IBM 4690 OS


IBM 4690 OS

IBM 4690 Operating System, sometimes shortened to 4690 OS or 4690, is IBM's specially designed Point of Sale operating system. 4690 is widely used by IBM's retail customers to drive retail systems running their own applications as well as IBM's Application Client Server Environmet (ACE), Supermarket Application (SA), General Sales Application (GSA), and Chain Drug Sales Application (CDSA). 4690 was made available by IBM in 1993. It is the follow-on product to 4680, which had been in use by IBM's customers since 1986.

The majority of large grocery retailers, as well as the largest retailer in the world, are using the 4690 operating system in one form or another for their operations because of its many retail specific and reliability features. In addition to running on IBM hardware, third party vendors have taken advantage of the 4690 features on competitive hardware.

Supported Hardware

4690 supports a number of Point of Sale (POS) terminal devices, store controller servers, and combination controller/terminals. The 4690 documentation contains a list of supported POS devices, including devices that have been in use over 20 years. The family of IBM USB POS devices that 4690 supports includes keyboards, displays, and cash drawers. 4690 also supports other I/O devices that are designed to and conform to IBM’s USB POS device interface specifications. IBM makes interface specifications available to third party vendors in order to aid them in attaching their devices with the POS terminals using RS485, RS232, and standard Universal Serial Bus (USB) I/O connections.

IBM provides a "Controller Matrix" document with a list of compatible IBM servers for use with 4690 OS as store controllers and controller/terminals. These servers represent current and formerly available devices which continue to be supported by 4690.

Notable Features

Perhaps the most notable feature of the 4690 OS is its ability to provide a "redundancy infrastructure". IBM designed the 4690 OS to work either as a single server, or with one or more other 4690 servers. These servers are commonly called "store controllers". When connected in a LAN, these 4690 store controllers provide redundant backup using mirrored data files. Using a system of "master controller", "alternate master", "file server", and "alternate file server" designations, the controllers preserve data integrity and allow file backup in the event that a store controller fails and needs to be replaced.

A copy of the 4690 OS is maintained in each store controller. The 4690 POS terminals (registers) load a copy of 4690 from the store controller into memory when they Initial Program Load (IPL). The 4690 controllers provide terminal support in the form of terminal loading, price lookup, and transaction logging. Non-volatile memory is utilized to ensure that data is not lost in transit from the terminals to the store controller. Terminals are assigned to a primary store controller, and that controller is typically backed up by another controller. If the primary controller fails, the terminals automatically access the backup controller, providing uninterrupted sales at the POS terminal. If both the primary and backup controllers are unavailable, the terminal can go into a standalone state, or, some of the applications are capable of supporting a "Terminal Offline" (TOF) state wherein terminals run offline using a terminal-based item file and logging stored within their own memory.

In order to maintain software at the store level, 4690 provides a software maintenance facility to manage updates. This facility provides checking to ensure that all updates have been transferred to the store, and the ability to apply the maintenance from store level commands or under central control. The updated software can be applied in "test", which preserves the prior software in case the maintenance needs to be backed off for some reason.

4690 supports communications to the store controller in several forms. including TCP/IP, X.25, SNA, and asynchronous communications.

More information on 4690 and its feature can be found at the following site:

http://www-03.ibm.com/products/retail/products/software/4690/

Technology and Software

4690 OS has been updated annually to address the needs of its user community and in anticipation of upcoming requirements. Most recently, 4690 Version 5 incorporated new security enhancements, such as SSH, IPSec, and enhanced operator security (allowing alphanumeric operator IDs, password complexity requirements, password expiration, etc). This has helped its users address new security requirements from the credit card companies.

Another recent addition to 4690 was the capability to forward store level hardware and software events to a Remote Management system to facilitate central control and monitoring.

4690 supports applications written in IBM 4680 BASIC (a variant of CBASIC), Metaware High-C, and Java 2. The Java language-based capability at both the server and the client, along with the extension of TCP/IP capability to the client, enables Java applications at both the server and client to run concurrently with existing CBASIC or C applications. Users can make functional enhancements to existing applications by developing a new Java application that communicates with an existing application.

Sources

Published sources of the information above include the following IBM Publications:
* cite book
title = IBM 4690 OSV5 Programming Guide
publisher = IBM
url = ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/retail/pubs/sw/opsys/4690/ver5r2/bsi1_PG_mst.pdf

* cite book
title = IBM 4690 OSV5 Configuration Guide (English)
publisher = IBM
url = ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/retail/pubs/sw/opsys/4690/ver5r2/bse1_PIC_mst.pdf

* cite book
title = IBM 4690 OSV5 User's Guide (English)
publisher = IBM
url = ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/retail/pubs/sw/opsys/4690/ver5r2/bsf1_UG_mst.pdf

* cite book
title = IBM 4690 OSV5 Communications Programming Guide
publisher = IBM
url = ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/retail/pubs/sw/opsys/4690/ver5r2/bsh1_CPR_mst.pdf

* cite book
title = IBM 4690 OSV5 Messages Guide
publisher = IBM
url = ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/retail/pubs/sw/opsys/4690/ver5r2/bsg1_MG_mst.pdf

These documents can be obtained from IBM at the [http://www2.clearlake.ibm.com/store/support/html/pubs.html Retail Publications Download Center] .

Unpublished sources of the information above include the following:
* Hands-on experience and work in troubleshooting and configuring this software from this document's author.


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