A. Silverman, R. Toebbicke CN/DCI and T. Bell IBM Support
Since some time now, IBM have released AIX 4 for RS/6000 workstations. The current CERN-recommended release is 4.1.4. We are now able to offer an AIX 4 production environment, a central AIX 4 licence service and tools and assistance to help RS/6000 users upgrade to this release. This is the release which is currently installed on the cernsp service so you might like to get an account there to test your applications before upgrading your own workstation.
Unlike AIX 3, version 4 uses concurrent user licences for AIX itself. Individual nodes have one of a variety of AIX 4 licence, namely:
RS/6000 nodes purchased since July 1995 either include a licence to run AIX 4 or have implicitly the right to a free upgrade to AIX 4. For older RS/6000 nodes on site, CN/DCI has purchased in bulk upgrade licences to AIX 4, thereby benefiting from lower prices. The cost is SFr 200 per node, independent of machine class.
In addition to the local licence, two users or unlimited, all nodes may declare in a configuration file that they also wish to use the central AIX licence server. Then, if the local licence is limited to two users for example, when the third, fourth, etc., user connects to that node, the additional licences beyond the first two are dynamically fetched from one of the two central licence servers, DCE1 and DCE2. The declaration on a local node to use a licence server is made with SMIT, the system management tool in AIX. We have made this automatic by adding it as a SUE feature (see below) for AIX 4 systems.
The central licence servers are known as DCE1 and DCE2. IBM software permits these to offer an automatic fail-over service between themselves. In the case of users already logged in, if one server fails, there should be no effect. Users trying to log in after one server fails should automatically be routed to the other server. Users unlucky enough to be in the process of logging in at the moment when a server fails (which itself is not common), may become stuck for a timeout period after which they will be permitted to login anyway with a warning. This timeout period and emergency login will also happen if all attempts to connect to a central licence server fail (typically network failure). The timeout is of the order of two minutes. In all cases, root will always be permitted to login immediately.
SUE is a utility to help install and tailor a desktop or server according to a defined CERN setup (access to central name, time and print servers, access to public domain software, etc) as well as an automatic scheme to keep the workstation up-to-date with changes to this recommended setup. SUE has been updated to work correctly with AIX 4. For example, by default it enables the AIX licence sharing mentioned above.
All the normal software required to work with AIX 4 is in place. This includes access to IBM layered products such as Fortran 77/90 and C/C++. These are also licensed and new nodes must pay a (small) licence fee to CN/DCI to be permitted access to the floating licence servers. This is described in the AIX support Web pages (see below).
The CERN Program Library and ASIS public domain software are fully compatible with AIX 4 with only a very few exceptions which users should be unaware of because of the way ASIS links are arranged. Anyone having trouble with any ASIS application under AIX 4 is invited to contact User.Support@cern.ch.
The full AIX 4 upgrade procedure is documented on the Web at URL:
Users have the choice of doing this themselves or requesting help from CN's UNIX Workstation Support. Requests for assistance should be mailed to AIX.Support@cern.ch. In all cases, unless the node was ordered since July 1995, an upgrade licence should be purchased from A.Silverman for the node-locked AIX base licences (see above).
Owners of AIX 3 nodes used for high performance 3D graphics should be aware that these nodes should not be upgraded as there is currently no support for this device under AIX 4. Instead, they should contact the IBM team and discuss alternatives.