New version: CHARON-VAX/XM, XK, and XL

This note refers to supported CHARON-VAX licenses for the following products.

CHARON-VAX/XM for Windows
CHARON-VAX/XM Plus for Windows
CHARON-VAX/XK Plus for Windows
CHARON-VAX/XL for Windows
CHARON-VAX/XL Plus for Windows

Version 3.2.64 is now shipping as the production version for all of the above products and all supported customers should upgrade to this release at the first appropriate opportunity. Please read the release notes for the details of the changes applied with this release.

Contact Quayle Consulting for the release notes, the new product and an update for your license key.

The upgrade process is as follows (more detail at the QCI website):

  1. Close down VMS and exit from CHARON
  2. Save all personalized files (configuration files and disk images plus HARON parameters such as .dat and .log files) stored in the CHARON-VAX nstallation area.
  3. Uninstall CHARON-VAX using the “Add or Remove Programs” entry in the Windows Control Panel.
  4. Remove the SRI Packet driver (NDIS 5) from the assigned network adapter(s).
  5. Re-boot the host PC
  6. Only now apply the latest CHARON-VAX license key update.
  7. Install the new CHARON-VAX kit.
  8. Add the SRI Packet driver (NDIS 5) from the new kit to the Network adapters assigned to CHARON.
  9. Re-boot the host PC.
  10. Restore the files saved at step 2
  11. Restart CHARON and boot VMS.

VMS and Religion

Some religious organizations use VMS. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Some people in the VMS community believe that VMS is the only operating system that’s worth using. And that any Microsoft product needs to be avoided like the plague.

Windows deserves its reputation. The VMS community sees it clearly, because many of Microsoft’s problems are the same ones that we solved 20+ years ago. A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It also takes the highest level of cognitive development to learn from other people’s mistakes.

The world has lots of platforms: Windows, Linux, Macintosh, Unix (HP-UX, Solaris, Tru64, etc.). And this list is by no means exhaustive — there are embedded systems and mainframes, DOS and CP/M. And, of course, VMS.

Right here at home, I’m using two flavors of Windows, 3 different distributions of Linux, and 3 different VMS platforms (VAX, Alpha, and Itanium).

My clients expect that I know something about the platforms they use, so I’m not only HP certified on VMS, but also Tru64 UNIX. And Red Hat certified. And CompTIA Server+ certified. My IBM mainframe experience is old (very old), but I did live on MVS for a few years.

I recommend against working with anyone who says that there is only One True Operating System. Someday he’ll be a dinosaur. And look how they turned out.

How Do I Add a Node to a VMS Cluster?

The simple answer is to log in as a privileged user, such as SYSTEM, and do a “@CLUSTER_CONFIG”. This works just fine if you’re going to boot a new cluster member which will share the current system disk (which is a neat VMS feature, BTW).

But what if you’re adding a shiny new Itanium box to your VAX cluster? They can’t share the same system disk. No problem, just run CLUSTER_CONFIG on the Itanium box and specify the cluster number and the cluster password.

When systems attempt to cluster, they swap the cluster number and a 32-bit hash of the password. If they agree, they’re in the same cluster. If they don’t both match, they’re in separate clusters.

Don’t have the cluster number and password? Did “Fred” set up this cluster 20 years ago and you haven’t see him since?

No need to panic. It’s not possible to recover the password because of the hashing, but you can get something almost as good.

On the existing cluster, look for file CLUSTER_AUTHORIZE.DAT in directory SYS$SYSTEM. If you do a DUMP/RECORD on it, you’ll see something like:

Record number 1 (00000001), 512 (0200) bytes, RFA(0001,0000,0000)
00000000 00000000 5A528B9A 00000001 ……RZ…….. 000000

The first 32 bits of the file is the cluster number (cluster 1 in this example), and the next 32 bits is the password hash.

Just drop this file into SYS$COMMON:[SYSEXE] on the new cluster node, and it’ll come right up. After you set the appropriate SYSGEN parameters. Back to the manual for that…


Each year, at the OpenVMS Advanced Technical Bootcamp, there’s an awards night. Members of the VMS community are recognized for their contribution to advancement of VMS.

Ian Miller was given the John Wisniewski Spirit Award. John was a person who loved and lived VMS. The award is given each year for the person who shows the most spirit, passion, integrity and excitement about OpenVMS. Congratulations, Ian!

There were quite a few other winners. See the story for all the details.

Shameless Plug Alert ™

Frequently, when I post things to comp.os.vms or the HP ITRC site, I add a disclaimer.

It’s not that I have no shame (got plenty already, thanks), but I want people to know that one avenue to solving their problem is by buying CHARON-VAX or CHARON-AXP and migrating their application to it.

Give a 2-year-old a hammer, and everything needs pounding. I have more tools than that. I only recommend it if it makes sense.

VMS — What’s in a Name?

… VMS, by another name, would still be VMS. (Sorry, William.)

VMS has been around for almost 30 years, but there’s still a lot of confusion about its name. Insiders call it “VMS”, but the official product name has changed over time.

  • VAX-11/VMS was the original name of the operating system. The “-11” was in there to link it to the PDP-11, which was DEC’s flagship computer until replaced by VAX. Early VAX systems could even run PDP-11 code.
  • The name changed to VAX/VMS at around V2.0. By that point, the PDP-11 was sufficiently ancient to ignore — although PDP-11’s were sold for many years afterwards.
  • When the VMS operating system was ported to the Alpha platform, VMS-AXP was used. The codebase for VMS was forked to create the Alpha version around V5.0.
  • VMS was was renamed OpenVMS to signify the high degree of support for industry standards. This happened around V6.0, at which time the two platforms were feature-identical again. The code bases were not merged, however.
  • Hewlett-Packard has begun to refer to VMS as “OVMS“. My guess is that they’re trying to reduce confusion with OpenView, a datacenter management product also sold by HP. If you call their support center and say “OpenVMS” instead of “OVMS”, you’ll get routed to the wrong place — even they’re confused!

Just remember, the “Open” is silent.

Thanks to the VMS FAQ for some of this information.

Hello world!

Welcome to the Quayle Consulting Inc. blog. It’s my plan to develop content here that will be of use to the VMS community, as well as to my customers.

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