[TUHS] Amdahl UTS, AIX/370, AIX/ESA
ron at ronnatalie.com
Wed Nov 6 02:21:10 AEST 2019
One of my first jobs I did for the company that I ended up working for decades was a job for IBM FSD to put a second ethernet interface in to “secure XENIX” (a MLS system) to allow the system to be used for downgrading classified material. This gave us an in with IBM FSD and this led to us doing work with an IBM on a pair of microchannel i860 coprocessor cards called the Wizard and the W4. We ported AIX to both of them. The cards ran inside of another AIX PS/2 system so the TCF was really handy in allowing apps that only had 386 versions to run, the ability to maintain a common file system, and to share peripherals. Indeed, I think the major reason IBM used the TCF concept is it gave the 370 version of the thing an easy way to interoperate with user’s on the PS/2’s. 3270’s and other terminals designed for the mainframe really weren’t suited for UNIX.
The initial Wizard card had no I/O other than the host PS/2. It was really more or less an academic experiment (the cards were also buggy). Two amusing things however came out of that port. The AIX for the PS/2 had this thing to multiplex the normal VGA display (outside of X) called the “High Function Terminal.” Our i860 version was less capable so it was denoted the “Low Function Terminal.” The other was that I hacked the -mm macro package to mimic the style of the IBM manuals so we could write “IBM-ish” documentation.
The W4 card was interesting. It had 4 i860 processors along with it’s own framebuffer. One of my employees spent a lot of time of in Owego fixing the memory system (the whole thing was set up with these Xilinx PGAs that were easy to update in the field). Amusingly, the machine-specific parts of the W4 version of the AIX kernel had more in common with the 370 version than the i386 version. I spent weeks out at the IBM Palo Alto Science Center doing work on this project. I had managed to inadvertantly shutdown the main AIX/370 in the cluster (such is a problem when things get too transparent). Of course, while I had experience using VM/CMS before (both at the University of Maryalnd and at Rutgers), I’d never really much dealt with the operations side of the 370. But I found my way to a 3270 and typed “ipl aix” with at the command line with extreme optimism, but that was indeed all it took.
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