Uses for OpenVMS
poghlan+cctech at vms.eurokom.ie
Mon Sep 1 08:55:11 CDT 2008
>I've had a VAXstation 4000/60 in my cabinet for well over a year now (had to
>renew the license a few days ago). It is running OpenVMS 7.3.
>I can not think of any use for it, other than learning about OpenVMS, but that
>is made difficult when I don't know what to do with it...
>So what can be done with an OpenVMS setup these days?
All sorts of stuff. Here are a few varied examples:
Most recently, I hacked together some bits of other peoples C code to take
a .au sound file and generate a graph of its frequency spectrum in an XWindow.
I put this together on an Alpha where my sound card is but I just tried it on
a Vaxstation 3100 and it it worked fine there too, a bit slower though.
I have the Hercules IBM mainframe emulator running under VMS on my Alphaserver
1000A. That should annoy the DECheads and IBMmers in equal measure :-)
Hercules is a medium sized application targeting linux and windows.
I can scan documements using a SCSI attached scanner on my VAX 4000/100A and
a port of the SANE scanner software and view and archive pictures from a
digital camera using an "interesting" method of attaching a compact flash
card to my Alpha.
Recent versions of VMS including 7.3 provide a unix like runtime environment
which makes it possible to port many of the better written open source unix
applications and tools. The windowing system is a port of X-Windows so even
if you don't have a display attached to your VAX, you can run X-Windows code
on your VAX and display it on a remote X server which could be on a PC or Mac
for instance. Lots of X applications and games have been ported to VMS and
there are ports and native versions of internet applications such as email and
news clients and servers, web servers and even web browsers. Unfortunately, a
lot of the more bloaded modern code would have problems building or running on a
VAX. VAX hardware is out of production for some years now, having been replaced
by Alpha and then Itanium processors and VAX systems tend to be limited in
processing power, memory etc compared to their successors and to the expectations
of more recent code. Also, some features which were later added to Alpha/VMS
(such as kernel threads for example) were never backported to VAX/VMS.
I like programming in the native VMS environment. I generally use C, Fortran
and VAX assembly but lots of other languages are available under the hobbyist
license. VMS System service routines and library functions are available equally
from all languages and are in general very well designed and offer great
flexibility. The downside is the learning curve can be a bit steep for someone who
is not familiar with the VMS way of doing things, which can be quite different
from other operating systems.
There is lots of freeware for VMS at http://mvb.saic.com/ which may stimulate
further ideas. Also, check out the comp.os.vms newsgroup where lots of VMS people
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