Hobbyist licenses for OpenVMS have been a notable option for users of the VAX, Alpha, and Integrity business servers. HP 3000 users tried for a similar license for MPE/iX, especially in the months following HP’s news it wouldn’t continue its 3000 business. HP declined to create the kind of license the users wanted to power the basement and in-garage 3000 servers they’d brought home.
With the change in ownership of OpenVMS — HP Enterprise turned over the business to VMS Software Inc. — the hobbyist program is ending at HPE. VSI is considering one option to continue hobbyist-class licenses.
Users can log a renewal request for their hobbyist licenses at the HPE website where they’ve obtained them over the years. When they do, they receive their final set of licenses, good through Dec. 31, 2021, along with a cover note.
“The community support OpenVMS has received over the years has been instrumental in the success of the product,” the HPE note reads. “As we approach the end of the HPE OpenVMS V8.4 standard support period, HPE plans to conclude the HPE OpenVMS Hobbyist license program. The HPE OpenVMS Hobbyist licenses we are issuing in 2020 will be the last set. Subsequently, HPE will not issue new HPE OpenVMS Hobbyist licenses.”
The final licenses are valid through December 31st, 2021. “We hope that this additional validity period will enable users to plan for the future,” HPE said. “Users who wish to avail themselves of HPE OpenVMS long term licenses are encouraged to purchase permanent licenses at standard prices.”
At least one user of commercial-grade licenses for Alpha-based OpenVMS, said the prices are prohibitive.
“The last time I was looking,” said Steven Reece, “was when I was working for a VMS reseller about 10 years ago. The licenses for a DS20 came out to about £20,000 (USD 24,442), between the base license, the user license, and the basic layered products (ucx, dvnetend, dw-motif.) It meant that the project that I was trying to get off the ground never got off the ground.”
“Point products for things like VMS Clusters on Integrity were very expensive, too, so a hobbyist wouldn’t be willing to go for that on a commercial basis unless they were very well off,” Reece added.
VSI is looking into a similar license for its versions of OpenVMS. Bill Pedersen, who leads discussions during monthly conference calls about open source on OpenVMS, says VSI is considering a student kit from VSI. “I would expect they will update the Product Authorization Kits there, but they have only been six-month PAKs,” he explained, “and then there is a certain amount of hand waving you have to do get to the next version, at least from comments people have made. I have not tried to use the VSI student kit.”