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OpenVMS Hobbyist Program | VAX Systems Forums | Emulated VAX Forum
Author Help a newbie with VAX emulation basics?

Posts: 1
Joined: 30.04.09
Posted on April 30 2009 20:48
Hi, folks! It looks like you've got a fine site here.

I'm just a hobbyist and have no commercial or other need for a very reliable OpenVMS system and no need to support any specific VAX hardware; I'm just doing this for fun. I spent a most of three decades programming systems software under RSX-11M, VAX/VMS, and VAX/OpenVMS (all three primarily conceived and designed by the amazing Dave Cutler, who was also the principle designer of what evolved into Windows XP, and thus it is that it is Cutler to whom I bow four times a day).

Therefore, like many of you, I'd have to host OpenVMS on an emulator. The host platform I'd prefer using is Windows XP Pro (in part just to "keep it in the family", so to speak), but if there's a considerable advantage to using Linux (I've got a recent Red Hat release), I'd like to hear about that, too.

So I'd like to discuss the emulation options for a high-speed, high-end dual-core x86 hardware platform running XP (or Linux, if there's a clear advantage). SIMH has the virtue of being free, but if a couple of hundred bucks would buy me an easier-to-implement, prompt tech support-providing and less buggy solution, I'd definitely consider that first (more than that is too much).

I've seen the brief discussion here of SIMH and have visited simh.trailing-edge.com. It appears that SIMH does not appear to emulate RSX-11M: True? But it does emulate VAX/VMS, of course. How do you folks like the latest release?

Would it be able to support DECWindows, for example (or whatever HP's OpenVMS calls it)? Does SIMH lack support for valuable things a general software hobbyist like myself would expect to have? (I don't need networking, at least for now).

And what about CHARON? One post I found regarding CHARON said that it was free for non-commercial use, but I couldn't find anything else that said that. Does anyone know? From the marketing claims, if it were to be free for non-commercial use, it seems to me it would be ideal. If it's not free, anyone have any idea what they would charge for a hobbyist license?

From what I can tell eVax is not going to be at all suitable, since it's really not a VAX emulator. Or am I wrong about that?

So, I'd like to hear what you folks have to say on these questions. I hope there's enough activity that I won't have to wait long for a response...

Author RE: Help a newbie with VAX emulation basics?

User Avatar

Posts: 277
Location: UK
Joined: 24.02.06
Posted on May 01 2009 04:34
SIMH will emulate PDP11 hardware but getting hold of a RSX11M kit may be a problem. I don't know what hobbyist arrangements the owner of RSX has if any. IIRC RSX was sold to Mentec.

People use SIMH for VAX/VMS and it works. You can have networking too.

For an Alphaserver you can use PersonalAlpha from the company formally known as SRI

or there is this one - somewhat more bleeding edge
(the main person behind the ES40 emulator is now involved in developing an emulator for commercial use. Watch for news on that).

You need to acquire a VMS distribution - you can order one from this site or borrow one. You get your hobbyist licences via this site.

DECwindows - I don't do GUI but I gather you can run a X Server on your laptop and display the DECwindows that way.
Author RE: Help a newbie with VAX emulation basics?

Posts: 33
Location: North Brunswick, NJ
Joined: 12.03.08
Posted on May 02 2009 01:09
Simh does not emulate VMS or RSX. It emulates the hardware. It can be built and configured to emulate a couple of different VAX systems and several flavors of PDP-11. You can load VMS or RSX onto those emulated systems.

As stated by imiller, finding an RSX distribution may be difficult. Your best bet for VMS media is the hobbyist distribution.

Simh does not emulate the graphics hardware necessary to run a DECwindows server. You can, however, run client applications and send the display to any X-Windows server. If you have a linux system running X-Windows or load Cygwin and its X server you can use that to display your VMS X applications. You can even use XDMCP if you want but it may be difficult to get a usable keyboard mapping.
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