Running AIX 1.3 inside Virtual Box 5.2.16

IBM AIX has been around many years , actually its 32 years now. The latest version is AIX 7.2 and runs only on IBM ppc64 architecture. However around the end of the 1980s  a special port of AIX came out called AIX PS/2 or AIX386.

This short article will be about running this archaic version ( AIX PS/2 1.3) inside VirtualBox 5.2.16 (will work on all older releases too) on Linux x86_64 (will work on macOS and Windows too as long as you get VirtualBox running)

There is some information available still on the internet about AIX PS/2 1.3 for example here :

The last link contains all the needed floppy images (19 minimum) to get the base install done. Setup is lengthy and tricky (after-all this system is from early 90s and if you don’t get all the things right; very frustrating) So if you want to give it a try yourself, go ahead, its tons of fun. I will spare you the pain and time and provide the needed 2 boot floppy images and the VMDK image for your convenience

Download the AIX-1.3.tar.bz2 here!mpVnnSKJ!CM_bD6DLetRnAra6lUbGQAiMwKz827EKbFUZTeqzuq8

If you want the Floppy IMG set you can get it here  (Correct SCSI images)  Boot_Disk1_0024.img


(Remove the .doc extension afterwards)

Once you download the compressed tarball, decompress and extract and place in some working directory for VirtualBox files. Please note that AIX-1.3.vmdk is identical to aix.vmdk. Its there only as a backup in case we mess up.

user@panasonic ~/Downloads/AIX $ ls -la
total 32680
drwxr-xr-x  2 user user     4096 Sep 14 21:43 .
drwxr-xr-x 18 user user     4096 Sep 14 21:43 ..
-rw-rw-r--  1 user user 33453495 Sep 14 21:43 AIX-1.3.tar.bz2
user@panasonic ~/Downloads/AIX $ bunzip2 AIX-1.3.tar.bz2 
user@panasonic ~/Downloads/AIX $ tar -xvf AIX-1.3.tar 
user@panasonic ~/Downloads/AIX $

We will prepare a new VirtualBox Guest called AIX and configure with the custom drive (aix.vmdk) as PS/2 other target with 32 MB RAM as follws:

Choose floppy1.img as your boot-disk and boot the Guest

Choose Boot from Diskette (the aix.vmdk does not have MBR so you will always need to use the 2 floppies to boot it)

Select unix.gen (default) module to load, System mode: Multi User (press space to choose) and Run system from hard disk : Yes (press space to choose it)

You will be asked to insert 2nd boot disk, so swap to floppy2.img and press enter.

Now you can login as root, the password is password.

As noted by Supratim Sanyal you can even run a graphical X11 environment by typing

# xinit

And later once in the X11 environment you can execute xdt (IBM Graphical Desktop)

Here is a short video of the above

Also here are some test runs on booting AIX 7.1 and 7.2 in Qemu 3.0.50 on x86_64



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34 Responses to Running AIX 1.3 inside Virtual Box 5.2.16

  1. Trying this asap. Thanks. and more thanks for the DOOM music for the video!

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  3. Franck says:

    installation stop at the message: 900-60 Available User memory: 3309 pages…

    • astr0baby says:

      You should not install anything, please read the article carefully. The two floppies are used only to load the kernel and the AIX installed on the vbox image provided.

  4. Franck says:

    Tks for your answer. It’s working better with the AIX-1.3.vmdk file..

  5. Jinny says:

    Can you send AIX 7.2 image to me?
    I try to study AIX but, I can’t any image for AIX. -.-;;

  6. Jeremiah Molitor says:

    The link for the vmdk images takes me to the download service, however, pressing the download button on that page (at least for me) results in a 502 bad gateway error. Do you know any ways to fix this?

  7. bbslovag says:

    retrohun was here. ATE and virtual serial port worth a try!

    • astr0baby says:

      Üdvözlet a hunok nagy retro vezetőjének

      • bbslovag says:

        assert vezető == conducator # ??
        feel free to convert to markdown the aixps2 description I’ve made ~decade ago.
        Beyond the documented steps I tried configuring slip successfully then, but it was a hell, needed a qemu gateway with serialtcp interface and the usual slip-ethernet bridging guest stuff together with other vudu magic.

      • astr0baby says:

        Nem tudom Magyarom … I have used a translator ( Wanted to say – Greeting to the greatest chief of Huns)

  8. retrohun says:

    Do not forget mentioning that (Criveti) Mihai performed a successful installation allegedly, AFAIK I saw a screenshot posted by him containing a virtualbox window with aix inside

      • bbslovag says:

        Somewhere in an other Q&A site, the owner of posted a virtualbox screenshot running aixps2 as a guest, 99% sure it was him, ‘coz cmihai or similar nickname had been used. This motivated me to try out my archived bochs vm harddisk images to run them in virtualbox. Ran flawlessly, at least! :)

  9. Sfen Stevens says:

    I only see the vmdk file on Mega. Do you have a working link for the floppy images?

  10. devilsadvocate0771 says:

    Hi, thanks for going to the effort on this. When continuing the boot process with the 2nd floppy I’m getting an “INVALID ADDRESS f038d454” and what appears to be a kernel panic, before it reboots and wants the first floppy again. Any ideas? Settings are all the same from what I can tell; occurs in both VBox 5.x as well as 6.x, Windows or Linux host. Permissions are WFO for the floppies as well as the VMDK image.

  11. retrohun says:

    A PCI ethernet card is supported, ported from other free unix derivative:
    Can’t wait for a recent and fast sshd!

  12. Mekenis Gold says:

    If you apply the PTF0024 patches and use a boot manager you don’t have to use the floppies to boot AIX. After installing the boot manager you just need to add the AIX boot partition (Partition type #8) so it will appear on the boot menu during startup.

    I’ve also installed this under Bochs for Windows but just couldn’t install the whole distribution since the largest capacity that AIX 1.3 seems to accept was 504MB. If you try to go over this limit you’ll end up with all sorts of error messages. I’ve also tried using an IBM Disk Manager to overcome this BIOS limitation but the DM doesn’t support booting AIX floppies but it does boot DOS.

    I was able to install DOS Merge but was unable to create the virtual DOS partition even after re-allocating the free space using the minidisks command. So even if I choose to boot from DOS while in the AIX Boot menu it doesn’t work. Did you encounter these problems as well? Would be interested in how to get the AMD PCnet driver from github to work. I reckon you might have to compile the driver first before installing it.

  13. Rajendra says:

    Thanks a lot for providing the source for us to install the OS.

    I am stuck at second disk
    it is loading and has stopped at
    900-600 Available User memory : 3309 pages (0xced000) bytes
    and it is not moving at all.

    can you please help me out here.

    I’am not able to paste the screen

    • astr0baby says:

      Are you sure you have the proper disks ? Just tested the setup on my VirtualBox 6.1.16 and it all loads fine
      Do not forget to hit enter when you swap to the second disk during boot

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  15. Jonathan Pho says:

    I can confirm that the AIX Virtual box image does work with the latest VirtualBox (6.1.22). It is a little slow when it starts out (it shows the “IBM AIX PS/2 Version 1.3.0” for about a minute or more but it appears to work. However, I cannot get the graphical X11 environment to work. Executing the xinit command gives me a gray box.

  16. Jonathan says:

    I git cloned it. How do I apply the i8259 patch to it?

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