OK, its official. The AIX 7 Open Beta is now available for testing!

An overview of the program is available here:


Essentially this program is designed to give IBM customers, ISVs and IBM BPs the opportunity to gain early experience with the latest release of AIX prior to general availability. This is a great time to join forces and help IBM mould the next generation of the AIX OS.

I got involved in the AIX 6 Open Beta back in 2007. It was a worthwhile experience. The time I spent learning new features like WPARs and RBAC, put me in a good position when it came time to actually implement these outside of my lab environment. It was also a good opportunity to provide feedback to the IBM AIX development community. Several AIX developers monitored the comments/questions in the Beta Forum and provided advice (and sometimes fixes) for known (and unknown!) issues with the beta release. It also provided the developers with plenty of real world feedback that they could take back to the labs, long before the product was officially released. This certainly helped fix bugs and improve certain enhancements before customers starting using the OS in their computing environments.

The AIX 7 beta code is available for download from here:


The user forum, where you can provide feedback and ask questions, is here:


I recommend you download the documentation and start by reading the Getting Started guide. The documentation is available here:


The Getting Started guide provides useful information that you will need to know before attempting to install the OS. For example, the beta code will run on any IBM System p, eServer pSeries or POWER system that is based on PPC970, POWER4, POWER5, POWER6 or POWER7 processors.

The guide also describes what new functionality has been included in this release of the beta. If this program is anything like the AIX 6 beta, there may be more than one release of the code, with further enhancements available in each release. The new function in this release includes:

A. AIX 5.2 Workload Partitions for AIX 7.

B. Removal of WPAR local storage device restrictions.

C. Domain support in Role Based Access Control (RBAC).

D. Etherchannel enhancements across stacked switches in IEEE 802.3ad mode.

E. NIM thin server support for IPv6 and NFSv4.

Im interested in testing A, B and D. Heres why.

A. AIX 5.2 Workload Partitions for AIX 7.

AIX 5.2 Workload Partitions for AIX 7 provides the capability to create a WPAR running AIX 5.2 TL10 SP8. This allows a migration path for an AIX 5.2 system running on old hardware to move to POWER7. All that is required is to create a mksysb image of the AIX 5.2 system and then provide this image when creating the WPAR. The WPAR must be created on a system running AIX 7 on POWER7 hardware. This is a very interesting feature, one that I am eager to test.

B. Removal of WPAR local storage device restrictions.

AIX 7 will allow for exporting a virtual or physical fibre channel adapter to a WPAR. The WPAR will essentially own the physical adapter and its child devices. This will allow for SAN storage devices to be directly assigned to the WPAR's FC adapter(s). This means it will not be necessary to provision the storage in the Global environment first and then export it to the WPAR. This is also interesting as we may now be able to assign SAN disk to a WPAR for both rootvg and data volume groups. Maybe even FC tape devices within a WPAR will work?

D. Etherchannel enhancements in 802.3ad mode.

There are some enhancements to AIX 7 EtherChannel support for 802.3AD mode. The enhancement makes sure that the link is LACP ready before sending data packets. If Im interpreting this correctly, this will ensure that the aggregated link is configured appropriately. If its not, it will provide an error in the AIX errpt stating that the link is not configured correctly. This can help avoid situations where the AIX EtherChannel is configured but the Network Switch is not. At present there is very little an AIX administrator can do as the link will appear to be functioning even if the Switch end has not been configured for an aggregated link.

And the most important point in the Getting Started guide has to be, how to install the AIX beta code! An ISO image of the code is provided for download. The installation steps are straightforward as the image can be installed via a DVD device. Using a media repository on a VIO server could be one way to accomplish this task. Unfortunately, there is no mention of NIM install support yet. Here are the basic steps from the guide:

Installing the AIX Open Beta Driver

The AIX 7 Open Beta driver is delivered by restoring a system backup (mksysb) of the code downloaded via DVD ISO image from the AIX Open Beta web-site.

Once you have downloaded and created the AIX 7 Open Beta media (as described above) follow the following steps to install the mksysb.

1. Put the DVD of the AIX Open Beta in the DVD drive. A series of screens/menus will be displayed. Follow the instruction on the screens and make the following selections:

Type 1 and press Enter to have English during install.

Type 1 to continue with the install.

Type 1 to Start Install Now with Default Setting.

2. The system will start installing the AIX 7.0 BETA.

3. Upon completion of the install, the system will reboot. You can then login as root, no password is required.

Next I recommend that you take a look at the Release Notes. It provides a few bits of information that may come in handy when planning for the install, such as:

The Open Beta code is being delivered via an mksysb install image. Migration installation is not supported with the open beta driver.

The open beta driver does not support IBM Systems Director Agent.

When installing in a disk smaller than 15.36 GB, the following warning is displayed: A disk of size 15360 was specified in the bosinst.data file, but there is not a disk of at least that size on the system. You can safely ignore this warning.

The image is known to install without issues on an 8 GB disk.

oslevel output shows V7BETA.

By the way, if you are unable to find a spare system or LPAR on which to install the beta, perhaps you can consider using the IBM Virtual Loaner Program (VLP). They are planning to support LPARs running the AIX 7 Open Beta starting from July 17th. I use the VLP all the time and found it be a fantastic way to try new things without the need for, or expense of, my own IBM POWER system. There are some drawbacks, such as not having access to your own dedicated hardware, HMC, VIO server, NIM master, but still its great if you just want to test something on an AIX system.

Ill report back once Ive got my AIX 7 Open Beta system up and running!