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SMIT is an AIX administrators friend

Every UNIX flavor has something (or many things) which differentiates it from other distributions. AIX is no exception to the rule thanks to the System Management Interface Tool (SMIT).  As a former UNIX admin I couldn’t understand why you would want/need a GUI for UNIX. However I have learned to not only understand but utilize SMIT more every day.

The tip that has helped me the most is to show what commands SMIT is actually doing. When you run a command in SMIT hit F6 and the command will be display for you. This is helpful for commands that are different from standard UNIX commands. Here is a sample command from the SMIT option “List All Supported Printers/Plotters”:

                 lsdev -P -c printer -F “type subclass description” | sort –u

It is true that lsdev is not specific to AIX. However for admin’s who spend very little time in UNIX it is useful to see how SMIT performs the command if you want to replicate it at the command line. To continue with the printer example here is the command for SMIT’s “List All Print Queues”:

                function is_ext {

                                   if [[ -x /usr/lib/lpd/pio/etc/piolsvp ]]


                                           /usr/lib/lpd/pio/etc/piolsvp -p 2>/dev/null




                   }; is_ext

As you can see it is much easier to run this from SMIT than from the command line. True you can make a script to do the same. But how often are all of the functions available in SMIT performed? SMIT was created for easy administrator. Being a UNIX guru is not necessary for basic system administration.

Another example would be LPP, the package manager utilized in AIX. It is likely you will have to use LPP at least once. Installation of packages via LPP is pretty straightforward. For example the command for “Show Software Installation History” is:

                lslpp -h all

However SMIT contains some other possibly useful options. One of those options is “List Applied but Not Committed Software Updates”:

                installp -s 1>/tmp/_$$.out 2>/tmp/_$$.err ; cat /tmp/_$$.err /tmp/_$$.out ; rm -rf /tmp/_$$.out /tmp/_$$.err

I had used the above command and it helped me discover a problem I was having.

When I first started using SMIT it was to go in and get the F6 command for what I wanted. I would then go to the command line and do what I needed. I have a nice little list of command showing me how to do things that I would reference. Then it occurred to me… Why am I doing this?  The whole point of SMIT is that administrators do not have to remember all of these commands.

Does SMIT replace all functions of UNIX administration? Not even close. It does however speed the administration process for those who are not full time UNIX administrators. It can also be essential for UNIX administrators who think they know how to do things. There are certain commands that if done at the CLI will not update the Object Data Manager (ODM). ODM is where AIX keeps system and device configurations, similar to the windows registry.

Categories: UNIX
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