Making Open Source Tools Work for VMS

For more than four years, a small team of devoted volunteers has put open source tools onto OpenVMS servers. The effort is focusing on OpenVMS 8.4 for the IA-64 servers from HP Enterprise. In the latest development for the project, the volunteers are bringing the new x86 version of OpenVMS from VMS Software Inc. into the picture.

This isn’t the first proposed project expansion. Volunteers say one stretch goal makes open source serve the OpenVMS VAX 7.3 release, too. One of the prizes of this work is perl, operating on OpenVMS.

GNUlib makes open source software a reality on any platform. The HP 3000 community got this vital bootstrap during the 1990s. Open source was spreading its wings at the time, so tools like the Apache webserver and Samba pulled up for MPE/iX duty. GNUlib is the porting tool to bring open source to OpenVMS.

The latest report from volunteers Bill Pedersen, Carl Friedberg, and John Malmberg takes note of a new x86 OpenVMS target. The update states Pedersen is working on field test of VMS Software Inc. X86 OpenVMS version 9.1. “I have it running on the DL360p, under SELinux and Oracle Virtual Box,” Pedersen reports, “as well as on an HP Envy desktop under Windows 10, also using Oracle Virtual Box.”

The VMS Software Inc. open source kits are available for SFTP downloading:

Username: OPENKITS
Password: VSI#14kits — Case Sensitive
IP Address:
Protocol : sftp

Perl has come to the OpenVMS world as a result of the open source volunteering. Installation kits are on the Web for Perl on OpenVMS using the native PolyCenter Software Installer (PCSI) kitting tools. Build procedures and the finished kits are available at the SourceForge project page for OpenVMS Perl.

Python is also on the OpenVMS horizon as an open source tool. Python is the most-used language in all of computing, according to the Tiobe software quality measurement company.

Virtualizing hardware affordable

In an interesting side note on the project, Pedersen identified an affordable resource for replacing aged Hewlett-Packard hardware. HPE’s VAX iron is antique, a good reason for using a virtualized VMS host like the Charon product from Stromasys. The VMS version from VSI uses virtualization to make x86 hardware play a role in Intel-ready OpenVMS. The horsepower needed to run a 9.1 OpenVMS is an element to factor.

Pedersen said he’s added “a nice, cheap, Proliant DL360p with 24 threads, 64GB memory, 2TB storage (four 600 GB SFF 10K SAS drives) for less than $400. I found out that the DL380 I had was a Gen7, and did not provide enough virtualization support for VSI X86 OpenVMS V9.1.”

Pedersen said the cost of getting a suitable Proliant is surprisingly affordable. “The vendor [at Amazon] still has some, if anyone is interested. I found them very responsive and helpful.”

Photo by Marin Tulard on Unsplash

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