get below error when calling cob2:

cob3: execve() failed:  rc -1  errno 2 No such file or directory

cob2 is the actual compiler call and is a 64-bit application which in turn calls cob3, the 32-bit binary.

On Arch Linux the cure is to install lib32-gcc-libs:

pacman -S lib32-gcc-libs

Before that you have to activate multilib in /etc/pacman.conf:

Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

With the 32-bit libraries installed, you can check cob3:

/opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/bin: ldd cob3
        linux-gate.so.1 (0xf7f2b000)
        libcob2_32r.so => /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/usr/bin/./../../../rte/usr/lib/libcob2_32r.so (0xf7e30000)
        libdfp_32r.so => /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/usr/bin/./../../../rte/usr/lib/libdfp_32r.so (0xf7d9b000)
        libquadmath.so.0 => /usr/lib32/libquadmath.so.0 (0xf7cff000)
        libdl.so.2 => /usr/lib32/libdl.so.2 (0xf7cf9000)
        libstdc++.so.6 => /usr/lib32/libstdc++.so.6 (0xf7ae8000)
        libm.so.6 => /usr/lib32/libm.so.6 (0xf7a1b000)
        libgcc_s.so.1 => /usr/lib32/libgcc_s.so.1 (0xf79fd000)
        libpthread.so.0 => /usr/lib32/libpthread.so.0 (0xf79db000)
        libc.so.6 => /usr/lib32/libc.so.6 (0xf77e2000)
        libicuuc_32r.so => /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/usr/bin/./../../../rte/usr/lib/libicuuc_32r.so (0xf75f4000)
        libicui18n_32r.so => /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/usr/bin/./../../../rte/usr/lib/libicui18n_32r.so (0xf72da000)
        /lib/ld-linux.so.2 => /usr/lib/ld-linux.so.2 (0xf7f2d000)
        libicudata_32r.so => /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/usr/bin/./../../../rte/usr/lib/libicudata_32r.so (0xf5897000)

The compiler is a 32-bit application and can currently only generate 32-bit executables. In particular, you can not use 64-bit pointer variables. See also Memory Limitations with IBM Enterprise COBOL Compiler. Man page, man -l /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/man/man1/cob2.1, confirms this:

-q32   Specifies that a 32-bit object program is to be generated.  Sets the ADDR(32) compiler option and the  linker  option  to
       instruct the linker to create a 32-bit executable module.

-q64   This option is not currently supported. The compiler accepts and ignores this option.

4. Testing the installation. Running the compiler goes like this:

cob2 hello.cbl

This will generate the usual a.out.

Overall the installation needs ca. 160 MB of hard disk storage:

$ du -ks /opt/ibm/cobol
158860  /opt/ibm/cobol

5. Documentation. IBM provides ample documentation for its Linux COBOL compiler: COBOL for Linux on x86 documentation library.

See Comparing GnuCOBOL to IBM COBOL.

Added 25-Mar-2023: I tried to install the compiler again on Arch Linux, following above guideline. It no longer works. Neither the extraction of the Ubuntu image, nor the RHEL image worked. For the rpm extraction I used package rpmextract. Running cob2 gives below error.

$ /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/bin/cob2
SIGSEGV: Likely NULL pointer dereference (0x1).

 PID 12198 PPID 1950  Signal received: 11(0) - SIGSEGV (Segmentation fault) at location 0x7f715f90235d
    --- End of call chain ---
zsh: segmentation fault (core dumped)  /opt/ibm/cobol/1.1.0/bin/cob2