(Updated below.) How would you like to run real, licensed z/OS and various middleware products such as CICS, DB2, MQ, IMS, WebSphere Application Server, plus lots of compilers, tools, etc? You can with the IBM Z Development & Test Environment, and you can do it all on your Linux laptop or PC.
IBM licenses ZD&T (with real z/OS and other software products that accompany z/OS) or demonstrations (such as at a trade show or user group), development, testing (with caveats), and education. Definitely not for production or performance testing. Please read the license “fine print” for details on permitted uses. And ZD&T is not free.
Here are the “secret codes” you’ll need, at this writing. First, you’ll need a USB attached hardware key, affectionately known as a “dongle.” The dongle is IBM Passport Advantage part number BT0PEML, and its current list price is US$144. Then, assuming it’s just you (one user, i.e. ZD&T “Personal Edition”), you’ve got a choice. You can either buy a 12 month fixed term license (part number D0M21LL, US$4,780) or a perpetual license (part number D0M1VLL, US$10,200). When the time comes to renew your term license (and maintenance) for another year you’d use part number E0D6GLL, US$4,780 current list price), or to renew the maintenance on your perpetual license for another year (the first year is included with the license) you’d use part number E0D6CLL, US$2,030 current list price). Maintenance means IBM Subscription and Support. Subscription means you’re able to download new software releases (including new z/OS, middleware, compiler, and tool releases), and Support means you’re able to call up (or electronically contact) IBM for help with ZD&T. (No, you very likely won’t be able to call in a “Severity 1” IMS problem incident, for example.)
If you’ve got a club of mainframe enthusiasts and want to band together to share a Linux server running ZD&T (and real z/OS), you can do that with “Resource Value Unit” (RVU) licensing. License quantity one (one RVU) means that you can configure ZD&T to use one X86 core (on your multi-core X86 machine) to emulate a Z processor. ZD&T is never suitable for performance testing, but one X86 core’s worth of emulation is enough for many purposes, even for a club. So start with that minimum and see how it goes. If the club wants to increase that number, that’s always possible. If you’ve got 5 people or more in your club, the RVU licensing is less expensive, assuming you’re all happy with one RVU.
You can sometimes get selective free access to z/OS via the IBM Z Trial Program and the Master the Mainframe Contest, as examples. But if you’d like your own personal (or club) mainframe, and if you’re OK living within the usage limits, ZD&T is fantastic.
Update: There are at least three other options for getting your own real z/OS environment: ZPDT, ZRDP, and (oddly enough) a real IBM Z machine. ZPDT and ZRDP are available to IBM PartnerWorld members. As for the real IBM Z machine option, to do that you (or a club?) would buy a real system such as an IBM zBC12 or z13s (purchased at auction, perhaps) with some ECKD disk. You’d then license z/OS (Base, DFSMSdsshsm, RMF, SDSF, Security Server, and C/C++ let’s suppose) from IBM under standard ZNALC commercial terms (get approval from IBM first!), and you’d configure your machine with a 3 MSU softcap across all your z/OS LPARs. You’d also send IBM your SCRT reports every month. Do all that and you’d pay about $153/month (2017 U.S. pricing) for z/OS, nicely equipped. If all you need is real z/OS, if your z/OS use qualifies for ZNALC (probably), and if IBM trusts you enough to do business with you (mostly that you’ll pay your monthly bills reliably), yes, you can do this.