in Technology

VAX/VMS on Linux using SIMH

Some of you are aware that I’m into vintage computers. Sadly, my basement cannot hold all the computers I wish I could actually have – and some of them are forever going to be too big to fit in any man’s house (not to mention “make it past a man’s significant other“).

But why would one actually need a VAX when, these days, one can emulate one on a Linux PC using SIMH? Not only can one emulate a VAX (take your pick: MicroVAX or VAX 11/780) but also a PDP-11, Data General Nova, some ancient Honeywell mainframes I’ve never heard of, or a bunch of other old mainframes or minicomputers.

I have a special nostalgia for the VAX, since I accessed my first real e-mail account at the National Capital Free-Net via a VAX in my dad’s office. On the anniversary of my Dad’s retirement, I’ve decided I’m going to try to get a VAX running in emulation under SIMH – running OpenVMS, no less. Do I know anything about running OpenVMS? Nope, I do not – but I’m going to find out. Yes, I know it’s a nearly obsolete operating system, and DCL is not the most intuitive. But hopefully it should prove to be a little bit amusing at least – wish me luck!

(On a completely unrelated note: People are still writing in to comment on the blog post where I got yelled at by Drew of Toothpaste For Dinner for offering an RSS feed. Haha! I’ve moved onto reading xkcd these days … that fellow seems far less uptight, and his comics are more reliably funny. And yes, xkcd has an RSS feed, if you had to ask.)

Write a Comment


  1. Pshaw!

    Back in my day when we wanted to learn OpenVMS, we paid $50 for the CDs, $20 for a Vaxstation 3100, $10 for a working DEC 1x CD-ROM (without caddy), and another $5 making a working serial cable to connect to a VT220.

    I bought two 3100s (not even measured in Mhz), and stuck NetBSD on one, OpenVMS on the other. I gave up on both when NetBSD took a week to generate an SSHv1 key, and OpenVMS, well, once I had it setup on a huge R23 (~500MB) HD, I had nowhere on the entire internet to look for archives, since Compaq refused to give away copies of the DecNet TCP stack.

    ..I should look at SIMH again – in 2001, I thought I was funny by binding it to port 23 with a read only BSDv6 image.

    … nobody knew to type 'unix' when they saw the '@' 🙁