VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

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SAQ
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby SAQ » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:28 pm

commodorejohn wrote:The CD-ROM drive is a DEC RRD-42 - it's compatible with the VAX, but according to the folks on comp.os.vms it can't handle CD-R media, which would be the source of the problem for me. I have a Plextor drive on the way that supports 512-byte sectors and that some promo material claims is Alpha/VAX-compatible.


Yep. The original Hobbyist CDs are pressed so they weren't a problem, but unfortunately no longer available. I've never done it, but some Linuxes have MOP support for DEC netbooting available.
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby commodorejohn » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:54 am

Well, I'd rather just get another CD drive working with it if possible, but I'll keep that in mind. Netbooting's always been a PITA in my experience, though, and I can't imagine it's easier on older equipment.
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby SAQ » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:28 pm

commodorejohn wrote:Well, I'd rather just get another CD drive working with it if possible, but I'll keep that in mind. Netbooting's always been a PITA in my experience, though, and I can't imagine it's easier on older equipment.


The last couple of VAXstation installs I did I used a InfoServer 1000 so I didn't have to mess with finding the VAXstation SCSI cables and putting in a local CD-ROM. Pretty convienient, really, once it's set up.
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby astouffer » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:40 pm

This thread started me thinking. I know the VAX servers were great for uptime and the ability to handle multiple users. What was the smaller VAXStation line used for? Was there a niche market or something?

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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby SAQ » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:48 pm

VAXstations are also reliable, though they use more desktop-grade support componentry than the bigger VAXes (NCR 53C90 SCSI, LANCE Ethernet, the like) so they don't run as well under heavy users.

They provided a VAX-compatible workstation that was originally competitive speed-wise and would interface with the DEC services and run VMS but with a graphics head and 2-user "workstation" license. Much of the silicon was shared with the MicroVAX 3100 series as well, so there wasn't that much of a design penalty.

Nowadays they provide an entry into VAX-VMS for people who don't want to deal with a pedestal or rack machine. Yeah, a VAX 6000 is a sweet machine, but I don't have one because of size, noise and power. I do have two VAXstations and a VAX-4000.
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby PymbleSoftware » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:49 pm

astouffer wrote:This thread started me thinking. I know the VAX servers were great for uptime and the ability to handle multiple users. What was the smaller VAXStation line used for? Was there a niche market or something?


I think the local stock exchange used to have VAXstations for people to do software development on, I was busy crawling under the floors, which is odd because I am a software developer and was a software developer at that time not a cable guy, it was decades ago and that floor in that building is now a gym. The stock exchange is now in another building altogether.

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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby smj » Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:49 pm

SAQ wrote:VAXstations are also reliable, though they use more desktop-grade support componentry than the bigger VAXes (NCR 53C90 SCSI, LANCE Ethernet, the like) so they don't run as well under heavy users.
There are often, not always, differences to the larger boxes, and each company's engineering standards certainly come into play - probably depends on which year you pick too - but you'll see these controllers up into the mid-range systems at least. Very often the bus behind the controller is the difference, and then the number of these controllers - low-end systems making due with one controller on the single system bus, high-end systems supporting a dozen on a dedicated I/O bus...

They provided a VAX-compatible workstation that was originally competitive speed-wise and would interface with the DEC services and run VMS but with a graphics head and 2-user "workstation" license. Much of the silicon was shared with the MicroVAX 3100 series as well, so there wasn't that much of a design penalty.
Often the only difference was whether or not the framebuffer was plugged in, and a jumper being switched on the motherboard.

Early VAXstations* were performance- and cost- competitive with other CISCy UNIX workstations, but they faded pretty quickly as RISC reached the market. By 1989 DEC introduced the VAXstation 3100 and the MIPS-based DECstation 3100 just about side-by-side, with the MIPS-based DECstation about 3 times faster. The DECstation line was absolutely needed to stay competitive in light of Sun's SPARC, HP's PA-RISC, etc.

If you wanted VMS, you needed a VAX. Many VAXstations got added to clusters anchored by larger models, allowing the primary user(s) to have a graphical workstation and increasing the horsepower of the whole cluster. VMS sites often used the built-in batch job management features to distribute workloads to available CPUs/systems throughout the day, so you could get a lot of bang for your workstation dollar in that kind of environment vs. cyclic utilization of many commercial UNIX workstations. (While people found lots of ways to address that, with VMS it was there out of the box. Well, after you paid for a cluster node license... :x )

VMS allegedly had good real-time support, and I worked with groups in an academic setting where they would use VAXstation II's for process- or instrument-control and data recording, then afterwards have the machine in question reboot into a cluster to off-load the data and start processing it in batch mode using faster CPUs in the cluster. The control node would then reboot into standalone mode the next time it needed to run one of these real-time tasks. Seemed pretty neat in 1989-90.



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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby commodorejohn » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:25 pm

Well, a couple of decent (read: overpriced!) 68-to-50-pin converters (with high-byte termination) and an IBM/Plextor CD-ROM drive from my RS/6000 solved my SCSI woes, and a huge old NEC LCD monitor allowed me to get video working, so that's that out of the way. Now I just need to navigate my way through the OpenVMS install process...
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby SAQ » Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:20 am

commodorejohn wrote:Well, a couple of decent (read: overpriced!) 68-to-50-pin converters (with high-byte termination) and an IBM/Plextor CD-ROM drive from my RS/6000 solved my SCSI woes, and a huge old NEC LCD monitor allowed me to get video working, so that's that out of the way. Now I just need to navigate my way through the OpenVMS install process...


The docs will walk you right through it. http://h71000.www7.hp.com/doc/73final/6630/6630pro.html
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby commodorejohn » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:49 pm

Well, I've got some miscellaneous extra install files on another CD, and I figured out how to mount the CD from the DCL prompt, but I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out where it's mounted to. I'm working my way through the OpenVMS User's Manual, but in the meantime, is there a quick/simple guide to how the VMS filesystem hierarchy works?
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby smj » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:06 pm

You're probably best served by the (Open)VMS User's Manual. You can browse it online here: http://www.openvms.compaq.com/doc/73final/6489/6489pro.html, and HP has the PDF for downloading here: http://h71000.www7.hp.com/doc/731final/documentation/pdf/ovms_731_users.pdf. If the formatting of the HTML version is hard to read, give the PDF a shot.

Edit: Oops, you already tried that. Let's continue then...

If the going still seems tough, you could try getting a faster start from the Space Telescope Science Institute: http://www.stsci.edu/ftp/documents/system-docs/vms-guide/html/VUG_1.html It's got some details for their installation, but might prove a little more approachable if the DEC/Compaq/HP docs aren't doing it for you.
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby commodorejohn » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:45 pm

Can anyone tell me what parameters I should use for SET TERMINAL to match whatever the VAXStation 4000 graphical console emulates? I can't find much in the way of manuals for the graphical option boards, so I don't know if they specify or not. I would bet that I can just tell it to be a VT-100 and have no problems, but it'd be nice to know exactly what it's supposed to be.
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby smj » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:43 pm

John, do you mean the VS4000 console in "glass TTY" mode, e.g. no window system running? To be honest I'm not sure it does support anything like decent terminal features.

If it is in console mode, did you have trouble installing DECwindows, starting it, or did you opt-out during the installation? I think it's pretty straightforward to install DECwindows after the fact, get the media mounted and run one or two DCL scripts, but I'd have to hit Google...
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby commodorejohn » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:28 pm

Yeah, the guys on comp.os.vms informed me that the graphical (i.e. non-serial) console is basically a glass TTY. I didn't have DECWindows installed at the time because I was having a little trouble with the installation kits, but I got that resolved (unzipping them on the PC and burning a CD with the unzipped files missed some metadata that was apparently important,) so DECWindows is now up and running and the question is irrelevant.

On to trying out DOOM :D
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
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Re: VAXStation 4000/60 - some questions

Unread postby smj » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:49 am

commodorejohn wrote:On to trying out DOOM :D

<Ash> Groovy! </Ash>
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