Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of Power Systems, and this posting is just meant as constructive criticism to make a great platform even better. Here are 6 things in my opinion IBM could do to improve AIX and Power Systems.
But first, let me mention a couple of things that in my opinion they have recently done right. #1 - including OpenSSH in the AIX 7.1 base media. And #2 - Including nmon by default in all recent versions of AIX. Thank you for now including both of these, they are both great tools that every AIX machine should have and it makes everyone's job easier to have these tools bundled with AIX and easily updated when AIX is updated. And #3 - Releasing NMON for Linux under the GPL; very cool!
On to the list of things in my opinion IBM could to to improve AIX and Power Systems:
#1 Ditch the HMC restricted shell
The HMC has so much potential to enable administrators to automate tasks and improve systems. However in its current state it is purposely crippled by IBM which severely limits its usefulness. There are so many tasks that could be scripted and automated from the HMC if it wasn't locked down. I am aware that you can setup SSH keys and script items from another machine, but this has several issues. It is extremely slow and inefficient if you write a script that needs to make many queries, it adds complexity by requiring another server and the network to be in the mix, and some things are just not practical/possible to script over a SSH connection (i.e. look at the HMC lpar_netboot and vtmenu scripts). It isn't even possible to add a command alias to the .bashrc for something like this. IBM should unlock the HMC and just tell people that if they install 3rd party software on it that they are on their own. Part of enabling a "Smarter Planet" should be delivering products that allow us to get the most out of the system, not purposely limiting what we can do.
#2 Update and maintain the IBM AIX Toolbox for Linux Applications
The IBM AIX Toolbox for Linux Applications was such a great idea. There are so many great open source applications out there and to have them easily installable on AIX is awesome. However, most of the applications in the Toolbox haven't been updated for many years. So in its current state most of these applications are old and riddled with bugs and known security vulnerabilities. Michael Perzl has done a great job of compiling open source applications for AIX and making them available at http://www.perzl.org/aix/ However in a corporate environment it is much easier to get approval to install a utility that was packaged by IBM and delivered on a DVD with the system. Please IBM - update and maintain the IBM AIX Toolbox for Linux Applications.
#3 Add tab filename completion and arrow key history to the AIX Korn Shell
The title says it all. This
functionality would make the AIX Korn Shell easier to use, and make
new users feel more comfortable. I know you can install bash to get
this functionality, but installing another 3rd party shell isn't
always an option depending on the environment. Other UNIX-Like systems such as OpenBSD use the Korn Shell as their default shell and support tab filename completion and arrow key history.
#4 Drop the VIO command name / syntax differences
VIO servers have different command names and different command syntax for many commands. This causes confusion and makes using VIO frustrating and difficult. For example, the AIX "cfgmgr" command is "cfgdev" in VIO. From what I have heard this was done so that IBM could more easily swap out the underlying OS of VIO from AIX to something like Linux. But whether the command is "cfgmgr" or "cfgdev" you could still swap out the underlying OS to Linux. Please end the insanity and make VIO commands and syntax as similar to AIX as possible.
#5 Support VIO servers as Virtual SCSI clients
Currently the HMC prevents users from setting up VIO servers as Virtual SCSI clients of other VIO servers. This functionality would be extremely useful for providing Virtual Optical access between VIO servers. I recently discovered that you can get this to work by adding the adapters from the HMC command line. It would be great if IBM supported Virtual Optical between VIO servers and supported this from the HMC GUI interface.
#6 Open source NIMOL
NIMOL (NIM on Linux) was a great idea and cool utility. However, it was integrated very closely to older versions of Linux and it is no longer possible to get NIMOL to work on a modern version of Linux such as RHEL 6. NIMOL is just several shell scripts, and it would be very helpful if IBM licensed these scripts under the GPL so that the community could help improve them and modify them to work with newer versions of Linux. This would also enable people to package/bundle NIMOL with a version of Linux so it would be easier to distribute and setup/use.
Agree with me on any of these? Disagree with me? Have other ideas? Post a comment and let me know.