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A Peek at AIX From an “i Guy” (ok, Girl)

March 20, 2012

I've been working with IBM Systems Director quite a bit lately. Of course my main interests are the latest capabilities for managing IBM i with Systems Director. Because the IBM Systems Director Server does not actually run on IBM i, I've had the opportunity to get some experience within the UNIX world according to AIX.

Maybe I'm not as much of a computer geek as I thought since I find working with AIX more difficult than with i. Sure, I've not worked much with AIX before and my career has been i-centric. Experience and knowledge play a strong part in strengths and difficulties, but there are some things about AIX that I just don't get.

Let me list some of the challenges I've faced and some observations about them.... 

  • The command line interface. It seems that we in the i-world are viewed negatively because we love our “green screens” - it's so easy to learn and use! Of course, the expectation today for end-user applications is different, but for administrative purposes, the command line interface is generally much more efficient; in the UNIX world, no one uses a graphical interface for system administration.

    Within two weeks of starting my job at IBM, I could figure out almost any command or figure out how to find it. The consistency of the command interface on i is so wonderful! Once you know a few of the command abbreviations, it's pretty easy to figure out what the command names should be or might be.

    The AIX command line interface frustrates me to no end.

  • The two graphical user interfaces we use are IBM Systems Director Navigator and System i Navigator. They are used by many admins. AIX also has the IBM Systems Director Console for AIX. I've yet to meet anyone who uses it. The AIX administrative guys want their command lines not a GUI.

  • Command help and prompting is brilliantly executed on i. AIX features dash-this-and-dash-that without consistency and I'm never sure if notation is mandatory or optional. I'd like to keep this observation within our community since AIX people would probably revolt if they knew how good we have it in this area. Also, man pages on AIX?

  • Vi for editing.... And we think SEU is dated??

  • Storage management.
    I'm not very knowledgeable about how storage is allocated and managed on AIX, but things can go wrong very quickly if you don't have sufficient storage allocated to a directory. Not enough storage allocated to /tmp, /var/, or /opt and you'll have problems. But why do I have to even care? There's plenty of storage available to the partition …. I really appreciate how i just takes care of the storage management for you.

  • No job logs!
    ...but there are many log files. ...all over the place! It's so nice to have just a few, standard places to look for messages on i: QSYSOPR, QHST, and job logs. With second-level help on the messages, along with consistent information regarding the time and sender of the message, message logging on i makes diagnostics vastly easier and wastes less time.

Of course, my experience in the UNIX world is very limited, but the last few months have made me appreciate the ease-of-use and intuitive nature of IBM i.

It's perplexing how i gets a bad rap over it's terminal interface, but on AIX, it's viewed as expected. It's probably even revered, particularly if you are good at it... I don't quite get it.

Guess that's why I'm an “i Guy.”

 

Posted March 20, 2012| Permalink

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