Introducing Mr. smit
If you've ever had to do any administration on an AIX system, you'll be familiar with the command smit. It stands for the Systems Management Interface Tool and gives menu-driven access to most key tasks to do with AIX system administration. We write about SMIT (in uppercase), but when you run the command, use smit (in lower case). The menu interface appears to have undergone very little change over various releases of AIX.
Other AIX admin interfaces
In this post, we're going to focus on SMIT. If you're interested in other interfaces for system management on AIX, take a look at the Wiki movie on the IBM Director pconsole (movie 13). There is also Web-SM, the Web-based System Manager.
What's the difference between smit and smitty?
If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked that question ...
In the days of graphic monitors, and when X-Windows was more in vogue, running smit would give you a mouse-driven interface which showed a man running while the command was in progress. If the command succeeded, he raised his hands in a victory cheer. If it failed, he keeled over, which was fun to watch for the first few times. Apart from the athletic Mr. smit, the graphical interface was not always popular. To guarantee the ASCII version, you ran smitty.
Although you're undoubtedly familiar with using smit (or smitty), it's worth revising just a few shortcuts which are sometimes neglected. For a more detailed explanation, you can't go past the developerWorks article Introducing SMIT.
You can scroll down a page using Control-V (that's holding down the Ctrl key and pressing v). To scroll up a page, Esc-V. These can be handy in menus or dialog screens with lots of options and for commands which generate hundreds of lines of output. These page navigation shortcuts can also be used in utilities based on SMIT such as diag.
F6 - Under the covers
When you get to the end of the menus, right down to the command you are about to run, you can view the command using F6 (or Esc-6). That's a great way of looking under the covers. It will often display a short script, which may give you some ideas for your own scripting work.
F10 - Quick escape
New users don't always realise that to exit SMIT you don't have to back out through each menu using F3 (or Esc-3). You can just use F10 (or Esc-0) to return to the shell after you're finished in SMIT.
F9 - The shell pit stop
One of my favourite SMIT shortcuts is the escape to shell using F9 (or Esc-9). That allows you to drop out of SMIT temporarily to run a shell command, and then type exit to return to exactly where you were in SMIT.
The SMIT fastpath allows you to make a quick entry into a SMIT screen without having to drill down through all the parent menus. Here are some examples of this:
- smitty tcpip
Once you're inside SMIT you can view the fastpath using F8
(or Esc-8). The only drawback is that you have to exit
at the point you entered - you can't return to one of the parent
menus of the entry point.
SMIT gives complete logging in a file in the $HOME directory. It produces smit.log which provides a full history of your activity in SMIT, ever since the last time the smit.log got cleaned up. It also has a list of the commands you ran in smit.script. That can be a big help in your own scripting work, or to run the same command across several AIX systems. You might consider doing this using DSH.
smitty, an old friend
Even if you don't get deeply into the nuts and bolts of AIX, smitty is an old friend who can save you lots of time and heartache in system administration.