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Top Reasons to Love AIX

IBM Champion Rob McNelly highlights his top reasons to love the Power Systems, IBM i and AIX ecosystems

As I started training for my upcoming Grand Canyon rim to rim hikes, I realized that I had not mentioned the things I love about AIX lately.

I am an AIX bigot. I love IBM Power Systems. I have not gone to the extreme of getting a tattoo like some of the Apple fanboys and girls might, but I wear my IBM shirts and use my IBM backpacks and generally let it be known that I have been a happy IBM customer and partner for many years and I am proud to be a Lifetime IBM Champion for POWER.

In 2019 I wrote an article called 10 things to love about AIX. It reminded me of some videos that have been recorded by Nigel Griffiths including a series of videos he called called AIX in Focus.

He talked about Active Memory Expansion, and mksysb, and LVM, and JFS2.

In his webinar for the Power Systems Virtual User Group in December 2020 he mentioned what he calls “AIX Best Bits” and asked many of you what are your favorites parts of the AIX ecosystem. Some of your choices included smitty, PowerVM, NIM, Live Partition Mobility, nmon and the stable CLI that AIX incorporates across the entire ecosystem.

You can find more about Nigel’s “Best Bits” here but don’t limit your reading to just that post, there are many other topics to read on his blog as well.

Anyway, according to users that responded when Nigel asked the question, PowerVM came in first, followed by smitty, nmon, LPM, DLPAR, NIM, mksysb, LVM, PowerHA, JFS2, PowerVC and the list of favorites goes on and on.

I cannot find fault with any of these selections. These “Best Bits” explain exactly why working on Power Systems and AIX and VIOS is such a pleasure. I am sure IBM i admins have similar tools that they could point to which helps explain their devotion to their favorite operating system as well.

Dual VIO gives us the ability to perform maintenance at any time as we have redundancy built in. PowerVM allows for very granular controls over how we configure and tune our LPARs which allows for rapid provisioning of new servers, along with the ability to adjust our systems for changing workloads on the fly.

Smitty allows junior administrators to get up to speed quickly, as it allows for the ability to see what commands will actually run on the command line under the covers. Even advanced admins can find it useful when they cannot quite remember how to perform a task, they can easily find it on the smitty menu and either run it directly or find the underlying command to run or add to their scripts.

Mksysb allows me to take a complete backup of my OS, and use that image to either restore my system in case of a problem, or clone that system to another physical machine. 

This list did not even touch on things like alt-disk installs, mksysb migrations, alt-disk clones, etc. The list of powerful tools that we have available is easy to take for granted.

When you look at how the commands and flags work across the system, you can understand that you are working on a system that has been architected, and well thought out, instead of one that has had commands and flags built with little regard for how they will interact with other commands on the system.

Many of these commands on AIX have stayed the same for our entire careers. Compare that with other OSes that will change how they start and how they run and the names of essential commands with little rhyme or reason.

This is a rock-solid robust ecosystem that proactively calls home to IBM when it has issues, these are systems where you can dynamically add and remove physical and virtual devices with no downtime, these are systems with a well thought out command syntax. This ecosystem is backed up by a vendor that you can call when things go wrong, and that will help you answer questions and provide a wealth of documentation and Redbooks, not to mention the user group meetings that help with real world experience and examples.

I feel like I am probably leaving things out of my list of things that I love, and I imagine you have your own list of things that you love, so why not reach out and let me know what they would include?

Thank you for your time and I will talk to you soon. Thanks for watching.
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