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back to article Windows NT grandaddy OpenVMS taken out back, single gunshot heard

Digital Compaq HP has announced the end of support for various flavours of OpenVMS, the ancient but trustworthy server operating system whose creator went on to build Windows NT. OpenVMS started out as VAX/VMS on Digital Equipment Corporation's VAX minicomputers, then later was ported to DEC's fast Alpha RISC chips – before the …

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Used it on VAXEN

... in college in the late 80's. It was a bit of an eye-opener after Commodore BASIC.

RIP

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Re: Used it on VAXEN

The technical college in my home town kept their Vax for programming classes despite its age, as it provided a perfect environment for teaching C programming - text editor, compiler, debugger and profiler all accessed via VT320 terminals. They were even able to reboot it into Unix (2.11BSD I think) when the need arose.

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Paris Hilton

ouch

And who said Itanium was end of life? Looks healthy to me.... NOT

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Thumb Up

So OpenVMS is now shut :)

I had to write a driver for our recovery software for VMS. You could see how much NTFS was based off Files-11. Having to deal with VMS attributes was no fun but we came up with a scripted solution eventually so we could do VMS recoveries under Windows but I also had to generate the VMS script and it doesn't even use 'standard' path syntax from what I remember.

Bloody worked though :)

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Coat

Yeah, I remember working on an OpenVMS machine (running a DEC RDB server no less) in the early 2000's and thinking its path syntax was really awkward. I was also taken aback by the inbuilt file versioning, though time and again I've come to think modern OS'es could do worse than implementing something of the sort – as indeed they do.

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Sad day

It is sad to see a venerable operating system like this go. I expect it will be kept alive somehow, though.

I remember when you could run an operating system *plus* programs in just a couple thousand bytes. People coming to this from later years should know that the monstrously bloated systems we have now are not like that because of some law of nature or mathematics. They are like that because we honored people like Steve Jobs instead of people like Dennis Ritchie.

The forces driving early development are not what drive it now. However, there are, most certainly, software developers who honor the legacy of the generation before. They do their best under the current monstrous systems to produce things with small footprints and elegant design.

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Pint

Re: Sad day

R.I.P PURGE

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Re: Sad day

I remember when your programs came on listings you typed in from the magazine. I think the new way is better.

Users want features. We give them features. This makes the programs bigger.

The easiest way to make features is to build re-usable layers of components. This makes all the programs much bigger.

The way to make the programs smaller with all the features that the users still want is to remove all the encapsulation from all layers of the program. This makes the program buggier.

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Re: Sad day

Dennis Ritchie (RIP) and Steve Jobs (RIP) are still slogging it out:

Jobs -> Apple -> ipod -> iphone

Ritchie -> Unix -> Linux -> Android -> clobbering time

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Unhappy

Re: Sad day

PURGE/KEEP=0 sniff

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Ru

Re: Sad day

The forces driving early development are not what drive it now.

And this is why VMS systems had uptimes longer than Microsoft operating system product lifespans. That's a feature that definitely doesn't get copied enough.

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Unhappy

Re: Sad day

"...the monstrously bloated systems we have now are not like that because of some law of nature or mathematics. They are like that because we honored people like Steve Jobs instead of people like Dennis Ritchie."

Got THAT right. And others like him and the corporate whore-ti-culture that went with it.

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Unhappy

Nearly made it

I started programming on a PDP 11/40 in 1974. Now I'm nearing retirement age it is really sad to see such a wonderful O/S pensioned off.

Add to that the fantastic 20 years I spent at DEC in Reading then you can see that VMS was a big part of my working life.

Pretty well everything else since then has been downhill.

VMS Clustering still takes a lot to be beaten if you ask me.... Introduced in 1983, dies in 2013 RIP

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Happy

Re: Nearly made it

"......OpenVMS taken out back, single gunshot heard" We've been winding up our VMS dinosaurs that they didn't need a bullet - the old stuff justed needed a loud "boo!" to drop dead! It will be missed, a bit like that old Mini that was fun and just kept going you had "back in the day". Of course, take off the rose-tinted specs and you probably wouldn't be swapping your modern motor for that old British Leyland product!

But VMS does live on, it is now OpenVMS (www.openvms.org), where you can read the hp letter (http://www.openvms.org/stories.php?story=13/06/06/2422149) that Mr Poven seems to have missed whilst rushing to write VMS's obituary:

".....We are committed to providing you updates and support for the V8.4 OpenVMS operating environment through at least December 31, 2020......"

So not quite dead just yet.

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FAIL

Re: Nearly made it

The letter that is the *first link in the story,* you mean?

BTW, another small thing given your immense attention to detail: it's "Proven", with an R.

HTH. HAND.

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Facepalm

Re: Nearly made it

"The letter that is the *first link in the story,* you mean?...." Most sorry, I though that had been added by the editor, seeing as I couldn't grasp how anyone could have read the letter but still insisted the "killing" was immediate. Apologies for assuming that you had merely been ill-informed rather than deliberately misleading.

".....another small thing given your immense attention to detail....." You want to quibble over a typo after deliberately ignoring the seven plus years until VMS is really dead? Surely passing on that quite key bit of information was more important to the majority of the readers rather than the spelling of your name. Are we maybe a little egocentric? Forget the pot, that's like the chimney calling the kettle "slightly dark"!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nearly made it

You need to learn when to stop digging and keep a discreet silence, Mr Bryant.

But since you didn't do that here...

"We are committed to providing you updates and support for the V8.4 OpenVMS operating environment through at least December 31, 2020..."

A year or so ago, HP were saying in public that they were "committed" to delivering VMS on Poulson (that's the next generation Itanium, for those who have understandably been ignoring the world of IA64).

HP have reneged on that announced commitment. They're now saying that the "port" to Poulson is too expensive (?!).

In that context, and given that VMS engineering and support was offshored from New England a few years back, what sensible VMS customer is going to believe the 2020 commitment?

Sensible customers will see 2020 and realise it's a high risk gamble. I expect IBM will be getting a little unexpected new business in the next few years.

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Happy

Re: AC Re: Nearly made it

".....digging....." More like taking a dig at Mr Poven - oh, sorry, that's Proven, wouldn't want to upset him again. ;)

".....They're now saying that the "port" to Poulson is too expensive (?!)....." Agreed, I suspect it is more a case of a little less will than any actual great difficulty. The Poulson cores aren't different enough from Tukwila to require a port, but spending the lab time and money on verifying OpenVMS with the new i4 servers seems to be a task hp can't be bothered with (they have to verify the new servers before they can offer support on them). With hp not offering support for the new i4 servers that leaves current OpenVMS customers with the Tukwila kit at best until December 2020. Maybe hp just weren't seeing enough new OpenVMS licences going out the door to make it commercially viable.

".....I expect IBM will be getting a little unexpected new business in the next few years." LOL, now that's just wishful thinking! Customers porting off OpenVMS will probably be going to x64Linux rather than opting for the equally unsure route of AIX-Power, and IBM is trying to sell off their x64 server biz. If they're miffed enough with hp they might call Dell, but probably not IBM. Nice attempted troll though.

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Re: Nearly made it

But no new versions, just like Tru64. So yes, basically dead.

HP killed the wrong CPU (Alpha instead of Itanium) and also killed the wrong OSs (Tru64 & OpenVMS instead of that horrible HP-UX).

They're dead set on becoming non-existent.

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Re: Nearly made it

@Steve Davies 3: "Pretty well everything else since then has been downhill".

Very true indeed. I still marvel at the spectacle of Microsoft and others struggling to solve problems that DEC had dealt with in 1985. VMS reminds me strongly of Professor Hoare's remark about ALGOL 60:

'The more I ponder the principles of language design, and the techniques that put them into practice, the more is my amazement at and admiration of ALGOL 60. Here is a language so far ahead of its time that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors but also on nearly all its successors'.

- C.A.R. Hoare, "Hints on Programming Language Design", 1973

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Re: HP killed the wrong OS (Tru64 instead of that horrible HP-UX).

IMNSHO both Tru64 and HP-UX are awful, but still better than AIX. Modern Unices are all about Linux and Solaris though.

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Re: Nearly made it

About VMS Clustering - I haven't seen anything quite as flexible since. Clustering via disk or network interfaces. You could share any resource that could be given a name.

There were many other nice features, such as automatic file versioning and a very comprehensive and easy to use help system.

Pathworks had versions for both MS-DOS and MAC - to my knowledge, the first to allow DOS and MAC systems to share the same folders and printers.

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Joke

Hazards of scan reading.

"The architect of RSX-11M and VMS was Dave Cutler, who planned a portable, object-oriented successor, PRISM"

It's a testament to the longevity of VMS that the NSA managed to integrate PRISM into Google/Microsoft/Facebook. Why isn't Dave Cutler answering privacy questions.

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IT Angle

That GUI

That GUI is better than Unity

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Re: That GUI

The you'll be glad to know that CDE was open sourced a little while ago :)

http://sourceforge.net/projects/cdesktopenv/

Latest release was just over a week ago, with many improvements for running it on modern Linux and BSD systems.

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Boffin

Re: That GUI

Google CDEbian for a live iso/VM image of Debian Squeeze with CDE 2.2.0 as the desktop (desktop manager appears to be Slim). Boots in 55Mb of Ram on my thinkpad off a USB stick made using unetbootin.

I've added that iso to my User Interface Museum... but I'll stick with xfce for normal use!

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Re: That GUI

Yes it was. Yours truly wrote the article that covered the release for the Reg.

Said article was of course behind the "CDE Desktop" link in the story... but thanks for the update.

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Linux

Re: That GUI

> The you'll be glad to know that CDE was open sourced a little while ago :)

The fact that CDE was closed source was one of the things that led to the creation of KDE and GNOME.

CDE only was liberated when it became painfully obvious that everyone had moved on (including the likes of Sun).

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Re: That GUI

No. It isn't...

It is a horrible very unproductive mess.

I am sorry too to see VMS go, but nope, modern User Interfaces are better and more beautiful...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At Least VMS was GOOD

"Evil" you keep using the word, but I'm not sure you know what it means.

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Re: At Least VMS was GOOD

@eadon

>Group-Think lock-in

Sounds very descriptive, in an eadonesque, self-referential way, except that he:

- will never be accepted by any group

- barely thinks

- is better suited to lock-up than lock-in. (Hmmm, maybe both.)

>EVOLUTION FAIL

This is spot on, though (turning a generously blind eye to the 'special needs' linguistic ability).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At Least VMS was GOOD

Dear Doctor, I find myself grasped by a Pavlovian response each time I see the word "Eadon" and immediately click on the downvote button.

Is this normal?

Does it matter?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At Least VMS was GOOD (pronunciation)

Straw poll.

How is Eadon pronounced?

- Up vote if you think it rhymes with the garden from which the snake was expelled

- Down vote if you think it rhymes with 'ead-on collision

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Devil

Re: VMS OS from HEAVEN -> Windows OS from HELL.

I can't speak about VMS as I have never used it; but you will get no quarrel from me WRT WindblowZE.

I know someone who is stuck working in a WindblowZE shop even thought he is, at heart, a Linux fan.

Instead of the usual Windows splash screen, his work machine sports a red/black spawn of satan splash screen. Instead of the WindblowZE login sound, he has Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) saying: "Welcome to the dark side". I just love his sense of humor.

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Facepalm

Re: Fatman Re: VMS OS from HEAVEN -> Windows OS from HELL.

".....Instead of the usual Windows splash screen, his work machine sports a red/black spawn of satan splash screen. Instead of the WindblowZE login sound, he has Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) saying: "Welcome to the dark side"......" I find it quite ironic that you bash Windows but then don't see the quite clever programming that makes such desktop changes in Windows such trivial challenges. Especially when you lionise Linux where Gnome has copied the Windows method - right click on the desktop to open a window, select the changes you want. The Gnome method for changing the startup sound - click on Start > System > Control Center >Sounds > Sound Preferences - looks like a Windows copy too.

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Re: At Least VMS was GOOD (pronunciation)

"Straw poll.

How is Eadon pronounced?

- Up vote if you think it rhymes with the garden from which the snake was expelled

- Down vote if you think it rhymes with 'ead-on collision"

Upvoted - even with your misuse of the word 'rhymes'! :-)

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Boffin

Re: At Least VMS was GOOD

If it doesn't hurt it's not a problem. Signs of drooling are slighty unusual, but not unheard of, and do not signify abnormality either.

Signed, Dr. Med. Ivan Pavlov

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Re: At Least VMS was GOOD @Eadon

>its b*st*rd offspring - WNT and it's ugly daughters

Says something about David Cutler - perhaps whilst he had the big idea's it needed the talents of others at DEC to shape them into something GOOD.

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RIP indeed - spent many years working on VAX/VMS systems of all flavours in many jobs from the early 80s onwards. Anyone else remember VaxNotes - a bulletin board system that ran on the VAX? Any ex-BPers out there? :)

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Happy

Vax Notes

I remember Vax Notes fondly. And Vax Phone. Wasted many a happy afternoon during my university days, thanks to those two .....

And VAX/VMS had proper file versioning! A full filename was something like "LOGIN.COM;43" but this could be shortened to "LOGIN.COM" which would use the most recent version. If you created a new LOGIN.COM then it would become version 44 -- version 43 would not be deleted, until you had accumulated too many versions of the same file.

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Re: Vax Notes

"version 43 would not be deleted, until you had accumulated too many versions of the same file."

That rather depended on your sysadmin. A friend of mind found she was working with a BOFH who had PURGE as a scripted nightly (*) task, just to keep the disc lean you understand.

(* OK, I don't think it actually survived to run a second night, but that was the original intention.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Vax Notes

>A friend of mind found she was working with a BOFH who had PURGE as a scripted nightly

Can't have been a very good BOFH. All you'd need to do was after the first purge change the version limit property of the directory to 1. This would ensure that no matter when a file was edited there'd only be the latest version.

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Pint

Re: Vax Notes

All you'd need to do was after the first purge change the version limit property of the directory to 1.

That would need a rather crafty setup, as any directory from your home directory down would be owned by you, so you'd be able to change the file limit back, and he'd need to have a batchjob running that sets the file limit on any directory you've created that day, plus purge the files in it anyway. Having directories not owned by you but writable by you (so you can't change the file limit) requires more acl-fu than I'd care to think up after working hours.

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Pint

Shit. Not just the end of VMS (the Open is silent), but in a way, the final nail in a great company, laid low by beancounters in the executive suite destroying the good efforts of engineers at the working face.

For what it's worth, OpenVMS runs very well on the remarkable SIMH emulator. No telling how long HP will make available the disk images, but a search for 'OpenVMS Hobbyist' should prove useful to anyone who wants to see the OS running on their own PC.

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SIMH is great. Although I do prefer to run mine on KA49 in my VAXstation 4000, much to the delight of the beancounters of the electricity supplier. Especially when running cluster of them.

>>> show config

KA49-A V1.2-09D-V4.3 83 MHZ

08-00-2B-C0-FF-EE

128MB

DEVNBR DEVNAM INFO

------ -------- --------------------------

1 NVR OK

2 LCSPX OK

Highres 72Hz - 8 Plane 4Mpixel FB - V1.1

3 DZ OK

4 CACHE OK

5 MEM OK

128MB 0A,0B,0C,0D=16MB, 1E,1F,1G,1H=16MB

6 FPU OK

7 IT OK

8 SYS OK

9 NI OK

10 SCSI OK

6-INITR 7-L0-RZ26B

11 AUD OK

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"... much to the delight of the beancounters of the electricity supplier".

Only until they start getting paid more for NOT selling you electricity.

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Yeah its funny how many facilities we had on the Vax at college

would be very welcome right here and right now... Still, I suppose over the years I've earned a fair few quids for coping with DOS/NTs inadequacies and Netware's eccentricities so I shouldn't complain...

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Unhappy

Bummer

How terribly sad. I have fond memories of VMS, both as a DECcie and before: it was my first "real" computer system back when I was at college in the '80s. Unix was more fun to hack around on, but VMS had a nice reassuring solidity to it.

Sounds like DEC's classic old marketing strategy is still living on at HP, at least: "we don't know how to sell this thing, so we'll get rid of it."

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