HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation

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The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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1.3 What is [n]etiquette?

Before posting or emailing a question, please use the available local resources, such as the OpenVMS manuals, the HELP, and the resources and information in and referenced by this FAQ. Please use these first. Also please specifically read the release notes and (if appropriate) the cover letter for the product you are using. (The release notes are generally placed in SYS$HELP:.) Quite often, these simple steps will allow you to quickly find the answer to your own question---and more quickly than waiting for a response to question posted to a newsgroup, too. These steps will save you time, and will also help ensure you have a good reputation with the folks that might be included to answer one of your future questions, a question not covered in these resources. Put another way, if you do not want your questions to be ignored in the future---and please remember that the folks in the newsgroups do not have to answer your questions---you won't want to "annoy the natives" by asking a question that has already been answered far more times more than you might have realized, or a question whose answer is readily available had you made a small effort.

When posting, please consider the following suggestions:

  • There is no particularly reliable way to recall, erase, delete, or otherwise hide a message once it is emailed or once posted. Once your message has reached an external email server or multiple news servers, the entire text is effectively a permanent fixture of the network. And using the available search engines, a fixture that is easy to locate and to correlate. (Do not assume that all tools or archives will honor the do-not-cache attributes, either---postings marked as such can be among the most interesting ones to cache, after all.)
    For details on some of the many available archives, please see Section 1.2.3.
  • Include a valid e-mail address in the text of your posting or in a "signature" appended to the end. Reply-to addresses in headers often get garbled. Anonymous addresses can also simply be ignored, as fake addresses are regularly used by folks that are "trolling" and by folks that are spamming. (Though to avoid spam-harvesting of your email address, consider adding characters or a field into the address---but remember to include details around which characters or fields should be removed or altered if you decide to be particularly clever here.)
  • If you are submitting a question, please be as specific as you can. Include relevant information such as processor type, product versions (OpenVMS and layered products that apply), error message(s), DCL command(s) used, and a short, reproducible example of problems. Say what you've tried so far, so that effort isn't duplicated. Keep in mind that there's not yet a telepathy protocol for the Internet. (The more detailed your description, the better that people can help you with your question.)
  • If responding to a posting, include in your reply only as much of the original posting as is necessary to establish context. As a guideline, consider that if you've included more text than you've added, you've possibly included too much. Never include signatures and other irrelevant material.
  • Please be polite. If the question isn't worded the way you think is correct or doesn't include the information you want, try to imagine what the problem might be if viewed from the poster's perspective. Requests for additional detailed information are often better sent through mail rather than posted to the newsgroup.
  • If you have a problem with HP (or any other vendor's) product, please use the appropriate support channel. Do not assume that newsgroup postings will get read, will be responded to by the appropriate developers, or will be later followed up upon.
  • If you are posting from a web browser, news reader or if you are posting via email sent to INFO-VAX, please turn off MIME, vcard, attachments, and other mechanisms that assume anyone reading the post has the corresponding capability---use the text-only option of your web browser, news reader, or mailer. Usenet is traditionally a text-only medium, and many news://comp.os.vms/ participants will use tools that have this support disabled, or that do not have this support. If the message uses MIME or attachments or such, the text of your message will be buried in a large pile of gibberish, and some tools will send multiple copies of the text within a single posting.
  • If you find that the postings of a particular user are uninteresting, annoying, or off-topic, most newsreaders include a filter or killfile mechanism, and many mail clients have similar filtering capabilities. Please do not "flame"---to email or to post vitriol -- any individual that might annoy you, please enable and filter all of that user's postings. Posting of vitriol and of "flames" will eventually come back to haunt you; netizens and the net itself have a very large and a very long memory. Similarly, readers that decide that your postings are not worthy of reading will similarly tend to filter or to killfile all of your postings. Please play nice, in other words.

Before posting your question to the news://comp.os.vms/ newsgroup or sending your message to the INFO-VAX list, also please take the time to review available etiquette information, such as that included in the following documents:

This information will document the etiquette of newsgroups, as well as providing you with the knowledge the vast amount of newsgroup-related information that is readily available to you, and where to find it...


Please do not post security holes or system crashers

Rather, please report these problems directly to HP. Why? So that HP has a chance to resolve and distribute a fix before other customer sites can be affected.

Most folks in the newsgroups are honest and deserve to know about potential security problems, but a few folks can and will make nefarious use of this same information. Other sites will hopefully return the courtesy, and will not post information that will potentially compromise your site and your computer environment.

1.4 What OpenVMS user group(s) are available?

Encompass, the Enterprise Computing Association, is a user group comprised of information technology professionals that are interested in the Enterprise-oriented products, services, and technologies of Compaq and of the former DIGITAL. Encompass offers newsletters, the Encompass website, and offers various gatherings and related services, including symposia events and local users group meetings.

Encompass is a descendent of the organization known as DECUS, the Digital Equipment Computer Users Society.

For more information on Encompass, please visit the Encompass web site:

The organization comprised of customers of Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) that is probably most analogous to the Encompass organization is Interex:

Like Encompass, Interex offers various services and events of interest to folks that presently work with and/or that wish to learn about HP products and offerings. Please see the Interex website for details.

1.5 OpenVMS Support, Questions and Comments?

The following section includes contacts for OpenVMS Feedback, and information on how to obtain technical support information.

1.5.1 Corporate contacts for OpenVMS Business Issues?

The HP corporate contact for OpenVMS business issues is Ann McQuaid, the HP General Manager directly in charge of OpenVMS and OpenVMS Engineering, while feature requests and other related matters should be routed to MaryJane Vazquez, the OpenVMS Business Manager.

Ann and MaryJane will quite obviously respond best to cogently-worded OpenVMS corporate-level business issues or requests. With all due respect to all involved, neither Ann nor MaryJane are appropriate contacts for technical support matters nor for technical support requests, nor for any other non-corporate-related, non-business-related issues---these questions are best routed to the local or regional customer support center; to the support, technical and engineering teams.

To reach Ann or MaryJane via electronic mail, place a dot between the first and the surname, and append the expected HP.COM domain.

1.5.2 OpenVMS Ambassadors?

The OpenVMS Ambassadors are senior HP engineers with advanced technical knowledge and advanced training in OpenVMS, with detailed knowledge of current and future OpenVMS releases and product plans, and with contacts directly with the HP and ISV hardware and software engineering organizations developing OpenVMS and OpenVMS hardware platforms, as well as layered products and tools. Further, Ambassadors are experienced with integrating HP OpenVMS and application-specific products and ISV applications to solve specific business requirements.

OpenVMS Ambassadors are based throughout the world.

Your HP sales representative or HP reseller will be able connect you with your local OpenVMS Ambassador.

1.5.3 Contact for OpenVMS Marketing Issues and Questions?

Please see Section 3.4.

1.5.4 Contact URLs for OpenVMS Technical Issues?

For technical issues and technical support, please contact your software support organization, or your local HP Customer Support Center or HP Reseller. In North America, you can call 1-800-HP-INVENT.

Please remember to review and to bookmark the following support URLs:

Chapter 2
General Information

If you are searching for something here, please consider using the text-format FAQ.

2.1 What is OpenVMS? What is its history?

OpenVMS, originally called VMS (Virtual Memory System), was first conceived in 1976 as a new operating system for the then-new, 32-bit, virtual memory line of computers, eventually named VAX (Virtual Address eXtension).

The first VAX model, the 11/780, was code-named "Star", hence the code name for the VMS operating system, "Starlet", a name that remains to this day the name for the system library files (STARLET.OLB, etc.).

VMS version X0.5 was the first released to customers, in support of the hardware beta test of the VAX-11/780, in 1977. VAX/VMS Version V1.0 shipped in 1978, along with the first revenue-ship 11/780s.

OpenVMS was designed entirely within HP and specifically within the former Digital Equipment Corporation (DIGITAL). Two of the principal designers were Dave Cutler and Dick Hustvedt, though with a wide variety of other contributors. OpenVMS was conceived as a 32-bit, virtual memory successor to the RSX-11M operating system for the PDP-11. Many of the original designers and programmers of OpenVMS had worked previously on RSX-11M, and many concepts from RSX-11M were carried over to OpenVMS.

OpenVMS VAX is a 32-bit, multitasking, multiprocessing virtual memory operating system. Current implementations run on VAX systems from HP and other vendors, as well as on hardware emulators; for additional information on emulators, please see Section 13.12 and

OpenVMS Alpha is a 64-bit multitasking, multiprocessing virtual memory operating system. Current implementations run on Alpha systems from HP, and other vendors.

OpenVMS has also been ported to the Intel IA-64 architecture, and specifically to HP Integrity systems using microprocessors from the Intel Itanium Processor Family. This implementation of OpenVMS is officially known as "HP OpenVMS for Integrity Servers" and more commonly as "OpenVMS I64", and it operates in the native Itanium IA-64 architecture and 64-bit environment. OpenVMS I64 provides support for applications requiring 32- or 64-bit virtual addressing capabilities entirely within the native 64-bit Itanium execution environment. (For details on this and related terminology, please see Section 14.4.5.)

For more details on OpenVMS and its features, please read the OpenVMS Software Product Description at:

Additional information on the general features of various OpenVMS releases, release dates, as well as the development project code names of specific releases, is available at:

Additional historical information---as well as pictures and a variety of other trivia---is available in the VAX 20th anniversary book:

For information on the FreeVMS project, and on hobbyist and educational versions of OpenVMS, please see:

Also please see the related software licensing topics Section 2.8.4, Section 2.8.1, and Section 2.15.

2.2 What is the difference between VMS and OpenVMS?

VMS and OpenVMS are two names for the same operating system. Originally, the operating system was called VAX-11/VMS; it changed to VAX/VMS at around VAX/VMS V2.0. When the VMS operating system was ported to the Alpha platform, it was renamed OpenVMS, for both VAX and Alpha (and for the Itanium Processor Family), in part to signify the high degree of support for industry standards such as POSIX, which provides many features of UNIX systems.

For those versions with POSIX, an OpenVMS license allows you to install and run POSIX for OpenVMS at no additional charge; all you need is the media and documentation which can be found on the Consolidated Distribution and On-Line Documentation CD-ROMs. Support for the POSIX package on more recent OpenVMS releases is not available, various parts of POSIX such as calls from the API are being integrated more directly into OpenVMS. For more information on POSIX for VMS see question SOFT2

What became confusing is that the OpenVMS name was introduced first for OpenVMS AXP V1.0 causing the widespread misimpression that OpenVMS was for Alpha AXP only, while "regular VMS" was for VAX. In fact, the official name of the VAX operating system was changed as of V5.5, though the name did not start to be actually used in the product until V6.0.

2.3 What's in a Name? Terminology and Products?

The proper names for OpenVMS on the various platforms are "OpenVMS VAX", "OpenVMS Alpha", and "OpenVMS I64". Use of "OpenVMS AXP" and of "VAX/VMS" are deprecated.

The VAX and Alpha terms are largely interchangeably used as the names of platforms, of processor or microprocessor implementations, and of the respective computing architectures.

Somewhat confusing to long-time OpenVMS users, Intel IA-32, IA-64, and EM64T, and AMD AMD64 are the names of various computing architectures and of architectural extensions. Only. These are not the names of any implementations, nor of any platforms.

Intel Itanium is the name of a family of microprocessor implementations of the Intel IA-64 architecture, as Intel Pentium and Xeon are the names of families of microprocessor implementations of Intel IA-32 and (potentially) of the EM64T extensions.

I64 is the generic name for the various HP Integrity platforms supported by HP OpenVMS for Integrity Servers (and more commonly as "OpenVMS I64"); for the platforms supported by OpenVMS I64. (For additional related terminology, please see Section 14.4.5.)

2.3.1 How do I port from VMS to OpenVMS?

You already did. Wasn't that easy? Please see Section 2.2 for details.

2.4 Which is better, OpenVMS or UNIX?

This question comes up periodically, usually asked by new subscribers and new posters who are long-time UNIX or Linux users. Sometimes, the question is ignored totally; other times, it leads to a long series of repetitive messages that convince no one and usually carry little if any new information. Please do everyone a favor and avoid re-starting this perpetual, fruitless debate.

That said, OpenVMS and the better implementations of UNIX are all fine operating systems, each with its strengths and weaknesses. If you're in a position where you need to choose, select the one that best fits your own requirements, considering, for example, whether or not the layered products or specific OS features you want are available, and considering the expected cost-of-ownership over the lifetime of the system installation.

If you are asking this question, you are probably comparing OpenVMS to UNIX. It was once certainly true that OpenVMS and UNIX were quite different. In more recent times, there are tools and C APIs on OpenVMS that directly provide or that easily support porting UNIX programs and commands, and there are equivalent packages bringing various OpenVMS features and mechanisms to UNIX platforms.

If you seek UNIX tools on OpenVMS rather than the more philosophical discussion found in this section, please see the GNV package and other GNU discussions in Section 13.2.6, and please see the plethora of C calls currently available in the HP C Run-Time Library documentation, briefly discussed over in Section 13.2.1.

2.5 Is HP continuing funding and support for OpenVMS?


Active development of new OpenVMS releases is underway, as well as the continuation of support.

Please see the following URLs for details, roadmaps, and related information:

2.6 What OpenVMS distribution kits are available?

Various distributions are available.

For the most current information on the available part numbers and current products (OpenVMS distribution kits, media, documentation, etc) and the most current associated licensing information, please see the current OpenVMS Software Product Description (SPD) document, available at:

The CD-ROMs listed in Table 2-1 contain just the OpenVMS Alpha operating system. The operating system distribution kits are bootable, and can be used to run BACKUP from the optical media, as well as performing an installation or upgrade.

Table 2-1 OpenVMS Alpha Media Kits
Part Description
QA-MT1AG-H8 OpenVMS Alpha V6.2-1H3 hardware release CD-ROM; also requires QA-MT1AA-H8.6.2
QA-MT1AR-H8 OpenVMS Alpha V7.1-2 maintenance release CD-ROM
QA-MT1AT-H8 OpenVMS Alpha V7.2-1 maintenance release CD-ROM
QA-MT1AU-H8 OpenVMS Alpha V7.2-2 maintenance release CD-ROM
QA-MT3AA-H8 OpenVMS Alpha and VAX products and documentation on CD-ROM
QA-MT3AE-H8 OpenVMS Alpha and VAX documentation on CD-ROM

OpenVMS I64 is distributed on DVD-ROM media, and is bootable. OpenVMS I64 licensing is implemented on a per-processor-socket basis, with the classic license tiers based on the numbers of processor sockets that can be present. Further, three general product and licensing groupings are optionally available with OpenVMS I64, the Foundation Operating Environment (FOE), the Enterprise Operating Environment (EOE), and (as/when/if available) the Mission Critical Operating Environment (MCOE). Seperate per-product licenses are generally also available for various of the products within the Operating Environment groups.

Table 2-2 OpenVMS I64 Order Numbers
Part Description
BA322AA#??? OpenVMS I64 FOE Product
BA323AA#??? OpenVMS I64 EOE Product
BA324AA#??? OpenVMS I64 MCOE Product

The product suffix required for the order numbers listed in Table 2-2 can be found in Table 2-3.

Table 2-3 OpenVMS I64 Media Suffix
Suffix Description
A18 OpenVMS I64 FOE V8.2 DVD media
AJR OE media kit on DVD media
0D1 Factory installation

The OpenVMS VAX, OpenVMS Alpha and OpenVMS I64 source listings sets referenced in Table 2-4 include the source listings of most of OpenVMS, and these machine-readable distributions are invaluable for any folks working directly with OpenVMS internals, as well as for folks interested in seeing examples of various OpenVMS programming interfaces.

Table 2-4 OpenVMS Source Listings Kits
Part Description
QB-MT1AB-E8 OpenVMS Alpha Source Listings kit and license
QT-MT1AB-Q8 OpenVMS Alpha Source Listings Updates
BA422AA OpenVMS I64 Source Listings kit and license
QB-001AB-E8 OpenVMS VAX Source Listings kit and license
QT-001AB-Q8 OpenVMS VAX Source Listings Updates
BA422AA OpenVMS I64 source listings kit and license

Additional OpenVMS packages and technologies including NetBeans, XML, SOAP, UDDI, JDK, Perl, Tomcat, SSL and such are discussed within the OpenVMS e-Business Infrastructure Package SPD 80.58.xx. Again, please see the OpenVMS SPD and the documents and parts referenced there for the most current information.

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