First VAX-11/730 VMS Boot! (was: Re: VAX-11/730 %BOOT-F-Unexpected Machine Check)

Peter Coghlan cctalk at
Fri Jun 12 06:01:33 CDT 2015

> Using a version 58 console tape image provided to me by one list member, and
> massaged into a usable state by another list member, I just booted
> OpenVMS 7.3 off the R80 drive on my VAX-11/730 for the first time since
> buying the machine. Woohoo!


> For some reason, I was unable to do that with the version 57 images that I
> downloaded off the net. Maybe there's something wrong with the VMB.EXE on
> those images? It always complained of not being able to find the boot file
> when I tried using it.

Once you get logged in to VMS, I think it should be possible to use EXCHANGE to
poke around the console tape images on the file level.  It might be possible to
find the reason for the problem that way?

> I never got a login prompt, but perhaps that's because I booted with the
> write protect switch on?

VMS would try to write to the pagefile at some point but I think it would
write a message (likely many messages!) on the console if that failed rather
than sit there doing nothing.  It probably hasn't hit the pagefile yet.

> It appeared to be trying to create or join a
> VAXcluster for a while, then said something about loading MSCP disk server.

Before you do anything, make sure the ethernet network is properly connected
or terminated appropriately.

If configured to form a cluster, VMS will normally wait for a short period
for the other cluster member(s) to appear on the cluster interconnect
(usually the ethernet network) before continuing to boot.  Try leaving it for
a few minutes and you may then get something like:

"VAXCluster state transition completed.  Initialization continuing".

Or you might not.  In a cluster, each node contributes a number of votes to
the cluster.  None if the nodes will do anything until a cluster quorum is
present (more than half the number of votes usually present in the cluster).

If the machine just sits there indefinately after loading the MSCP disk server,
you probably don't have enough cluster votes to proceed and the best thing to
do is perform a conversational boot which usually involves setting the least
significant bit of register R5 to 1 before booting.  How exactly to do this
varies from processor to processor and I don't know how to do it for an 11/730.

When you manage to do this and try booting again, you should get a "SYSBOOT>"
prompt and you could:


to confirm that the issue is with cluster votes, turn off clustering and
proceed with the boot process.

> I have plenty more experimentation ahead, including seeing what's on that
> RL02 pack labeled something like "VMS53SYS" (if I recall correctly).
> My attempts to boot up the v5.3 standalone backup tape images I downloaded
> still haven't succeeded. As suggested, I'll see if standalone backup might
> be on another partition next time I work on the machine. I'd like to try
> backing up both the R80 and the RL02 to tape if I can.

Not exactly a partition, more of use one of a number of different root
directories in the same partition to start searching for files from.

> Eventually, I'd like to run an older version of VMS than 7.3 on it.
> Preferably, something contemporary to when the 11/730 was still sold, or
> at least from before any sane 730 users upgraded to newer and faster VAXen.
> Of course, that assumes I can procure suitable installation media, or usable
> images with which to create it.

I would suggest V5.5-2. This is likely newer than when the 11/730 was sold
but I suspect that many an 11/730 would have been upgraded to this version
while in service and ended their days on that version.  It was regarded as a
good stable place to be with few unaddressed issues and it would be
increasingly difficult to get useful items such as a stable TCP/IP stack
running on versions earlier than V5.5-2.

Peter Coghlan.

More information about the cctalk mailing list