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HP-UX Administration


Enterprise Unix System Administration

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HP-UX got a second life after it was ported to Itanium (HP Integrity systems).  As of 2009 the Itanium CPUs are almost exclusively used by servers made by HP, which have over 95% of the Itanium server market share. Microsoft and Red Hat bailed out of support of Itanium, so HP-UX is the only game in town for those CPUs.

Intel still crank new models of Itanium, although it is clear that the CPU has difficulties competing with 64-bit Intel-based CPU. You might call it a fiasco.

The latest as of November 2010 Intel released its series 9300 CPU which supports DDR3 memory. Price/performance ratio is low in comparison with X86-64 CPUs and even with Sun/Oracle T3.  As the CPU can't compete on SPECCPU benchmark it has almost zero advantages in corporate environment and it is mostly  inertia that keeps Itanium servers and blades from fading into background. 

On the plus side Itanium has a very good floating point performance and that means that HP-UX can run such applications more efficiently  then competition. The problem is that there are no such applications for Itanium.

HP-UX traditionally have good disk managing capabilities and is often used for databases.  Oracle tried to bail out of support of Itanium, but HP took Oracle to court and won.  Still Oracle decision did a tremendous hit to the morale of HP-UX proponents.  And this drop of morale did not recover fully even after court win.

There are many highly qualified HP-UX administrators (especially "old guard", as it does not attract people younger then 40 ;-) and strong user forums (IT Resource Center forums) where you can find valuable advice on various aspects of HP-UX, althouth your mileage can vary. 

In some respects HP-UX is probably the most archaic Unix on the market. For example, as of version 11.31 it still does not have /proc subsystem. Location of many configuration files is non-standard, but in many cases this deficiency can be corrected by using symlinks. Command set is quite idiosyncratic, and here HP competes head-to-head with IBM, which has no less idiosyncratic AIX. At least HP did  not go as far as to rename useradd and groupadd commands ;-).

Default settings are pretty archaic, if not bizarre for XXI century. Some of them ( kill  as @) were not updated for 15 years or more. And for some strange reason they interfere with scripting in Perl. For example, there is a problem with @ character in HP-UX that goes beyond simple inconvenience.

For example, try the following Perl script in HP-UX  11.11 with "stock", supplied by OS, version of Perl:

$DF='/bin/bdf -l';
$list='[email protected]';
`stty kill "^U" && $DF | $MAIL -s "Test of @ problem" $list > /tmp/chk_bizarre_results.txt`;

Here is a relevant quote from HP-UX FAQ, but it does not solve this particular problem:

Subject: 8.14  Why can't I type an '@' character?

If you do a 'stty -a' and you will see that your 'kill' character is set to '@'.  You need to set your 'kill' character to be something other than the '@' character by doing something like 'stty kill '^U''. You should add this to your .profile or .cshrc file.

Location of many system files is strange. For example, instead of /etc/init.d is location /sbin/init.d is used.  Thanks God /etc/initd.conf is in normal place, but TCP wrappers are not installed (they are available as a download from HP (see TCP Wrappers)

To make ftp, telnet, and login services use TCP_wrapper you need to modify lines in the /etc/inetd.conf file that are related to daemon you wish to protect. For example:

ftp stream tcp nowait root /usr/sbin/in.ftpd in.ftpd 
telnet stream tcp nowait root /usr/sbin/in.telnetd in.telnetd 
login stream tcp nowait root /usr/sbin/in.telnetd in.rlogind

Put in the location of the tcpd daemon, instead of the location of the service daemon:

ftp stream tcp nowait root /usr/sbin/tcpd in.ftpd 
telnet stream tcp nowait root /usr/sbin/tcpd in.telnetd 
login stream tcp nowait root /usr/sbin/tcpd in.rlogind 
To test functionality put in /etc/hosts.deny file 
in.ftpd : paranoid 
in.telnet : paranoid
in.rlogind : paranoid

After that you need to send kill -HUP to the inetd process to make the changes effective. Now try to connect from a host that does not have a DNS name. Connection should rejected.

Default shell in HP-UX is Posix shell which is ridiculously weak for interactive usage. Ksh88 is available, ksh93 is not. Bash is not included by default, but bash 4.0 can (and probably should; see Bash on HP-UX) be installed to less the pain of adaptation.  Please note that it is too buggy for scripting, so scripting should be done in ksh.  Here are some advantages for such a transition:

Location of many system configuration files is idiosyncratic much like AIX,  but still,  unlike AIX, HP-UX does provide syslog by default. Location of syslog messages file is strange though: /var/adm/syslog (

You can fix this idiosyncrasy like many others by creating symlinks. In this case

ls -s /var/adm/syslog/syslog.log /var/adm/messages 

The init.d directory for some reason  is a subdirectory of sbin, so to start, say named daemon you need to use command

/sbin/init.d/named start

In this case a symlink also can help to ease the pain of remembering this strange location. See Tips  for more information on how to make HP-UX a little bet more friendly to Linux and Solaris sysadmins.

That does not mean that HP-UX is completely free of innovations. It does supports RBAC. It was the first Unix to use access control lists for file access permissions rather than the standard Unix permissions system. The problem is that I still never saw an organization that managed to use ACLs constructively ;-).

HP-UX was also among the first Unix systems to include a built-in logical volume manager based on VERITAS implementation.

But all-in-all even in version 11.31 this is a pretty archaic and idiosyncratic version of Unix. The only more  idiosyncratic is AIX, but this is not a big achievement for HP-UX  developers.  For most sysadmin used to Linux or Solaris HP-UX sucks and is a pain to administer. Price/performance of Itanium servers is bad and getting worse with time. 

Most commands that reveal hardware configuration are idiosyncratic. For example, analog to Linux command cat /proc/cpuinfo is the command machinfo:

$ machinfo
CPU info:
  2 Intel(R)  Itanium(R)  Processor 9320s (1.33 GHz, 16 MB)
          4.79 GT/s QPI, CPU version E0
          8 logical processors (4 per socket)

Memory: 16286 MB (15.9 GB)

Firmware info:
   Firmware revision:  01.08
   FP SWA driver revision: 1.18
   IPMI is supported on this system.
   BMC firmware revision: 1.01

Platform info:
   Model:                  "ia64 hp Integrity BL860c i2"
   Machine ID number:      28c79d30-efdd-11df-9e27-000000000000f
   Machine serial number:  USE00000R0

OS info:
   Nodename:  nti106
   Release:   HP-UX B.11.31
   Version:   U (unlimited-user license)
   Machine:   ia64
   ID Number: 0684170000
   vmunix adb: error: /stand/current/vmunix: Permission denied.

Here is some laments on the popular theme "What HP-UX gets wrong" typical for those who previously administer Solaris or Linux and now need to adapt to a new environment (partially borrowed from Solaris versus HP-UX)

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Old News ;-)

[Dec 14, 2012 ] ifconfig -a Equivalent for HP-UX

HP-UX lacks the -a flag for the ifconfig command
January 29, 2010


HP-UX lacks the -a flag for the ifconfig command which I have used on all other UNIX and Linux variants. An alternative is to create an alias for the following command which outputs the equivalent.

for i in `netstat -rn |grep lan |cut -c55-59 |sort |uniq`; do ifconfig $i; done

Or another alternative using lanscan.

for i in `lanscan -i | awk '{print $1}'` ; do ifconfig $i ; done

" Last Edit: January 29, 2010, 07:48:10 am by scotbuff "

[Oct 31, 2011] WU-FTPD 2.6.1 Special Release


The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) enables you to transfer files between a client host system and a remote server host system. On the client system, a file transfer program provides a user interface to FTP; on the server, the requests are handled by the FTP daemon, ftpd. WU-FTPD is the FTP daemon for HP-UX systems. It is based on the replacement FTP daemon developed at Washington University. WU-FTPD 2.6.1 is the latest version of WU-FTPD available on the HP-UX 11i v1, HP-UX 11i v2, and HP-UX 11i v3 platforms.

The FTP client with SSL support is available for download from this page for the HP-UX 11i v2 operating system. Starting from May 2010, the WU-FTPD 2.6.1 bundle that you can download from this page contains the FTP daemon with SSL support for the HP-UX 11i v3 operating system.

Table 1: Latest WU-FTPD 2.6.1 Bundle Numbers

Product Version
Operating System Bundle Version
Release Date
WU-FPTD 2.6.1 Bundle Versions
HP Revision: 1.014a HP-UX 11i v1 B. July 2010
HP Revision: 1.001a HP-UX 11i v2b B. September 2008
HP Revision: 6.0a HP-UX 11i v3b C. May 2011

IPv6-enabled version of WU-FTPD 2.6.1 available.
b The TLS/SSL feature is available for the HP-UX 11i v2 and HP-UX 11i v3 operating systems.

WU-FTPD 2.6.1 offers the following features:

WU-FTPD 2.6.1 for the HP-UX 11i v2 and HP-UX 11i v3 operating systems now supports the TLS/SSL feature. For more information on the TLS/SSL feature, see WU-FTPD 2.6.1 Release Notes on the HP Business Support Center.

IMPORTANT: The WU-FTPD 2.6.1 depot that you can download from this page is the TLS/SSL-enabled version of FTP. The core (default) HP-UX 11i v2 operating system still contains the non-TLS/SSL version of FTP. For patch updates to WU-FTPD 2.6.1 in the core HP-UX 11i v2 operating system, see

Compatibility Information

For HP-UX 11i v1 customers, WU-FTPD 2.6.1 adds new functionality to the already existing WU-FTPD 2.4 software, which is delivered as part of the core networking products on HP-UX 11i v1. For HP-UX 11.0, this version allows customers to upgrade to WU-FTPD 2.6.1 from either the legacy FTP version, which is delivered with the core networking products on HP-UX 11.0, or from WU-FTPD 2.4, which is available in the patch PHNE_21936.


The following product documentation is available with WU-FTPD 2.6.1.

Man Pages

The following man pages are distributed with the WU-FTPD 2.6.1 depot:

[Oct 29, 2011] TCP Wrappers

The TCP Wrappers product suite provides an enhanced security mechanism for services spawned by the Internet services daemon, inetd. TCP Wrappers is available on HP-UX 11i platform as a web upgrade. Please visit for related product documentation.

Whenever a connection is established with inetd for a service, inetd runs tcpd, the wrapper program instead of running the service program directly. On inception, tcpd will perform some access control checks and execute the desired service program.

tcpd offers the following features:

- Complete Access control.
- Checks against host name / address spoofing.
- RFC931 lookup for remote user who owns the connection.
- Support for services that use XTI as well as sockets.
- Setting Traps
- Banner Messages.
The product suite also contains the utility programs : tcpdmatch, tcpdchk, try-from, and safe_finger.
It also contains a library, libwrap.a which has the host access control functions in it.

With TCP Wrappers, you can:

Useful Information

The following are the components of the TCP Wrappers software depot:
/usr/lbin/tcpd TCP Wrappers daemon program.
/usr/lib/libwrap.a TCP Wrappers library containing access control APIs, using /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny.
/usr/include/tcpd.h Header file for libwrap.a.
/usr/bin/tcpdchk Tool to examine the validity of configuration file entries.
/usr/bin/tcpdmatch Tool to simulate the Wrappers daemon program's i.e., tcpd's behaviour for a particular host and for a particular service.
/usr/bin/try-from A utility program that can be invoked from a remote shell to get connection end-points' information.
/usr/bin/safe_finger A secure finger client program.
/usr/newconfig/etc/tcpd.conf A sample configuration file for the TCP Wrappers daemon program.
/usr/newconfig/etc/hosts.allow A sample ACL file to specify hosts to be allowed.
/usr/newconfig/etc/hosts.deny A sample ACL file to specify hosts to be denied.
/usr/share/doc/TCPWRAP-RelNotes.pdf A detailed Release Notes explaining the features supported in this release.
The following product documentation is available with this release of TCP Wrappers:

Man Pages

Release Notes

The Release Notes is also available at,
Additional product information
Version: -
Software specification: Workstation/Server, HP-UX11.11

[Oct 29, 2011] TCP Wrappers 7.6 and HP-UX 11.1

TCP wrappers are essential for protection of TCP services such as wuftpd on HP-UX as there is no internal firewall.
Jan 18, 2004 | HP Communities

The following assumes that you downloaded TCP wrappers from or one of the mirrors. I think (but I might be wrong) that support for keyword "banners" may not be compiled in.

If you have a look at the source code package Makefile at​Networking/Admin/tcp_wrappers-7.6/tcp_wrappers-7....
, you will find that optional features are not enabled.

#STYLE = -DPROCESS_OPTIONS # Enable language extensions.

So you can get the source code package from​tcp_wrappers-7.6/tcp_wrappers-7.6-ss-11.00.tar.gz... uncomment the STYLE line from Makefile and recompile the package.

Alternative is to get TCP Wrappers from HP software web site. It seems to have optional features compiled in (but I haven't verified this).​

[Aug 14, 2011] Memory file system (MemFS) for HP-UX 11i v3

Overview of MemFS − Memory based file system and its usage − Design overview and limitations of HP-UX 11i v2 MemFS − Design overview and advantages of HP-UX 11i v3 MemFS 3 − Comparison of HP-UX 11i v3 MemFS with other memory file system products ( e.g. HP-UX 11i v2 MemFS, Solaris tmpfs, Linux tmpfs, VxFS ) − Features available − Performance

Memory-based file system and its usage

− Storage for temporary files

− For getting better performance with the applications which does extensive metadata operations like creation, deletion of files and directories


− Can not be used as a replacement for disk based file system as it does not preserve data across mounts/reboots

− Excessive use of system memory by it can adversely affect other memory consumers

[Apr 12, 2011] Oracle and Intel get into spat over Itanium chip's future


But the loss of Oracle will hurt Intel, as it isn't the only one to abandon Itanium. Microsoft and RedHat abandoned making optimized software for Itanium last year. Microsoft said that last year's Windows Server 2008 R2 was the last operating system to support the Intel 64-bit chip, while RedHat's final support was Enterprise Linux 6.

HP-UX remains the only big supporter of Itanium, from an operating system view. HP dominates the market for Itanium-based servers. Talking to Cnet, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said five years ago, "There is no more important platform for Oracle than HP and Itanium."

During his own strategy talk last week, HP CEO Léo Apotheker didn't say anything about Itanium. But HP still said Oracle's move was "shameless gambit" to hurt competitors. HP also said it is continuing development on Itanium-based servers and will do so for the next 10 years and it said that Sun's market share is failing.

"Oracle continues to show a pattern of anti-customer behavior as they move to shore up their failing Sun server business," said Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking at HP. "HP believes in fair and honest competition. Competition is good for customers, innovation and the marketplace. We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in a shameless gambit to limit fair competition."

Intel is still promoting its next-generation Itanium chips, as Intel CEO Paul Otellini pointed out today. In February, Intel unveiled its 10th-generation Itanium chip, code-named Poulson, a beast of a chip with 3 billion basic components known as transistors.

"We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture," Otellini said.

The Itanium has had a long rollercoaster history. Started as a joint venture with HP in 1994, the first chip was a relic of an age when power consumption didn't matter. It was supposed to debut in 1999, but the code-named Merced chip finally came out in 2001, just in time for the post-9/11 recession. Intel's primary competition was its own 32-bit Xeon chips, which were faster at running 32-bit software than the 64-bit Itanium was. So the great migration of computing from 32-bit to 64-bit didn't happen for the masses, as had originally been expected, and Intel added 64-bit technology into its Xeon line-up.

Intel continued to invest, challenging the shrinking number of players in the reduced-instruction set computing (RISC) computing business such as Sun Microsystems and IBM. Intel says that it is still attacking the $15 billion RISC market with Itanium. Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices seized its chance to get a foothold in 32-bit server chips and it has succeeded in grabbing a chunk of that market.

Intel's new Poulson chip is slated to come out some time in the future, as will another one code-named Kittson. Otellini said those chips are on schedule

[Apr 12, 2011] Oracle-Stops-All-Software-Development-for-Intel-Itanium-Microprocessor-NASDAQ-ORCL-1415997

Mar 22, 2011 |

After multiple conversations with Intel senior management Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) has decided to discontinue all software development on the Intel Itanium microprocessor. Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life.

Both Microsoft and RedHat have already stopped developing software for Itanium. HP CEO Leo Apotheker made no mention of Itanium in his long and detailed presentation on the future strategic direction of HP.

Oracle will continue to provide customers with support for existing versions of Oracle software products that already run on Itanium.

[Feb 17, 2011] HP-UX Internet Express: precompiled open source software for HP-UX

[Oct 22, 2010] Solaris versus HP-UX


I got my start as a UNIX sysadmin using Solaris back in college, and I've been a fan of Solaris ever since. Where I work, there is often talk of Sun versus HP for large UNIX systems, and I am always a proponent of Sun's systems, mainly because of Solaris.

Many people are quick to dismiss my opinion as a simple personal preference, thinking that since I'm more familiar with Solaris I'm basing my opinion on my emotions and not giving HP fair consideration. I have spent a decent amount of time on HP-UX, though, and I have created the list below to detail the reasons why I believe that from a system administrator's perspective, Solaris is a superior operating system to HP-UX.

For the comparison, I chose relatively older but still very popular versions of both operating systems:

To be fair, I have found many features of HP-UX that I am quite fond of and wish Solaris had. I've pointed those out below as well.

What HP-UX gets wrong

What HP-UX gets right

Believe it or not, I actually do like quite a few things about HP-UX. They are outweighed in importance by the things I don't like, but I list them here nonetheless to prove I'm not just mean.

[Sep 10, 2010] IT Resource Center forums - sudo for HPUX

Jun 3, 2008


My HPUX (11.23) didn't come with sudo on it.
Is there a reliable source, which I can download it from?

Ivan Krastev

Go to and search for sudo. ixSudo one of the bundles available as part of the Internet Express package... just select the one for the OS revision you're running.


Download ixSudo - part of Internet Express package -


1. You download only the portions of the Internet Express package that you want. If you just want sudo, then just download ixSudo from the Internet Express download page.

2. Configuration is the same. It's still sudo. HP just built it and packaged it. The only slightly weird thing about it that the sudoers file is actually stored in /opt/iexpress/sudo/etc. There is a symlink, /etc/sudoers, that points to it.

[Sep 25, 2006] AlphaServer Users Face Decisions on Hardware

HOUSTON -- Hewlett-Packard will sell its last new AlphaServer system late next month - a plan that has been forcing users of the technology to decide whether to make one last hardware upgrade or move to a new platform.

Martha Roberts, a systems manager at a financial services firm that she asked not be identified, said at the HP Technology Forum last week that her company has opted to stick with AlphaServers for now.

She said the firm recently spent millions of dollars to purchase more than 20 of the systems after determining that it would be more cost-effective to keep running its custom-built applications on the soon-to-be-discontinued hardware and HP's OpenVMS operating system.

The AlphaServer line is also a proven and reliable technology, Roberts added. The systems were originally developed by the former Digital Equipment Corp. and were acquired by HP when it bought Compaq Computer Corp., which had purchased Digital.

HP, which has ported OpenVMS to its Itanium-based Integrity server line, plans to continue supporting the AlphaServer systems at least until 2011, said Dennis Bak, a product planner in the vendor's AlphaServer life-cycle management group.

Roberts said the new Alpha­Servers that her firm bought will be used until the end-of-support date at a minimum and possibly longer. "I've got servers that I'm replacing right now that are 14 years old," she said.

Mike Trimbach, an OpenVMS manager at Computer Sciences Corp. in El Segundo, Calif., runs AlphaServers at a customer site. Trimbach said his client is evaluating whether to upgrade to the latest AlphaServers or switch to the Integrity line. He added that the potential cost of migrating applications will be the deciding issue. "It may be more cost-effective to just go with the last Alpha," Trimbach said.

After the Oct. 27 cutoff date for AlphaServer orders, users may still be able to get surplus systems from HP or some of its resellers, Bak said. But once sales end, availability will become less certain, he added.

Although HP will continue to develop and support OpenVMS on the Integrity line, the same can't be said for Tru64 Unix, an operating system that has consistently been praised by users for its clustering and file management capabilities. Several years ago, HP considered moving Tru64's clustering technology and file system into HP-UX, but the company rejected that idea, in part because doing so would have forced all HP-UX users to upgrade.

Instead, HP has been offering its ServiceGuard fail-over software with HP-UX, along with a file system that was developed by Veritas Software Corp., which is now owned by Symantec Corp.

If a system in a ServiceGuard cluster goes down, its processing workload is shifted to other servers. But each system requires its own copy of HP-UX, which increases management overhead. That isn't the case with clusters based on Tru64, according to HP.

However, HP officials said at last week's conference that over time, they expect corporate users to rely more on virtualization technology than on clustering.

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