Running OpenVMS

The OpenVMS Logo - the word OpenVMS with a stylised shark fin over the letter EThe 2024 OpenVMS Logo1

One of my hobbies is to use, either on original hardware or in emulation, computers and operating systems that I used in the past. But with one caveat: only if the system is still usable. This rules out things I’ve loved in the past, like the Apple Newton, because while they still power up, exchanging data with them — making them the Personal Digital Assistant they once aimed to be — is near–impossible nowadays.

Not so with OpenVMS and emulated VAX minicomputers. The operating system is still being updated, there are ports of communication components essential for modern interoperability, there are even extensions for VSCode to provide a modern code development environment. Even better — the operating system runs on commercial x64 processors now, which makes it possible to run OpenVMS in virtual machines.

For me, running OpenVMS is an exercise in nostalgia rather than practicality — even though I have them configured to serve web pages and send and reply to internet email, it would be much faster and convenient to do the same on the computer hosting the virtual machines. However, it was the first big computer operating system I encountered at University. And knowledge of it and its way of working helped bootstrap my career. And I find it kind of fun to run an operating system whose hardware cost millions even back then, on a 5 year old Mac Mini.

I’ll be writing a series of posts on how to get OpenVMS up, running and doing something useful 2. I’ll index them here.

  • Getting Started
  • Virtual Machine configuration
  • Creating your first server
  • Now an OpenVMS Cluster!
  • More to come…
  1. I love the stylised shark fin in the OpenVMS logo. It’s a neat callback to Vernon, the VMS Mascot from years gone by: An old OpenVMS Logo - a drawing of a stylised shark, in a circle, with the OpenVMS logo in text above it and the Digital logo underneath it 

  2. For small values of useful. 

Software I'm Using, January 2024 Edition

In the vein of my recent post on the hardware I’m using at the start of 2024, this is a description of the key software I’m using at the moment. There aren’t many changes — except what I use to write on this website. That’s new and might be odd to you. Just a note to say most of these are MacOS-only — but not all.

Generalised, the types of apps I use are:

  • Apps to organise me
  • Apps with which to stay in contact with others
  • Apps with which to read
  • Apps with which to write

There are others, but they are specialised enough or sufficently infrequently–used that I don’t really think about whether I liker them or not.

More …

Hello, again

Hi there, to the unnumbered but probably few people who haven’t deleted my RSS feed in the close–on–a–decade since I last wrote a blog post. And looking back: gods, they were terrible. I’ve moved them off to a personal archive where I will never look at them again.

In the intervening time I talked a fair bit on Twitter: but I can’t with any self–resepct associate myself any more with the hellscape it has become. But I didn’t do much there, because I wasn’t doing much.

However, recently, I’ve been picking some hobbies. Some of them might actually be interesting. And oddly, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m actually wanting to throw some words into the void about them. I can’t tell you why exactly, nor can I saw how long it will last, but here we go.

I can see three threads of things about which I’m going to write. Firstly, my ongoing quest to simplify and reduce the size of the devices I need to manage my (digital) life. Secondly, a new–ish hobby: the emulation of Digital VAX computers running VMS on current hardware. Thirdly, the mechanics and philosophy or the running of science fiction conventions. Or maybe the philosophy and mechanics. In addition to this, there may be other posts as the mood takes me.

Don’t expect me to write regularly: I still get attacks of Impostor Syndrome. I also don’t expect this to be a conversation here: you can always contact me via one of the methods in the sidebar.

But hey, this is a start. Or a restart.

Hardware Tech I'm Using, January 2024 Edition

At the start of each year, I generally take a look around to see how I feel about the technology I’m using — to see if it fits my needs for day–to–day work and the volunteering and so on I do. While I remain an unrepentant Apple fanboy, this time I’ve tweaked (in some cases changing back) what I’m using as I go into 2024.

In summary:

More …