AIX and Solaris courses for experienced Linux admin?
March 1, 2007 1:10 AM   Subscribe

Years of Linux experience, but looking for training on Solaris and AIX without having to relearn the basics

I've been working with Linux professionally for about 10 years as a system administrator, but have recently taken a position where I'll be administering Solaris and AIX boxes as well. I've worked with other UNIXes in the past (BSD, Mach, SunOS/Solaris, AIX, IRIX, SCO, others) but only at a basic level and feeling my way around things such as package management, installation, and other topics that vary from OS to OS.

I've been offered paid training classes, but most of the courses I've found so far start at the basics, which are pretty similar between all UNIXes. Anyone out there know a vendor that's offering a Solaris or AIX course that won't require me to relearn the parts I already know well?
posted by tkolstee to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Years back, I took some of the Sun training classes to get prepared for their Java and Solaris certification exams.

I would recommend the Sun classes, which provide both in-person training and big, thick reference books for you to take notes in and keep.

The course material is not generic UNIX stuff, but rather the specialized commands you will use to manage Solaris systems and disk/network resources.

They are expensive, but if your employer is paying for them, I definitely recommend it as they get you up to speed on Solaris specifics. (They are also excellent preparation for the certification exams.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:31 AM on March 1, 2007

Here is a sun guide on transitioning from Linux to Solaris. Otherwise my biased opinion (former Sun employee) would agree with BP. Sun used to offer Solaris for Linux Administrators as a course, but appear to have discontinued it in favor of a mixed background course (See Here) that should cover things in general, and this course will cover all the Solaris specific stuff like Dtrace and Zones.
The Rosetta Stone can help a lot as well, as you probably know.
posted by arruns at 4:01 AM on March 1, 2007

Linux->Solaris isn't hard. There some dialect issues, but the biggest issue will be the mindset. People who are paying to play with Solaris don't tolerate sloppy sysadmins.

Linux ->AIX, that's a different ballgame. AIX is Unix with a New Jersey Accent, and everything you know is wrong. You can edit everything in /etc, and the box runs great. Reboot, and it's all gone, because you do all the setups in SMIT. (hint, alias smit smitty -- the X version sucks large rocks.)

"When in doubt, use smit" is a law of AIX.

You'll run df and see /usr at 97% full. This is *normal*. home directories don't live on usr, only software installs, with LVM, you can extend partitions at will. So, if you install a package using SMIT, and there isn't enough disk in /usr, it'll add PP (Physical partitions) until /usr is big enough, then install the package.

And so on. You have the ODM, the Object Data Manager, this is where configurations live. You have the LVM, the Logical Volume Manager, which is very, very power, and quite slick, but takes a very different mindset than Linux or Windows admins are used to. If you've worked with SANs, though, you'll get the idea -- LVM, in some ways, makes a SAN out of a single disk. Disks have, from most abstracted to least, VG, LP, LV, PP, and PV -- Volume Groups, Logical Partition, Logical Volumes, Physical Partitions and Physical Volumes. The mapping would drive you nuts if you had to worry about it. The big kickers are you can't easily shrink filesystems, and you *cannot* cross VGs with LVs, which is why well maintained AIX boxen have filesystems that look almost full. A magic VG is rootvg, this vg has / (obviously).

Instead of rc, you have src. Instead of dump, you have mksysb, which rocks -- you can run mksysb to tape, and you get a bootable tape with a complete image of rootvg. Boot off of it, and you can restore the disk

And so on. AIX is very clever, and very powerful, but at the same time, it is very non-unixy, so BSD or SysV habits won't help. Study carefully, and don't assume that it's wrong because it looks wrong to you.
posted by eriko at 4:48 AM on March 1, 2007

The armadillo book, Essential System Administration, has a good overview of the differences between different *nix. I would agree with eriko, Solaris will seem pretty comfortable to you and AIX will seem like a strange alien world. And I would second the advice to use "smit" or "smitty" which is a very handy tool. One nice thing about the GUI version of smit is that you can set up an operation and then tell it to give you the commandline that it actually running. So you can then just paste that into a script and run it automatically the next time.

Oh, and stay away from HPUX, that way lies madness.
posted by octothorpe at 6:28 AM on March 1, 2007

While not exactly a course, this book is a great reference point: SOLARIS (operating environment) Boot Camp It focuses mostly on Solaris 8 and 9, but there are some major differences between 8 and 9 (and 10). Notably Solaris Zones, major use of ZFS, and the whole Service Management Facility (SMF) which essentially replaces the old /etc/init.d architecture.

Just some stuff to look out for. I have no experience with AIX, but the old sysadmin who used to run our mail system here ran it on AIX, and he says avoid it like the plague!! But then again, if you have experience with it, you can fill a very small and well paying niche. *shrug*
posted by mrzer0 at 10:49 AM on March 1, 2007

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