Networking on AIX 4.3

Well oslevel says, but you get the idea.

You’ll need to have the ethernet driver handy, or better loaded. Since I had disabled the NIC on install it’s not loaded. And since I’m still using a cellphone for internet I extracted the file somewhere else and copied in some patches. I’ve managed to reproduce this twice now, so I guess it’s good to go. Apparently, this just works in later versions, but this is very touchy.

To start how I’m running qemu:

./qemu-build/ppc-softmmu/qemu-system-ppc -M 40p -bios q40pofw-serial.rom -serial telnet::4441,server -hda disk0.vmdk-post-install -vga none -nographic -net none -device pcnet,netdev=ne -netdev user,id=ne,hostfwd=tcp::42323-:23 -cdrom /mnt/c/temp/pcnet-aix.iso

With aix booted, extract the tar file from the cdrom:

mount /cdrom
mkdir /pcnet
cd pcnet
tar -xvf /cdrom/pci.tar

Fix your terminal up… if needed (it probably is)

export TERM=vt100
stty erase ^?
export LIBPATH=$LIBPATH:/usr/lib
export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH

Now run smitty -> devices -> after ipl

Change the directory to /pcnet , and let it run It will give errors but thats okay. All being well it won’t crash AIX, otherwise you’ll want to restore your hardisk. You did make a backup beforehand right?!

I don’t think it matters but I run this afterwards:

odmchange -o CuAt -q "name=ent0 and attribute=busio" /cdrom/lance_ch.asc
odmget -q "name=ent0 and attribute=busio" CuAt
shutdown -h now
halting does take forever

As tempting as it is to kill the emulator, wait for it to complete. Otherwise you may have to do the whole thing agian.

For me the value attribute was never preserved, so we get to do it again on reboot/restart:

odmget -q "name=ent0 and attribute=busio" CuAt
mount /cdrom
odmchange -o CuAt -q "name=ent0 and attribute=busio" /cdrom/lance_ch.asc
rmdev -l ent0
mkdev -l ent0
ifconfig en0
ping -c 1

If everything went well this time you should get a ping reply! Great! Now to configure the system for real.

smitty -> communication -> tcpip -> minimum -> en0

simple slirp

As always I configure my system for slirp. We’re almost there! Now to pad the DNS records for slirp:

cat >> /etc/hosts slirp slirpdns

And now you can reboot!

If everything goes well, you will have a patched up pcnet driver that works (well mine does)

It works!

The big test is to of course reboot. Then you’ll know for sure.

I have tried this a few times, and yeah it can crash when adding the drivers, so I had to restore a few times. I would say 1/3 times worked flawlessly. So be patient. And backup!

Revisiting AIX 4.3 on Qemu

I had gone over the install a while ago, but I wanted to re-install on a newer machine. And going from GCC 7 to 11, well a number of things changed. And I found with experience that letting Qemu select as much as it wants leads to numerous dependencies that end up being problematic.

[email protected]:~/atar-boot/qemu/ppc-softmmu$ objdump -p qemu-system-ppc | grep NEEDED

So using the same atar qemu git dump, I found the newer config string a bit more refined:

./configure --target-list=ppc-softmmu --disable-sdl --disable-vnc --disable-gtk --disable-gnutls --disable-nettle --disable-gcrypt --disable-spice --disable-numa --disable-libxml2 --disable-vde --disable-werror --disable-seccomp --disable-capstone --disable-vhost-net --disable-vhost-crypto --disable-vhost-scsi --disable-vhost-vsock --disable-vhost-user --disable-tpm --disable-live-block-migration

Another fun think is that there is submodules from other servers, and it seems their certs have expired.. Which also means it’s inevitable at some point this will become impossible to build. Be sure to set this environment variable in order to build:

export GIT_SSL_NO_VERIFY=true

As always Qemu will try to sneak a few things in there that we don’t need like audio support. As an example here is what I trimmed from config-host.mak:

$ diff -ruN config-host.mak config-host.mak-cutdown
--- config-host.mak 2022-11-08 09:37:41.104441392 +0000
+++ config-host.mak-cutdown 2022-11-08 09:37:25.084441253 +0000
@@ -27,8 +27,8 @@
@@ -72,7 +72,6 @@
@@ -164,7 +163,7 @@
LIBS_QGA+=-lm -lgthread-2.0 -pthread -lglib-2.0
POD2MAN=pod2man --utf8

And this cuts down the needed dll’s to:

[email protected]:~/atar-boot/qemu/ppc-softmmu$ objdump -p qemu-system-ppc | grep NEED

which is a bit better. I’m still annoyed at it’s reliance on pixman despite not having any framebuffer support, I’m guessing I could amputate it if I looked further.

AIX 4.3 booted!

Since nothing has fundamentally changed, I can still use my original bootflags:

./qemu-system-ppc -M 40p -bios q40pofw-serial.rom -serial telnet::4441,server -hda disk0.vmdk-post-install -vga none -nographic -net none -cdrom /mnt/c/temp/xlc13-gzip.iso

And for the heck of it, this is the steps I used to get xlC 1.3 up and running:

restore -f /tmp/xlc/xlccmp2
restore -f /tmp/xlc/xlccmpmE2
chmod +x /usr/bin/xlc
chmod +x /usr/lpp/xlc/bin/xlcentry
chmod +x /usr/lpp/xlc/bin/dis
cp /usr/lpp/xlccmp/inst_root/etc/xlc.cfg /etc
cp /tmp/xlc/cpp /usr/lib/cpp
chmod +x /usr/lib/cpp

and with that all in place we can compile a simple hello world!

# cat mt.c
#include <stdio.h>
void main(){
printf("hi from C\n");
# xlc -v mt.c -o mt
exec: /usr/lpp/xlc/bin/xlcentry(xlcentry,mt.c,mt.o,mt.lst,-D_ANSI_C_SOURCE,-D_IBMR2,-D_AIX,-D_AIX32,-qansialias,NULL)
exec: /bin/ld(ld,-H512,-T512,-bhalt:4,-o,mt,/lib/crt0.o,mt.o,-lc,NULL)
unlink: mt.o
# ./mt
hi from C

xlC is also capable of building a running GNU Chess. And I updated the git so that book building works. Not that I expect anyone to care.

Compiling book, please wait…
186 games added, 3384 positions added, 3383 total positions in book

It has the same desire to move pieces back and forth for thousands of moves, but it’s doing a heck of a lot more than any modern C compiler.

Since we don’t have any networking, Everything is on the console. I’ve found making CD-ROM images being a much easier way to get data in, and I’m still using uuencode to get data out from the console. I guess I should setup Z-modem at some point but that’s very futuristic. Or just break down and learn how to use C-kermit.

My go to quality of life startup is:

export TERM=vt100
stty erase ^?
export LIBPATH=$LIBPATH:/usr/lib
export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH

Sure not perfect but it makes it slightly more usable. As a follow on, I got networking working here: Networking on AIXI 4.3

IBM AIX for IA64 (Itanium) aka Project Monterey runs again!

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

Project Monterey was an attempt to unify the fragmented Unix market of the 90s in to a single, cross vendor Unix OS that would run on the upcoming Intel Itanium (and others) CPU. The main collaborators were: IBM, who brought its AIX, SCO brought UnixWare, HP was supposed to bring parts of HP-UX and Sequent DYNIX/ptx. Ironically the project shared fate of the Itanium CPU—it totally failed. In the end Linux took spot of the “single Unix OS”. IBM donated AIX pieces to Linux instead and the main legacy of Project Monterey was the famous SCO vs IBM lawsuit.

IBM did however produce AIX version for the Itanium architecture! According to Wikipedia, some 30+ licenses were sold in 2001-2002. For years a dedicated group of individuals was trying to locate a copy of the legendary OS. It seemed that the OS was lost forever…

…until some 21 years later friends of NCommander checked in with a set of AIX5L IA64 CDROMS! The CDs have now been dumped and you can download them here. Unfortunately downloading will not get you much closer to actually running this. As of today no publicly available virtualization or emulation platform can boot this. Yes we tried Simics, looked at QEMU IA64 and XEN/KVM for IA64, etc. The OS will not boot on modern Itanium 2 (McKinley) CPUs, only the early “pre-release” Itanium 1 aka Merced. The only emulator allegedly capable of doing so was the super elusive unobtanium called Intel SoftSDV.

It’s currently speculated that AIX5L IA64 will work on and only on so called “Intel Software Development Vehicle (SDV)” sometimes referred to as “Intel Engineering Sample”. It was an Intel made machine, later sold in several OEM branded version: IBM IntelliStation Z Pro 6894, HP i2000 Workstation, SGI 750, Dell Precision Workstation 730 and Fujitsu-Siemens Celsius 880.

Intel Itanium Software Development Vehicle Lineup

…yes, they all look alike because all of them were in fact produced by Intel with custom case badges and paints.

Luckily I was able to score a working HP i2000. AIX booted up and installed on a first try:

AIX 5L IA64 on HP i2000 Workstation – boot loader
AIX 5L IA64 on HP i2000 Workstation – logged in

Initially I was not able to get the onboard NIC working. Upon short investigation AIX5L IA64 supports only two network cards:

adapter 23100020 IBM 10/100 Mbps Ethernet PCI Adapter (23100020)
adapter ae120200 10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet PCI Adapter (ae120200)

The AIX Itanium Early Adopters Release Notes mentions a few other cards but I do not see drivers for these in the OS. The doc mentions “Extended Hardware Drivers CD” which we don’t have.

Luckily again I was able to find a working NIC on eBay!

The system comes with X11 and CDE but so far I was not able to get any GPU working beyond basic text mode. I tried many different video cards from that era but there simply doesn’t appear to be any driver in the OS except for basic VGA / LFT. I think the key to getting video working is the previously mentioned extended hardware drivers cd.

Finally, if you want to read more I have found some interesting pieces on ibmfiles and various mirrors here and here.

Update: Thanks to efforts of TRN we now have a working GCC and ports of lots of apps!

Update 2: After going through a pile of video cards I now have local X11 and CDE!

AIX IA64 local X11 with CDE

This was the lucky winner:

Cross compiling to AIX: or missing shr.o

I was inspired by NCommander’s MinGW to Solaris cross compiler so I thought I’d dig out the one that got me started decades ago, cross compiling to the RS/6000 from Linux some time back in 1993. For this experiment I was able to beg/borrow a copy of /usr/lib & /usr/include from AIX 3.2.5 and wanted to use that as a base. I decided to use GCC and Binutils 2.11.2 as these were old enough t build somewhat easy enough from MinGW/MSYS 1, but I figured they also had the best luck of being able to parse the headers without needing ‘fixinc’.

I was able to build both binutils and GCC with this simple incanation

sh configure --target=ppc-ibm-aix325 --prefix=/aix3

One weird thing was that binutils completely sidestepped ld, so I had to configure that manually like this:

--target=powerpc-ibm-aix --prefix=/aix3

Also ‘eaixppc.c’ didn’t generate properly I had to rebuild binutils from Linux to get it to pick up and build that file, copy that back in to get a working cross linker. Older stuff has some issues with CR/LF from time to time, and sometimes it’s easier to deal with builds from other systems and pluck files as needed.

Surprisingly things built, and transferring the to my Qemu AIX image gave me this fun error:

exec(): 0509-036 Cannot load program /cdrom/demo/hello/hello because of the following errors:
0509-150 Dependent module libc.a(shr.o) could not be loaded.
0509-022 Cannot load module libc.a(shr.o).
0509-026 System error: A file or directory in the path name does not exist.

Surprisingly IBM has a fix!

# export LIBPATH=$LIBPATH:/usr/lib
# /cdrom/demo/hello/hello
hello world, compiled by GCC!


Of course it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, bigger programs like the ‘87 Infocom interpreter bomb like this:

C:\aix3\demo\infocom>gcc -v -o infocom file.o funcs.o infocom.o init.o input.o interp.o io.o jump.o object.o options.o page.o print.o property.o support.o variable.o term.o
gcc version
ld -T512 -H512 -btextro -bhalt:4 -bnodelcsect -o infocom /aix3/lib/crt0.o -L/aix3/lib file.o funcs.o infocom.o init.o input.o interp.o io.o jump.o object.o options.o page.o print.o property.o support.o variable.o term.o /aix3/lib/libgcc.a -lc /aix3/lib/libgcc.a
ld: section .data [0000000000000000 -> 00000000000007ff] overlaps section .text [0000000000000200 -> 0000000000009b0b]
ld: section .loader [0000000000000000 -> 00000000000014a8] overlaps section .text [0000000000000200 -> 0000000000009b0b]
gcc: Internal compiler error: program ld got fatal signal 1

Initially I thought this was a problem with the GCC Linker, but after copying the objects to Qemu, and linking from there, I found out that the GNAT gcc driver calls the linker in a different manner:

ld -bpT:0x10000000 -bpD:0x20000000 -btextro -bnodelcsect -o infocom /aix3/lib/crt0.o file.o funcs.o infocom.o init.o input.o interp.o io.o jump.o object.o options.o page.o print.o property.o support.o variable.o term.o /aix3/lib/libgcc.a /aix3/lib/libc.a /aix3/lib/libgcc.a

Reformatted for my cross, but this produces a running executable.

And finally phoon which heavily relies on floating point math:

C:\aix3\demo\phoon>ld -bpT:0x10000000 -bpD:0x20000000 -btextro -bnodelcsect -o phoon /aix3/lib/crt0.o phoon.o date_parse.o astro.o /aix3/lib/libc.a /aix3/lib/libgcc.a /aix3/lib/libm.a
/aix3/lib/libm.a(atan2.o)(.pr+0x308):atan2.c: undefined reference to __itrunc' /aix3/lib/libm.a(atan2.o)(.pr+0x33c):atan2.c: undefined reference to__itrunc'
/aix3/lib/libm.a(atan2.o)(.pr+0x3c4):atan2.c: undefined reference to `__itrunc'

I thought first I could just tack -lm onto the end. However remembering years ago, linkers ARE position dependent, and on AIX libm must come before libc.

ld -bpT:0x10000000 -bpD:0x20000000 -btextro -bnodelcsect -o phoon /aix3/lib/crt0.o phoon.o date_parse.o astro.o /aix3/lib/libm.a /aix3/lib/libgcc.a /aix3/lib/libc.a

And yep it runs!

Sadly networking is a bit goofed on 4.3.3, and Im unable to upload more than a few hundred bytes before a stall on the console so slip/ppp would be a bit useless.

Speaking of useless, if anyone is crazy enough, you can follow here: MinGW-AIX325.7z

Installing AIX on Qemu!

YES it’s real!

I’m using the Linux subystem on Windows, as it’s easier to build this Qemu tree from source. I’m using Debian, but these steps will work on other systems that use Debian as a base.

First thing first, you need to get your system with the needed pre-requisites to compile:

apt-get update;apt-get upgrade apt-get install build-essential pkg-config libz-dev libglib2.0-dev libpixman-1-dev libfdt-dev

Great with those in place, now clone Artyom Tarasenko’s source repository

git clone --branch 40p-20190406-aix-boots --single-branch

*NOTE from the future (2022) you may want to jump here: to check out building on newer systems. Also don’t forget about networking!

Since the frame buffer apparently isn’t quite working just yet, I configure for something more like a text mode build.

././configure --target-list=ppc-softmmu --disable-sdl --disable-vnc --disable-gtk --disable-gnutls --disable-nettle --disable-gcrypt --disable-spice --disable-numa --disable-libxml2 --disable-werror

Now for me, GCC 7 didn’t build the source cleanly. I had to make a change to the file config-host.mak and remove all references to -Werror. Also I removed the sound hooks, as we won’t need them. remove the following lines:


Now you can build Qemu. it’ll happily build in parallel so feel free to build using the -j parameter with how many cores you have. I have 32, so I use

make -j32

Okay, all being well you now have a Qemu. Now following the steps from
Artyom Tarasenko’s blog post, we can get started on the install!

First we create a 8GB disk

qemu-img create -f qcow2 aix-hdd.qcow2 8G

Next we need the custom BIOS with serial as the console.


You’ll need some AIX. I tried a 3.2.5 CD-ROM and it didn’t pick up, but AIX 4.3.3 did.

Now with all those bits in place, it’s time to run Qemu.

./ppc-softmmu/qemu-system-ppc -M 40p -bios q40pofw-serial.rom -serial telnet::4441,server -hda aix-hdd.qcow2 -vga none -nographic -net none -cdrom Volume_1.iso

Now telnet to your localhost on port 4441 and you will see the console doing it’s BIOS initialize and eventually drop to the OK prompt.

One trick I’ve found is that from the Open Firmware prompt you can find out what partitions are recognized from the firmware. If it see’s partitions then there is some hope that the image you have is valid enough to boot. In the last few days I’ve found quite a few AIX images, which are lacking the partition table, and unable to boot.

.partitions cdrom

simply type in boot cdrom:2 to kick off the installer. It may take a minute or so for the installer to kick off.

If all goes well, you’ll see the BIOS reload itself, then after a minute you’ll be prompted to press 1 to select the console

It doesn’t echo, don’t panic!

Next select your language. I’m doing English.

Next it’ll ask about installation type. Default ought to be fine.

Because this will destroy the contents of the disk (which doesn’t matter as it’s blank) it’ll prompt for confirmation.

After this it’ll begin the installation. Depending on how fast your disk & CPU is this will take a while.

For me, the installation took about 11 minutes. This is using my Xeon E5-2667 v2. It took 17 minutes on my 2006 Mac Pro, with X5365’s it .

After it’s done, right around the 96% time it’ll reboot back to the BIOS

Once you are back at the OK prompt, you can now boot disk:

it’ll look like it’s hung for a minute, then it’ll start booting from disk!

Once the OS is booted up, you select the terminal type. I’m using putty but I’ll select the vt100. Of note the function keys are selected by hitting escape and then the number key. So F3 is ESC 3.

I’m just going to finish the install, as we can always run smitty to mess with the system more, but right now I’m just interested in a base install of the BOS (Base Operating System, and IBM ISM).

A few moments later, you’ll get dumped to the login prompt.

By default there is no password, so just login as root, and there you go, your very own virtual AIX 4.3 system.

# uname -a AIX localhost 3 4 000000004C00

So there you go! All thanks to Artyom’s hard work!