Linked by Robert Gezelter on Tue 18th Jul 2006 11:57 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes In its initial concept, OpenVMS (then VAX/VMS) sought to provide the functionality and capabilities of a mainframe-class system at a small fraction of the size and cost, while at the same time providing higher levels of reliability and integrity. These goals were achieved by what has become OpenVMS' hallmark, an emphasis on integrity and architectural leverage. Note: This is an entry to our OS Contest.
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Interesting
by Sparrowhawk on Tue 18th Jul 2006 12:41 UTC
Sparrowhawk
Member since:
2005-07-11

Thanks for the article, which I found very informative and interesting. I've been hearing about this OS for so many years, and yet have not really known an awful lot about its history or design philosophy until now.

I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying the "Alternative OS" series of articles.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Interesting
by Ronald Vos on Tue 18th Jul 2006 13:03 UTC in reply to "Interesting"
Ronald Vos Member since:
2005-07-06

Aye. Very well written article, very clear. Cleared up the 'Open' part of OpenVMS for me, finally, although the logical name translation is still a bit of a mystery to me.

Just curious: does OpenVMS have a large userbase, and is it being actively developped still?

Reply Score: 1

VMS
by DaveF on Tue 18th Jul 2006 23:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Interesting"
DaveF Member since:
2006-07-18

VMS is still being actively developed. Version 8.2 has been out for a while, and Version 8.3 is coming out soon. Field test versions are already in customer's and hobbyist hands.

As for logical names, I feel that to attempt to embrace the entire capability at once is too much. Uses are many. As a simple example:

Disk drives on a system have a device name, whether it be C:, D:, DKA100: DKA200:, etc. However, usage of the device names is rather rigid. Using logical names for the disks is much better. DKA100: may be named DISK1, DKA200: may be named DISK2:, and so on. Your programs, data, and whatever may be on DKA100:, but referenced as on DISK1:. Ok, DKA100: is having problems, generating errors, going to die soon. By moving your programs, data, and whatever to possibly DKA300:, and re-defining the logical name DISK1: to have the value of DKA300, you can continue working without any other changes.

Another simple example:

You have an application that runs in background, and wakes up periodically to determine whether it needs to do any work. Lots of ways to do this, but with logical names, it's real easy and flexible. The application can use a library routine to evaluate the value of the logical name 'ReadyToGo'. If the value is 'True', or 'Yes', or whatever the application is looking for, then it can proceed, else not. There are multiple ways of setting the value of a logical name, manually or from within another program. A simple method for interprocess communication and/or control.

Now start to imagine the uses for being able to have a known 'token', the logical name, and the capability of assigning a value to the name and testing the value of the name.

When working on windoz the lack of logical names is one of my two biggest complaints.

Reply Score: 1

RE: VMS
by WWWebb on Wed 19th Jul 2006 17:00 UTC in reply to "VMS"
WWWebb Member since:
2006-07-19

Sharp VMS system managers will set things up so that a logical name for each disk is set up early in the startup process; furthermore, they should establish an ironclad rule that disks may never be referenced by their physical names, only their logical ones.

It not only makes disaster recovery easier, it makes subsititution of one disk for another a simple matter of changing a logical name.

Reply Score: 1

RE: VMS
by w-ber on Thu 20th Jul 2006 06:12 UTC in reply to "VMS"
w-ber Member since:
2005-08-21

You know, the way you can create aliases for disk drives reminds me of AmigaOS. Can you do that also on a directory basis? AmigaOS assigned several aliases by default, like LIBS: to SYS:Libs/ and SYS: to the boot drive root directory (often DF0: or DH0:).

And now for the childish comment: I found it funny that there are at least two common acronyms used in the OpenVMS world that are also real persons in computer science or a related field: AST and RMS. (Andrew S. Tanenbaum and Richard M. Stallman, resp.)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: VMS
by gezelterrl on Thu 20th Jul 2006 08:51 UTC in reply to "RE: VMS"
gezelterrl Member since:
2006-07-18

w-ber,

Yes, logical names can point to any point in a directory tree, for example:

$ ASSIGN DISK$USERS:[GEZELTER.KUMQUAT] DATAFILES

means that the open statement using the filename DATAFILES:JUNK.DAT will refer to a file in DISK$USERS:[GEZELTER.KUMQUAT].

As has been aluded to, you can also use the logical name facility to create something akin to *IX mount points. In the OpenVMS case, for the purposes of filename parsing, a (sub)directory appears to be the root of an entirely different directory tree. The logical name facility is more extensively discussed (with some examples) in a series of five columns available from OpenVMS.org at http://www.openvms.org/stories.php?story=02/09/24/5441505

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: VMS
by WWWebb on Sat 22nd Jul 2006 00:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: VMS"
WWWebb Member since:
2006-07-19

Hi, Bob.

I really should have said "excellent article, Bob", but you already knew that.

WWWebb

Reply Score: 1

RE: Interesting
by TaterSalad on Tue 18th Jul 2006 14:04 UTC in reply to "Interesting"
TaterSalad Member since:
2005-07-06

I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying the "Alternative OS" series of articles.

That makes 2 of us. They give quite the insight to the less popular operating systems.

Reply Score: 1

defcon
by netpython on Tue 18th Jul 2006 13:01 UTC
netpython
Member since:
2005-07-06

I liked the defcon part.

Reply Score: 1

re: RE: Interesting
by gezelterrl on Tue 18th Jul 2006 13:29 UTC
gezelterrl
Member since:
2006-07-18

Ronald,

Yes, OpenVMS is in active development. The number of users is estimated at well in excess of a million, with over 100,000 active production systems. In addition, it is estimated that there remain 100,000 VAX systems that are still running (and are not on the support rolls). Additionally, there are the hundreds of thousands of licenses issued under the Hobbyist program.

To clear up an ambiguity, the system was originally released as VAX/VMS (1978). The system was renamed OpenVMS in 1991 to reflect the number of industry standards implemented and supported.

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 5

Spelling
by Soulbender on Tue 18th Jul 2006 13:36 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

Stucture?

Reply Score: 0

OpenVMS / Tru64
by jimmystewpot on Tue 18th Jul 2006 14:09 UTC
jimmystewpot
Member since:
2006-01-19

Having been a DEC then Compaq then HP user over my entire working life I have always loved using both OpenVMS and Tru64 operating systems on the Alpha hardware. The usability has constantly improved in general and the overall stability has always been brilliant. I really wish HP would continue to develop and support the Alpha combinations into the future.

Reply Score: 1

v If VMS is so good, why in NT so awful?
by walterbyrd on Tue 18th Jul 2006 14:23 UTC
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

But even msft admits that NT based OSes are a horrid, unstructed, mess.

It is not NT that is a mess. It's the software atop of NT that can be considered a mess. The NT kernel itself is pretty rock-solid, well thought-out, and well built.

Reply Score: 1

PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

Which part of MSFT admits that?

I'm not denying the claim that they're unstructured and messy, but I don't believe a 'Softie would ever say that in public.

On the other hand, if you look carefully at the structure of windows, all of the mess is in User mode (things like Explorer, IE, USER, GDI). Going from user to kernel is like night and day in terms of structure and reliability in my experience. At it is the NT kernel which was designed by Cutler... he wasn't so involved in user-mode.

Reply Score: 2

madcrow Member since:
2006-03-13

Apparently the mess that is NT when viewed above the kernel level comes from the fact the user mode was initially designed in a rush so that Microsoft could have something to comptete against OS/2 2.x with. BTW, is the ReactOS kernel modeled on NT or is it it's own thing. If ReactOS is based on NT's structures and ideas then it might be a good way to have a look at the internal guts of a VMS style system.

Reply Score: 1

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

You also have to remember that NT was originally designed to have multiple user interfaces (or personalities). The original interface was OS/2 compatible. It wasn't until the IBM/MS split that a Windows 3.x compatible interface was added (you could run OS/2 programs on NT 3.1). There's also a POSIX personality, and one other one that I can't remember now.

The Windows 3.x personality brought over a lot of crud from the WinAPI, and led to the dreaded Windows-on-Windows (look for WoW in the process list when running non-NT apps).

The NT 3.x kernel was nice and responsive, and very portable (ran on x86, Alpha, MIPS, and PowerPC).

It's the WinAPI/Win32/.Net/etc crap running on top that causes all the problems.

Reply Score: 2

walterbyrd Member since:
2005-12-31

>>
Which part of MSFT admits that?

I'm not denying the claim that they're unstructured and messy, but I don't believe a 'Softie would ever say that in public.
<<

First, why the fsck was my post deleted? What the hell is wrong with these people? Is this site funded by msft? Is anything other than msft worship allowed here?

And yes, the softies *did* say that. It was said by a top exec, maybe even Ballmer. About six months to one year ago, they said that about 60% of XP had to be re-writen for Vista, because the NT based XP code was a complete mess.

I won't bother to research and find the actual article because, this post will probably be deleted also, since only msft praise is allowed here.

Reply Score: 1

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

But, is that kernel code or userland code? And how much of that is backward compatibility crud carried over from Win98/ME?

The NT 3.x kernel was very nice, stable, and fast.

The NT 4.x kernel not so nice as they moved away from the microkernel aspects by bringing the graphics into kernelspace. Now bad video drivers could lock of the system.

Don't know much about the NT 5.x kernel (as in Win2000 and XP).

All I know about the NT 6.x kernel is that they have again moved most of the graphics subsystem out of the kernel.

But, regardless of all that, they've been carrying the same userland code since Win3.1.

It's the userland that's really got problems, and they started with Win98.

Reply Score: 1

stew Member since:
2005-07-06

Dave Cutler was project leader on both projects, but doesn't mean NT is based on VMS.

Reply Score: 2

twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

There's a book by MS that documents the direct lineage between VMS and NT. Windows NT Internals, or some such.

Reply Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

There's no code shared between VMS and NT. A lot of shared concepts, but no code.

Reply Score: 1

twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

I didn't say there was.

Reply Score: 1

DaveF Member since:
2006-07-18

Why would you ask this question? You're talking about two different products. If you're trying to tie them together with David Cutler, be aware that he worked on VMS version 1.? There have been hugh changes, additions, and such since that time. VMS is up to version 8.2.

I'd also think that you haven't established that NT is awful. Saying it doesn't make it so. Some facts would be nice.

The biggest problem with NT is the users. They were used to having complete control of the system with MS-DOS, and they run NT as the administrator. This bypasses most of any built in protections and security. Software providers don't help. Many demand that their products run with full privs.

Reply Score: 1

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

NT is not based on VMS.

It simply had someone who had once belonged to DEC and the VMS project working on it.

Reply Score: 1

Bit_Rapist Member since:
2005-11-13

NT is not based on VMS.

It simply had someone who had once belonged to DEC and the VMS project working on it.


Not directly based on VMS (MS had no DEC source code when they started NT).

The NT kernel however is close enough to the VMS kernel in design that DEC sued MS over NT's release.

"NT and VMS: The Rest of the Story, discussion of ancestry of NT by Mark Russinovich" explains just how close NT and VMS truely are and sadly this article is not available for *free* on the web anymore (not that I am aware of anyway)

Reply Score: 1

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

I'll buy that... they -tried- to base it on VMS. The principles of VMS... I wish you had the article too. I'd like to see the result.

The problem with being a software engineer is that you sign "pacts" with your employer about sources... yet if you go to another job you can't help but apply what you know and your previous experience in what you are doing at your new job. You might even recreate functions or packages of functions that are nearly identical to something you did at your previous job!

Reply Score: 1

Bit_Rapist Member since:
2005-11-13

I'll buy that... they -tried- to base it on VMS. The principles of VMS... I wish you had the article too. I'd like to see the result.

The problem with being a software engineer is that you sign "pacts" with your employer about sources... yet if you go to another job you can't help but apply what you know and your previous experience in what you are doing at your new job. You might even recreate functions or packages of functions that are nearly identical to something you did at your previous job!


Very true and that is what the article on NT and VMS really touched on, that it wasn't exactly Cutler and his team 'copying' or trying to re-implement VMS when they created NT, but more that using their design experience they came up with essentially the VMS kernel re-written in C vs. the original VMS kernel which was written in VAX ASM.

I would say an accurate description is that NT was inspired by the design of VMS. After reading up on the subject I do understand why many people say that NT is descended from VMS however.

Its too bad the article is not available for free on winmag2000.com anymore as it is a great read and goes into great detail on the shared kernel designs of both VMS and NT.

Reply Score: 1

javiercero1 Member since:
2005-11-10

Problem is being "inspired by", and being "descendant of" are two very different things. Most people seem to think that NT descends from VMS, which is not at all.

Cutler used NT as a bit of a "if I could VMS all over again 10+ years later how would I do it" thing. And it shows; NT is a microkernel, VMS is a macrokernel. NT was designed to be portable, VMS owasn't. NT was designed with desktop users in mind, VMS started as a timesharing system. Some of the protection levels in the kernel between VMS and NT are similar, as well as some of the scheduling queues and what not. But for the most part NT and VMS almost opposite in philosophy and implementation.

Reply Score: 1

helf Member since:
2005-07-06

There's a cache of it on Archive.org

http://www.win2000mag.com/Articles/Print.cfm?ArticleID=4494" rel="nofollow">http://web.archive.org/web/20020902142856/http://www.win2000mag.com...

Reply Score: 1

Good to See...
by Jedd on Tue 18th Jul 2006 14:33 UTC
Jedd
Member since:
2005-07-06

... more about OpenVMS, for those interested in learning about OpenVMS first hand there is a shell server for more information go here:

http://deathrow.vistech.net

I've been using OpenVMS for about 2 years, it is the most stable OS I've ever used. However as a UNIX user, there are alot of things about VMS that a greatly different.

Reply Score: 4

What went wrong?
by kjn9 on Tue 18th Jul 2006 14:48 UTC
kjn9
Member since:
2006-01-17

Although VMS still has a large user base, why did it not achieve even greater popularity?

Was it a matter of pricing, and/or (in earlier times) being tied to DEC's hardware?

Reply Score: 2

RE: What went wrong?
by lopisaur on Tue 18th Jul 2006 23:47 UTC in reply to "What went wrong?"
lopisaur Member since:
2006-02-27

Well, mostly because OpenVMS admins are hard to find (and they're getting harder to find everyday) in comparison to UNIX sysadmins. And they're more expensive.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: What went wrong?
by shardservant on Wed 19th Jul 2006 13:42 UTC in reply to "RE: What went wrong?"
shardservant Member since:
2006-01-12

VMS went wrong in that it was very expensive and the hardware was proprietory. At the same time, Unix was given to Universities for free. Hmmm. Free or truck load of money. What to do. What to do.

Having Universities running Unix flavors got exposure on Unix out there and helped make it popular.

That said, when it came to mission critical computing such as hospitals/military/air traffic control, VMS was the best choice.

I've been a VMS admin for over 18 years. Look no further ;) .

Reply Score: 1

OpenVMS is showing its age IMO
by stodge on Tue 18th Jul 2006 15:48 UTC
stodge
Member since:
2005-09-08

OpenVMS is showing its age IMO. I use it daily and find it to be clunky - I much prefer Linux. I know they're almost apples and oranges..

Disk access in OpenVMS is fairly slow and we recently hit a number of "features" in disk mapped global sections that were annoying and had to be coded around.

OpenVMS runs air traffic management systems over the western portion of the North Atlantic. This will soon change to include the eastern portion.

Reply Score: 1

gezelterrl Member since:
2006-07-18

Mike,

Actually, OpenVMS disk performance is generally quite good. Typically, if someone encounters an issue with mass storage performance, it is related to the way in which the IO is being managed.

I handle many problems referred to as "Disk Performance" in my consulting practice. On investigation, most have fairly straightforward explanations. OpenVMS is actually well-known for pushing peripherals to far higher levels of performance than many other operating systems, not infrequently uncovering problems with device microcode.

If you wish to discuss what you encountered, I will be happy to speak with you.

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 1

halfmanhalfamazing Member since:
2005-07-23

-------------I handle many problems referred to as "Disk Performance" in my consulting practice.-----------

--------If you wish to discuss what you encountered, I will be happy to speak with you.----------

For how much an hour?

*BIG EVIL GRIN*

What? What??? *looks around* Why's everybody looking at me! Somebody had to ask! At least if we're gonna run the commercial for Bob's Consulting here on OSnews, we should at least know how much we're talking here.

In case it wasn't obvious, I was only kidding Bob. :-)

Edited 2006-07-18 19:45

Reply Score: 2

gezelterrl Member since:
2006-07-18

Halfmanhalfamazing,

No offense taken.

As those familiar with www.OpenVMS.org and HP's ITRC Forum at http://forums1.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/home.do?forumId=1 know, I do a fairly significant amount of pro bono problem resolution.

The reference to my practice was to make the point that I have encountered this type of perceived issue at a number of clients over the years.

On a pro bono basis, I often correspond privately or speak to people on the phone. Many people are VERY reluctant to speak about the details of their situation in public fora, one never knows who is following the discussion.

And yes, I will freely admit that there are problems which I cannot resolve with a quick suggestion on a pro bono basis. These may require more extensive work or expertise than I can communicate in a couple of minutes online, by email, or on the phone.

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 2

AlphaBenny Member since:
2006-07-18

Actually, Im not sure that OVMS is showing its age, I believe its showing its longevity as well as its overall system integrity on the Alpha and Vax Platforms.
Heres a perfect example. One of our large governmental customers was offered the "New Itanium servers" for free as well as a 3 year maint. contract for free by HP/Compaq.....
HP wanted them to run them next to their existing alphas running OVMS. The agency declined. When was the last time someone was so happy with their existing servers and OS that they wouldnt take free systems?

Another example, Vax7000/10000 processors that we were selling 10 years ago for 100K each, still sold for 60K after the world trade center was attacked and a user lost thier systems. Youd think they would upgrade??
Do some research to find out how much the governments most trusted systems are still PDP11's or VAX6000's... VMS is here to stay. Its so POPULAR that before the FTC would approve the merger between COMPAQ and HP, they made both parties agree that OVMS support would continue for 15 years. LOVE IT, LEARN IT, ITS not going ANYWHERE.

Reply Score: 3

Eric Martin Member since:
2005-11-11

OVMS is secure.

Reply Score: 1

RE: OpenVMS is showing its age IMO
by VillyM on Sat 22nd Jul 2006 22:07 UTC in reply to "OpenVMS is showing its age IMO"
VillyM Member since:
2006-07-22

Yes disk access can be fairly slow, which is why in an application I architected back in '81/82 to run on an 11/750 we split the main data file in two. One file contained all of the data in a direct access file and then had a seperate indexed file. One process stored in the data in the direct access file and a second process woke up every 15 secs or so to see if any records had been added, and if so to add the key & pointer to the second indexed file. We were worried (we being VAX Virgins) that the system wouldn't be able to keep up - indexing is an expensive proposition.... In simulations - after we had everything up and running, we found that we had over-engineered the solution by close to a 1000%. Better that than the reverse.

What problems did you have with the disk mapping?? Speeking fortraneze -

Create a named common area that will contain all of the information that you wish to map to disk. Add a dummy array of size 511 bytes at the of the common area.

In you link step, force the named common area to be page aligned.

For a simple sample, go to
members.shaw.ca/villy.madsen

click on the left vax (an 11/750) and download throttle. alternatively click on the right vax a 3900, and you will go the web page on my emulated 3900 and then click on the VAX. The emulated vax isn't always up by any means. It is also throttled and unless there is a load on, runs at about .8 VUP i.e. an 11/750.

The throttle program maps a section in IO space, so the instruction that maps it is set up differently than what you would want.

One of the things that we did do was to have the first and last words of the section contain a specific value - and then check these values to ensure that the section was "valid". We would also use the address difference between these two to ensure that we were mapping the proper number of pages on the disk.

I believe that EDT used memory mapped disk files (also known as Virtual IO in some OSs) for its IO. for interest - OS/400 - my other most favorite operating system" maps all of its disk space to memory. Objects have a fixed Virtual Address - and that's the only way to get at them

Villy.Madsen@shaw.ca
members.shaw.ca/Villy.Madsen

Reply Score: 1

good article.
by helf on Tue 18th Jul 2006 16:49 UTC
helf
Member since:
2005-07-06

I liked it. good read. I have used vms off and on for awhile now, mostly on the deathrow cluster. I like it a lot. I want to get my hands on an actual VAX soon ;)

Reply Score: 1

Well written
by Cloudy on Tue 18th Jul 2006 17:09 UTC
Cloudy
Member since:
2006-02-15

Nice summary of key features of VMS.

Takes me back more than 20 years to the days when I had VMS vaxen and BSD vaxen sitting next to each other on a machine room floor.

You left out DCL and what I thought was the most annoying feature of VMS: file version numbers.

Reply Score: 1

VMS & File Version Numbers
by shotsman on Tue 18th Jul 2006 17:42 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

I wish you would expand on why file version numbers are a BAD thing.
In my experience of using VMS from 1979 I have had countless experiences where the ability to retrieve older versions of file has been a godsend. I would actually go so far as wanting them in Unix/Linux and dare I say it, even Windows.

Now onto DCL and by implication, the utilities it uses.
DCL is probably one of the earliest scripting languages. I wrote many complicated installers in DCL.
Some of the features of DCL are unrivalled. The Totally tree structured help puts most Unix man pages into total shame.

As other replies have said it is Rock Solid and the OpenVMS Clustering and the clustered filesystem is brilliant. Try doing rolling upgrades on other clusters. Some of my IBM friends put it in the same league as Z/OS for stability.

Ok, I have to declare some interest. I was a DEC Employee for 20 years but left in 1999.

Reply Score: 2

RE: VMS & File Version Numbers
by Cloudy on Tue 18th Jul 2006 20:41 UTC in reply to "VMS & File Version Numbers"
Cloudy Member since:
2006-02-15

I wish you would expand on why file version numbers are a BAD thing.

I guess I should have said can be a bad thing.

My first experience with VMS, also in '79, was installing an 11/780 in a small college, which couldn't afford a lot of disk space.

In colleges, the most common operation on a file is "change it", so version proliferation is pretty widespread. (It's the old compile, debug, change cycle.)

So, you run into a couple of situations: either you allow unlimited version numbers and bump quotes up leaving you overcommitted and always on the 'out of disk' edge, or you set some small number of versions, and people always manage to get past that number before they realize they really wanted version N back.

In that environment, version numbers are not your friend.

And yes, I miss DCL's help facility. It was nice.

DCL was really a (good) answer to IBM's JCL, So I'm not sure I'd call it an early scripting language, but it had a lot of nice features.

And yes, VMS was rock solid, even in the early days. I still remember giving a demonstration shortly after we got our first VAX and talking about the recovery facilities. During said demonstration, my boss leaned against the RM80 that had system on it and managed to hit the off-line button. I simply reached over, put the disk back on line and get right on going with the demo.

KO's little company from Maynard is responsible for a significant part of the computer revolution. Pity it didn't thrive longer.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: VMS & File Version Numbers
by Tuishimi on Wed 19th Jul 2006 10:33 UTC in reply to "RE: VMS & File Version Numbers"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Another reason to dislike file versions... a looooong time ago when I was beginning my software engineering career, I was also a system/cluster manager. One day my manager came to me and said "time to clean up the RANGER cluster... engineers are running out of disk space".

So... I sent out a message saying "I will be peforming a $purge /keep=2 tonight, please contact me if that will be a problem." No one contacted. I purged.

Next morning I almost had a fist fight with a guy who, get this, stored ALL OF HIS historical data BY VERSION NUMBER. He had thousands of files from the years he had worked there...

I told him he'd better find a better naming convention and that I would be purging again (after I had to do a restore of all his stuff) in a week.

But to the point... sometimes people get TOO comfortable with file versions and that can lead to trouble, and a lot of wasted disk space.

Reply Score: 2

Excellent article
by DaveGu on Tue 18th Jul 2006 18:53 UTC
DaveGu
Member since:
2006-07-18

Excellent article on an excellent operating system.

Good job Bob. Thank you.

Reply Score: 1

RE
by maxx_730 on Tue 18th Jul 2006 18:58 UTC
maxx_730
Member since:
2005-12-14

The first page sounded a bit like a commercial for OpenVMS, but other then that it was a nice review

Reply Score: 1

RE
by Ronald Vos on Tue 18th Jul 2006 19:30 UTC in reply to "RE"
Ronald Vos Member since:
2005-07-06

The first page sounded a bit like a commercial for OpenVMS,

I don't believe we've had an entry for this contest that was written by a non-enthiousastic reviewer so far ;)

Reply Score: 1

VMS commercial
by DaveF on Wed 19th Jul 2006 00:22 UTC in reply to "RE"
DaveF Member since:
2006-07-18

There are many who wish for some VMS commercials. One of the biggest problems the OS has is the lack of promotion by it's owner.

Reply Score: 1

RE: VMS commercial
by Tuishimi on Wed 19th Jul 2006 10:35 UTC in reply to "VMS commercial"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

I agree. I feel fortunate that I worked for DEC and was "raised" on VMS.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Interesting
by JamesTRexx on Tue 18th Jul 2006 19:05 UTC
JamesTRexx
Member since:
2005-11-06

The company I work for has been using several VAX and Digital Alpha machines for years for a couple of hundred users, only to have replaced most by x86 servers recently while we're replacing the old in-house software by Navision. The two Digitals are used to host the company database and it looks like that'll still be used for several years.
As for development, we've been getting upgrades often enough for me to think it's in active development.

Reply Score: 1

Good article.
by Eric Martin on Tue 18th Jul 2006 20:23 UTC
Eric Martin
Member since:
2005-11-11

Hey Bog Gezelter, can you also do a writeup on the security of openvms. I also heard it was on OS written in 6-10 languages. Is that true ?

Thanks.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Good article.
by gezelterrl on Tue 18th Jul 2006 20:40 UTC in reply to "Good article."
gezelterrl Member since:
2006-07-18

Eric,

I will add it to my list.

I have already written an extensive book chapter on the security of OpenVMS for the Handbook of Information Security, the brochure can be found at http://www.rlgsc.com/hinfosec/hinfosec.html

What you heard about the OpenVMS source language is correct. OpenVMS was the first system to have a common runtime environment and calling convention. It is thus straightforward to write components in any number of languages. In the case of the actual OpenVMS source base, I know of components that were written in MACRO-11 (running in emulator mode in early releases of VAX/VMS), MACRO-32, MACRO-64 (low-level hardware management for Alpha processors), C, C++, BLISS, PL/I, and others.

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Good article.
by Tuishimi on Wed 19th Jul 2006 10:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Good article."
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

And Ada. Don't forget that. ;)

Reply Score: 1

v Where's the Linux fanboys?
by MikeekiM on Tue 18th Jul 2006 20:43 UTC
Sigh.......
by segedunum on Tue 18th Jul 2006 20:49 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

Ahhhh, VMS. What a lovely system.

I think many people would be shocked just how widely used VMS still is. The reason why people don't see it, or think it's in terminal decline, is that it just.....sort of.....works.

Reply Score: 1

re: Where's the Linux fanboys?
by AndrewZ on Tue 18th Jul 2006 21:48 UTC
AndrewZ
Member since:
2005-11-15

What, 29 comments and no Linux fanboy telling us just have awful this OS is? Must be on vacation. I think OpenVMS predates Linux to such an extent that most Linux fanboys have little exposure to it, and thus little to say. Just a thought.

Reply Score: 1

RE: OpenVMS is showing its age IMO
by javiercero1 on Tue 18th Jul 2006 22:43 UTC
javiercero1
Member since:
2005-11-10

OpenVMS is a great system, however citing urban legends by people who have had 0 first hand experience with the OS does it a great diservice IMHO.

I am certain that any agency that would have passed the chance to upgrade to faster systems for free, on a compatible system by the same vendor which offered free service, only exists in the feeble imagination of a kid typing away on his/her parents basements in a heat induced stupor fueled by boredom induced by summer idleness.

As per the VMS and WNT lineage issues, both of them had Cutler as a driving force... that is where the similarities end. VMS is a monolithic kernel that was tightly coupled with its germinal microarchitecure: the VAX. NT started as a platform independent microkernel. One was based on what was the prevalent wisdom of the mid 70s (VMS) and the other was a meddle of what was the state of the art in the late 80s. The NT system that Cutler developed inside Microsoft was purely a research device, and the system that was comercially adapted to be Windows NT diverged significantly. For one the Cutler led team did not even consider the Win API and runtime. In the end MS had to release a mosh posh of DOS, Windows and OS2 userspace technologies running on top of the NT infrastructure. Which presented a significant liability to the systems stability and evolution.

Ironically WNT is VMS+1, much like HAL was IBM+1 :-), people thought that Cutler pretty much meant NT to be the next version of VMS. When that was not the intention at all, the name believe it or not (NT) comes from the microarchitecture that was supposed to be the initial target for the Operating system: The intel 80860 which was codenamed as N10 (eNTen) by intel. NT stuck inside MS even when they retargetted the initial kernel to run on MIPS2 ISA.

Reply Score: 1

Very informative
by rhix on Wed 19th Jul 2006 04:09 UTC
rhix
Member since:
2005-10-31

That was an awesome article, and the comments have been equally entertaining. This reminds me of oldschool osnews. ;) I feel like if I've missed out, being too young to have seen OpenVMS in its prime.

Reply Score: 1

Thanks!
by bubbayank on Wed 19th Jul 2006 04:37 UTC
bubbayank
Member since:
2005-07-15

I wish the article were longer, but I vote for more subject matter along these lines.

Perhaps the author will come back with a brief tutorial on the basics... Deathrow seems to offer shells for all.

Reply Score: 1

Email Appliance Based on OpenVMS
by gezelterrl on Wed 19th Jul 2006 12:08 UTC
gezelterrl
Member since:
2006-07-18

Earlier this year, Brilliant Systems released a pre-packaged version of Quintara(r) built on OpenVMS as a turnkey Email system.

The demonstration system for this package (and associated documentation) can be found at:

http://trysecureserver.com

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 1

alpha
by netpython on Wed 19th Jul 2006 14:04 UTC
netpython
Member since:
2005-07-06

Does it only run on alpha processors?
Is it CLI only?

Reply Score: 1

RE: alpha
by gezelterrl on Wed 19th Jul 2006 15:48 UTC in reply to "alpha"
gezelterrl Member since:
2006-07-18

netpython,

No. OpenVMS presently runs on VAX, Alpha, and Integrity (IA-64) processors. There are also emulators for some of the processors that run on normal Windows systems (the URLs relating to the emulators are in the original article).

There is a full MOTIF implementation, however most users who do development work prefer DCL or the shell implementation.

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: alpha
by Quag7 on Wed 19th Jul 2006 17:31 UTC in reply to "RE: alpha"
Quag7 Member since:
2005-07-28

You know, I suspect that if OpenVMS can be somehow made to run on more common consumer CPUs, such as the present 64 bit consumer offerings from Intel and AMD, you'd see an explosion of hobbyist interest in this, if for no other reason than the l33tness factor, not to mention outright curiosity.

Someone else asked why Linux zealots weren't criticizing OpenVMS - I suspect this is because OpenVMS like the BSDs are "respectable" OSes that many Linux folks are curious about and haven't formed an opinion on, since few have probably ever used it or encountered it - unlike, say, Windows, which I suspect everyone has used at some point.

Even if you don't know much about VMS, most people have heard of VAX systems, and know about the role of VMS in high-end computing, and especially its place in computing history.

I suspect what keeps OpenVMS in its present niche is simply its lack of availability to the hobbyist masses, most of whom (I am guessing) do not possess the right architectures to run it, even if those hobbyist licenses are available.

Along with this, of course, there would need to be a development community focused on building "fun" non-business applications that most hobbyists desire in one form or another. It could well be that some develop this kind of software already.

I'd be curious to know what kinds of software exist now for hobbyists and regular internet users? Can you burn DVDs in VMS? Can you connect to p2p networks? Are there graphics programs? Or is software mostly related to databases and niche applications (air traffic control, for example) and the like?

I wouldn't be surprised, if OpenVMS became more available for hobbyists to use on consumer architectures, that you'd start seeing these if they don't exist already.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: alpha
by gezelterrl on Thu 20th Jul 2006 10:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: alpha"
gezelterrl Member since:
2006-07-18

Quag7,

For a wide variety of reasons, support for the Intel/AMD x64 processors (descended from the IA32 architecture) is not a small project.

However, the lack of dedicated hardware need not stop the curious. Charon-VAX, Charon-Alpha, and SIMH (pointers to approriate www sites are in the original article) all provide environments where OpenVMS can be used, without the need for adding to one's hardware collection. (And I will admit that one or two people who saw the screen of my laptop on a flight wondered where and how I was connected to a VAX while at 35,000 feet.)

The licenses are available through the OpenVMS Hobbyist program at http://www.OpenVMSHobbyist.org

The media kit itself for the current versions is available at moderate cost.

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com


- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: alpha
by VillyM on Sat 22nd Jul 2006 03:58 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: alpha"
VillyM Member since:
2006-07-22

Let's not forget to mention that SimH is free free free!!

On my old P4 1.5ghz under w98/se it run2 VMS 7.3 just as fast as a 4300 - with much greater IO throughput (at least doing a backup) than I ever got on the 4300. Unfortunately when I upgraded to W/XP, my vax slowed down to about 5 VUPs. I am running a WEB site on it (WASD) - talk about an un-hackable combination - a virtual VAX running a web site.

I installed the first 11/750 in Alberta - I loved that box. Dual rm80s and a TS-11 that actually worked!! (It was the last one that I ever had anything to with that did work well enough to do a standalone restore from... but it was cheap...(by 1981 standards at least!).

My emulated vax has at least 8x the throughput...

and it is solid solid solid!!

Villy

Reply Score: 1