The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
OpenVMS Alpha V6.2-1H3 hardware release CD-ROM; also requires
OpenVMS Alpha V7.1-2 maintenance release CD-ROM
OpenVMS Alpha V7.2-1 maintenance release CD-ROM
OpenVMS Alpha V7.2-2 maintenance release CD-ROM
OpenVMS Alpha and VAX products and documentation on CD-ROM
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
Seperate per-product licenses are generally also available for various
of the products within the Operating Environment groups.
The product suffix required for the order numbers listed in
Table 2-2 can be found in Table 2-3.
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
Table 2-4 OpenVMS Source Listings Kits
OpenVMS Alpha Source Listings kit and license
OpenVMS Alpha Source Listings Updates
OpenVMS I64 Source Listings kit and license
OpenVMS VAX Source Listings kit and license
OpenVMS VAX Source Listings Updates
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.