Accessing the USB drive from IBM AIX on an IBM Power Systems server

This article explains the process to connect and mount a Universal Serial Bus (USB) drive on an IBM® Power Systems™ server from an IBM AIX® logical partition (LPAR).

Anuradha Podila (, IT Specialist, IBM

Image of AnuradhaAnuradha is working as a IT Specialist in IBM India Software Labs since October 2004. She has a good knowledge about the hardware and operating systems, which includes IBM Power Systems servers, IBM System x servers, IBM AIX, and Linux.

13 January 2014

Mounting USB drives in AIX on IBM Power hardware

Connect the external USB drive to the IBM Power Systems server. Mounting of USB drives is supported since AIX 5.3.

1. First, we need to ensure that the USB I/O drive is connected to the server. Assign the USB UHC Spec Adapter to the system through the Hardware Management Console (HMC).

Assigning the Universal Serial Bus UHC adapter

2. Verify that the following packages are installed on the server.

#lslpp -L |grep devices.common.IBM.usb

#lslpp -L |grep devices.usbif.08025002

3. Install the packages from the operating system if they are not installed on the server with installp.

#installp -a -d ./ devices.common.IBM.usb
#installp -a -d ./ devices.usbif.08025002

4. Now, check the USB devices.

#lsdev |grep usb
usb0       Available       USB System Software
usbhc0     Available 00-08 USB Host Controller (33103500)
usbhc1     Available 00-09 USB Host Controller (33103500)
usbhc2     Available 00-0a USB Enhanced Host Controller (3310e000)
usbms0     Available 2.1   USB Mass Storage
usbms1     Available 2.2   USB Mass Storage

5. Create a folder on the server to mount the USB drive.

#mkdir /usbdev0
#mount -o log=NULL /dev/usbms0 /usbdev0
#df -g

Filesystem   	GB blocks    Free   %Used  Iused %Iused Mounted on
/dev/hd4           0.25      0.17   32%     4162   10%  /
/dev/hd2           4.00      1.09   73%    45685   15%  /usr
/dev/hd9var        1.00      0.58   42%      720    1%  /var
/dev/hd3           1.00      0.94    7%     1763    1%  /tmp
/dev/hd1           0.25      0.25    1%       22    1%  /home
/dev/hd11admin     0.25      0.25    1%        5    1%  /admin
/proc                -         -    -         -     -   /proc
/dev/hd10opt       0.50      0.10   81%     5034   18%  /opt
/dev/livedump      0.25      0.25    1%        4    1%  /var/adm/ras/livedump
/dev/usbms0     2000.00   1716.15   15%        7    1%  /usbdev0

6. Create the file system for the USB drive.

# mkfs -V jfs2 -o ea=v2 /dev/usbms0

mkfs: destroy /dev/usbms0 (yes)?
File system created successfully.
3927736 kilobytes total disk space.
Device /dev/usbms0:
  Standard empty filesystem
  Size: 7855472 512-byte (DEVBLKSIZE) blocks

As you can see, the command initialized the USB flash drive. Now, enter Yes to destroy, or rather initialize, the device. To ensure that the file system is scalable, specify the 'ea' option.

We mounted Western Digital 'WDBACW0020HBK-UESN' Model, USB3/2 compatible 2 TB 'My Book' Essential external storage and IBM POWER5 processor-based server with AIX 6100-04 was used. This process can be used to mount USB external HDD and USB flash drives.

Unmounting USB drives

Make sure to umount the USB device after backup and before you remove the drive. Otherwise, you might have a corrupted file system and an unhappy AIX kernel.

# umount /usbdev0

Best practice

Include mount, backup, and umount commands in the backup scripts so that the majority of the time it is safely offline.


Using the USB drives for data backup is not officially supported by IBM.

General usage of this setup

This kind of setup is mainly required in the following scenarios.

  • Back up and restore huge data from one server to another which is at a different location and network bandwidth between the servers is a constraint
  • If there is a need to back up and restore the server and no tape drive is available
  • If you need to back up the configuration files of the server


Here are a few useful examples that are relative to this article:


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