Episode 79 – 80 – OS/2

Clean desktop where we see the Control Center’s (Object Desktop) information area (drive space, swap size, time, can also have CPU meter, etc.). Those 4 “bitmaps” up there are virtual desktops.
The Tab Launchpad (Object Desktop) and Control Center can be arranged, placed and duplicated at will. Object Desktop’s Window List also includes a command history, for frequently executed commands.
Both MOD and MID (on Desktop) are shadows of actual folders somewhere else (you can locate them in a click) containing the data, but they act exactly like their big brother folder.
CC – https://www.os2world.com/

OS/2 is a series of computer operating systems, initially created by Microsoft and IBM under the leadership of IBM software designer Ed Iacobucci. As a result of a feud between the two companies over how to position OS/2 relative to Microsoft’s new Windows 3.1 operating environment the two companies severed the relationship in 1992 and OS/2 development fell to IBM exclusively. The name stands for “Operating System/2”, because it was introduced as part of the same generation change release as IBM’s “Personal System/2 (PS/2)” line of second-generation personal computers. The first version of OS/2 was released in December 1987 and newer versions were released until December 2001.

OS/2 was intended as a protected-mode successor of PC DOS. Notably, basic system calls were modeled after MS-DOS calls; their names even started with “Dos” and it was possible to create “Family Mode” applications – text mode applications that could work on both systems. Because of this heritage, OS/2 shares similarities with Unix, Xenix, and Windows NT.

IBM discontinued its support for OS/2 on 31 December 2006. Since then, OS/2 has been developed, supported and sold by two different third-party vendors under license from IBM – first by Serenity Systems as eComStation since 2001 and later by Arca Noae LLC as ArcaOS since 2017.

Development History
1985-1989: Joint Development

The development of OS/2 began when IBM and Microsoft signed the “Joint Development Agreement” in August 1985. It was code-named “CP/DOS” and it took two years for the first product to be delivered.

OS/2 1.0 was announced in April 1987 and released in December. The original release is textmode-only, and a GUI was introduced with OS/2 1.1 about a year later. OS/2 features an API for controlling the video display (VIO) and handling keyboard and mouse events so that programmers writing for protected-mode need not call the BIOS or access hardware directly. Other development tools included a subset of the video and keyboard APIs as linkable libraries so that family mode programs are able to run under MS-DOS and, in the OS/2 Extended Edition v1.0, a database engine called Database Manager or DBM (this was related to DB2, and should not be confused with the DBM family of database engines for Unix and Unix-like operating systems). A task-switcher named Program Selector was available through the Ctrl-Esc hotkey combination, allowing the user to select among multitasked text-mode sessions (or screen groups; each can run multiple programs).

Communications and database-oriented extensions were delivered in 1988, as part of OS/2 1.0 Extended Edition: SNA, X.25/APPC/LU 6.2, LAN Manager, Query Manager, SQL.OS/2 1.1 was the first version to feature the Presentation Manager GUI.

The promised user interface, Presentation Manager, was introduced with OS/2 1.1 in October 1988. It had a similar user interface to Windows 2.1, which was released in May of that year. (The interface was replaced in versions 1.2 and 1.3 by a look closer in appearance to Windows 3.0).

The Extended Edition of 1.1, sold only through IBM sales channels, introduced distributed database support to IBM database systems and SNA communications support to IBM mainframe networks.

In 1989, Version 1.2 introduced Installable Filesystems and, notably, the HPFS filesystem. HPFS provided a number of improvements over the older FAT file system, including long filenames and a form of alternate data streams called Extended Attributes. In addition, extended attributes were also added to the FAT file system.

The Extended Edition of 1.2 introduced TCP/IP and Ethernet support.

OS/2- and Windows-related books of the late 1980s acknowledged the existence of both systems and promoted OS/2 as the system of the future.

1990 – Breakup

The collaboration between IBM and Microsoft unraveled in 1990, between the releases of Windows 3.0 and OS/2 1.3. During this time, Windows 3.0 became a tremendous success, selling millions of copies in its first year. Much of its success was because Windows 3.0 (along with MS-DOS) was bundled with most new computers. OS/2, on the other hand, was available only as an additional stand-alone software package. In addition, OS/2 lacked device drivers for many common devices such as printers, particularly non-IBM hardware. Windows, on the other hand, supported a much larger variety of hardware. The increasing popularity of Windows prompted Microsoft to shift its development focus from cooperating on OS/2 with IBM to building its own business based on Windows.

Several technical and practical reasons contributed to this breakup.

The two companies had significant differences in culture and vision. Microsoft favored the open hardware system approach that contributed to its success on the PC; IBM sought to use OS/2 to drive sales of its own hardware, including systems that could not support the features Microsoft wanted. Microsoft programmers also became frustrated with IBM’s bureaucracy and its use of lines of code to measure programmer productivity. IBM developers complained about the terseness and lack of comments in Microsoft’s code, while Microsoft developers complained that IBM’s code was bloated.

The two products have significant differences in API. OS/2 was announced when Windows 2.0 was near completion, and the Windows API already defined. However, IBM requested that this API be significantly changed for OS/2.Therefore, issues surrounding application compatibility appeared immediately. OS/2 designers hoped for source code conversion tools, allowing complete migration of Windows application source code to OS/2 at some point. However, OS/2 1.x did not gain enough momentum to allow vendors to avoid developing for both OS/2 and Windows in parallel.

OS/2 1.x targets the Intel 80286 processor and DOS fundamentally doesn’t. IBM insisted on supporting the 80286 processor, with its 16-bit segmented memory mode, because of commitments made to customers who had purchased many 80286-based PS/2s as a result of IBM’s promises surrounding OS/2. Until release 2.0 in April 1992, OS/2 ran in 16-bit protected mode and therefore could not benefit from the Intel 80386’s much simpler 32-bit flat memory model and virtual 8086 mode features. This was especially painful in providing support for DOS applications. While, in 1988, Windows/386 2.1 could run several cooperatively multitasked DOS applications, including expanded memory (EMS) emulation, OS/2 1.3, released in 1991, was still limited to one 640 kB “DOS box”.

Given these issues, Microsoft started to work in parallel on a version of Windows which was more future-oriented and more portable. The hiring of Dave Cutler, former VAX/VMS architect, in 1988 created an immediate competition with the OS/2 team, as Cutler did not think much of the OS/2 technology and wanted to build on his work on the MICA project at Digital rather than creating a “DOS plus”. His NT OS/2 was a completely new architecture.

IBM grew concerned about the delays in development of OS/2 2.0. Initially, the companies agreed that IBM would take over maintenance of OS/2 1.0 and development of OS/2 2.0, while Microsoft would continue development of OS/2 3.0. In the end, Microsoft decided to recast NT OS/2 3.0 as Windows NT, leaving all future OS/2 development to IBM. From a business perspective, it was logical to concentrate on a consumer line of operating systems based on DOS and Windows, and to prepare a new high-end system in such a way as to keep good compatibility with existing Windows applications. While it waited for this new high-end system to develop, Microsoft would still receive licensing money from Xenix and OS/2 sales. Windows NT’s OS/2 heritage can be seen in its initial support for the HPFS filesystem, text mode OS/2 1.x applications, and OS/2 LAN Manager network support. Some early NT materials even included OS/2 copyright notices embedded in the software. One example of NT OS/2 1.x support is in the WIN2K resource kit. Windows NT could also support OS/2 1.x Presentation Manager and AVIO applications with the addition of the Windows NT Add-On Subsystem for Presentation Manager.

1992: 32bit era

OS/2 2.0 was released in April 1992. At the time, the suggested retail price was U.S. $195, while Windows retailed for $150.

OS/2 2.0 provided a 32-bit API for native programs, though the OS itself still contained some 16-bit code and drivers. It also included a new OOUI (object-oriented user interface) called the Workplace Shell. This was a fully object-oriented interface that was a significant departure from the previous GUI. Rather than merely providing an environment for program windows (such as the Program Manager), the Workplace Shell provided an environment in which the user could manage programs, files and devices by manipulating objects on the screen. With the Workplace Shell, everything in the system is an “object” to be manipulated.

DOS Compatibility

OS/2 2.0 was touted by IBM as “a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows”. It managed this by including the fully-licensed MS-DOS 5.0, which had been patched and improved upon. For the first time, OS/2 was able to run more than one DOS application at a time. This was so effective, that it allowed OS/2 to run a modified copy of Windows 3.0, itself a DOS extender, including Windows 3.0 applications.

Because of the limitations of the Intel 80286 processor, OS/2 1.x could run only one DOS program at a time, and did this in a way that allowed the DOS program to have total control over the computer. A problem in DOS mode could crash the entire computer. In contrast, OS/2 2.0 could leverage the virtual 8086 mode of the Intel 80386 processor to create a much safer virtual machine in which to run DOS programs. This included an extensive set of configuration options to optimize the performance and capabilities given to each DOS program. Any real-mode operating system (such as 8086 Xenix) could also be made to run using OS/2’s virtual machine capabilities, subject to certain direct hardware access limitations.The OS/2 2.0 upgrade box

Like most 32-bit environments, OS/2 could not run protected-mode DOS programs using the older VCPI interface, unlike the Standard mode of Windows 3.1; it only supported programs written according to DPMI. (Microsoft discouraged the use of VCPI under Windows 3.1, however, due to performance degradation.)

Unlike Windows NT, OS/2 always allowed DOS programs the possibility of masking real hardware interrupts, so any DOS program could deadlock the machine in this way. OS/2 could, however, use a hardware watchdog on selected machines (notably IBM machines) to break out of such a deadlock. Later, release 3.0 leveraged the enhancements of newer Intel 80486 and Intel Pentium processors—the Virtual Interrupt Flag (VIF), which was part of the Virtual Mode Extensions (VME)—to solve this problem.

Windows 3.x compatibility

Compatibility with Windows 3.0 (and later Windows 3.1) was achieved by adapting Windows user-mode code components to run inside a virtual DOS machine (VDM). Originally, a nearly complete version of Windows code was included with OS/2 itself: Windows 3.0 in OS/2 2.0, and Windows 3.1 in OS/2 2.1. Later, IBM developed versions of OS/2 that would use whatever Windows version the user had installed previously, patching it on the fly, and sparing the cost of an additional Windows license. It could either run full-screen, using its own set of video drivers, or “seamlessly,” where Windows programs would appear directly on the OS/2 desktop. The process containing Windows was given fairly extensive access to hardware, especially video, and the result was that switching between a full-screen WinOS/2 session and the Workplace Shell could occasionally cause issues.

Because OS/2 only runs the user-mode system components of Windows, it is incompatible with Windows device drivers (VxDs) and applications that require them.

Multiple Windows applications run by default in a single Windows session – multitasking cooperatively and without memory protection – just as they would under native Windows 3.x. However, to achieve true isolation between Windows 3.x programs, OS/2 can also run multiple copies of Windows in parallel, with each copy residing in a separate VDM. The user can then optionally place each program either in its own Windows session – with preemptive multitasking and full memory protection between sessions, though not within them – or allow some applications to run together cooperatively in a shared Windows session while isolating other applications in one or more separate Windows sessions. At the cost of additional hardware resources, this approach can protect each program in any given Windows session (and each instance of Windows itself) from every other program running in any separate Windows session (though not from other programs running in the same Windows session).

Whether Windows applications are running in full-screen or windowed mode, and in one Windows session or several, it is possible to use DDE between OS/2 and Windows applications, and OLE between Windows applications only.

1994 – 1996: The “Warp” Years

Released in 1994, OS/2 version 3.0 was labelled as OS/2 Warp to highlight the new performance benefits, and generally to freshen the product image. “Warp” had originally been the internal IBM name for the release: IBM claimed that it had used Star Trek terms as internal names for prior OS/2 releases, and that this one seemed appropriate for external use as well. At the launch of OS/2 Warp in 1994, Patrick Stewart was to be the Master of Ceremonies; however Kate Mulgrew of the then-upcoming series Star Trek: Voyager was substituted at the last minute.

OS/2 Warp offers a host of benefits over OS/2 2.1, notably broader hardware support, greater multimedia capabilities, Internet-compatible networking, and it includes a basic office application suite known as IBM Works. It was released in two versions: the less expensive “Red Spine” and the more expensive “Blue Spine” (named for the color of their boxes). “Red Spine” was designed to support Microsoft Windows applications by utilizing any existing installation of Windows on the computer’s hard drive. “Blue Spine” includes Windows support in its own installation, and so can support Windows applications without a Windows installation. As most computers were sold with Microsoft Windows pre-installed and the price was less, “Red Spine” was the more popular product. OS/2 Warp Connect—which has full LAN client support built-in—followed in mid-1995. Warp Connect was nicknamed “Grape”.

In OS/2 2.0, most performance-sensitive subsystems, including the graphics (Gre) and multimedia (MMPM/2) systems, were updated to 32-bit code in a fixpack, and included as part of OS/2 2.1. Warp 3 brought about a fully 32-bit windowing system, while Warp 4 introduced the object-oriented 32-bit GRADD display driver model.

In 1996, Warp 4 added Java and speech recognition software. IBM also released server editions of Warp 3 and Warp 4 which bundled IBM’s LAN Server product directly into the operating system installation. A personal version of Lotus Notes was also included, with a number of template databases for contact management, brainstorming, and so forth. The UK-distributed free demo CD-ROM of OS/2 Warp essentially contained the entire OS and was easily, even accidentally, cracked meaning that even people who liked it did not have to buy it. This was seen as a backdoor tactic to increase the number of OS/2 users, in the belief that this would increase sales and demand for third-party applications, and thus strengthen OS/2’s desktop numbers.  This suggestion was bolstered by the fact that this demo version had replaced another which was not so easily cracked, but which had been released with trial versions of various applications. In 2000, the July edition of Australian Personal Computer magazine bundled software CD-ROMs, included a full version of Warp 4 that required no activation and was essentially a free release. Special versions of OS/2 2.11 and Warp 4 also included symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support.

OS/2 sales were largely concentrated in networked computing used by corporate professionals; however, by the early 1990s, it was overtaken by Microsoft Windows NT. While OS/2 was arguably technically superior to Microsoft Windows 95, OS/2 failed to develop much penetration in the consumer and stand-alone desktop PC segments; there were reports that it could not be installed properly on IBM’s own Aptiva series of home PCs. Microsoft made an offer in 1994 where IBM would receive the same terms as Compaq (the largest PC manufacturer at the time) for a license of Windows 95, if IBM ended development of OS/2 completely. IBM refused and instead went with an “IBM First” strategy of promoting OS/2 Warp and disparaging Windows, as IBM aimed to drive sales of its own software as well as hardware. By 1995, Windows 95 negotiations between IBM and Microsoft, which were already difficult, stalled when IBM purchased Lotus SmartSuite, which would have directly competed with Microsoft Office. As a result of the dispute, IBM signed the license agreement 15 minutes before Microsoft’s Windows 95 launch event, which was later than their competitors and this badly hurt sales of IBM PCs. IBM officials later conceded that OS/2 would not have been a viable operating system to keep them in the PC business.

Workplace OS

In 1991, IBM started development on an intended replacement for OS/2 called Workplace OS. This was an entirely new product, brand new code, that borrowed only a few sections of code from both the existing OS/2 and AIX products. It used an entirely new microkernel code base, intended (eventually) to host several of IBM’s operating systems (including OS/2) as microkernel “personalities”. It also included major new architectural features including a system registry, JFS, support for UNIX graphics libraries, and a new driver model.

Workplace OS was developed solely for POWER platforms, and IBM intended to market a full line of PowerPCs in an effort to take over the market from Intel. A mission was formed to create prototypes of these machines and they were disclosed to several Corporate customers, all of whom raised issues with the idea of dropping Intel.

Advanced plans for the new code base would eventually include replacement of the OS/400 operating system by Workplace OS, as well as a microkernel product that would have been used in industries such as telecommunications and set-top television receivers.

A partially functional pre-alpha version of Workplace OS was demonstrated at Comdex, where a bemused Bill Gates stopped by the booth. The second and last time it would be shown in public was at an OS/2 user group in Phoenix, Arizona; the pre-alpha code refused to boot.

It was released in 1995. But with $990 million being spent per year on development of this as well as Workplace OS, and no possible profit or widespread adoption, the end of the entire Workplace OS and OS/2 product line was near.


A project was launched internally by IBM to evaluate the looming competitive situation with Microsoft Windows 95. Primary concerns included the major code quality issues in the existing OS/2 product (resulting in over 20 service packs, each requiring more diskettes than the original installation), and the ineffective and heavily matrixed development organization in Boca Raton (where the consultants reported that “basically, everybody reports to everybody”) and Austin.

That study, tightly classified as “Registered Confidential” and printed only in numbered copies, identified untenable weaknesses and failures across the board in the Personal Systems Division as well as across IBM as a whole. This resulted in a decision being made at a level above the Division to cut over 95% of the overall budget for the entire product line, end all new development (including Workplace OS), eliminate the Boca Raton development lab, end all sales and marketing efforts of the product, and lay off over 1,300 development individuals (as well as sales and support personnel). $990 million had been spent in the last full year. Warp 4 became the last distributed version of OS/2.

2001: Fading out

A small and dedicated community remained faithful to OS/2 for many years after its final mainstream release but overall, OS/2 failed to catch on in the mass market and is little used outside certain niches where IBM traditionally had a stronghold. For example, many bank installations, especially automated teller machines, run OS/2 with a customized user interface; French SNCF national railways used OS/2 1.x in thousands of ticket selling machines. Telecom companies such as Nortel used OS/2 in some voicemail systems. Also, OS/2 was used for the host PC used to control the Satellite Operations Support System equipment installed at NPR member stations from 1994 to 2007, and used to receive the network’s programming via satellite.

Although IBM began indicating shortly after the release of Warp 4 that OS/2 would eventually be withdrawn, the company did not end support until December 31, 2006. Sales of OS/2 stopped on December 23, 2005. The latest IBM OS/2 Warp version is 4.52, which was released for both desktop and server systems in December 2001.

IBM is still delivering defect support for a fee. IBM urges customers to migrate their often highly complex applications to e-business technologies such as Java in a platform-neutral manner. Once application migration is completed, IBM recommends migration to a different operating system, suggesting Linux as an alternative.

Third-Party Development

After IBM discontinued development of OS/2, various third parties approached IBM to take over future development of the operating system. The OS/2 software vendor Stardock made such a proposal to IBM in 1999, but it was not followed through by the company. Serenity Systems succeeded in negotiating an agreement with IBM, and began reselling OS/2 as eComStation in 2001. eComStation is now sold by XEU.com, the most recent version (2.1) was released in 2011. In 2015, Arca Noae, LLC announced that they had secured an agreement with IBM to resell OS/2. They released the first version of their OS/2-based operating system in 2017 as ArcaOS. As of 2021, there have been multiple releases of ArcaOS, and it remains under active development.

Petitions for Open Source

Many people hoped that IBM would release OS/2 or a significant part of it as open source. Petitions were held in 2005 and 2007, but IBM refused them, citing legal and technical reasons. It is unlikely that the entire OS will be open at any point in the future because it contains third-party code to which IBM does not have copyright, and much of this code is from Microsoft. IBM also once engaged in a technology transfer with Commodore, licensing Amiga technology for OS/2 2.0 and above, in exchange for the REXX scripting language. This means that OS/2 may have some code that was not written by IBM, which can therefore prevent the OS from being re-announced as open-sourced in the future. On the other hand, IBM donated Object REXX for Windows and OS/2 to the Open Object REXX project maintained by the REXX Language Association on SourceForge.

There was a petition, arranged by OS2World, to open parts of the OS. Open source operating systems such as Linux have already profited from OS/2 indirectly through IBM’s release of the improved JFS file system, which was ported from the OS/2 code base. As IBM didn’t release the source of the OS/2 JFS driver, developers ported the Linux driver back to eComStation and added the functionality to boot from a JFS partition. This new JFS driver has been integrated into eComStation v2.0, and later into ArcaOS 5.0.

Features and Technology

User Interface

The graphic system has a layer named Presentation Manager that manages windows, fonts, and icons. This is similar in functionality to a non-networked version of X11 or the Windows GDI. On top of this lies the Workplace Shell (WPS) introduced in OS/2 2.0. WPS is an object-oriented shell allowing the user to perform traditional computing tasks such as accessing files, printers, launching legacy programs, and advanced object oriented tasks using built-in and third-party application objects that extended the shell in an integrated fashion not available on any other mainstream operating system. WPS follows IBM’s Common User Access user interface standards.

WPS represents objects such as disks, folders, files, program objects, and printers using the System Object Model (SOM), which allows code to be shared among applications, possibly written in different programming languages. A distributed version called DSOM allowed objects on different computers to communicate. DSOM is based on CORBA. The object oriented aspect of SOM is similar to, and a direct competitor to, Microsoft’s Component Object Model, though it is implemented in a radically different manner; for instance, one of the most notable differences between SOM and COM is SOM’s support for inheritance (one of the most fundamental concepts of OO programming)—COM does not have such support. SOM and DSOM are no longer being developed.

The multimedia capabilities of OS/2 are accessible through Media Control Interface commands. The last update (bundled with the IBM version of Netscape Navigator plugins) added support for MPEG files. Support for newer formats such as PNG, progressive JPEG, DivX, Ogg, and MP3 comes from third parties. Sometimes it is integrated with the multimedia system, but in other offers it comes as standalone applications.

Application development

OS/2 also includes a radical advancement in application development with compound document technology called OpenDoc, which was developed with Apple. OpenDoc proved interesting as a technology, but was not widely used or accepted by users or developers. OpenDoc is also no longer being developed.


The TCP/IP stack is based on the open source BSD stack as visible with SCCS what compatible tools. IBM included tools such as ftp and telnet and even servers for both commands. IBM sold several networking extensions including NFS support and an X11 server.


Hardware vendors were reluctant to support device drivers for alternative operating systems including OS/2 and Linux, leaving users with few choices from a select few vendors. To relieve this issue for video cards, IBM licensed a reduced version of the Scitech display drivers, allowing users to choose from a wide selection of cards supported through Scitech’s modular driver design.


OS/2 has historically been more difficult to run in a virtual machine than most other legacy x86 operating systems because of its extensive reliance on the full set of features of the x86 CPU; in particular, OS/2’s use of ring 2 prevented it from running in VMware. Emulators such as QEMU and Bochs don’t suffer from this problem and can run OS/2. A beta of VMware Workstation 2.0 released in January 2000 was the first hypervisor that could run OS/2 at all. Later, the company decided to drop official OS/2 support.

VirtualPC from Microsoft (originally Connectix) has been able to run OS/2 without hardware virtualization support for many years. It also provided “additions” code which greatly improves host–guest OS interactions in OS/2. The additions are not provided with the current version of VirtualPC, but the version last included with a release may still be used with current releases. At one point, OS/2 was a supported host for VirtualPC in addition to a guest. Note that OS/2 runs only as a guest on those versions of VirtualPC that use virtualization (x86 based hosts) and not those doing full emulation (VirtualPC for Mac).

VirtualBox from Oracle Corporation (originally InnoTek, later Sun) supports OS/2 1.x, Warp 3 through 4.5, and eComStation as well as “Other OS/2” as guests. However, attempting to run OS/2 and eComStation can still be difficult, if not impossible, because of the strict requirements of VT-x/AMD-V hardware-enabled virtualization and only ACP2/MCP2 is reported to work in a reliable manner.

ArcaOS supports being run as a virtual machine guest inside VirtualBox, VMware ESXi and VMWare Workstation. It ships with VirtualBox Guest Additions, and driver improvements to improve performance as a guest operating system.

The difficulties in efficiently running OS/2 have, at least once, created an opportunity for a new virtualization company. A large bank in Moscow needed a way to use OS/2 on newer hardware that OS/2 did not support. As virtualization software is an easy way around this, the company desired to run OS/2 under a hypervisor. Once it was determined that VMware was not a possibility, it hired a group of Russian software developers to write a host-based hypervisor that would officially support OS/2. Thus, the Parallels, Inc. company and their Parallels Workstation product was born.


Some problems were classic subjects of comparison with other operating systems:

  • Synchronous input queue (SIQ): if a GUI application was not servicing its window messages, the entire GUI system could get stuck and a reboot was required. This problem was considerably reduced with later Warp 3 fixpacks and refined by Warp 4, by taking control over the application after it had not responded for several seconds.
  • No unified object handles (OS/2 v2.11 and earlier): The availability of threads probably led system designers to overlook mechanisms which allow a single thread to wait for different types of asynchronous events at the same time, for example the keyboard and the mouse in a “console” program. Even though select was added later, it only worked on network sockets. In case of a console program, dedicating a separate thread for waiting on each source of events made it difficult to properly release all the input devices before starting other programs in the same “session”. As a result, console programs usually polled the keyboard and the mouse alternately, which resulted in wasted CPU and a characteristic “jerky” reactivity to user input. In OS/2 3.0 IBM introduced a new call for this specific problem.

Historical uses

OS/2 has been widely used in Iran Export Bank (Bank Saderat Iran) in their teller machines, ATMs and local servers (over 30,000 working stations). As of 2011, the bank moved to virtualize and renew their infrastructure by moving OS/2 to Virtual Machines running over Windows.

OS/2 was widely used in Brazilian banks. Banco do Brasil had a peak 10,000 machines running OS/2 Warp in the 1990s. OS/2 was used in automated teller machines until 2006. The workstations and automated teller machines and attendant computers have been migrated to Linux.

OS/2 has been used in the banking industry. Suncorp bank in Australia still ran its ATM network on OS/2 as late as 2002. ATMs at Perisher Blue used OS/2 as late as 2009, and even the turn of the decade.

OS/2 was widely adopted by accounting professionals and auditing companies. In mid-1990s native 32-bit accounting software were well developed and serving corporate markets.

OS/2 ran the faulty baggage handling system at Denver International Airport. The OS was eventually scrapped, but the software written for the system led to massive delays in the opening of the new airport. The OS itself was not at fault, but the software written to run on the OS was. The baggage handling system was eventually removed.

OS/2 was used by radio personality Howard Stern. He once had a 10-minute on-air rant about OS/2 versus Windows 95 and recommended OS/2. He also used OS/2 on his IBM 760CD laptop.

OS/2 was used as part of the Satellite Operations Support System (SOSS) for NPR’s Public Radio Satellite System. SOSS was a computer-controlled system using OS/2 that NPR member stations used to receive programming feeds via satellite. SOSS was introduced in 1994 using OS/2 3.0, and was retired in 2007, when NPR switched over to its successor, the ContentDepot.

OS/2 was used to control the SkyTrain automated light rail system in Vancouver, Canada until the late 2000s when it was replaced by Windows XP.

OS/2 was used in the London Underground Jubilee Line Extension Signals Control System (JLESCS) in London, England. This control system delivered by Alcatel was in use from 1999 to 2011 i.e. between abandonment before opening of the line’s unimplemented original automatic train control system and the present SelTrac system. JLESCS did not provide automatic train operation only manual train supervision. Six OS/2 local site computers were distributed along the railway between Stratford and Westminster, the shunting tower at Stratford Market Depot, and several formed the central equipment located at Neasden Depot. It was once intended to cover the rest of the line between Green Park and Stanmore but this was never introduced.

OS/2 has been used by The Co-operative Bank in the UK for its domestic call centre staff, using a bespoke program created to access customer accounts which cannot easily be migrated to Windows.

OS/2 has been used by the Stop & Shop supermarket chain (and has been installed in new stores as recently as March 2010).

OS/2 has been used on ticket machines for Tramlink in outer-London.

OS/2 has been used in New York City’s subway system for MetroCards. Rather than interfacing with the user, it connects simple computers and the mainframes. When NYC MTA finishes its transition to contactless payment OS/2 will be removed.

OS/2 was used in checkout systems at Safeway supermarkets.

OS/2 was used by Trenitalia, both for the desktops at Ticket Counters and for the Automatic Ticket Counters up to 2011. Incidentally, the Automatic Ticket Counters with OS/2 were more reliable than the current ones running a flavor of Windows.

OS/2 was used as the main operating system for Abbey National General Insurance motor and home direct call centre products using the PMSC Series III insurance platform on DB2.2 from 1996-2001.

IBM Products utilizing OS/2

IBM has used OS/2 in a wide variety of hardware products, effectively as a form of embedded operating system.

ProductProduct TypeUsage of OS/2
IBM 3494Tape LibraryUsed as the operating system for the Library Manager (LM) that controlled the tape accessor (robot)
IBM 3745Communications ControllerUsed as the operating system for the Service Processor (SP) and if installed, the Network Node Processor (NNP).
IBM 3890Document ProcessorThe 3890/XP1 was announced November 12, 1988. It initially used OS/2 1.1 Extended Edition on a PS/2 Model 80 to emulate the stacker control software that previously ran on a System 360. IBM later switched to OS/2 Warp.
IBM 473xATMUsed in a range of Automatic Teller Machines manufactured by IBM. Was also used in later 478x ATMs manufactured with Diebold.
IBM 9672MainframeUsed as the operating system for the Support Element (SE). Was also used in later mainframe models such as the IBM 2064 and 2074.





The Server Room Show – Episode 67 – 68 AIX


I have always liked Operating Systems. They make computers become something usable and something you can actually interact with to do things Vs what they are in reality which is just a bunch of electronic parts shoved together in some pretty box.

While growing up I have been exposed to the Home Computer boom which was at its height during the 80s with iconic members like the Commodore 64 and some Z80 Clones like the HT-1080Z which were available at high schools during 1983 – 1986 my infancy in Hungary (see the links on the bottom and the image below).

I do still remember the first time somewhere around the late ’87-’88 when I first had the opportunity to touch one HT-1080Z and play with in a high school where my father worked at that time and He took me one early morning with him.

The HT-1080Z was built by Hiradastechnika Szovetkezet after purchasing the license for the Hong Kong based EACA company’s Video Genie computer which looks identical to the HT-1080Z. The Video Genie version sold in North American was called the PMC-80.

The Video Genie itself was considered a TRS-80 Model I clone although the two had hardware and software differences.

HT-1080Z School Computer (1983) – Péter Hoványi

I saw Commodore’s Basic, MS DOS and later on and some Novell Netware, Windows 3.1, OS/2 , BeOS, Linux, Mac OS, BSD then FreeBSD as I grew older.

It was during that time I have seen once a Pegasos motherboard/system running Amiga OS with true multitasking and multimedia which was very unique and not affordable to me at all and to this day I have never forgot the experience or the way it made me smile 🙂

But I have only heard about but never had any experience or exposure to z/OS, z/VM from IBM or UNIX of any kind (HP-UX, Solaris, AIX ) They were all very mystical and unreachable for me while I was a kid and even later when I was in my way through adulthood.

When eventually I became an IT Professional I though I would get exposure to all of these systems I have lusted after to know more about for years and years but the sad truth is that I have never had any well not at my jobs.

With the advent of virtualization and cloud computing these things are somewhat changing now but still it is not easy and most of the time not free to tinker around with these systems even just for your own amusement or educational reasons to pick some new or old knowledge up.

Big companies like IBM (AIX and z/OS) and HP (with HP-UX or OpenVMS) are not on the forefront to accommodate homelabbers ( hobbyist) with ways to run these systems for free for non-profit and home use in their home labs. There are some options open to partners and developers through business contracts for huge amounts of money per year which I’m sure no single individual can spare ( the realms of 5 – 10 thousands of euros).

Shows this nothing better than after many years of successful running HP is discontinuing the OpenVMS hobbyist license for individuals on the 31st of December 2021. It will mark an end of an era.


AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive) is a series of proprietary Unix operating systems developed and sold by IBM for several of its computer platforms. Originally released for the IBM RT PC RISC workstation, AIX now supports or has supported a wide variety of hardware platforms, including the IBM RS/6000 series and later POWER and PowerPC-based systems, IBM System i, System/370 mainframes, PS/2 personal computers, and the Apple Network Server.

AIX is based on UNIX System V with 4.3BSD-compatible extensions. It is one of four commercial operating systems that have versions certified to The Open Group’s UNIX 03 standard (the others being macOS, HP-UX and eulerOS).

The AIX family of operating systems debuted in 1986, became the standard operating system for the RS/6000 series on its launch in 1990, and is still actively developed by IBM. It is currently supported on IBM Power Systems alongside IBM i and Linux.

AIX was the first operating system to have a journaling file system, and IBM has continuously enhanced the software with features such as processor, disk and network virtualization, dynamic hardware resource allocation (including fractional processor units), and reliability engineering ported from its mainframe designs


As we saw on the episode of UNIX on this podcast Unix started life at AT&T’s Bell Labs research center in the early 1970s, running on DEC minicomputers. By 1976, the operating system was in use at various academic institutions, including Princeton, where Tom Lyon and others ported it to the S/370, to run as a guest OS under VM/370. This port would later grow out to become UTS a mainframe Unix offering by IBM’s competitor Amdahl Corporation. IBM’s own involvement in Unix can be dated to 1979, when it assisted Bell Labs in doing its own Unix port to the 370 (to be used as a build host for the 5ESS switch’s software). In the process, IBM made modifications to the TSS/370 hypervisor to better support Unix.

It took until 1985 for IBM to offer its own Unix on the S/370 platform, IX/370, which was developed by Interactive Systems Corporation and intended by IBM to compete with Amdahl UTS. The operating system offered special facilities for interoperating with PC/IX, Interactive/IBM’s version of Unix for IBM PC compatible hardware, and was licensed at $10,000 per sixteen concurrent users

AIX version 1

AIX Version 1, introduced in 1986 for the IBM RT PC workstation, was based on UNIX System V Releases 1 and 2. In developing AIX, IBM and Interactive Systems Corporation (whom IBM contracted) also incorporated source code from 4.2 and 4.3 BSD UNIX.

The IBM RT PC Workstation

IBM PC RT 6151
IBM RT PC 6151 booting AIX 2.2.1

The IBM RT PC (RISC Technology Personal Computer) is a family of workstation computers from IBM introduced in 1986.

These were the first commercial computers from IBM that were based on a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture. The RT PC used IBM’s proprietary ROMP microprocessor, which commercialized technologies pioneered by IBM Research’s 801 experimental minicomputer (the 801 was the first RISC). The RT PC ran three operating systems: AIX, the Academic Operating System (AOS), or Pick.

The RT PC’s performance was relatively poor compared to other contemporary workstations and it had little commercial success as a result; IBM responded by introducing the RISC System/6000 workstations in 1990, which used a new IBM-proprietary RISC processor, the POWER1. All RT PC models were discontinued by May 1991.

The primary operating system for the RT was AIX version 2. Much of the AIX v2 kernel was written in a variant of the PL/I programming language the PL/8, which proved troublesome during the migration to AIX v3. AIX v2 included full TCP/IP networking support, as well as SNA, and two networking file systems: NFS, licensed from Sun Microsystems, and IBM Distributed Services (DS). DS had the distinction of being built on top of SNA, and thereby being fully compatible with DS on the IBM midrange AS/400 and mainframe systems. For the graphical user interfaces, AIX v2 came with the X10R3 and later the X10R4 and X11 releases of the X Window System from MIT, together with the Athena widget set. Compilers for C and Fortran programming languages were available.

Some RT PCs were also shipped with the Academic Operating System (AOS), an IBM port of 4.3BSD Unix to the RT PC. It was offered as an alternative to AIX, the usual RT PC operating system, to US universities eligible for an IBM educational discount. AOS added a few extra features to 4.3BSD, notably NFS, and an almost ANSI C-compliant C compiler. A later version of AOS existed that was derived from 4.3BSD-Reno, but it was not widely distributed.

The RT forced an important stepping-stone in the development of the X Window System, when a group at Brown University ported X version 9 to the system. Problems with reading unaligned data on the RT forced an incompatible protocol change, leading to version 10 in late 1985.

IBM PS/2 series

AIX PS/2 (also known as AIX/386) was developed by Locus Computing Corporation under contract to IBM. AIX PS/2, first released in October 1988, ran on IBM PS/2 personal computers with Intel 386 and compatible processors.AIX PS/2 1.3 AIXwindows Desktop

The product was announced in September 1988 with a baseline tag price of $595, although some utilities like uucp were included in a separate Extension package priced at $250. nroff and troff for AIX were also sold separately in a Text Formatting System package priced at $200. The TCP/IP stack for AIX PS/2 retailed for another $300. The X Window package was priced at $195, and featured a graphical environment called the AIXwindows Desktop, based on IXI’s X.desktop. The C and FORTRAN compilers each had a price tag of $275. Locus also made available their DOS Merge virtual machine environment for AIX, which could run MS DOS 3.3 applications inside AIX; DOS Merge was sold separately for another $250. IBM also offered a $150 AIX PS/2 DOS Server Program, which provided file server and print server services for client computers running PC DOS 3.3.

The last version of PS/2 AIX is 1.3. It was released in 1992 and announced to add support for non-IBM (non-microchannel) computers as well. Support for PS/2 AIX ended in March 1995.

AIX version 3 and 4

Among other variants, IBM later produced AIX Version 3 (also known as AIX/6000), based on System V Release 3, for their POWER-based RS/6000 platform. Since 1990, AIX has served as the primary operating system for the RS/6000 series (later renamed IBM eServer pSeries, then IBM System p, and now IBM Power Systems). AIX Version 4, introduced in 1994, added symmetric multiprocessing with the introduction of the first RS/6000 SMP servers and continued to evolve through the 1990s, culminating with AIX 4.3.3 in 1999. Version 4.1, in a slightly modified form, was also the standard operating system for the Apple Network Server systems sold by Apple Computer to complement the Macintosh line.

RISC System/6000 (RS/6000)

The RISC System/6000 (RS/6000), is a family of RISC-based Unix servers, workstations and supercomputers made by IBM in the 1990s. The RS/6000 family replaced the IBM RT PC computer platform in February 1990 and was the first computer line to see the use of IBM’s POWER and PowerPC based microprocessors. In October 2000, the RS/6000 brand was retired for POWER-based servers and replaced by the eServer pSeries. Workstations continued under the RS/6000 brand until 2002, when new POWER-based workstations were released under the IntelliStation POWER brand.

IBM RS6000 AIX File Servers IBM.COM 1998.jpeg
File servers used by IBM for ibm.com in the late 1990’s. These are RS/6000 AIX servers. The author writes: “ibm.com used AFS to share files amongst systems in Schaumburg, IL and Columbus, OH. The R/W master was in Schaumburg, while R/O secondaries were in Schaumburg and Columbus.”

AIX version 5

AIX 5L 5.1, May 4, 2001

AIX 5.1 on POWER4 architecture made a leap forward towards future virtualization on IBM Power

  • 64 bit kernel installed but not enabled by default
  • Ability to run Logical Partitions on POWER4. A logical partition (LPAR) is a subset of a computer’s hardware resources, virtualized as a separate computer. In effect, a physical machine can be partitioned into multiple logical partitions, each hosting a separate instance of an operating system
  • JFS2 file system up to 1 TB file system with 1 TB file size support
  • Reliable Scalable Cluster Technology
  • Linux Compatible program interface
  • Workload Manager GUI and functional upgrades

AIX 5L 5.2, October 18, 2002

AIX 5.2 brought even more enhancements:

  • Dynamic logical partitioning for processors, memory, and I/O o Dynamic Capacity Upgrade on Demand Enhancements to Scalability and Workload Manager
  • Enhancements to Enterprise Storage Management
  • Cluster Systems Management for monitoring and administering multiple machines (both AIX and Linux) from a single point of control
  • Advanced RAS features
  • Additional security features and enhancements
  • Network enhancements including Mobile IPv6, SNMP V3, and upgrade to BIND V9
  • APIs from the latest C language and single UNIX specification standards

AIX 5L 5.3, August 13, 2004

The enhancements which came with AIX 5L 5.3 combined with POWER5 series enabled an advanced Power virtualization platform which is still in use today on Power Systems (in a form of PowerVM)

  • Micro-partitioning support for a single processor being shared by up to 10 logical partitions
  • Virtual SCSI disks that allow partitions to access storage without requiring a physical storage adapter
  • Virtual networking: Virtual Ethernet provides high-speed connections between partitions; Shared Ethernet Adapter provides connectivity between internal and external VLANs.
  • NFS v4

AIX version 6 and newer

AIX 6 was announced in May 2007, and it ran as an open beta from June 2007 until the general availability (GA) of AIX 6.1 on November 9, 2007. Major new features in AIX 6.1 included full role-based access control, workload partitions (which enable application mobility), enhanced security (Addition of AES encryption type for NFS v3 and v4), and Live Partition Mobility on the POWER6 hardware.

AIX 7.1 was announced in April 2010, and an open beta ran until general availability of AIX 7.1 in September 2010. Several new features, including better scalability, enhanced clustering and management capabilities were added. AIX 7.1 includes a new built-in clustering capability called Cluster Aware AIX. AIX is able to organize multiple LPARs through the multipath communications channel to neighboring CPUs, enabling very high-speed communication between processors. This enables multi-terabyte memory address range and page table access to support global petabyte shared memory space for AIX POWER7 clusters so that software developers can program a cluster as if it were a single system, without using message passing (i.e. semaphore-controlled Inter-process Communication). AIX administrators can use this new capability to cluster a pool of AIX nodes. By default, AIX V7.1 pins kernel memory and includes support to allow applications to pin their kernel stack. Pinning kernel memory and the kernel stack for applications with real-time requirements can provide performance improvements by ensuring that the kernel memory and kernel stack for an application is not paged out.

AIX 7.2 was announced in October 2015, and released in December 2015. AIX 7.2 principal feature is the Live Kernel Update capability which allows OS fixes to replace the entire AIX kernel with no impact to applications, by live migrating workloads to a temporary surrogate AIX OS partition while the original OS partition is patched. AIX 7.2 was also restructured to remove obsolete components. The networking component, bos.net.tcp.client was repackaged to allow additional installation flexibility. Unlike AIX 7.1, AIX 7.2 is only supported on systems based on POWER7 or later processors.

AIX 7.3 is due to be released in Q4 of 2021

More about AIX

The default shell was Bourne shell up to AIX version 3 and was changed in AIX version 4.
The default graphical user interface is CDE – Common Desktop Environment.

As part of the Linux Affinity introduced in AIX version 5 and thanks to the AIX Toolbox for Linux Applications a certain set of open source tools kind of a core set of some of the most common tools like development tools and libraries are available in rpm package form like Curl, Samba and PostreSql tools, sed, mutt.

I left a link in the show notes so You can check for yourself if Your favourite tool is included or not.

SMIT – System Management Interface Tool

SMIT – System Management Interface Tool – The initial menu, when running in text mode

SMIT is the System Management Interface Tool for AIX. It allows a user to navigate a menu hierarchy of commands, rather than using the command line. Invocation is typically achieved with the command smit. Experienced system administrators make use of the F6 function key which generates the command line that SMIT will invoke to complete it. SMIT also generates a log of commands that are performed in the smit.script file. The smit.script file automatically records the commands with the command flags and parameters used. The smit.script file can be used as an executable shell script to rerun system configuration tasks. SMIT also creates the smit.log file, which contains additional detailed information that can be used by programmers in extending the SMIT system.

smit and smitty refer to the same program, though smitty invokes the text-based version, while smit will invoke an X Window System based interface if possible; however, if smit determines that X Window System capabilities are not present, it will present the text-based version instead of failing. Determination of X Window System capabilities is typically performed by checking for the existence of the DISPLAY variable.

Object Data Manager (ODM)

Object Data Manager (ODM) is a database of system information integrated into AIX analogous to the registry in Microsoft Windows. A good understanding of the ODM is essential for managing AIX systems.

Data managed in ODM is stored and maintained as objects with associated attributes. Interaction with ODM is possible via application programming interface (API) library for programs, and command-line utilities such us odmshowodmgetodmaddodmchange and odmdelete for shell scripts and users. SMIT and its associated AIX commands can also be used to query and modify information in the ODM.

Example of information stored in the ODM database are:

  • Network configuration
  • Logical volume management configuration
  • Installed software information
  • Information for logical devices or software drivers
  • List of all AIX supported devices
  • Physical hardware devices installed and their configuration
  • Menus, screens and commands that SMIT uses

My experience with AIX

Zero, Null, Nothing. – AIX Community is much smaller in size than for example Linux and it reminds me more of a secret society with a lot of Secrecy. For a newcomer it is pretty much impossible to get any exposure to it or any experience with it and sometimes even harder to find someone who is willing to help you to start your journey with AIX.

People who helped me from the AIX Community and to whom I am grateful for their support

I want to give special thanks to Andrey Klyachkin from power-devops.com who helped me to get up and running with a small AIX server on the cloud in a matter of hours. Andrey has a vast experience in AIX administration and he is a very pleasant person to talk to.

Please check out his website at power-devops.com (link in the show notes) as he most probably be able to answer your questions regarding AIX operating system and using devops tools on it.

AIX Community and Literature

There are some articles on the web about AIX and some great sites too like http://aix4admins.blogspot.com/ You can also go to reddit at /r/aix but I found it to be mostly for people who has already experience with AIX and have all the required access to the tools and utilities required.

I have to say that because of the size of the AIX Community and the slightly reserved nature of most of its members I came across it is not a very easy task for a newcomer to get acquintance with AIX Operating System and be up and running in no time and as easy as it might be with other distributions like Linux.

I was particularly unlucky as I came across a used AIX server on a secondhand website here in Spain two times from two different sellers but both of them went AWOL on me after we have agreed on the price and a local pickup. 🙁

Therefore up until this day I have stayed without owning a physical Power Architecture Server to run AIX 7.1 or 7.2 on my own in my homelab. (( I am not giving up just yet ))

While there are limited amount of literature out there about AIX in a form of books when compared to Linux, AIX well IBM has something up its sleeve which might give them the upper hand.

IBM Redbooks. IBM Redbooks content is designed to help you learn, adopt and deploy solutions. Their offerings include brief documents, books and videos. And best of all — they’re available at no charge.

While IBM Redbooks aren’t meant to replace IBM manuals or the IBM Knowledge Center. Instead, they offer practical technical information that’s not covered in product manuals.

One of the advantages of IBM Redbooks publications is that you can start learning anytime, anywhere. Redbooks are available for immediate download in PDF and EPUB format, and on-demand printing is available for those who want to read a hard copy.

IBM Redbooks cover IBM and Red Hat solutions as well as third-party and open-source technologies. You can learn about OpenShift on IBM Z and Power, open source IT operations management, security features in IBM Z and LinuxONE, cloud object storage, SAP HANA on Power Systems, agile integration, and so much more than just the AIX Operating System.

I linked one in particular regarding AIX 5L which can come handy to start to learn more about AIX and build upon as you progress further later on.

Get Your Hands on IBM AIX

While there are not really *free* ways to get your hands on AIX there are cloud solutions if you have and wish to spend money and try out AIX.

One of the cheapest and best combination would be to sign up for IBM Cloud account upgrade it to a Pay-As-You-Go Tier and use the welcome voucher 200$ (expires in 1 month) to run an AIX virtual machine until your money runs out with Skytap on IBM Cloud (also available on the Azure Marketplace) or Power Systems Virtual Server offering from IBM Cloud.

IBM Cloud accounts comparison

I recommend that you apply Skytap‘s welcome voucher which is valid for 90 days worth of 500$ to run AIX Virtual Machines for another 3 months after the initial IBM voucher of 200$ rans out using the Power Systems Virtual Server offering. (( I can not confirm if this is something You can do ,,applying the 500$ voucher of Skytap after the 1 month 200$ credit rans out from IBM Cloud ))

Both solutions runs your AIX Operating System as a full virtual machine on an IBM Power Server.

Estimated Price with Power Systems Virtual Server on IBM Cloud

Estimated Price for a shared Scale Out (S922) HW running shared 0.25 vcpu (1 physical core equals 4 vcpus on this HW) with 2GB of Ram and 20GB of Tier 3 Storage for Frankfurt 1 DC Region estimates before taxes and/or any discounts at 44.56 Euros per month.

If you plan to use the VM let’s say 5-6 hours in total per week then in a month your cost will be very little as per these estimates ( around 3-5 euros perhaps)

Estimated Price for third party solution from Skytap on IBM Cloud

Skytap on IBM Cloud VM Control Panel

Estimated usage cost in EMEA Region which is applicable for me for 1x Power based VM for 5 hours per week x 4 = 20 hours a month runtime with 2GB Ram and10GB Storage with 1x CPU set to Entitled Capacity of 0.05 capped/can not go over would be charged around:

Skytap Cloud Power RAM: 20hrs x 2GB x $0.065 = $2.60
Skytap Cloud Storage (persistent): 730 hrs x 10GB x $0.00011 = $0.80
Total: $3.40 per month (i guess its before taxes)

This is very affordable if You want to learn about AIX and when You have some limited time to tinker with it and You do not require it to run 24/7 as most of us hobbyst/homelabbers do not.

Both Skytap’s on IBM Cloud offer and IBM’s Own Power Systems Virtual Server are priced similarly but Skytap seems to have more options to modify / interact with Your Virtual Machine ( boot from a supplied iso you upload to your assets and do an upgrade for example)

Physical hardware

Another option is to purchase some older Power architecture hardware from sites like ebay but I tell you they are not cheap. Most of the time they come wiped without any OS Install discs and even tough You can try to contact IBM representative to obtain install discs for your ,,new” server via its model/serial number it is not always easy without having an actual support contract but your mileage may vary on this.

Also as much as I understood some features come either baked in or not ( activated or not) on your hardware from the factory so its always worth checking out what physical and SW entitlements your server is equipped with. I have limited knowledge here as I do not own any Power architecture server myself.

This path can be interested to some how want to learn and explore features of AIX which can only be explored on bare metal Vs a Cloud virtual machine like IBM AIX’s PowerVM (formerly known as Advanced Power Virtualization) which is a form of para virtualization technique. As far as I can see the server has to come with this enabled from the factory and there is 3 separate editions of it (IBM PowerVM Express/Standard/Enterprise) and it is one of the features I would look for and make sure it exists on the server I am ready to purchase.

PowerVM is available on POWER6 and higher servers.

IBM PowerVM Editions
IBM Power 750 8233 e8b 4x CPU 6-Core, 256 GB RAM

Closing Thoughts

With the advent of Cloud infrastructure it has become easier to get experience with technologies previously unavailable or reserved just to a selected few like IBM’s AIX Unix.

You do not have to purchase expensive hardware and worry about electricity cost and noise if You can make a few compromises coming from the nature of Virtual Machines Vs Physical Hardware.

The running costs of a small Unix server with AIX on the cloud is more affordable than it ever was.

However I still believe that it is necessary that companies like IBM gets rid of old habits and opens towards the community of enthusiasts or hobbyist/homelabbers whom are willing to learn and experiment with Operating Systems like AIX or z/OS in their free time for their own benefit and perhaps to others benefit such as their employer without hurting corporate profits or business intentions in the process.

When corporations like IBM turn themselves away from these insignificant customers who can not afford the license fees and support contracts big enterprises do, what they tend to forget that some of these individuals might be the future C-level or mid-level decision makers.

When the day comes from 12 days or 12 years from now and they need to make a professional recommendation to a platform or a product to implement at their workplace they might not choose your product if they do not know it exists or they have never had any experience with it.

One thing I know for sure is for me to professionally recommend something it has to fit into the below requirements:

  • to know and be familiar with the tool or solution
  • to have a good experience with the brand or corporation who’s offering it
  • to know that it exists (tool , solution , operating system, etc.)
  • to be fit for the requirements

While solution X might tick off 1 out of 4 requirements on my list it is certainly not enough.Not even close.

Let alone if I am not even familiar with it or never had the chance to be exposed to that technology or solution. Now imagine if I even had a bad customer experience with it.

Hobbyst, Homelabbers are no way considered free-riders or someone who eats away corporate profits in my understanding. They are willing to take the thier time for free to use and familiarize themselves with a product or solution of company X. not just for their benefit but perhaps one day for a corporation’s or client’s benefit in the not so distant future. They might or might not be the next C-level decision makers but perhaps the one’s the C-level executive turns to for their opinion and knowledge after a sales representative made its pitch at them.

And seriously what damage a guy with a 42U rack and some used hardware can do from his basement running anything no matter how mission critical that piece of software is being it z/OS or AIX or OpenVMS or HP-UX?

Rule of thumb:

Treat me like I was the C-level executive You wish to present your sales pitch tomorrow.

Viktor Madarasz


Andrey Klyachkin’s power-devops.com website

AIX for System Administrators
Practical Guide to AIX (and PowerVM, PowerHA, PowerVC, HMC, DevOps …)

HT-1080Z School Computer

Video Genie

IBM AIX PS/2 1.3 for Intel i386 in Virtual Box

Skytap 500$ welcome voucher valid for 90 days for new IBM Cloud users

IBM Power and AIX

IBM Redbooks – Example AIX 5L

AIX 5L release notes



AIX Toolbox for Liux Applications

Open Software Foundation

AIX & Qemu ( for the ones who would like to have some fun )
( in my opinion somewhat working and slow performance compared to the VM offerings in the cloud I have explored but nevertheless can be a fun experiment or spend time activity)

Andrey Klyachkin – Install AIX 7.2 in Qemu