HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation

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The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


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2.6.1 Where can I download OpenVMS and Layered Product Kits?

HP customers with commercial licenses and support contracts can download software product distribution kits from the following HP website:

You can also find pointers to the Software Rollout Report and to the OpenVMS SPD listings via the above SQP website.

Information on obtaining and transfering licenses is available in Section 2.6 and Section 2.8.4, while information on the OpenVMS Hobbyist licensing program and on obtaining hobbyist product distribution kits is in Section 2.8.1.

2.7 In what language is OpenVMS written?

OpenVMS is written in a wide variety of languages.

In no particular order, OpenVMS components are implemented using Bliss, Macro, Ada, PLI, VAX and DEC C, Fortran, UIL, VAX and Alpha SDL, Pascal, MDL, DEC C++, DCL, Message, and Document. And this is certainly not a complete list. However, the rumor is NOT true that an attempt was made to write pieces of OpenVMS in every supported language so that the Run-Time Libraries could not be unbundled. (APL, BASIC, COBOL and RPG are just some of the languages NOT represented!)

There are a large variety of small and not-so-small tools and DCL command procedures that are used as part of the OpenVMS build, and a source code control system capable of maintaining over a hundred thousand source files across multiple parallel development projects, and overlapping releases.

2.8 Obtaining and Transfering OpenVMS licenses?

The following sections describe hobbyist and educational license programs, as well as information on commercial licenses and transfers.

For information on the available commercial OpenVMS licenses and for information on license transfers, please see Section 2.8.4. OpenVMS Hobbyist licenses are discussed in Section 2.8.1. For information on the licensing implementation, troubleshooting licensing problems, on the License Unit Requirements Table (LURT), and other related details, please see Section 5.39. For configuring and troubleshooting LMF, see Section 12.4.

2.8.1 Questions asked by Hobbyist OpenVMS licensees?

If you are a member of an HP-recognized user group (eg: Encompass, Enterex, DECUS), and are considering acquiring and using a VAX, Alpha or (soon) IA-64 system for hobbyist (non-commercial) use, (free) license product authorization keys (PAKs) for OpenVMS VAX, OpenVMS Alpha, and (reportedly) OpenVMS I64, and layered products are available.

In addition to the license keys, OpenVMS VAX and Alpha distribution CD-ROM distribution kits are available with OpenVMS, DECwindows Motif, DECnet and TCP/IP networking, compilers, and a variety of layered products. (A hobbyist distribution for OpenVMS I64 is expected.) (While the hobbyist CD-ROM distributions are intended for and tailored for OpenVMS Hobbyists, the contents and capabilities of the Hobbyist installation kits included within the OpenVMS Hobbyist distribution do not differ from the standard distribution installation kits. The products are chosen to reflect the most popular products and the space available on the media.)

If you have questions on what else is authorized by the license agreement and on what other distribution media is available to you, well, please read the applicable software license agreement(s).

For further information, please link to:

On the OpenVMS Hobbyist license registration form at the above website (as of August 2005), you are offered the choice of the "OpenVMS VAX" license(s), the "OpenVMS Alpha" license(s), and the "Layered Products" licenses. You will want the operating system license for your particular OpenVMS platform and you will want the "Layered Products" licenses. You will want to select and to acquire two sets of license PAKs.

For vendors wishing to license products specifically for hobbyist use (and to not issue hobbyist PAKs), the program provides hobbyists with the license PAK OPENVMS-HOBBYIST.

If you plan to use a hardware emulator (eg: VAX emulator) on a Microsoft Windows platform, make sure you have an OpenVMS distribution kit that can be installed and/or booted with the particular emulator package you plan to use. For additional information on emulators, please see Section 13.12 and particularly please see the emulator-related documentation.

2.8.1.1 Vendors offering Hobbyist Licenses

Hobbyist license product additions, and any updates for products already listed here are welcome. Please contact the FAQ Editor

2.8.2 OpenVMS Educational and CSLG licenses?

For information on OpenVMS licenses for educational customers, please see the HP Campus Software License Grant (CSLG) license program and the OpenVMS Educational license program:

2.8.3 What developer and partner licensing programs are available?

Commercial software developers can join the HP DSPP program, and can (potentially) receive discounts on various software product licenses and software distributions, as well as on hardware purchases.

The DSPP program is the descendent of the DIGITAL ISVN and DIGITAL ASAP programs and the Compaq CSA program, and the analogous developer and partner programs at HP.

Please see Section 2.15 for additional details on the DSPP program.

For information on the OpenbVMS Hobbyist and OpenVMS Educational license programs, please see Section 2.8.1.

2.8.4 How do I obtain or transfer an OpenVMS license?

To transfer a commercial OpenVMS license from one owner to another, or to purchase a commercial license, you can contact HP at regional sales office or reseller.

For information on the hobbyist license program, please see Section 2.8.1.

2.9 Does OpenVMS support the Euro currency symbol?

OpenVMS can generate the %xA4 character code used for the Euro, and the DECwindows DECterm can display the glyph. Please check with the vendor of your terminal or terminal emulator for additional details.

2.10 OpenVMS Ports? Itanium? Ports to IA-32, EM64T or AMD64 systems?

OpenVMS has been ported to and is operational on four architectures: VAX, Alpha, IA-64, and IA-32. The first three have available native ports of OpenVMS, the fourth is available via emulation. VAX is the oldest architecture, and limited to 32-bit virtual and up to 34-bit physical addressing. The Alpha and IA-64 architectures are both 64-bit architectures, with 64-bit virtual addressing available. The available IA-32 emulation is provided for the OpenVMS VAX and other VAX operating systems, and provides a 32-bit VAX environment. For additional information on the emulation, please see Section 13.12.

As for (the lack of) a native port for IA-32, OpenVMS Engineering presently and continues to believe that there would be insufficient market (read: profit, customer interest) to justify the cost involved in a native port of OpenVMS to systems using the Intel IA-32 architecture. In addition to the direct costs involved in any port and in addition to the substantial effort involved in moving backwards from a 64-bit environment on Alpha and on IA-64 to a 32-bit platform (such as IA-32), and the exceedingly non-trivial device qualification costs and the costs in moving backwards into older PCI and I/O environments (IA-32 systems more than a few years old have equivalently aged I/O support and buses), each organization and each person maintaining a product or a package for OpenVMS will have to justify a port to "OpenVMS IA-32", "OpenVMS EM64T" or "OpenVMS AMD64", akin to the decisions and the effort involved in porting a product from OpenVMS VAX to OpenVMS Alpha, or the port to OpenVMS I64.

Platform ports of many of the various products can be easy, and many of the ports of applications using documented OpenVMS features are expected to require little more than a source rebuild. Other products can and do depend on platform-specific or undocumented features, and the associated ports can be more involved. Regardless, ports of operating systems are very large and involved projects. The prerequisite product requirements for an OpenVMS operating system port are also non-trivial, as well---compilers in particular are obviously required, and the suite of compilers provided must maintain a very high degree of source-level compatibility across the platforms. In the case of the HP Integrity port, OpenVMS I64 V8.0 used cross-compilers and cross-tools operating on OpenVMS Alpha systems, while V8.2 and later have various native compilers available.

The OpenVMS I64 port was centrally built using the existing OpenVMS Alpha environment and around the work and the knowledge from the OpenVMS Alpha port, and OpenVMS Engineering fully expects that customers and ISVs will use and will continue to use OpenVMS Alpha systems to assist with their own ports to OpenVMS I64. OpenVMS Engineering fully expects to see customers using mixed-architecture clusters and fully shared file systems, as well.

OpenVMS Engineering is well aware of the AMD AMD64 (64-bit) platform and processors. (At least one of the available VAX emulators can reportedly utilize parts of the AMD64 instruction set, please contact the VAX emulator vendor(s) or maintainer(s) for assistance and details on their products.) OpenVMS Engineering is also well aware of the Intel EM64T platform and processors. There are no plans to provide a native port of HP OpenVMS for any systems based on the AMD AMD64 nor Intel EM64T architectures.

As part of the work leading to the Itanium port, senior engineers had extensively evaluated the products and the architectures available across the high-end 64-bit computing space, and chose to target Itanium for 64-bit environments---this while under the Compaq organization. This included looking at IA-32. HP (a co-developer of Itanium with Intel) had seperately chosen to target Intel Itanium for its high-end computer products. Compaq then announced plans for the future of Alpha through EV7-series products and platforms, and HP (entirely seperately) announced plans for PA-RISC products and platforms. The Itanium target has been maintained consistently since the Itanium port was announced by Compaq, and has also been consistently maintained by HP and by the combined company. For those folks prefering to follow the schedules and the product deliveries, OpenVMS Engineering had OpenVMS I64 V8.0 ready (internally) ahead of schedule---and with more features available within the release than had been originally planned for the release. (For information on and for schedules of future OpenVMS releases, please see the roadmap that is available at the OpenVMS website.)

OpenVMS I64 itself does not require and does not plan to utilize the Itanium IA-32 32-bit environment for the operation of OpenVMS itself. OpenVMS I64 V8.0 and later run natively on the Itanium processor family, with no use of IA-32 instructions. While OpenVMS can and does support 32-bit OpenVMS applications and addressing on Itanium, this is done with sign-extension addressing techniques entirely analogous to what was done with 32-bit applications operating in the 64-bit Alpha environment. Both OpenVMS 32-bit and 64-bit applications operate within the native Itanium instruction set and run-time environment, and do not use the Itanium IA-32 environment.

But yes, a native IA-32 port or a native AMD AMD64 or Intel EM64T port of OpenVMS would certainly be nice to have---this, of course, following the traditional Linux preference for having a Linux port available for most (all?) computer architectures known, and even for certain high-end refrigerators and toasters, and similar appliance-like devices. (The downside of this all-encompassing approach: this requires near-infinite engineering and support costs from the various vendors involved, and the qualification efforts and costs of most everything---everywhere. Or reduced or eliminated testing and support efforts. Or an unfortunate combination of these two. These costs are huge, and the benefits derived from the work are comparatively small when given the comparable costs of more targeted (and thus supported and supportable) hardware configurations---the platform targets are and must be carefully selected and considered by each vendor. Put another way, there are no plans to provide a native port of HP OpenVMS for systems based on Intel IA-32 processors, nor for systems based on AMD AMD64 nor Intel EM64T architectures and processors.

All this material having been written, have you looked at the system configurations and pricing of the available HP Integrity Intel Itanium systems? Low-end computer hardware is clearly a commodity product, and the systems are priced, serviced, upgraded, and replaced accordingly. Intel Itanium is a commodity microprocessor presently used in platforms available from various hardware vendors, including (obviously) from HP. Further, Itanium is a microprocessor available from and supported by Intel, a semiconductor vendor known for exceedingly high-volume microprocessor fabrication process and production capabilities.

For information on supported platforms and processors, please see the OpenVMS Software Product Description (SPD) at:

Please see Section 14.4.5 for Intel Itanium terminology.

2.11 Are there any network-accessible OpenVMS systems?

Yes, though various restrictions can and do apply.

  • Hobbes
    Hobbes is a MicroVAX 3100 Model 40 for which free access and accounts are available to OpenVMS enthusiasts. This system has BASIC, Pascal, Fortran, and C compilers installed. If you would like an account on Hobbes, please see the FAQ at
  • OpenVMS Galaxy Test-Drive
    HP currently offers an OpenVMS Galaxy Test-Drive system, based on an AlphaServer 4100 series configured as two instances of the OpenVMS operating system. For details, please visit:
  • HP DSPP Test-Drive
    The HP DSPP program offers various test-drive systems, including an HP Integrity Itanium development system and an HP OpenVMS I64 installation on an HP Integrity rx2600 server. (The DSPP program can offers discount, LMF PAKGEN PAK generation support, and other benefits for developers.) For details on the DSPP program and on the test-drive systems, please see section Section 2.8.3 and please visit:
    The test-drive systems do require registration, though access to the systems is free.
  • Encompasserve
    Encompasserve offers free access an OpenVMS Alpha system.
  • OpenECS
    OpenECS offers free access to a VAX 6000 model 530 system. If interested, please visit:
  • The Deathrow Cluster
    The maintainers of the Deathrow Cluster offer access to an OpenVMS VAX and an OpenVMS Alpha system, configured in a cluster.
  • The Preatorian Public OpenVMS Cluster
    The maintainers of the Deathrow Cluster offer access to an OpenVMS Alpha cluster. Details are at the website listed below:

2.12 What version of OpenVMS do I need?

For information on supported platforms, please see the OpenVMS Software Product Description (SPD) for the particular OpenVMS version of interest.

For a table of the minimum and (as applicable) maximum OpenVMS versions required for various platforms, please see the hardware support chart at HP OpenVMS website and (as available) the following (potentially volatile; intra-website) link:

For information on the Multia, related Alpha single-board computers, or other officially unsupported systems, please see Section 14.4.1 and Section 14.4.2.1.

The following is a rule-of-thumb for Alpha platform support. The table Table 2-5 contains the earliest OpenVMS Alpha release with support for a particular series of Alpha microprocessors:

Table 2-5 OpenVMS Alpha Version Rule-Of-Thumb
Generic Microprocessor Generation OpenVMS Version General Comments
EV4 21064 V1.0 few systems; most EV4 require later; upgrade available
EV5 21164 V6.2 subsequent upgrade available
EV56 21164A V6.2-1H3 subsequent upgrade to V7.1 and later
EV6 21264 V7.1-2 subsequent upgrade typically to V7.2-1 or later
EV67 21264A V7.1-2 subsequent upgrade typically to V7.2-1 or later
EV68 21264B, C and D V7.2-1 believed/probable; currently an unconfirmed expectation
Specific hardware present and various system configurations can require OpenVMS Alpha releases later than those referenced in Table 2-5.

2.13 How can I submit OpenVMS Freeware?

For the guidelines and submission info, please visit the URL:

To order the current OpenVMS Freeware CD-ROM kit (shipping and handling charges apply), please request part number QA-6KZAA-H8.

2.14 Porting applications to OpenVMS?

Porting can range from simple to rather complex, and depends on the features used on the original platform.

This section covers generic porting, and porting among OpenVMS VAX OpenVMS Alpha, and OpenVMS I64. (Porting among OpenVMS VAX, OpenVMS Alpha and OpenVMS I64 is often quite simple and involves little more than rebuilding from source, though a few applications using features specific to the platform or the architecture, or using undocumented or unsupported interfaces can and likely will require some additional effort to port.)

Several manuals on porting from OpenVMS VAX to OpenVMS Alpha are available in the OpenVMS documentation set, including information on porting VAX Macro32 assembler code to the Macro32 compiler on OpenVMS Alpha, on management differences, on upgrading privileged code, and application migration:

Documentation on porting to OpenVMS I64 is available, as well.

Details on the C programming environment are available at:

Details on porting VAX C to HP C are are available at:

An OpenVMS Porting Library is available at:

Information on the Enterprise Toolkit, a Visual-based development environment for developing applications for OpenVMS using a Microsoft platform, is available at:

Details on DCE, CORBA, BridgeWorks, and COM/DCOM middleware is available at:

Information on the COE standards is available at:

A wide variety of programming development tools and middleware are available as commercial products (eg: DECset, IBM WebSphere MQ---formerly MQseries), and various tools are also available as shareware or as Freeware. Please see other sections of this FAQ, and please see:


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