IBM PowerPC ThinkPad - AIX 4.3+ Situation

1998-07-08 A number of people have been talking about the possibility of putting AIX 4.3.x on the AIX ThinkPads.  As of the latest version (4.3.1) there is still no support for any of the ThinkPad models.  More precisely, there is no support for X11 on these models.  And there is no word on any support in the future.

A couple of people have reported running 4.3.x in non-X mode -- ie: command line only by installing the 4.2 LFT drivers over top.

Some others have reported success installing 4.3.x and then installing the 4.2.1 X11R5 overtop.  Supposedly this works but breaks the X11 interface to SMIT and UMS.

So it looks like 820 & 850 owners are stuck with 4.1 or 4.2 and 860 owners are stuck with 4.1.

(obsoleted 2003-06-13)   I urge every ThinkPad owner to contact their IBM representative and discuss the issue and encourage the development of a 4.3.x display driver for ThinkPads.  In the grand scheme of things, this is not a unreasonable or even difficult request.  External pressure from users, especially ones with service contracts, does make an impact on decisions at IBM. 

1998-08-29 (obsoleted 2003-06-13)   As a side note, I urge all ThinkPad owners to upgrade to the latest supported version of AIX.  On the 850 that is AIX 4.2.1.  On the 860 I think it is 4.1.5.  The upgrade cost is reasonable (around $200 Canadian$ in Canada for the 4.2 upgrade) and it provides many new features and benefits over 4.1.3.  Just call your RS/6000 sales representative or IBM Direct.  It also makes the case stronger for adding 4.3 support for ThinkPads. 

1998-08-29 It is probably possible to install many 4.3.x filesets onto a ThinkPad whilst leaving the BOS and X11 at 4.1 or 4.2.  For instance one could install the HTML-based system documentation from 4.3 to replace InfoExplorer.

2003-06-13 It has been reported to me (thanks Stefan Tibus!) that AIX 5.1 will run, but only using serial console access -- no onboard video text-mode console or X. You can then install some AIX 4.1.5 filesets but their correct functioning is not guaranteed.

2003-06-13 I still have not heard any reports of success getting X running on anything higher than 4.2, and many people have tried! If someone ever gets a newer hacked loadddx file for 4.3+ or finds some other way of running X on AIX > 4.2 then please let me know.
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