Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 17th Feb 2017 22:40 UTC
IBM

I'm pretty sure all of you are aware of Advanced Interactive Executive, or AIX, IBM's high-end, professional UNIX operating system. It has been in development since 1986, and is currently at version 7.2, released in 2015. It's one of those operating systems you hear relatively little about here on OSNews, if only because it sits in a part of the market where few of us ever encounter it.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to learn that AIX hasn't been confined to (relatively) exotic non-x86 hardware such as IBM Power and PowerPC-based systems. During my research into the IBM PS/2, I discovered that IBM released versions of AIX for PS/2 systems. The first release was AIX 1.1 1989, followed by 1.2 in 1990, and the last release, 1.3, in 1992.

From the AIX 1.3 PS/2 announcement letter:

Performance tuning in AIX PS/2 Operating System Version 1.3 offers increased throughput for Input/Output (I/O) in both raw and block mode, in addition to kernel performance enhancements and smaller size requirements available through the availability of serviceable shared libraries usage in applications written to utilize them. Enhancements have also been made to the pager and swapper areas of memory management that have resulted in performance increases.

Improvements in the windowing and Graphical User Interface (GUI) areas are highlighted with the introduction of the X Windowing System V11 R5 from MIT available in AIX PS/2 X-Windows Version 1.3 and AIXwindows Environment for PS/2 Version 1.3 and OSF's Motif 1.1.3 available in AIXwindows Environment for PS/2 Version 1.3 along with AIXwindows Desktop. Support for the IBM Xstation 120 and Xstation 130 is provided in the AIX PS/2 Xstation Manager Version 1.3 Support for XGA-2 provides non-interlaced, high resolution graphics on those displays that support it.

The internet is a great thing, and IBM AIX 1.3 for PS/2 can be found on abandonware sites, and there are some repositories with more information. The full AIX 1.3 PS/2, with all the additional packages you had to buy separately, comes in at a whopping 94 1.44 MB floppies. The installation procedure is complex, and I haven't yet been able to get it installed in VirtualBox. I want to give this some visibility, because maybe someone with more experience with AIX can get AIX PS/2 to run inside VirtualBox or some other virtualisation tool.

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PCem-X
by Intuition on Fri 17th Feb 2017 23:08 UTC
Intuition
Member since:
2013-05-28

You might have more luck getting it to run on this than virtualbox.

https://github.com/OBattler/PCem-X

Reply Score: 1

RE: PCem-X
by Intuition on Fri 17th Feb 2017 23:36 UTC in reply to "PCem-X"
Intuition Member since:
2013-05-28

Binaries are available here.

http://polar.rol.im/

Googling for "pcem roms" will get you a zip of all the required bios roms etc.

Edited 2017-02-17 23:37 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: PCem-X
by rakslice on Sun 19th Feb 2017 00:08 UTC in reply to "PCem-X"
rakslice Member since:
2017-02-18

Can it emulate one of the network cards or SCSI controllers AIX 1.3 supports by any chance? VirtualBox definitely can't.

Edited 2017-02-19 00:09 UTC

Reply Score: 1

On actual PS/2
by Greatquux on Fri 17th Feb 2017 23:48 UTC
Greatquux
Member since:
2017-02-17

Dude you gotta get this running on your actual PS/2 if you can!!!

Reply Score: 3

RE: On actual PS/2
by christian on Sat 18th Feb 2017 21:29 UTC in reply to "On actual PS/2"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

Dude you gotta get this running on your actual PS/2 if you can!!!


Not on a 286. It'll need that 486slc upgrade.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: On actual PS/2
by pepa on Sun 19th Feb 2017 09:45 UTC in reply to "RE: On actual PS/2"
pepa Member since:
2005-07-08

No no, I think he means on MIPS..!

Reply Score: 2

emulation
by Dark-Star on Sat 18th Feb 2017 00:00 UTC
Dark-Star
Member since:
2010-09-27

There is currently (to the best of my knowledge) no emulator capable of running AIX, since it requires an MCA architecture which is not yet emulated anywhere near enough to make it even install (not even in PCEm-X, which is recently often touted as the holy grail of x86 emulation for some reason or another)

Reply Score: 4

RE: emulation
by christian on Sat 18th Feb 2017 21:42 UTC in reply to "emulation"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

There is currently (to the best of my knowledge) no emulator capable of running AIX, since it requires an MCA architecture which is not yet emulated anywhere near enough to make it even install (not even in PCEm-X, which is recently often touted as the holy grail of x86 emulation for some reason or another)


1.3 appears to support non-MCA:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=klEEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA16&redir_esc=y...

Reply Score: 1

CBBBAP
by Bringbackanonposting on Sat 18th Feb 2017 00:14 UTC
Bringbackanonposting
Member since:
2005-11-16

Wow, AIX on x86. I've read a heap up on Xenix since recent articles, but this will be something else. Looking forward to the ytube video of it running in VM or on a PS/2.

Reply Score: 2

RE: CBBBAP
by lproven on Tue 21st Feb 2017 15:56 UTC in reply to "CBBBAP"
lproven Member since:
2006-08-23

AIX on a PS/2:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHnqqg4StcY

The guy barely knows how to use Unix, to be fair as he says, so he just flails around a bit. But you do briefly see AIXwindows, a few Xterms, Xeyes and so on. He also doesn't seem to know how to configure TCP/IP so the box isn't online.

Reply Score: 1

Wrong link
by jle17 on Sat 18th Feb 2017 00:54 UTC
jle17
Member since:
2017-02-18

The "installation procedure" link doesn't seem to point to the right place, it has the same destination as the "can be found on abandonware sites" link.

Also, AIX, eww. I've never seen a Unix that was so messy and buggy, I suggest you stay with BeOS, for your own sanity (although I only know AIX 5 and 6, maybe that old version wasn't that horrible).

Reply Score: 2

RE: Wrong link
by christian on Sat 18th Feb 2017 21:39 UTC in reply to "Wrong link"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

Also, AIX, eww. I've never seen a Unix that was so messy and buggy, I suggest you stay with BeOS, for your own sanity (although I only know AIX 5 and 6, maybe that old version wasn't that horrible).


You think 5 and 6 are messy? You really don't know you're born. My experience goes back to 4.1, and it was our most horrid UNIX to support, worse that HP-UX 9. Luckily AIX 3 support was deprecated in our product about the time I came along.

I dread to think AIX 1.x was like.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Wrong link
by wigry on Sat 18th Feb 2017 22:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Wrong link"
wigry Member since:
2008-10-09

Any examples? I have experience with AIX as a bystander in awe to see the Oracle DB blast on it. So as Oracle ran on it, I thought it was uber cool machine. At the time the solution was using IBM F50 RS/6000 system and the I liked CDE on it a lot, the color scheme for terminal was really cool and the box was BIG compared to all the PCs around. So I thought it is a rock solid system and therefore I would really like to hear about some real experience in supporting such OS.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Wrong link
by christian on Sun 19th Feb 2017 16:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Wrong link"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

Any examples? I have experience with AIX as a bystander in awe to see the Oracle DB blast on it. So as Oracle ran on it, I thought it was uber cool machine. At the time the solution was using IBM F50 RS/6000 system and the I liked CDE on it a lot, the color scheme for terminal was really cool and the box was BIG compared to all the PCs around. So I thought it is a rock solid system and therefore I would really like to hear about some real experience in supporting such OS.


It was little things, mainly on the programming side (our product was predominantly C based.) Shared libraries, for example, were a pain in the backside. GCC C++ objects couldn't be mixed with xlc, so you either had to compile everything with one or the other. The only machines we could justifiably afford at the time were low end RS/6000 machines, and were dog slow even compared to our other UNIX platforms (HP-UX and Solaris, and later Linux.)

Of course, some of the problems were possibly our own people's ignorance, and could have been worked round satisfactorily without the hacks we had in place, but that's the problem of being so very different to other UNIX platforms.

AIX just came from a different background. The AIX 1.x kernel wasn't even written in C as far as I know. I think the core of the kernel was implemented in PL/1, on top of which the UNIX personality was ported from SysV. However, I don't know if AIX for PS/2 was based on the AIX 1.x or AIX 2.x from the original ROMP (AIX 2.x moved away from the PL/1 based kernel I understand.)

We've since been acquired by IBM, so AIX hardware and expertise is no longer so hard to come by ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Wrong link
by wigry on Sun 19th Feb 2017 17:42 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Wrong link"
wigry Member since:
2008-10-09

Thanks for the explanation, much appreciated.

I totally envy people who have (had) and opportunity to program for Unix workstations / servers. It is one of my dreams and maybe it will come true some day. However nowadays it is almost unheard of starting to program a solution in C(++) against Unix standard. There are so many easier and more portable solutions and usually there is no need to make native solutions anymore.

So while I could say that I program against Unix and produce native code as iOS developer, then actually it is a far cry from real Unix programming.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Wrong link
by moondevil on Mon 20th Feb 2017 11:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Wrong link"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

I remember the first model of shared objects used by Aix were similar to Windows, using export definition files, only later revisions adopted the ELF way.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Wrong link
by kriston on Tue 21st Feb 2017 22:23 UTC in reply to "Wrong link"
kriston Member since:
2007-04-11

I enjoyed working on AIX professionally for a few years. The good POSIX compatibility was one thing, but the amazing 64-bit JFS journaling filesystem was fully taken advantage of by both the package manager and the configuration manager SMiT.

Yes, AIX has a real configuration manager which let you roll back not just software installations but revert an arbitrary number of configuration changes.

Nobody else does that even today, over 20 years later.

JFS has been ported to other systems for almost as long, but its true potential for reliable, endlessly replayable configuration settings is not used anywhere but AIX. Too bad.

Reply Score: 1

Retroleum Version-fu
by uridium on Sat 18th Feb 2017 02:38 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

It's been >15 years since I played with this, but I think v1.3 is okay to run non non-MCA systems. Last worked on my Fujitsu My333 (386-DX) system with some fiddling.

Also .. don't forget there is also PC/IX that IBM used to sell for XT through 386.

It can be fun also!

Reply Score: 2

AIX then and now
by McChubby007 on Sat 18th Feb 2017 09:09 UTC
McChubby007
Member since:
2017-02-18

I've been using AIX professionally since 1993 (AIX 3, RS/6000s): At that time it was enterprise grade and robust enough to build Air Traffic Conctrol systems around (such as in the UK, and USA [AAS]). In my opinion it was the first UNIX to make system management 'easy'. AIX prior to version 3.2 was not really a complete/finished product in my view and not something that my company would have used. Inside IBM pre-AIX 3 was not considered ready for business. AIX 4 brought support for PCI architecture, and AIX 5 brought Linux 'affinity'. Whereas v3/4 had a understandable UNIX flavour, v5 mixed it all up when it added the Linux support - it became difficult to understand and manage.
If you wanted to use AIX I would suggest a cheap desktop RS/6000 and AIX 3 - most likely for free. AIX 1 will be very rough indeed.

Edited 2017-02-18 09:10 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: AIX then and now
by wigry on Sat 18th Feb 2017 22:38 UTC in reply to "AIX then and now"
wigry Member since:
2008-10-09

I also remember AIX sitting inside IBM F50 system in the corner as a development server for state's motor vehicle registry solution. It was running AIX 4.3 and Oracle DB 7 and 8 I guess back then. Seemed totally robust and cool enterprise solution compared to Windows 3.1 and 95 in other computers in the office.

Reply Score: 2

RE: AIX then and now
by aixtools on Sun 19th Feb 2017 14:05 UTC in reply to "AIX then and now"
aixtools Member since:
2017-02-19

I have been active on UNIX since 1979 - initialliy the BSD versions (6, 7, 2.9, 4.1c, 4.2, 4.3), later a bit of the System5 versions (application porting between bsd and Sys5), the "pc" versions (mainly xenix and SCO before they bought UNIX from Novell), minix (aka Tanenbaums rewrite of AT&T UNIXv7). I touched AIX v1.0 - which was not impressive as an OS - that was quite buggy as it was basically an alpha-beta release given to university researchers working with UNIX. Truely beautiful manuals - a whole shelf rather than the two A4 books I used for UNIXv7).
Fast forward 4+ years - out of school. Looked at AIX2 on PS/2 (as well as OS/X) but neither fit our market (expert systems) - better served with MSDOS and self-built UI - text based.
Fast-forward again,, new company with applications that were developed on MSDOS and I was tasked with the ports onto Novell (before they were anything UNIX), xenix and AIX 2.2.
While we never sold the solution on AIX we continued the port because the IBM compiler caught many many syntax errors that MSDOS/xenix compilers missed.
My heavy interaction with AIX started 1-1-96 when I started work as an instructor for IBM and AIX.

I would argue in the negative about AIX not being stable after AIX 1.X. The rough story is that AIX 1.X was less than 10% IBM developers code. As much as possible just a compile of the code they licensed, and the glue needed to get it to run on their platform.

From what I can remember of AIX 2.2 - still using the classic "divvy" way of dividing disks into partitions which they called mini-disks (in mainframe terms ?) see http://www.rootvg.net/content/view/210/2/ for my initial discovery - and maybe the link at the end still works....

AIX 2.X was 95%+ (my guesstimate) IBM code. I am probably on the low side.

AIX3 was still standard UNIX build procedure: all drivers needed to be embedded into the code and were loaded into memory whether they were used or not.
But AIXv3 was "100% IBM code", no code from outside - and introduced the concept of LVM (named JFS - journaled file system) and ODM (Object Data Management).

AIXv3 was seen as very stable - many customers reporting uptime of greater than 365 days - basically unheard of - even with updates being applied (i.e. the kernel was not being updated, only libraries and apps that could be replaced without a reboot to reload the kernel).

AIX 4.1 - unique in it's time - for UNIX - dynamic kernel extensions (aka drivers).
AIX 4.1 was alos the last version I know of that IBM was trying to get it on a "portable" platform.
AIX 4.2 : start of role-based security (what I call legacy roles) and 64-bit files (kernel was still 32-bit but filesystems were beyond the 32-bit boundary. From memory AIX 4.1 had filesystems > 32-bit, but files were still limited to 32-bit addressing (aka 2G size).
AIX 4.3 - for me the most interesting was the introduction of OS-based ipsec (including ipv6) and Workload Management.
AIX 4.3 is also the rough timeframe when AIX moved more towards being an "application server" versus a "work-station" aka CADCAM. Also, AIX 4.3 could be booted as a 64-bit kernel.

I close here - my point being that to say AIX was the most unstable UNIX around sounds prejudiced. I would never argue that it is or was perfect. But it is today, afaik, the only UNIX still actively developed, sold, and maintained - and has had the largest market share since somewhere between 2000 and 2002 (maybe after AIX 5.1 but I thought still back when AIX 4.3.3 was the mainstream). You do not get that position by being the worst, most expensive UNIX ever.

I hope for more interesting reading on OSnews - I have played on many ;)

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: AIX then and now
by grat on Mon 20th Feb 2017 03:20 UTC in reply to "RE: AIX then and now"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

The hospital at the university where I work runs their EMR database on AIX 7.x and modern IBM Power systems.

While it has some quirks, it's a pretty impressive system, handing a few metric *@&#^tons of data per day, and keeps a pretty large hospital up and running. As a rule, failovers are deliberate and planned, instead of unexpected.

There's a world of difference between AIX on an old RS/6000 (or PS/2) and Power7 / Power8 hardware, not only in performance and reliability, but in cost too. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: AIX then and now
by kriston on Tue 21st Feb 2017 22:32 UTC in reply to "RE: AIX then and now"
kriston Member since:
2007-04-11

Yes, AIX was developed under contract to a firm called Interactive Systems Corporation. AIX 3.x was rewritten by another contractor whose name sounded something like Pentrex or Pentex. After that I lost track but assumed by somewhere between AIX 3.2 and AIX 4.x it was mostly brought back in-house. This was around the time RS/6000 and POWER2 was fading out in the mid-1990s and they had to get serious about multi-core processing instead of just multi-processor-socket processing.

Edited 2017-02-21 22:34 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: AIX then and now
by kriston on Tue 21st Feb 2017 22:35 UTC in reply to "AIX then and now"
kriston Member since:
2007-04-11

AIX 3.2 was the pinnacle in the early 1990s. It got better with 3.2.5. When IBM and every other commercial Unix vendor started dicking around with Linux compatibility I had already moved on.

Reply Score: 1

VirtualBox
by rakslice on Sun 19th Feb 2017 00:00 UTC
rakslice
Member since:
2017-02-18

Assorted hints:

- The U436295 update from PTF0024 has support for IDE drives. The original ftp site with this update is long gone, but a google for PTF0024 should help. Take a look at https://sites.google.com/site/rhdisk0/unix/aix/aixps2#TOC-Install-AI... for an idea of the install process with PTF0024. (IDK what the FreeDOS install in that guide is for; AIX seems to work fine without it.)

- The Install floppy disk needs to be writable, and could get corrupted by an installation failure, so write-protect your originals if you haven't already (set images read-only) and make a new working copy of the Install disk every installation attempt.

- 503mb virtual HDs in VirtualBox are just under 1024 cylinders; larger than that causes the install to fail

- AIX 1.3 has some date issues; you'll need to set the clock back <= 1999 to get through the install. To avoid fiddling with your host clock, you can set an msec offset in virtualbox:

>"c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" modifyvm "Your VM Name Here" --biossystemtimeoffset -851472000000

Edited 2017-02-19 00:02 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Also on Mainframe
by abubasim on Sun 19th Feb 2017 06:00 UTC
abubasim
Member since:
2008-10-16

There were also AIX/370, the same AIX but running as a VM under IBM's VM/SP mainframe OS. I used to be a sysadmin on this. My employer bought it to use as a NFS file server for the AIX (RS/6000) workstations they used for CADAM.)

AIX version 1.x included TCF (Transparent Computing Facility) which allowed AIX PS/2s and mainframes to be clustered together. This for example allowed you to move a running process between two PS/2s or two mainframes without stopping the process.

Not long ago, I did manage to get AIX for PS/2 running under Microsoft's Virtual PC but it occasionally would not boot and it lacked network support as AIX did not have a driver for Virtual PCs emulated Ethernet card.

Edited 2017-02-19 06:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Also on Mainframe
by aixtools on Sun 19th Feb 2017 13:24 UTC in reply to "Also on Mainframe"
aixtools Member since:
2017-02-19

iirc this was actually in "native" mode, not as a VM. Not a OS390 specialist - but I was told this was "special" at the time.
Also, iirc, AIX 2.X was also available on PS60 and PS80 (as mentioned above the MCA systems "of choice").

I forget if AIX 2.X was runnable on non-MCA aka "ibmpc" hardware.

Reply Score: 1

Ms virtual PC
by owczi on Sun 19th Feb 2017 18:30 UTC
owczi
Member since:
2009-11-04

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_AIX - this shows the PS/2 build running in MS Virtual PC.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Ms virtual PC
by lproven on Tue 21st Feb 2017 16:06 UTC in reply to "Ms virtual PC"
lproven Member since:
2006-08-23

You can get MS VirtualPC working on Windows 8 -- I've done it. The main workaround is to install a specific version of Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone first, which updates a criticial DLL that VPC needs.

I haven't tried it on Win10 yet, though...

Some instructions:
https://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1157536-installing-virtual-pc-200...

Reply Score: 1

AIX, PS/2, MacOS, OS/2
by AndrewZ on Mon 20th Feb 2017 18:33 UTC
AndrewZ
Member since:
2005-11-15

Around 1992 when IBM was partnering with Apple and working on PowerPC there were some interesting goings on. I met an IBM engineer who told me that IBM was working on porting its hypervisor from VM mainframe to the PC, with the intent of running AIX, OS/2, and MacOS simultaneously. There were numerous delays in this development, and when Gerstner assumed control of IBM this project was lost in the re-org. I believe the technology subsequently became VMWare? Not sure about that. That was a crazy time, with IBM working with Apple on the new PowerPC platform, running Windows NT on PowerPC, and working with Microsoft on OS/2, but losing out to Windows95.

At that time I was a Windows developer and had a PS/2 running OS/2 for the purposes of porting Windows software to OS/2. But after realizing the coordinate system was different, that the code would have to be forked, and that OS/2 was almost exclusively a corporate market, I installed Win95 and surfed the web using Netscape. PS/2 was a solid architecture and always reliable.

Edited 2017-02-20 18:37 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: AIX, PS/2, MacOS, OS/2
by lproven on Tue 21st Feb 2017 16:12 UTC in reply to "AIX, PS/2, MacOS, OS/2"
lproven Member since:
2006-08-23

I suspect that you are thinking of IBM Workplace OS, a bold plan to port both AIX and OS/2 to a Mach kernel on POWER. Here's an intro:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Workplace_OS

And some more info:

http://www.edm2.com/index.php/Workplace_OS/2:_Just_Good_Old_OS/2_.....

A beta of Workplace OS/2, i.e. a POWER-native version of OS/2, did get released:

http://www.os2museum.com/wp/os2-history/os2-warp-powerpc-edition/

However, it was the end of the line.

It was a lovely idea, but unfortunately I have to say that IBM was right to kill the project. Linux was on the ascendant, and OS/2 was all but dead, as were desktop IBM POWER workstations.

I don't know of any releases of Mach-based AIX.

Reply Score: 1

VirtualBox images
by lproven on Tue 21st Feb 2017 15:33 UTC
lproven
Member since:
2006-08-23

This blog post says that the author has a working VBox installation of AIX PS/2 v1.3...

https://astr0baby.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/unix-os-archaeology-sovie...

Reply Score: 1