AS/400 tn5250 terminal on Linux

There are lot of ways for accessing to the AS400 functionalities (today know as iSeries, a wide-used “mainframe” produced by IBM) and one of the most important is, surely, the tn5250 terminal emulation.

Under Gnu/Linux, we can do this with different software, and each one has is pros and cons.

Personally i used the tn5250 software for simply terminal emulation, but also the IBM iSeries Access for Linux can be used for most advanced functions.

tn5250 – Linux tn5250 emulator

Under Debian and Debial-like distros (like Kubuntu, that i use), first step is install the tn5250 software

sudo apt-get install tn5250

or use your preferred package manager (synaptic, kpackage, others)

After this, you are virtually ready to connect to your AS400. Just run the following command ( is the IP address of my AS400):


The software, like the tn5250 protocol itself, has lot of options, but for my needs the most important are:

  • map: set the translation table between ASCII and EBCDIC. In my case, i use an italian translation map, corresponding to the code 280. For a list of all translation maps, run this command: man tn5250rc and search for the Translation Maps section
  • env.DEVNAME: set the device name for the AS/400 to assign to the 5250 session. In my case, this name is DSP002A
  • env.TERM: Set the terminal model name for the emulation session to use. In my case is IBM-3477-FC (80×132 color mode). For a list of all terminal models, run the same command of above, man tn5250rc, and search for Display Types section
  • font_80: the font used when terminal is in 80 column mode
  • font_132: the font used when terminal is in 132 column mode

Ok, with this parameters, my launch string became:

/usr/bin/xt5250 map=280 env.DEVNAME=DSP002A env.TERM=IBM-3477-FC font_80=10×20 font_132=10×20

I put this string in a new menu entries, using the icon from the file /usr/share/pixmaps/tn5250-48×48.png

Kde menu with tn5250 shortcut

Joke is done :)

Little trick: with Ctrl + Right click over the tn5250 window, you can access to the “VT Fonts” menu, and with Ctrl + Left click you can access to the “Main Options” menu.

You can also create a config file with all the options and then launch xt5250 <filename>. Search under the tn5250rc manual page for more information and take a look to this and this useful topic


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