Backing up VAX/VMS?

Dave Dunfield dave06a at
Sat Jan 12 19:27:53 CST 2008

Hi Guys,

Recently acquired some VAXen - I have a soft spot in my heart
for VAX/VMS as I worked professionally as a user on a VAX/VMS
system for quite some years, however I have little to no
experience from a system administration standpoint.

What I have:

VAXstation 3100, currently running NETBSD
VAXserver 3100 - Installed hobby version of OPENvms on it.
VAXstation 4000 VLC - Has a full VMS 5.5 installed on it.
Datability VCP300 16-port LAT terminal server (The VLC
appears to load LAT networking when it boots, but I haven't
looked into it further yet)

My immediate concern is that I'd like to make a full backup
of the VMS 5.5 on the VLC, and also attempt restoring it to
another drive. Not quite sure what the best way to go about
this is, and I want to make sure I *DON'T* cause any damage
to it in the process, so I'm looking for someone experienced
in VMS who can give be a bit of advice/guidance.

I've got some documentation that I've dug up on the web
including a VMS administrators guide, and I also have the
full VMS 4.0 documentation set (about 3-feet of paper!).

I've seen reference to booting stand-along BACKUP - I do have
the OPENvms install CD which appears to boot to a configuration
which can do stand-alone BACKUP (at least it can restore from a
backup image on the CD).

Possible backup media that I have available:
 - A pair of Exabyte HH-CTS 8mm DAT tape drives
 - A SONY SDT-5010 4mm DAT tape drive
 - SCSI ZIP Drive
 - Another SCSI hard drive

Are any of these feasable as a backup medium for VAX/VMS?
(All three of these machines have SCSI ports) If so, any pointers
as to how to configure the drives/media to be recognized and
accessable to the stand-alone backup, and info on how to perform
such a backup would be most appreciated. I'll probably pull the
original drive and install OPENvms to another drive for a "test
run" before I try and backup the original system.

Related topic: Keyboard/Mouse emulator?

So far most of what I've been doing has been via a serial console,
however both the 4000 VLC and the VAXstation 3100 support keyboard
and mouse - The VLC has a VGA video connector, and I've found a
couple of LCD monitors supporting sync-on-green which work on it.
I've also scrounged up an LK-201 keyboard which works, and I'm
working on acquiring a DEC mouse ... I did figure out how to activate
"dead rodent mode" which lets me do mouse movements through the
keyboard, and DEC windows does come up and run!

I found details of the keyboard and mouse protocol in the back of
a Microvax manual, and have been toying with the idea of building
a small embedded controller to take a PC (PS2) keyboard and mouse,
and emulate the DEC equivalents to the VAX - would anyone else be
interested in this?


dave06a (at)    Dave Dunfield
dunfield (dot)  Firmware development services & tools:
com             Collector of vintage computing equipment:

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