I'm being considered for a new Linux Server Engineer position, but I'm told by an insider that there is a little Solaris and AIX in-house.

I spend most of my time in the Debian Family, have some familiarity with the RedHat family and a few others (Slackware, etc). I don't get too wound up on the differences (for me it's akin to the different Windshield Wipers and Cruise Control buttons in different cars), but I have little experience with Solaris none with AIX.

I would like to know:

  • Are there assumptions or conventions diverge in these commercial offerings from Linux?
  • Is there a "Solaris Way" or an "AIX Way"?
  • Are the Package Managers relatively comparable to apt or yum?
  • Note to Mods: I would prefer that this stay on SF than be migrated to Linux/Unix community. If it gets poor traction, I'll ask to migrate or re-ask the question there.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 14:32
  • Why do you prefer it to stay here? IMHO it'll be much more well-answered over on unix.se.
    – EEAA
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 14:34
  • I'm not opposed to it moving if it doesn't get any love, but I'd rather see what comes out of this community. I know more people Eye-Are-Ell who spend most of their time on SF, but seldom roam the Unix/Linux site.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 15:25
  • U&L really is the best place for this
    – user591
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:48

4 Answers 4


I think you need to familiarize yourself with the Rosetta Stone. Back in the day, when I needed to interact with other Unices (often in extracting data to migrate to Linux), I'd use the guide to try to find equivalent commands or as a starting point to locating the right files to do my job. There are more than enough differences to keep you on your toes. Don't make assumptions and expect less-friendly commands/switches/usage than the GNU utilities you're used to in Linux.

  • I was already expecting the need to read man-pages and test on each platform for each tool in the chain, but thank you.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:15
  • 1
    Note to self: write a cooler Rosetta Stone webapp
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:16
  • But it's very useful...
    – ewwhite
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:19
  • 1
    Yes, select the OS types you care to compare in the upper-lefthand corner, then click "Draw Table".
    – ewwhite
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:30
  • 1
    Some of the info is out of date. For example, IBM uses modern POWER processors, not RS/6000, for its Unix systems.
    – mfinni
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:39

I can only speak for AIX. Yes absolutely, there is an AIX way. You'll probably have most of the userland tools you're used to, but they'll be out of date, out of the box. For messing around with hardware, volumes, the kernel, user and group management, you're going to be looking at things like SMIT. Software installs are done using lpp. Also, depending on your type of hardware, you could be messing with the Hardware Management Console. Virtualizing is done with LPARs, which can now be dynamic and/or micro.

Learn to love reading IBM RedBooks, too.

See also : https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1754603/aix-vs-unix-commands

Think of it as Unix, with a healthy amount of crossbreeding from the mainframe and AS/400 world - because that's exactly what it is.

  • Thank you. That is very helpful. I lol'd at "out of date, out of the box"!
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:13
  • I edited the answer, couple more details.
    – mfinni
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 16:35

With Solaris, many things are the same but different enough that it's painful. It's much easier to go from Solaris to Linux than the other way around.

Things that you expect to work don't because the Solaris version of a tool doesn't for example support character classes although the /usr/xpg4/bin variant might.

The command line arguments on everyday tools like ps are different or missing. Utilities that you just expect to have like top aren't installed by default.

  • Thank you. I distinctly remember hearing friends grumble in the background when troubleshooting scripts on Solaris for the last reason.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 17:51

I think you'll be ok. I was a Linux guy that ended up in a Solaris shop. Initially a thorn for the Sun guys, I'm now a Solaris die-hard fan. Currently in the middle of supporting a contract to migrate from v10 to v11. It's astounding the features that were added. Wish I could have used some of them years ago.

You may also find Joerg's lesser known Solaris features (LKSF) book a useful source of information: http://www.c0t0d0s0.org/pages/lksfbook.html He's also the author of a few Solaris 11 cheat sheets that Oracle puts out.

Best of luck in your new venture. Have fun playing with different OSes.

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