HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation

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The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Chapter 11

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11.1 How do I let someone else display something on my workstation?

On a workstation, you will want to use the "Customize" menu of the session manager utility and select "Security". When the pop-up box appears, you can select the host node, username, and tranport that will allow you to launch an application that targets the workstation display.

If this does not provide you with access to the display, You need a checklist of sorts:

  • Make sure that you've specified the X-windows "display" correctly on the remote host. For a DECnet transport, the specification uses two colons, while the TCP/IP transport typically uses one. The X Windows server and the X Windows screen follow the host specification, delimited by a period. For example:

    Table 11-1 X Windows Display Commands
    Shell Command
      # setenv DISPLAY vms.domain:0.0
    sh and ksh
      # $ DISPLAY=vms.domain:0.0 ; export DISPLAY
      $ SET DISPLAY/CREATE/NODE=vms.domain -
  • If you have verified the command is correct and things are still not working, ensure the Security settings on the OpenVMS host side will allow the incoming connection: Pull down the "Options" menu in the Session Manager, and select "Security...". If you do not find your host and username and transport listed among the authorized users, you will need to add an entry.
    • There are various transports available, including LOCAL, DECNET, LAT, and TCPIP. You must Select the transport appropriate to the incoming connection.
    • If the transport is "DECnet", do NOT add the double colon (::) to the node name.
    • If the transport is "TCPIP", "Username" must be an asterisk (*). Why? Because unlike DECnet, the TCP/IP protocol does not provide the remote username information in the incoming connection.
    • If the connection is "TCPIP", it is best to use a full domain name (e.g. Node.Subd.Domain). However, you may have to use the IP address itself, if your host does not have a way to resolve the address via DNS. If you have the luxury of fixed addresses (eg: you are not using DHCP), then it can be helpful to add two entries for each TCP/IP host, one that specifies the host name and one that specifies the host address.
    • There are various TCP/IP packages for OpenVMS, and you must use syntax appropriate to the transport installed.
    • If a TCP/IP connection is still not working, ensure that the transport you want has been activated for use with DECwindows. See Section 11.14 for details of configuring TCP/IP as a transport.
  • There is a log file created in SYS$MANAGER: which can tell you which transports are loaded, and also tell you what connect attempts were rejected, including showing what the presented credentials were. This file is SYS$MANAGER:DECW$SERVER_0_ERROR.LOG, although the 0 could be another number if you have multiple servers on the workstation. I have found this file to be very useful for tracking down what needs to be put in the Session Manager Security entries.

11.2 How do I create a display on another workstation?

To create a display from an OpenVMS host to a remote X Windows display, use one of the following DCL commands:

$ SET DISPLAY /CREATE /TRANSPORT=net_transport /NODE=remote_node

Note that LAT is typically used only for the VXT series X Windows terminals, but it can also be used from OpenVMS to OpenVMS systems on various OpenVMS releases, such as on OpenVMS Alpha V6.1 and later. For details on configuring the TCP/IP transport, see Section 11.14.

If you are interested in X Windows terminals and have an older VAXstation system around, please see the EWS package on Freeware V5.0.

11.3 How can I get the information from SHOW DISPLAY into a symbol?


An example of calling the underlying (and also undocumented) sys$qio programming interface for the WSDRIVER (WSAn:) is available at:

Look in the Freeware V4.0 directory /srh_examples/DECUS_UNDOC_CLINIC/.

11.4 How do I get a log of a DECterm session?

If you are working from a DECwindows DECterm terminal emulator, you can use the AutoPrint feature. Choose the "Printer..." menu item from the "Options" menu, set the printing destination to the name of the file you want, and set "Auto Print Mode". You are now free to continue.

It should be noted that all of the characters and escape sequences are captured, but if you display the resulting log file on a DECterm, then you will see exactly what was originally displayed.

You can also use the "Print Screen" screen capture available in the DECwindows session manager menus, if you simply wish to snapshot a particular portion of the X Windows display.

If you are using the Freeware VTstar terminal emulator package, you will find a similar logging mechanism is available in the menus.

11.5 Why is DECwindows Motif not starting?

First check to see if there is a graphics device, usually a G* device. (eg: On a DEC 2000 model 300, use the command SHOW DEVICE GQ) If you do not find a graphics device:

  • OpenVMS has failed to find the appropriate IRQ information for an EISA graphics card (on the DEC 2000 series) such as the HP (Compaq) QVision, and did not autoconfigure it. Run the correct ECU (for Tru64 UNIX and OpenVMS) and reboot. This is necessary only on EISA-based systems.
  • You have an EISA-based system (such as the DEC 2000 model 300) and do not have a HP (Compaq) QVision video card. This EISA graphics card should have Compaq printed on it, and identifies itself as a CPQ3011 or a CPQ3111. If it is not one of these two EISA devices, then OpenVMS does not support it. (There are no other supported EISA graphics controllers, and EISA graphics are normally used with DECwindows only on the DEC 2000 series systems.)
  • You have a PCI-based system, and do not have a supported graphics controller---examples of supported controllers include the following:
    • Radeon 7500
    • PowerStorm 3D30, PowerStorm 4D20
    • 3DLabs Oxygen VX1

    See Section 5.16 for further information on some of these graphics controllers.
  • You have booted the system minimally, or have otherwise disabled the device autoconfiguration process.

If there is a G* graphics device present:

  • There may have been a severe error in the DECwindows startup. Type the contents of SYS$MANAGER:DECW$SERVER_0_ERROR.LOG for any information on errors starting the server.
  • The system parameter WINDOW_SYSTEM is not set to 1. While this was a common way for system managers to disable the DECwindows server startup, it is not particularly reliable as DECwindows can now "correct" this setting.
    If you really do not want an OpenVMS system with workstation hardware to bootstrap and configure itself as a workstation, add the following definition to SYLOGICALS.COM:

  • You may not have a valid DECwindows Motif license loaded. To check for the two most common types of Motif product authorization keys (PAKs), use the following DCL commands:


    and examine the information displayed. Make sure that one of these licenses is present, valid and active.
    For information on registering software license product authorization keys (PAKs) when you cannot log into the system directly, please see Section 5.6.2.
  • Check that the DECW$PRIVATE_SERVER_SETUP.COM is correct for the graphics controller in use. For instance:
    The following is from the 9FX Vision 330 Owners Guide, EK-V330G-OG pg 2-9. Place the following in DECW$PRIVATE_SERVER_SETUP.COM, creatibng .COM from .TEMPLATE if necessary. Locate the DECW$PRIVATE_SERVER_SETUP.COM file in SYS$SPECIFIC:[SYSMGR] or in SYS$COMMON:[SYSMGR] as appropriate; the former file is used for this system within a cluster configuration, and the latter is used for all systems that do not also have a local copy of this file in SYS$SPECIFIC:[SYSMGR].

    $ DECW$XSIZE_IN_PIXELS == xvalue
    $ DECW$YSIZE_IN_PIXELS == yvalue

    Also see Section 11.11. Details of the PowerStorm 3D30 and 4D20 settings are available in the OpenVMS Ask The Wizard area.

11.6 How do I set the title on a DECterm window?

If you are creating a new DECterm window, check


If you want to change the title of an existing window, use the following control sequences, where [esc] is the ANSI escape code, value decimal 27, and "text label" is what you want to display:

To set the DECterm title, send the escape character, then the characters "]21;", then the text label string, and then an escape character followed by a backslash character.

To set the icon label, send the escape character, then the characters "]2L;", then the icon label string, and then an escape character followed by a backslash character.

To set both the DECterm title and icon to the full device name, you can use the following DCL commands:

$  esc[0,7] = 27
$  fulldevnam = F$Edit(F$GetDVI("TT","FULLDEVNAM"),"UPCASE,COLLAPSE")
$  write sys$output esc+ "]21;" + fulldevnam + esc + "\"
$  write sys$output esc+ "]2L;" + fulldevnam + esc + "\"

You can also change the title and the icon using the Options-Window... menu.

Also see Section 12.1 and Section 8.13.

11.7 How do I customize DECwindows, including the login screen?

To customize various DECwindows Motif characteristics including the defaults used by the SET DISPLAY command, the DECwindows login screen background logo used (the default is the DIGITAL, Compaq, or HP logo), various keymaps (also see Section 11.7.2 and Section 11.7.1), the FileView defaults, session manager defaults, the DECwindows login processing, DECwindows log file processing, and various other DECwindows attributes, see the example file:


This example template file is typically copied over to the filename SYS$COMMON:[SYSMGR]DECW$PRIVATE_APPS_SETUP.COM and then modified to meet site-specific requirements.

Additionally, various X tools such as xsetroot, bitmap and xrdb---some these can be useful in customizing the appearance of an application or of the DECwindows Motif display---are provided in the DECW$UTILS: area.

When using DECwindows V1.2-4 and later on OpenVMS Alpha, the default desktop is the Common Desktop Environment (CDE). You can select your preferred desktop (CDE or DECwindows Motif) when logging in, or you can change the default to the DECwindows Motif desktop using the DCL symbol decw$start_new_desktop in the DECwindows private application setup command procedure. See SYS$MANAGER:DECW$PRIVATE_APPS_SETUP.TEMPLATE for further details, and how to create DECW$PRIVATE_APPS_SETUP.COM.

Note that with DECwindows CDE, the root window is no longer visible by default. The root window is hidden behind the "backdrop" window of the current CDE workspace. To make the root window visible, use the CDE style manager selection "backdrop none", and use information such as that in the OpenVMS FAQ to set the root window.

To add a new backdrop to the DECwindows CDE environment, the backdrop must first be in or be converted into X11 pixmap format. (This conversion is often possible using tools such as xv.) Then (if necessary) create the default backdrop directory SYS$COMMON:[CDE$DEFAULTS.USER.BACKDROPS]. Place the X11 pixmap file containing the desired image into the backdrops directory, ensure that it has a filename extension of .PM. (The xv default filename extension for the X11 pixmap file is .XPM, while CDE expects only to see files with .PM.) Now invoke the CDE style manager and select a new backdrop. You will find your image will be placed at the end of the list of backdrops available.

If you require a message be included on the initial display---where the start session display and the logo appears---you can use either of the following approaches:

  • The simplest approach requires OpenVMS V7.3-2 or later, and the corresponding DECwindows V1.3-1 kit or later. You will want to create a file named SYS$COMMON:[SYSMGR]DECW$GREET.TXT, and this will be displayed in a popup---with an OK button---when the login box is displayed. This is intended specifically for applications requiring such a display.
  • The second approach involves copying the file XRESOURCES.DAT from

    into the directory

    and editing the copy. Specifically, look for the following:


    The line is normally commented out, and by default contains the string:

    Welcome to %localhost%

    You can change this text to something akin to the following:

    Dtlogin*greeting.labelString:  Welcome to Heck \n\
    This is a Trusted System owned by the Rulers of the planet Zark\n\
    We Come In Peace\n\
    If you want Privacy, you've come to the wrong place\n\

    The lines of text will be centered for you.
    In most DECwindows versions, you will be able to onbtain only about eight (8) lines of text. Changes have been implemented in DECwindows V1.3 and later that permit up to about twenty-five (25) lines of text.

The login logo is stored as an XPM bitmap image in the text file SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSCOMMON.CDE$DEFAULTS.SYSTEM.APPCONFIG.ICONS.C]DECDTLOGO.P M, and it can be changed. Copy the file to SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSCOMMON.CDE$DEFAULTS.USER.APPCONFIG.ICONS.C]DECDTLOGO.PM, as DECwindows upgrades can replace the system version of this file.

On DECwindows V1.3-1 and later (and possibly on V1.3), both DECwindows CDE and DECwindows Motif displays use this logo file. On older releases, only the DECwindows CDE displays used this logo file, while the logo used for the Motif login display was hard-coded into the package and the only available override is the DECW$LOGINLOGO command procedure mechanism within the customized, site-specific DECW$PRIVATE_APPS_SETUP.COM file.

Look at the contents of the DECDTLOGO.PM file and at other *.XPM files and tools for additional details.

11.7.1 How do I customize DECwindows keymapping?

Various keymaps can be implemented on OpenVMS and other X Windows systems, allowing the implementation of a Dvorak-style or other alternate keymappings. For details, see the available X Windows documentation (this is the documentation associated with X Windows itself, and not the product documentation for the OpenVMS operating system nor for the DECwindows X Windows implementation) and see the DECwindows *.DECW$KEYMAP (text-format) files found in the DECwindows DECW$KEYMAP: directory.

For other keymapping information, see Section 11.7.2.

11.7.2 Why does the DELETE key delete forward instead of backward?

See the SET TERMINAL/BACKSPACE command on OpenVMS V8.2 and later.

This behaviour involves the Motif virtual key bindings. When a Motif application starts, it looks at the vendor string returned in the display connection information and attempts to match the string to a table of virtual bindings.

You can override the default bindings in your decw$xdefaults.dat file. Here is the entry you would make to get the default VMS bindings.

 osfCancel :  [F11] \n\
 osfLeft :  [Left] \n\
 osfUp  :  [Up] \n\
 osfRight :  [Right] \n\
 osfDown :  [Down] \n\
 osfEndLine :Alt  [Right] \n\
 osfBeginLine :Alt  [Left] \n\
 osfPageUp :  [Prior] \n\
 osfPageDown :  [Next] \n\
 osfDelete :Shift  [Delete] \n\
 osfUndo :Alt  [Delete] \n\
 osfBackSpace :  [Delete] \n\
 osfAddMode :Shift  [F8] \n\
 osfHelp :  [Help] \n\
 osfMenu :  [F4] \n\
 osfMenuBar :  [F10] \n\
 osfSelect :  [Select] \n\
 osfActivate :  [KP]_Enter \n\
 osfCopy :Shift  [DRemove] \n\
 osfCut  :  [DRemove] \n\
 osfPaste :  [Insert]

To merge:

$ xrdb :== $decw$utils:xrdb.exe
$ xrdb -nocpp -merge decw$xdefaults.dat

Also note that the DECW$UTILS:DECW$DEFINE_UTILS.COM procedure can be used to establish the xrdb and other symbols.

Also see the DECxterm directory of Freeware V5.0 for details on connecting to OpenVMS from various UNIX platforms.

For other keymapping information, see Section 11.7.1.

11.8 Why doesn't XtAppAddInput() work on OpenVMS?

Yes, XtAppAddInput() does work on OpenVMS. The MIT definition of the X Windows call XtAppAddInput() includes platform-specific arguments.

On platforms where C is the typically the primary programming language for the platform, the file descriptor mask is one of the arguments to the XtAppAddInput() call.

On OpenVMS, the platform-specific arguments to this call include an event flag and an IOSB, as these are the traditional OpenVMS constructs used to synchronize the completion of asynchronous operations. While it would be easier to port non-OpenVMS C code that calls XtAppAddInput() over to OpenVMS if the arguments included the C file descriptor, this would make the call unusable from other OpenVMS languages, and would make it extremely difficult to use OpenVMS features such as ASTs and sys$qio calls.

One restriction on the event flag: the event flag chosen must be from event flag cluster zero. When using the traditional lib$get_ef and lib$free_ef calls to allocate and deallocate event flags, you must first explicitly call lib$free_ef to free up some event flags in event flag cluster zero. Please see the event flag documentation for specific details on these calls and for specific event flags that can be freed in event flag cluster zero.

Here is some example code that covers calling this routine on OpenVMS:

    m->InputID = XtAppAddInput(
        the_callback, 1 );
    if ( !((int) m->InputID ))
            "Can't Access Device",
            (String *) NULL,
            (Cardinal *) NULL );

11.9 Why do the keyboard arrow keys move the DECwindows cursor?

Congratulations, you have just stumbled into "dead rodent" mode. This DECwindows environment---where the keyboard arrow keys move the mouse cursor and where the [SELECT], [PREV], and [NEXT] keys emulate the three mouse buttons---allows rudimentary system operations when the mouse is among the casualties.

To enter or exit "dead rodent" mode, enter the following: [CTRL/SHIFT/F3]

11.10 Why does half my DECwindows display blank?

This is likely a result of receiving an OPCOM or other console message on a system that shares the system console with the DECwindows graphics workstation display.

You can toggle off the console display window using [CTRL/F2] and you can enable a serial console per Section 14.3.6 or Section

Also see the console message window application available with recent DECwindows versions---DECwindows versions V1.2-3 and later will enable this window by default. For details on this console message window, see the DECW$CONSOLE_SELECTION option in SYS$STARTUP:DECW$PRIVATE_APPS_SETUP.TEMPLATE.

On older releases, you can disable output using the following:


Also see Section, Section 14.17, and Also see Section 8.4,

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