I am a big fan of the movie Inception. The idea of a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream is a unique and mind-blowing idea. How is this relevant, you may ask? Well, IBM Integrated Virtualization Manager allows users to effectively install multiple server instances on a single hardware blade as long as there are sufficient resources available. Think of it as servers-within-a-server and you can see how the two relate. This concept provides IBM customers the ability to maximize the functionality and performance of their assets, saving customer's time and money.
This tutorial explains the steps to set up a virtual server within the Integrated Virtualization Manager and install AIX onto the virtual server. It does not document the installation process for the Integrated Virtualization Manager, but you can refer to that step in the information center.
An example server is set up within this tutorial for reference. Screen captures are used wherever applicable. At the end, you should have a working virtual server with AIX 7.1 installed within your IBM IVM. This process can then be repeated for each virtual server that you want to set up.
For this tutorial, the example server is called example_server with the domain name example_server.mul.ie.ibm.com. We will be working with a hardware server with a resource pool of 16 dedicated processors, 64 GB RAM, and 10 TB of hard drive space. From this pool, we will create a virtual server with seven dedicated processors and 30 GB RAM, with a modest 8 GB hard drive space.
Part 1 – Setting up the virtual server within Integrated Virtualization Manager
After you have your Integrated Virtualization Manager set up, you can start to determine the requirements for your virtual server. As specified earlier, we can create a virtual server with:
- Eight processors
- 30 GB RAM
- 8 GB hard drive space
First, we need to create a logical partition (LPAR) to install the AIX virtual server. The specifications for your virtual server will be based on the pool of resources available to your Integrated Virtualization Manager. In this section, we will create and configure a separate, dedicated partition to install our AIX server OS.
In this example, we use Mozilla Firefox (v17.0.4) to access the Integrated Virtualization Manager control page, but it should work with previous and newer builds of Firefox.
1.1 – Creating the partition
You need to perform the following steps to create a partition.
- First of all, log in to your Integrated Virtualization Manager. Then, click the View/Modify Partitions link on the navigation bar.
- In the right pane, click * Create Partition.... The Create Partition wizard is displayed. Using this wizard, you can create the LPAR partition to install our AIX OS.
- On the Name page, enter the name of your partition and click Next.
In this tutorial, we are using example_server.mul.ie.ibm.com as the example server. While you can name the partition anything you like without consequence, it is a good practice to name it after the server host name that will be installed on it.
From the Environment drop-down list, it is important to make sure that AIX or Linux is selected. The partition ID can be set to any value you like. In this example, the partition ID value is set to 4.
- On the next page, you can set the memory size that need to be exclusively available for the partition.
- Set a value in the Assigned memory field and click Next.
Memory allocated to this partition cannot be dynamically altered while the server is running, but it can be changed later (if necessary) while the server is deactivated. In fact, most of the partition parameters can be changed at a later stage if necessary. See Part 3 - Further reading section for more details on this.
- Next, we need to set the amount of processors we want to use with our partition. Using dedicated processors generally gives a better, more stable performance for your virtual server than using shared processors. However, for obvious reasons, this value must be set based on the available resources. There is no difference in this tutorial if you choose shared over dedicated processors.
In this example, we have eight dedicated processors available, from which can use seven for our partition. After selecting the processing mode, click Next.
- On the Ethernet page, the attached Ethernet adapters are listed. Select your values and click Next.
Next, the Storage Type page is displayed. However, as we have not defined an exclusive storage area for this partition yet, we are unable to proceed with defining further parameters for our partition for the moment.
- At this point, older versions of the IVM software might not provide any storage type options here. In this case, you can proceed no further with setting the partition parameters. So, click Finish to create the partition definition. You should now be able to see your newly created partition on the partition overview page. Users experiencing this scenario should now proceed to step 1.2 - Creating the virtual storage space.
Users with newer IBM updated software would find the storage type options, and they can create a virtual disk from this page and continue. In this case, select the Create virtual disk option and then click Next.
- Enter your disk requirement and then click Next. In this example, we have chosen to create an 8 GB partition on the rootvg storage pool.
- Next, enter you Virtual Fiber Channel options. Click Add and then select your available virtual Fiber Channels from the drop-down lists. When ready to proceed, click Next.
- Under the Virtual Optical Devices section, click Create to create the vitual optical drive. Within this virtual optical drive, we will place our AIX ISO file to install AIX on our partition. Select your AIX ISO file from the and click OK. Repeat this process and add your second AIX ISO file. To add your ISO files to your IVM, refer to the 1.3 - Adding virtual installation discs to the virtual server section. This can be done without restarting the create partition process on the original IVM browser window. When you are ready to proceed, click Next.
- Finally, on the Summary page, review the options (and if necessary, click Back to return to a section where you need to alter your choices). If all the options are correct, click Finish to create your partition.
After completing these steps, proceed with the steps in the 1.3 - Adding virtual installation discs to the virtual server section.
1.2 – Creating the virtual storage space
You need to perform the following steps to create the virtual storage space.
- Click the View/Modify Virtual Storage link on the navigation bar.
- Next, click * Create Virtual Disk...
In the Create Virtual Disk dialog box, fill in your virtual storage information. Set the value in the Assigned partition field to that of your previously created server partition. (For this example, we will use the values shown in the following figure.) Then, click OK.
You should now see your newly created virtual storage in the overview window.
1.3 - Adding virtual installation discs to the virtual server
Before we continue, we need to upload the AIX .iso files to the Integrated Virtualization Manager. In this example, we install AIX v7.1, which comes on two discs. The first disc is the main installation disc, while the second disc contains extra optional add-on features and security options. These can be obtained from your IBM vendor both in physical and digital format.
For this example, we will be uploading the two-disc .iso files for AIX on to the LPAR.
- In the main Integrated Virtualization Manager window, click the View/Modify Virtual Storage link. On the right pane, click the Optical/Tape tab and expand all sections.
- Under the Virtual Optical Media section, note that thesize of the media library is displayed. The combined size of the two AIX .iso files is approximately just under 6 GB. So, make sure that the size of your media library is set to a high enough value. If required, click Extend Library and add the required size to your media library.
- After this is set, click Add Media.... The Add Media dialog box is displayed.
- Because the upload limit is set to 2 GB, the best option is to connect directly with your Integrated Virtualization Manager system and use FTP to send the AIX .iso files over to it. For this example, I have copied the AIX .iso files to the Integrated Virtualization Manager through FTP to the location: /home/padmin/.
- As the .iso files are now on the LPAR server, select Add existing file and enter the location and file name of the AIX .iso files. Then click OK. This step needs to be done twice, once for each of the AIX v7.1 .iso files, if needed.
Note that it can take a minute or two to load in the .iso files.
1.4 – Creating and configuring a virtual optical media drive
In order to install AIX, we need a way to load the AIX .iso files onto the virtual server.
So, we need to create a virtual optical media drive to load our .iso files. This is similar to loading a computer with an OS installation disc in the disc drive. It reads data from the disc drive upon startup and installs the OS software.
- To create this virtual optical disk drive, click the created partition from the partition overview page. This opens a new window with our created virtual server partition detail on it.
- Click the Optical/Tape Devices tab and expand the sections on the tab.
- Under the Virtual Optical Devices section, click Create Device. This creates the virtual optical drive for us to load our AIX .iso files. From the created device that is created when you click Create Device, click Modify under Current Media and set the value to be your AIX Disc 1 ISO. When done, click OK.
You should now be able to see your AIX ISO file loaded into your Virtual Optical Drives section (as shown in the following figure).
If you need to install elements from disc 2, come back here after AIX has been installed and change this value to your AIX disc 2 and restart the virtual server. The restart process will load up from the AIX disc 2 ISO on launch.
Part 2 – Installing AIX 7 on the virtual server
Now that we have the virtual server created and configured, and have the virtual optical media drive created and loaded with our AIX 7 Disc 1 ISO, it is time to install AIX v7 on our created server. However, without any OS yet on the partition, we cannot simply use Secure Shell (SSH) to connect to the server as we would with an installed OS. Instead, we connect to the Integrated Virtualization Manager server and create a virtual terminal to the partition ID specified in Part 1.
2.1 – Creating the virtual terminal
You need to perform the following steps to create a virtual terminal.
- First of all, connect to the Integrated Virtualization Manager through SSH or Remote Desktop Client. This depends on the OS of the server on which your Integrated Virtualization Manager is installed. For this example, we use SSH to connect to the Integrated Virtualization Manager.
- We want to connect to the partition ID we created in Part 1. To do this, from the Integrated Virtualization Manager SSH session, we use the mkvt command with the -id flag. So for our server example, we use:
mkvt -id 2
Nothing happens yet in the SSH session as our partition is still down. However, it is now listening for input from the partition. So, when we start it up, we can see this terminal populating with data.
- Next, return to the Integrated Virtualization Manager in your browser and start up your created partition.
- On the partitions overview page, select the check box corresponding to your partition and then click Activate.
- In the Activate Partitions dialog box, click OK.
- While your partition is starting, click the terminal you have created.
2.2 - Installing AIX 7.1
Perform the following steps to install AIX 7.1.
- After completing the steps in the previous section, a screen as shown in the following figure gets displayed.
Press 0 on your keyboard as prompted.
- After a short while, you would see the message shown in the following figure and you will know that the AIX 7 Installation Disc 1 ISO is being read:
Soon, the on-screen prompts appear and guide you through the rest of the setup.
You should install AIX v7.1 as per your requirement and allowances, based on the licence type you have attained from your IBM vendor (Express, Standard or Enterprise). The installation process can take upwards of an hour.
- As soon as this is complete, set the input to xterm (or a different choice if you so prefer) and accept the licence agreements.
To access the on-screen options, use the Esc key plus the corresponding number instead of the indicated Function keys (with the exception of the F10 key). For example, instead of pressing the F3 key to cancel an action, press Esc+3.
- Press Tab to change the value from no to yes and press Enter.
The COMMAND STATUS screen (as shown in the following figure) is displayed.
- Press F10 to continue.
- Next, accept the software maintenance terms and conditions.
- If necessary, press Tab to change the value from no to yes, and press Enter.
The COMMAND STATUS screen (as shown in the following figure) is displayed.
- Press F10 to continue.
- Next, complete the Installation Assistant options that are displayed.
- Select Tasks Completed – Exit to Login after configuring the options.
You have now successfully installed AIX v7.1 on your virtual server.
2.3 - Mandatory post-installation steps
For the steps in this section, it is necessary to shut down the AIX virtual server.
To do this, enter this command:
shutdown -F now
It is only necessary to complete the steps in this section
In order to reduce the number of times you need to restart, it is recommended to read section 2.4 Setting ulimit values before proceeding. Although it is not technically a mandatory step, it can prevent the need of an additional restart if you complete that step first.
- Removing virtual optical media drive
Similar to leaving a disc in a physical optical media drive at startup, leaving the AIX Disc ISO in the virtual optical media drive on the virtual server can cause startup and shutdown delay issues.
As a result, it is important to remove all .iso files from the virtual optical media drive after AIX has been successfully installed.
To do this, open the Partition Properties window by clicking the partition name in the Integrated Virtualization Manager browser under the View/Modifiy Partitions link. Click the Optical/Tape Devices tab and expand the Virtual Optical Devices section. Click the Modify link and change the value to None. Click OK to save the change. If you go back to this point later, you can view the Virtual Optical Devices section as shown in the following figure.
- Adding virtual Fibre Channels
If you plan to use a SAN storage network, you need to complete this step. Otherwise you can skip it.
Note: While you can skip it, in practice, it is recommended to complete this step anyway as it ensures easier future compatibility and upgrade-ability with your virtual server, without requiring to restart your server in the future.
On the partition overview page, click the partition you have created. This opens a new window with the partition details. Then click the Storage tab and expand the sections within the tab by clicking the small blue arrows (as shown in the following figure).
Under the Virtual Fibre Channel section, click Add and select a physical port.
If more physical ports are available, add those from the drop-down as well
Then click OK to save these changes.
- Allowing communication to and from the server
Though your AIX server is set up, it is likely that it is invisible to other computers on the network. Do not forget to configure your new virtual server in accordance with your network security protocols and compliancy checks. You can use the smitty tool to easily configure the server to your network parameters.
A good starting point is to use the mktcpip command. You can use this with the smitty tool to easily configure this command's arguments:
You can contact your network administrator if you are facing issues with connecting your virtual server to your network.
2.4 - Recommended post-installation steps
- Setting ulimit values
Enter the "ulimit -a" command (without the quotation marks) to see the current ulimit values at any time. Incorrect ulimit values can seriously undermine and affect performance. You can change these values by editing the limits file at /etc/security/limits.
Altering the values of /etc/security/limits requires a restart of the AIX server for the changes to take effect. As a result, to cut down on restarts needed, you should set this value first after initial configuration has been set.
- Updating your AIX server
It is recommended to download and update your AIX server with the latest fixes in order to maintain optimum compliance, security, and functionality within your OS.
You can update AIX using the command line, but it might be easier to use the smitty tool.
Smitty is a tool that is unique to AIX and allows easier access to operating system configurations, settings, and tools.
To upgrade the virtual server, first we must download the updates, and next, we must install them.
To download the updates, use the following command:
Then follow the on-screen prompts and options.
Once the updates have been downloaded, you can then install them with the following command, and by entering in the necessary information when prompted:
Part 3 – Further reading
You can change any of the partition properties at any stage in order to accommodate the changing nature of your virtual server. However, the server partition must be shut down in order to change any partition properties. This means that critical servers for which downtime cannot be tolerated me be thoroughly planned at the creation stage to avoid potential downtime at a later time.
To change any partition property, first shut down the AIX OS with the following command:
shutdown -F now
After it is down, the partition should also be deactivated within the Integrated Virtualization Manager browser. If not, select the partition check box and click Shutdown.
After completing the shutdown procedure, click the partition name to open the Partition Properties window.
From here, you can click any tab and alter the parameters. However, if you change any value within a tab, you need to click OK at the bottom before changing tabs, as otherwise, the change will not be saved. After making the changes, start the partition again. (Starting the partition will also start the OS.)
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