back to article IBM preps Power6 by putting AIX 5.3 on life support

IBM's Power6 push began this week with a tweak to AIX support. In a letter to customers, IBM vowed to support future updates to AIX 5.3 for an additional two years. This appears to be IBM's Power6 concession, since the vendor, according to our sources, will announce Power6 systems this month and ship them in the middle of the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The assumption for the reasons are invalid

    I just wanted to point out that I believe your assumption as to the reason for this announcement is completely incorrect. I should point out that I am a customer and not an IBM employee. I believe the reason for the change is that customers requested it last year to allow roll out of each technology level across a large estate to take place whilst giving some time for stability. The customer requests were made and discussed in the various AIX user group meetings around the world alongside the maintainence plans. Feel free to attend the user group meetings in future where you can witness these customer-IBM discussions yourselves....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sorry guys, wrong continent.......

    That is, if you had been firing a ballistic missile with the same accuracy as the article from timothy, you would have hit the wrong continent.....


    It has been pretty public (customer) knowledge that 5.2 would be running on power5. why ? because 5.2 is supported until late 2008, power5 saw the light in 2004. IBM is not an idiot, you can't have hardware that does not support your flagship unix for 4 years in a row.....

    Same story with 5.3 supporting power6; that was known to pretty much every customer since the past 1.5 year or so.

    5.3 support does not stop before 2010 or such.

    timothy obviously is not a unix person, and certainly not to AIX.

    IBM is listening to their customers. some 3-4 years ago, they simplified the support scheme / logics for AIX, which resulted in far less upgrades etc.

    However, in practice it was a little "too simple"; one had to do release upgrades to get new hardware supported. That is now no longer necessary.

    so indeed, the previous poster is absolutely right, they now found the middle ground somewhere, as requested by a number of customers, that IBM collaborates with in the context of the power/aix product.

    And if you care to remember, AIX 4, now long time end of life, supported both MCA and PCI based systems, allthough at it's initial release all power systems were MCA based.

    On top of that, you can run your 15 year old binaries unchanged on today's AIX, as long as we are not talking about device drivers and other fancy pieces of programming directly talking to specific hardware.

    Now, try to install Solaris 8 on SPARC IV+; after that disappointing experience, Fujitsu/Siemens can help you out, because their SPARC does the job.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AIX doesn't begin to compare to Solaris in binary compatibility or investment protection

    "If an application runs on Solaris 2.6, 7, 8 or 9, it will run on Solaris 10, even if it has not been recompiled for Solaris 10—guaranteed."


    IBM has NEVER had the bollocks to guarantee AIX apps would work from one release to the next. And they broke binary compatibility for 64-bit apps from AIX 4.3.3 to AIX 5.1. More technically, they broke binary from 4.3.3 to AIX 5.0, but AIX 5.0 was a complete failure of a product.

    I'm glad IBM started to finally listen to UNIX customers. AIX's lifecycle management was simply horrible up until the last few years. Versions would change every year, and the life was only a few years for each version:

    AIX 4.1, July 1994

    AIX 4.2, April 1996

    AIX 4.3, October 1997

    AIX 4.3.1, April 1998

    AIX 4.3.2, October 1998

    AIX 4.3.3, September 1999

    AIX 5.0, October 2000

    AIX 5.1, April 2001

    AIX 5.2, October 2002

    AIX 5.3, August 2004

    IBM used to release a new version of AIX every six months until 1999. Then it still released new version of AIX every year. With each new release, IBM would EOL the n-2 release. IBM AIX version 4.3.3 and 5.1 had lifecycles of about 3 years. The rapid transitions between AIX 4.3.3, AIX 5.1, and AIX 5.2 were just too much for enterprise customers. Add to that IBM's constant mixed messages around Linux on POWER being the future, and AIX being little more than a stopgap. ISV certifications on AIX 5.2 plummeted because the ISVs got so confused about what the real OS of the future was for pSeries. It was a complete replay of the OS/2 vs. Windows debates of 1990. In 2002, IBM significantly slowed the AIX train, and backed off of the Linux on POWER messaging.

    Note Sun got of of the semiannual OS crazy train in 1994, and went to a greater than one-year cycle after Solaris 7 in 1998:

    Solaris 2.4, November 1994

    Solaris 2.5, November 1995

    Solaris 2.5.1, May 1996

    Solaris 2.6, July 1997

    Solaris 7, November 1998

    Solaris 8, February 2000

    Solaris 9, May 2002

    Solaris 10, January 2005

    Sun also has such a long support cycle on its Solaris releases, it is not unusual for customers to take the approach of adopting every other release, i.e., Solaris 2.6, Solaris 8, and now Solaris 10. While a new hardware platform may drive the move to a new Solaris release, typically this occurs a year or more after the release of the new Solaris version, and typically after ISV apps support crosses 1,500 certified applications.

    "Now, try to install Solaris 8 on SPARC IV+"

    Huh? That is a strange point to bring up in May of 2007, a year and a half after Sun released UltraSPARC IV+. Solaris 8 was released in February 2000, just 5 months after AIX 4.3.3. US-IV+ was released in September of 2005. Your example is the equivalent of installing AIX 4.3.3 (1999) on POWER5 (2004). I don't think you can do that. Solaris 9, released in May of 2002, over three years prior to the release of US-IV+, is supported on US-IV+. Three years is the same amount of time between the release of AIX 5.3 and the release of POWER6.

    And if your point is about AIX 5.3 support on POWER6, realize AIX 5.3 is just 5 months older than Solaris 10! And given the much greater ISV support of Solaris over AIX, Solaris 10 is more like AIX 5.1 in number of supported ISV applications.

    So with about as many ISV certified applications as AIX 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 combined, SPARC customers are being well-served by Solaris 10.

    Unfortunately, IBM's confusion around operating systems seemed to distract IBM from any real innovations in AIX. Most new versions of AIX simply added new hardware support, or better SVR4 compatibility. Meanwhile Sun really shocked the world with Solaris 10. Features like Dtrace, Zones, SMF, ZFS, etc. fundamentally showed operating systems do matter, and innovation in operating systems matters. Yes, AIX 5.4 Virtual Memory Protection Domains look very cool. But they are POWER6-only. Solaris tools like Dtrace (AIX has nothing like it) not only work on older, current, and future SPARC platforms, but also on AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon platforms.

  4. asdf

    Preach on brother

    Yeah take that all you IBM AIX fanboys! Excellent discussion regarding Solaris vs. AIX.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sun Dtrace vs AIX trace

    AIX Trace Facility available since April 1990

    The trace facility helps you isolate system problems by monitoring selected system events or selected processes. Events that can be monitored include: entry and exit to selected subroutines, kernel routines, kernel extension routines, and interrupt handlers. Trace can also be restricted to tracing a set of running processes or threads, or it can be used to initiate and trace a program.

    When the trace facility is active, information is recorded in a system trace log file. The trace facility includes commands for activating and controlling traces and generating trace reports. Applications and kernel extensions can use several subroutines to record additional events. See more under:

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    binary compat guarantees ?

    aix / solaris are no different in that respect.

    64bit new stuff will NOT run on 32 bit old stuff.

    32bit old stuff will run on 64 bit stuff.

    device drivers, X11 extensions, kernel extensions, they will NOT run on new stuff ( AIX or Solaris )

    tried that, got the T-shirt, works as promised ( NOT )

    compat guarantee is there for AIX, just like for Solaris.

    the link is here, if you care for it.

    btw, AIX 5.2 also supports power6.

    now, compare that to sol8 on niagara.

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