Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

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dclough
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Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby dclough » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:23 pm

I want to grab an HPUX or OpenVMS box to have something else to mess around on, but I'm limited on space and power. What's the smallest system you've ever seen running HPUX or OpenVMS?

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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby Winnili » Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:34 pm

For VMS:
    If you don't count the DEC Multia/UDB (based on the DEC LCA4 processor which would only support up to VMS V7.3, perhaps V7.3-1, albeit with many likely issues related to cooling or the lack thereof), I'd say the Digital Personal Workstation 500au (see here for pictures of two PWS 500au's of mine) and the Compaq AlphaServer/AlphaStation DS10/XP900 (see here for pictures of a DS10 of mine). Those two types of systems will run VMS up to the latest version (i.e. HP OpenVMS Alpha V8.4) and comfortably so, especially with 256+ Mbytes RAM and an ATi Radeon 7500 (e.g. in a DS10).

    There are naturally all sorts of VAX and Alpha workstations and desksides, but some are quite old with equally old firmware/boot consoles (e.g. SRM, for Alpha) without upgrades. The latter can be very limiting, especially if you plan on running the later/latest versions of VMS.

    Lastly, there weren't many genuine VMS “I64” (Itanium) workstations, but VMS supports both the HP workstation zx2000 (which is rare to find, in my experience) and the HP workstation zx6000 (which is similar to the HP Integrity rx2600). Keep in mind though, VMS doesn't support the stock AGP graphics typically installed in these types of workstations. Although, that's no problem, as you can swap it out for any suitable, supported, PCI graphics option.

    (The above would also largely apply for Digital/Tru64 UNIX, in the case of Alpha systems.)

For HP-UX:
    It greatly depends on which version you'd like to run, also on which architecture: MC68000, PA-RISC and/or IA-64. If you don't mind running (e.g.) an old PA-RISC version, you could find one of those 700-series “pizza box” type systems. Besides being restricted to running older versions, some of these older systems also use proprietary interfaces for input devices ― peripherals, like a keyboard and a mouse ― where “HIL” comes to mind.

    The fairly recent, aforementioned, HP workstation zx2000 (IA-64) is fairly small, but very hard to find (and probably not going to be very affordable). I guess and that system would probably be capable of running the latest version, HP-UX 11i v3.1 U10 (although without HPVM support and such). Unlike VMS, HP-UX ― provided you run the proper version ― would be able to take advantage of interesting AGP graphics options, such as the ATi FireGL X1, X3 and other stock options for PA-RISC (e.g. HP workstation c8000, also known as 9000/785) and IA-64 (again, pretty much the aforementioned zx2000 and zx6000) workstations. The last version of HP-UX to provide hardware-accelerated graphics support for IA-64 workstations is HP-UX 11i v2.3 with the MTOE and DCOE.

    If you do want HPVM (also known as Integrity VM) support, the smallest will probably be an HP Integrity rx2620 in 2U, 19" rack-mounting enclosure, with one or more “Montecito” ― i.e. Itanium 9000-series, with Intel VT-x Virtualization Technology ― processors installed (here you can see pictures of such a system, an rx2620 of mine).
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby SAQ » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:39 pm

Multia will run v7.3-2 with a bit of hacking, and when run vertically and with a jimmied fan it will be cool enough. The downside is that most don't come with 3.5" internal drives (so you have to add in an external drive box), and memory is tight.

VAXstation 4000/VLC is a thin pizzabox, but only 5 VUPS. VAXstation/MicroVAX 2000 is a lunchbox sized machine, but even slower and harder to keep running (MFM/RLL drive).

DS10L is a 1Uer, but can be noisy.

I'd say a 3000/300 series Alpha would be smaller than the PWS - the PWS is a midtower PC size machine.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby Winnili » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:55 pm

SAQ wrote:Multia will run v7.3-2 with a bit of hacking

Possibly, but that's well beyond what the original DEC employee initiative “midnight hack” (of which the sources still aren't available) was made to support. I also managed to install something later on my Multia/UDB, but that's really besides the point. The person appears to be new to VMS, did you perhaps miss that?


when run vertically and with a jimmied fan it will be cool enough.

Do you have a Multia/UDB? If so, how long did you run it? A few days, a week, a month? The Multia/UDB is notorious for failing, due to the very poor stock cooling fan and overall design. I replaced the stock fan in mine and also had to replace the battery, with a battery pack of my own. Even like that, I still don't fully trust it.

I'd definitely not recommend a rather unreliable and potential disastrous mess of a system like a Multia/UDB to a newcomer to VMS. The Multia/UDB wasn't exactly one of DEC's better systems and I fear it could indirectly not leave a very good impression of VMS, either.


The downside is that most don't come with 3.5" internal drives (so you have to add in an external drive box), and memory is tight.

Who in his right mind would want to install a 3½" disk inside a Multia/UDB to begin with? That's asking for trouble. Also, having a disk in an external disk box/enclosure is also no guarantee that things will ‘work’. The Multia/UDB, or rather the various models, have all too often differing components such as SCSI controllers (sometimes not even an optional riser with SCSI controller, so merely the on-board IDE/ATA) and can behave very differently.


VAXstation/MicroVAX 2000 is a lunchbox sized machine, but even slower and harder to keep running (MFM/RLL drive).

That system is so slow, already in its day it was considered sluggish and as a result even many die-hard DEC enthusiasts wo(uld)n't touch it. Definitely not recommended to a VMS newcomer. For that system to run somewhat comfortably, you'd need a very old version of VMS (very likely distributed on tape). Good luck finding that...


I'd say a 3000/300 series Alpha would be smaller than the PWS - the PWS is a midtower PC size machine.

Is that large in your book? I think the much faster EV56 in the PWS 500au, plus having more universal PCI options at one's disposal, is much better than running an early and rather dated EV4. In fact, the PWS 500au enjoyed its last SRM release over approximately half a decade after the DEC 3000 systems were discontinued.
Last edited by Winnili on Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby PymbleSoftware » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:19 pm

I might have a multia hidden in my back room. I think it had NetNSD or OpenBSD on it.


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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby theinonen » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:15 pm

Winnili wrote:
I'd say a 3000/300 series Alpha would be smaller than the PWS - the PWS is a midtower PC size machine.

Is that large in your book? I think the much faster EV56 in the PWS 500au, plus having more universal PCI options at one's disposal, is much better than running an early and rather dated EV4. In fact, the PWS 500au enjoyed its last SRM release over approximately half a decade after the DEC 3000 systems were discontinued.


But then again you could get XP1000 that is just like PWS 500au, but faster with 667 MHz EV67 processor.

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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby Winnili » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:37 am

theinonen wrote:But then again you could get XP1000 that is just like PWS 500au, but faster with 667 MHz EV67 processor.

If you can find one, sure, because they're more rare in my experience. You could've named other systems as well, such as the +100 MHz faster EV56 PWS 600au, the EV67/EV68 AlphaServer/AlphaStation DS20E (in deskside configuration), the EV68C AlphaServer/AlphaStation DS25, the amazing EV68CB AlphaServer/AlphaStation DS15 (I have one of these, great systems) and possibly even the EV7 ‘holy grail’ AlphaServer/AlphaStation ES47 (also in deskside configuration), those are also more powerful than a PWS 500au and have been offered as workstations. But really, how likely is it to find one ― especially the later systems and models ― under a hundreds or even thousands of dollars/euros? I think the poster implied that he's new, wants a small yet capable system and doesn't want to spend a fortune.

I did read that the average XP1000 should consume less power than the average PWS 500au, which I'll admit is interesting, although I don't have first-hand experience. What I can say, as I heard from others, is that it almost equally suffers from lagging behind in terms of firmware, SRM and such support. So, for that, an AlphaServer ― like a DS10 ― is going to be the better choice.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby SAQ » Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:31 pm

Winnili wrote:
when run vertically and with a jimmied fan it will be cool enough.

Do you have a Multia/UDB? If so, how long did you run it? A few days, a week, a month? The Multia/UDB is notorious for failing, due to the very poor stock cooling fan and overall design. I replaced the stock fan in mine and also had to replace the battery, with a battery pack of my own. Even like that, I still don't fully trust it.

I'd definitely not recommend a rather unreliable and potential disastrous mess of a system like a Multia/UDB to a newcomer to VMS. The Multia/UDB wasn't exactly one of DEC's better systems and I fear it could indirectly not leave a very good impression of VMS, either.


I didn't say I recommended it, but a Multia was my first VMS system and it is possible to get it working, and they are small and cheap if those are big considerations, though I was very happy to move up to a DEC 3000/300X that I swapped a Sun for. My Multia came with the stand and I "hotwired" the fan to run all the time. Note that I wasn't running it the summer when it was hot enough to lock up the Indy. At the time I wrote the first post I forgot the most irritating part of the Multia - the SRM console needed for OpenVMS is taken from a different machine (but similar) and it has a bug on the Multia - when the battery dies, the console is trashed until you flash the Multia SRM back on (blind) and then flash back to the OpenVMS capable firmware.

The downside with most DEC systems is that you're either in an area with bunches of them that are given away if you know people, or you're in an area where they're hard to come by and a low-middle range 21164 system will run you three figures.

I also didn't really recommend the 2000, just noted that it was an option. For actual use, even a SOC VAX system such as the VLC can feel a bit slow, especially with DECwindows (I have a 4000/200 32MB). If the OP wants a workstation with graphics and can afford it I'd recommend a 21264 or better, since those will work with the Radeon 7000/7500 cards and have the '264 extensions.

I guess the problem is that we don't know what the OP's definition of large is. If the shipping cost is the big factor then perhaps a PC164LX provided he can source a S3 Trio64, QLogic (or other supported SCSI card), and a DE500/other supported network card assembled in a found case. Again, it would require a bit of work, but there are good "how do I make this run OpenVMS" howtos out there.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby mia » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:47 pm

I broke so many multias; which is a shame, it was a really great workstation, with a terrible cooling and a case obviously too small.
I ran everything on it, digital unix, nt, netbsd, linux, openbsd, I loved them, I had many of them, but they're completely ill-designed.

too bad.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby Winnili » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:07 am

SAQ wrote:My Multia came with the stand and I "hotwired" the fan to run all the time.

By that you mean that you cut the thermistor wire?


mia wrote:I broke so many multias; which is a shame, it was a really great workstation, with a terrible cooling and a case obviously too small.

It was never really a “workstation”, I think that even DEC never went that far as to call it one (as far as I can remember). DEC treated it like a ‘thin client’, or an ‘X terminal’, but then with optional internal storage and other additions and marketed it alongside its famous VTs. See the below marketing photograph:

Image


I agree, if you can get one up and running, it's nice and it doesn't take much space. If it hadn't suffered from the terrible thermal design, inadequate stock cooling, failure-prone battery, dated VMS support and tricky VMS installation procedure, I'd have easily recommended this system to the thread starter.


I ran everything on it, digital unix, nt, netbsd, linux, openbsd, I loved them, I had many of them, but they're completely ill-designed.

Not everything, you didn't run VMS. (By far the most tricky one.)

NetBSD is easy, aside from the fact that it can whine if the TOY/NVR battery is dead. I find that a very peculiar requirement, from a ‘flexible’ operating system like NetBSD.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby mia » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:33 am

Winnili wrote:Not everything, you didn't run VMS. (By far the most tricky one.)


At the time, I was a starving student. I did most of my work on my Indigo2 (with Solid Impact).
The reason why a starving student had an Indigo2 (which was real money back then) explains why I was starving.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby Winnili » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:15 pm

Sorry, you've lost me there...
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby SAQ » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:31 pm

Winnili wrote:
SAQ wrote:My Multia came with the stand and I "hotwired" the fan to run all the time.

By that you mean that you cut the thermistor wire?



Something like that - I can't remember exactly right now. It was not my favorite machine. Nice form factor, but too slow, too few SIMMS, occasional VMS weirdness, and the external drive bay negated the size advantage. It was, however, only $20 and local - at the time the best Alpha deal I had ever seen. Of course, shortly after that the 3000 and then a 1000A showed up local and cheap.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby smj » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:08 am

Winnili wrote:It was never really a “workstation”, I think that even DEC never went that far as to call it one (as far as I can remember). DEC treated it like a ‘thin client’, or an ‘X terminal’, but then with optional internal storage and other additions and marketed it alongside its famous VTs. See the below marketing photograph:
That photo is more likely showing the VT525, which used a very similar case as the Multia (if not the same), but was still a terminal. Similar to how the VX51 (?) was an Pentium-based PC in the same case as the VX4N (?) Alpha. DEC loved to put different products in the same case, look at the Rainbow, Professional 3x0, and DECmate II.

In terms of built-in limitations, one might view the Multia as a worthy successor to the VAXstation 4000/VLC and the VAXstation 2000. ;) Kidding aside, all of these were designed to meet particular niches and price-points, and as a result made fine hobbyist machines as they started to leave service. I've got a MicroVAX 2000 that I'll be hanging onto for as long as possible, just because it really is a marvelous bit of packaging for it's time.
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Re: Smallest HPUX/OpenVMS System Ever?

Unread postby mia » Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:41 am

What about a nice vaxstation 4000?
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