AIX > Administrator > Systems Management

Dealing with the Challenges of a Solaris-to-AIX Migration

I previously discussed benchmarks, efficiencies and features of AIX. Now I'll cover some of the challenges systems administrators who are more familiar with Solaris might encounter with the migration to AIX.

Both the AIX and Solaris systems are based on the AT&T System V, so users who use x-windows or any of the common shells should be comfortable. While the search paths for many of the common commands are different between the environments, and occasional differences exist in the format of shell command output, users will be happy to find most of their commands are available. They'll be equally happy that their shell scripts will work with, at most, minor tweaks and adjustments. It's a fact that the migration effort to move from Solaris systems to AIX systems isn't normally a significant challenge for the users.

The major differences fall into the systems administrator's lap. Let's start with the system-management interfaces. While Solaris has many system-management tools--such as Admin Tool, Admin Wizard, Management Console and Management Center--AIX has a tightly integrated system-management tool called the system management interface tool (SMIT). SMIT provides a consistent user interface, which can be used graphically or in text mode to add and delete users, manage peripherals, disks, networks, printers and more.

Solaris systems administrators are familiar with the OS and layered software product packages and clusters. AIX has a similar system for installing software, but the terminology is different. AIX administrators become familiar with the standard and conventions around the installation and update of file sets and bundles. However, there's one significant difference that Solaris administrators may enjoy: the two-step apply and committee of software products into the AIX OS.

For AIX, software packages are applied to the operating system and then located in a special directory until fully tested by the administrators. Once the test is run, the system administrator will perform a second step called a commit. This two-stage process makes it easier for an administrator to uninstall packages and patches that fail to pass muster. This is AIX feature is unique in the UNIX world and provides for an administrative process that can improve the reliability and testability of the OS environment during its enhancement and upgrade.

Like the Solaris environment, both interactive installations from distribution media and network installation (such as Jumpstart and Web install) for the AIX environment are common. The Network Installation Manager (NIM) provides an easy-to-configure tool for the network installation and configuration of platforms.

Jim Rice is the Principal IT Architecture Consultant for MSI Systems Integrators. Jim can be reached at

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