POWER6 Linux and AIX

IBM workstations/servers/mainframes and operating systems (AIX, OS/2, etc.)
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astouffer
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POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby astouffer » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:38 pm

Just wanted to say a few things about this box so far. Again Linux support is pretty bad. The only distros that seem to work are the ones you need to pay for, RedHat Enterprise 6.8 and Suse Enterprise 11. RedHat uses an ancient 2.6 kernel while Suse is newer. That brings me to the next major problem.

While you can install Linux to a SATA drive, you are not able to boot from said drive. The boot prom will not recognize a drive unless it has special IBM firmware. So you are limited to 146Gb SAS drives. Any larger capacity and there is suddenly an extra zero on the price. I guess its possible to boot from the DVD and specify the path to your hard drive but I don't know the right syntax now.

Anyone know of a work around or hack to bypass this nonsense?

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ibmfiles
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby ibmfiles » Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:18 am

The Enterprise SUSE and Redhat distros are limited so I'd just avoid them.

This is difficult for me to know without owning the actual hardware. I could propose a theory though: since it's the SAS controller connected to the backplane; theoretically the firmware of the SAS controller is requesting special firmware from the disks.

Proposal: if you buy a GENERIC (like LSI / Adaptec) SAS controller and ensure it has the correct miniSAS connectors to connect to the backplane, in theory the firmware should give boot control to the generic SAS card and then boot from whatever disk you want. This is assuming of course the motherboard firmware will work with it, and isn't performing any additional checks.

EDIT: by 'backplane' I mean the PCB that the HDDs connect to / typically backplanes and controllers use MiniSAS.

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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby armanox » Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:27 pm

Hmmm...Just a thought, but if you have both drives in there boot to the SAS drive and then have it mount the SATA drive with your data and such (in older days it would have been put /usr on the SATA, but I don't think RHEL 6.x allows / and /usr to be separate)
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:57 pm

What I've done in the past is used NFS for the major part of AIX box storage, and mounted all the directories that have extra programs, data etc. to NFS shares.
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby japes » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:07 am

ibmfiles wrote:Proposal: if you buy a GENERIC (like LSI / Adaptec) SAS controller and ensure it has the correct miniSAS connectors to connect to the backplane, in theory the firmware should give boot control to the generic SAS card and then boot from whatever disk you want. This is assuming of course the motherboard firmware will work with it, and isn't performing any additional checks.

EDIT: by 'backplane' I mean the PCB that the HDDs connect to / typically backplanes and controllers use MiniSAS.


Sadly, or awesomely depending on if you want to hack or easily service the system, but the Power6 p520 backplane has a board to board connector with the main planar. There is a card that adds RAID capability and i think it works without the card fine - that might change the boot behavior. For alternate card the drives would have to be in an external shelf or in the tape drive bay.

edit: nice job getting a p520. I picked one up a while ago but haven't had time to do anything but install AIX on it. The seller did a terrible job packing it - so I got a second for parts (and virtualization license) and again packing was a challenge but that seller did better - haven't had a chance to try it yet. At least the faceplate isn't falling off the dvd drive of number 2.
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby armanox » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:31 am

japes wrote:
ibmfiles wrote:Proposal: if you buy a GENERIC (like LSI / Adaptec) SAS controller and ensure it has the correct miniSAS connectors to connect to the backplane, in theory the firmware should give boot control to the generic SAS card and then boot from whatever disk you want. This is assuming of course the motherboard firmware will work with it, and isn't performing any additional checks.

EDIT: by 'backplane' I mean the PCB that the HDDs connect to / typically backplanes and controllers use MiniSAS.


Sadly, or awesomely depending on if you want to hack or easily service the system, but the Power6 p520 backplane has a board to board connector with the main planar. There is a card that adds RAID capability and i think it works without the card fine - that might change the boot behavior. For alternate card the drives would have to be in an external shelf or in the tape drive bay.

edit: nice job getting a p520. I picked one up a while ago but haven't had time to do anything but install AIX on it. The seller did a terrible job packing it - so I got a second for parts (and virtualization license) and again packing was a challenge but that seller did better - haven't had a chance to try it yet. At least the faceplate isn't falling off the dvd drive of number 2.


Agreed - nice job on getting a P520. I miss having access to the two that I used to (Previous job had two of them in the lab, both connected to an HMC. One ran AIX 7.1 and the other ran IBM i), they were pretty nice machines.
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby Shiunbird » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:14 am

armanox wrote:Agreed - nice job on getting a P520. I miss having access to the two that I used to (Previous job had two of them in the lab, both connected to an HMC. One ran AIX 7.1 and the other ran IBM i), they were pretty nice machines.


How's IBM i?
I've never managed to find much about it.
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby jgilje » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:31 am

Shiunbird wrote:How's IBM i?
I've never managed to find much about it.

You can sign up for å free account at http://pub400.com/ to find out about it

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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby Shiunbird » Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:49 am

Lovely, thanks a ton!
Joining now.
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:01 am

but the Power6 p520 backplane has a board to board connector with the main planar. There is a card that adds RAID capability and i think it works without the card fine


My 8203-E4A has such a card (IBM calls it a "RAID Enablement Card", FC 5679). The card is not required for the system to boot from SAS; it just won't be RAID. I'm not sure if the auxiliary cache card is sold separately but I have both installed.
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby astouffer » Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:56 am

Alright I did some experimenting with a cheap SATA drive to see if anything can be done. The bottom line is whatever drive you use has to have the IBM firmware. In the open firmware is a program called "ioinfo" that does some low level drive utilities. With a SATA drive you can't even read the information out. It gives an error about can't open the drive in raw mode and googling the error gives zero results. System p and System x drives will work.

I have IBM i on a small AS/400 machine but let the license expire. You need a code after 70 days. It was interesting to install and play around with but at the end of the day its pretty boring. Everything is text based menus and there isn't a lot of third party software available. About the only thing you could use it for is OS administration or coding some native apps.

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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:55 am

I compiled TN5250 on my AIX POWER6 to connect to PUB400. That seemed appropriate.
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby armanox » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:48 pm

Shiunbird wrote:
armanox wrote:Agreed - nice job on getting a P520. I miss having access to the two that I used to (Previous job had two of them in the lab, both connected to an HMC. One ran AIX 7.1 and the other ran IBM i), they were pretty nice machines.


How's IBM i?
I've never managed to find much about it.


To me, the menu based system was awkward. Plus, the only times I actually got to use the system was when there was an issue, so my view may be slanted. We had them in the R&D lab, and anytime someone would scan a box running [OS/400 | i5/OS | i] it would lock out all of the administrator accounts and I would have to connect to it using the IBM 5250 emulator included with the HMC (alternatively I would have needed an IBM 5250...) in order to unlock the accounts.

As the resident UNIX guy in the lab IT team, I got all of the unusual requests that nobody else wanted (or was able) to handle (but I did get to get experience with AIX, i, HMCs, HP-UX, OpenVMS, Oracle VM (SPARC), and a VMware cluster with ALL of the bells and whistles (and about 11,000 running VMs)). It was also my job to be able to find the hardware to match whatever insane setup the clients had. That was a fun one at times....
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby armanox » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:54 pm

jgilje wrote:
Shiunbird wrote:How's IBM i?
I've never managed to find much about it.

You can sign up for å free account at http://pub400.com/ to find out about it


Interesting - they do not allow gmail accounts for email. I just signed up for an account to be able to learn a little bit more about my old enemy (and had to use my .edu email address).
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Re: POWER6 Linux and AIX

Unread postby kev009 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:05 am

Ubuntu 16.04 worked as easy as x86 on my P6 p520, granted I am booting under VIOS which may make things easier. I am working to fix FreeBSD ppc64 right now for VIOS and eventually PAPR as a hobby project. I'm using some spare work hours to bring FreeBSD to P8 PowerNV as it may be commercially relevant with Xeon E5 stagnating on I/O and memory bandwidth.
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