Saturday, July 29, 2006

Old meets new(er) - AIX 5L on a 13-year-old machine

Manufacturer: IBM
Model: RS/6000 7011-250
RAM: 64 MB (Upgraded)
HDD: SCSI 18GB (Upgraded)
Release Date: October 1993

Shown here atop my NG/NAI Sniffer. Above it, the external CD/ROM and my Cable modem.

To put things into perspective, IBM Released the RS/6000 Model 250 about the exact same time Apple announced the Macintosh PowerPC line, and about the same time Intel released the original Pentium CPU. The POWER architecture, a mainstay of IBM's server line from the late 80's forward, has roots back to some of IBM's first RISC processor R&D in 1982.

This particular system was originally shipped with IBM's SystemV-based AIX operating system version 3.2. When it was released, the RS/6000-250 would run circles around many other modern machines. Designed to be stable as well as powerful, most RS/6000 systems work very closely with AIX to provide a darn-near bulletproof environment with automatic hardware failure detection, extensive logging facilities far beyond most other UNIX servers, and security features that met strict government standards.

I acquired this machine at a local surplus auction in 1998. It was already 5 years old and showing it. There was 64 MB of RAM in it, and no hard drive. I picked up a 4GB SCSI drive which lasted quite a while but died in 2001. The only network interface was AUI so I had to purchase an ethernet transciever for it. I found some AIX 4.3.2 media that my work was disposing of and rescued it from the garbage. It installed flawlessly and I've used this machine off and on for close to 8 years now.

Fast forward a bit. AIX 5L (the L means Linux Affinity) was released in 2001. I wasn't aware of it, but Version 5.1 SHOULD work on the trusty Model 250. I found a new unopened AIX 5.1 box on eBay and snatched it up. It's currently installing.

I'll update this tomorrow sometime after I've given AIX 5L a test-drive. The way I look at it, what better way to open up my Retro Computing blog than to toss a 5 year old operating system onto a 13 year old computer? Wish me luck!


Goran said...

I found brand new System6000/250
type 7011
Without any manuals or posibility to plug him to monitor or keyboard...

Anny help from you?
Manual or few word will help me...


Noah said...

Goran, when I installed AIX on it, I had to use a serial terminal hooked up to a port on the back labeled S1 or S0. I think it was S0.

You need a 25-pin "Null Modem" cable and a way to communicate with it from another computer. If you have a windows box, a freeware program called TeraTerm works nicely. You obviously need a 9- or 25-pin RS-232 Serial port on the computer as well, which may mean buying a USB adapter. RS-232 Serial Ports are getting rare these days.

e-mail me - noah at kc-bike dot net and I can help you out a little more.

Lachie said...

Hi , looks great. I've got an old RS/6000 RISC machine in my shed i've been meaning to try AIX out with for years. Thought I might see if it ran AIX V 5 just this week. Machine has quite a bit of weight and requires a special monitor plug (to source)

Noah said...

yeah, that's the DB13W3 Connector. Mine has one of those, but as I mentioned before I just went with a serial cable and a terminal emulator program. AIX installs fine using a serial console. I'm still running this RS/6000 (was just logged in yesterday) and it's still ticking along nicely. If you need any assistance, let me know. My e-mail address is in the comment above yours.

kev009 said...

You folks may be interested in the pages I have at

I'm slowly amassing information on RS/6000s with focus on the original MCA ones.