[rescue] Suggestions for AIX devel system?

Jonathan C. Patschke jp at celestrion.net
Wed Jul 30 19:08:33 CDT 2008

On Wed, 30 Jul 2008, Adam Kropelin wrote:

> I am looking for some advice on a cheap AIX system for basic software
> development use. I maintain a free software package (apcupsd) and
> occasionally have users report build problems, etc. on AIX. I have
> nearly every other platform covered, either with real hardware or vm
> sessions on a PeeCee. But AIX is a noticeable hole in my arsenal.

You'll hate it at first.  However, if you give AIX a chance, you may come
to like it a lot.  AIX is my favorite commercial Unix, by quite a large

Constructing shared libraries on AIX, for one thing, will make you scream
"WTF??" the first time.

> I'm completely clueless on RS6000 and POWER hardware and so am looking
> for some guidance on what models to consider when scouring ebay, etc.
> All I need is something capable of running a vaguely recent version of
> AIX (say, 5.x although 6.x support would also be nice) and has enough
> horsepower to do a bit of C/C++ compiling.

You may also want to see if IBM will give you a license to their
commercial C compiler (xlC) for the purpose of supporting free software on
AIX.  GCC runs okay on AIX, but many portability problems will come from
the vendor's compiler being a lot stricter about following the standards
than GCC.  xlC is an amazing compiler--comparable to MIPSpro.

Nearly any system will run AIX 5.1, even some very old systems that
shouldn't run it (like a 7011-250, for example).  5.2 and later require a
CHRP-architecture machine, which usually means a 7043-150 or later (or any
7044).  7043-150s are cheap enough as to be disposable, and they're
perfectly fine for over-the-network use, if you're patient.

A 7044 system will be faster than the 7043-150 to a very silly degree
without costing much more.  The 7044-270 is a popular development system
for this reason.

If you don't mind sparing some rack space, p610 (7028-6C1) systems are
quite fast, will run AIX through 5.3, and don't cost too much (they show
up for $500 - $700 on eBay from time to time).  The -6E1 is the same
system, but in a minitower chassis.

The 7043-150, 7044-270, and 7028-6C1 will run AIX 4.3.3 through 5.3.  To
run 6.x, you need a minimum of a POWER4 CPU.  The cheapest POWER4 systems
are the p615 (7029-6C4 rackmount 7029-6E4 tower) and the
IntelliStation/POWER Model 275 (9114-275).

A PPC970 (a.k.a. G5) will run AIX 6.1, as well, but IBM's only recently
put them into workstations, so they're all current products (and,
therefore, IBM expensive).

> don't need a GUI. I'd be perfectly happy with an RS232 console port and
> a network jack. Ideally I'd like to keep the expenditure as far under
> $500 as possible...although a quick look at ebay says perhaps that is
> not doable.

My personal recommendation would be a 9114-275.  A low-end configuration
will be not much over $500, it's a reasonably office-friendly computer,
and it'll run AIX 5.1 through AIX 6.1 (and maybe AIX 4.3.3).

> Something roughly equivalent to a Sunblade 100 or 450 MHz Apple G4 would
> be fine, as those are serving me well already.

That would be a 7044-270.  They're the typical cheapie AIX developer's
system these days.

One thing about IBM systems: they're heavy.  You'll swear they're filled
with lead.  A 7044-270 is about the same size as your G4 (maybe a little
taller) but weighs not much under 100lbs.

Jonathan Patschke | "There is more to life than increasing its speed."
Elgin, TX         |                                   --Mahatma Gandhi
USA               |

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