[rescue] Mainframe on eBay

Skeezics Boondoggle skeezics at q7.com
Sat Sep 17 16:00:07 CDT 2005

On Sat, 17 Sep 2005, "r.stricklin" wrote:

> Every major unix flavor is gratuitously different from every other  
> flavor, except in trivial cases (which vary).

True.  Which is annoying as hell, given that they all claim to be "Unix".  
Sun wasn't blameless in their transition from SunOS4->Solaris2 (and the
marketing geniuses that came up with the whole naming and numbering scheme
for it, but we could rag on marketing geniuses all day long. :-)


> People who rag on AIX have never been responsible for maintaining a  
> large enterprise computing facility of 600+ UNIX machines supporting  
> 450 distinct application environments, including IRIX, Solaris,  
> SunOS, AIX, HP-UX, and three varieties of commercial Linux. If they  

Whoa, tiger.  I've worked in lots of cross-platform environments, on
networks large (a thousand users on 380+ compute nodes, not counting
PCs/Macs or X terminals) and small (25,000 users on 12 Suns) to software
manufacturing outfits that covered 12+ platforms, including VMS and Sony's
oddball Unix where the login screen was in Japanese.  I've had admin
experience on something like 30 OSes, from the DEC universe (TOPS-10 & 20,
RSTS/E, RT-11, VMS, BSD 4.x, Ultrix) to the DG (and DG clones!) world
(AOS, BITS, IRIS) to an old Honeywell DPS-6, to SunOS 3, 4, and 5, Solaris
2.5-9, the PERQ OS & Accent, Mach, NeXTSTEP, OS X, Utek, DomainOS, IRIX,
HP-UX, DOS/Windows, Linux - and AIX.

I expressed a personal dislike for AIX, but I _didn't_ say it was crap;
compared to other environments, it just wasn't compelling to me.  And 
after 25+ years I'm not just talking out my ass.  I'm sure that AIX has 
changed and improved over the last 5-6 years, too, so maybe someday I'll 
give it another look and even change my opinion.

> have and still hate AIX for other than pedagogical reasons, they  
> didn't spend very much time thinking about how to do it efficiently--- 
> i.e. how to not have to do a ton of hand-holding for every box for  
> every change and still have confidence that it happened correctly.
> Yes, it's different. Get over it.

I'm sorry, I've spent the last decade working on building infrastructures
and tools to manage highly diverse networks - I've done almost nothing
_but_ think about how to deal with *every* vendor's wacky ideas about how
to do things their particular way.

Usually AIX was "just another Unix", and that was great.  It played well
with others.  And that let me focus on the more trying aspects of tying
VMS and PC-NFS clients into our Unix-based systems... but AIX has it's
share of quirks and foibles, just like the rest.

> I work on Linux for zSeries these days, and I wish to GOD IBM would  
> put some of their AIX white-shirts on the task of cleaning up after  
> the herd of circus elephants that are responsible for "developing"  
> Linux. Linux is borderline unmaintainable... and some days it's not  
> clear exactly which side of the borderline it tends toward. But  
> that's a whole other rant for a whole other time.

I totally agree re: Linux.  I credit Linux for helping bring "unix" back 
into the public mindshare, and for beating back the hegemony of Windows by 
generating a lot of heat and noise - which, sadly, I think a lot of their
software tends to be as well.  

My turn-off to Linux was an early - and continuing - negative impression
of the *attitude* of most Linux zealots, who suffer from "anything more
than 10 minutes old is crap" disease, and who have absolutely no concept
that every idea has a historical context.  When Linus (jokingly, I'm
told?) claimed he was the best and brightest VM designer in the history of
the world, I just rolled my eyes and tuned him out.  His "brilliant"  
three-level platform independent VM scheme wasn't all that new or
brilliant, given that the Mach guys had done it 5 or 10 years earlier, but
of course those previous efforts were "crap", just like every time the
Linux world "invented" a new knock-off version of something the thing they
replaced was also "crap", etc.  So maybe I have an irrational dislike for 
Linux based on emotional rather than technical reasons, but I never said 
that about AIX.

I just thought AIX was a weird blend of the mainframe, Unix, and DOS
worlds - it didn't feel coherent or in some places even logical to me,
like they didn't know who their audience was.  For Unix purists they were 
off in uncharted territory.  But seriously, this was probably AIX 3.x?  
I'm sure things have changed.  I don't happen to have an RS/6000 sitting 
here to play with, but I am open-minded - except about Windows. :-P  I 
draw the line there absolutely. :-)

-- Chris

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