Python snakes its way onto legacy systems

VMS Software Inc. (VSI) delivers news this week that a 3.8.2 release of the all-purpose utility language is now a part of OpenVMS. The release available on the VSI website for download contains the core binary Python distribution plus various OpenVMS-specific extensions.

Python is a classic example of open-source toolkit power emerging in the 1990s. During that era, vendors continued to release legacy-specific tools and improve solutions such as Datatrieve, the report writer delivered on Digital systems running OpenVMS. The new 3.8.2 Python release has been linked with OpenVMS products such as VSI’s version of Datatrieve and the Oracle RDB database. The new Python interfaces with many OpenVMS system services and library calls.

Datatrieve emerged with the wombat as its notional mascot, another throwback to the era of open-source tools. Perl and python were documented in books published by O’Reilly, each with a woodcut of an animal on the cover. Like Datatrieve, Python emphasizes code readability with constructs that enable clear programming of both small- and large-scale software applications. Python features a dynamic type system and automatic memory management. The all-purpose language supports multiple programming paradigms, including object-oriented, functional, and procedural, and it has a large and comprehensive runtime library.

What OpenVMS earns

HP 3000 Python users are not as fortunate as OpenVMS legacy customers. Hewlett-Packard’s engineers released a porting whitepaper for open-source software in 2007. However, the version of Python for MPE/iX remains stalled at 1.5. Python software never made it to HP-supported status on MPE/iX. However, engineer Joseph Koshy’s work works on some HP 3000s. Back in 2002, one developer offered a Python cookbook for the HP 3000 user.

As HP exited the 3000 market, it said the user community needed to take charge of this kind of revival of open source elements. Robert Mills of Pinnacle Arvato tried to contact Koshy about getting Python ready to play on the HP supported versions of MPE/iX: 6.5 through 7.5. Alas, Koshy had by then moved away from the 3000 group in Bangalore.

VSI is a new generation of development resource for the OpenVMS user. In contrast, HP 3000 sites never got to enjoy the powers of such a professional development lab. HP’s operating system license agreement for MPE/iX fell short of empowering developers with source code.That could have made Python as powerful a creature as on OpenVMS today. The biggest difference, though, was that the Digital OS found an indie lab, post-HP.

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