[TUHS] A/UX [was Linux is on-topic]

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Fri Aug 14 05:28:34 AEST 2020

On Thu, Aug 13, 2020, 1:19 PM Adam Thornton <athornton at gmail.com> wrote:

> Early AIX is what happens when you give a detailed description of Unix to
> mainframers who've never seen Unix, and then tell them to implement that
> system, and then ship it, without at any point letting someone who's used
> an actual Unix system touch it.


Is there a good source of detailed technical info on early AIX systems?
Like early 80s versions?


> Adam
> On Thu, Aug 13, 2020 at 10:16 AM Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 9:37 PM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
>>> On Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 07:12:57PM -0400, Richard Salz wrote:
>>> > > SMIT was quite nice
>>> >
>>> > i have never seen those four words together like that before.
>>> Me neither.  SMIT was HORRIBLE if you understood the files in /etc and
>>> knew what to do with them.
>> The sysadmin in the CS department had a USENIX button on his wall: "SMIT
>> happens." I always found that amusing.
>> The Motif-version was especially horrible, and crashed all the time. The
>> curses-based version was called `smitty`, which I found humorous in a way I
>> wouldn't have expected coming from "This page intentionally left blank"
>> IBM. In my mind, the worst part of admining RS/6000 boxes of that era was
>> the little 3-digit LED code on the front: I guess those machines didn't
>> assume that they had either a graphical head or a serial port, so this damn
>> teeny tiny display would cycle through a sequence of codes that told you
>> what the machine was doing; it came with a book that told you what each
>> code meant. Something like "387" meant mounting /usr. Ugh; I just found a
>> page on ibm.com describing these "IPL codes."
>> It might be nice if you had no understanding
>>> of how to admin a Unix system and here is this "nice" curses based way
>>> to do admin.
>> The thing was that IBM changed a lot of stuff almost gratuitously.
>> Specifics I remember were the print daemon (I ported `lpd` from 4.4BSD for
>> that) and anything related to disks and filesystems. In fairness, they had
>> logical volumes that could split across disks before most other Unix
>> systems that I was working on at the time, but the commands were all custom
>> to AIX and, frankly, weird: I remember that one would "vary on" a logical
>> volume before one could mount a filesystem from it or something like that.
>> I was told at the time that the people who'd built that side of things had
>> come from the mainframe world, where that was the nomenclature. Creating
>> JFS filesystems required these tools as well; there was new `newfs_jfs` as
>> I recall. So I ended up using SMIT for basically anything related to
>> filesystems, but for almost nothing else.
>> To anyone remotely competent, and I don't mean edit sendmail.cf, I mean
>>> you can edit inetd.conf, you can edit a crontab file, etc, SMIT was a
>>> nightmare that made something that should be vi $FILE, done 20 seconds
>>> later, a hellish journey through their menus.  It was AWFUL.
>> One of the more gratuitous differences I remember from AIX was that
>> instead of having e.g. /etc/shadow, they had /etc/password (all spelled
>> out), which had semi-structured stanzas for each user. That was just weird.
>> Fortunately, we were using NIS and it was smart enough to ignore that for
>> NIS users.
>> Ask me how I know.
>> I still have nightmares about AIX.
>>         - Dan C.
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