Wednesday, May 2, 2012

OpenVMS: Install FreeAXP

This, hopefully, is the first step toward having OpenVMS running in FreeAXP.

  • First, get Windows running. Set it up to have at least 1 GB of memory and two cores. (896 MB and two cores minimum or it won't run.)
  • Second, download FreeAXP from this URL.
  • Third, run the installer.
  • Accept all the defaults. When it finishes, it will plunk you into "Virtual Alpha Configuration Utility".
  • Choose "File", "New configuration file" - now you can set up your new Alpha
  • Make sure to leave Main memory at 128M. If you need more memory, you will have to buy an Avanti license. (Avanti is the commercial form of FreeAXP.)
  • In order to boot and install VMS, you will need a disk drive and a CDROM drive
  • Create the disk drive by opening the "pci6-KZPAA" tab - add disk0.0 as an image file. Give it a name and choose "Known disk type" and choose a disk (I chose RZ73, more or less at random).
  • Click on the "play" icon. It will take some time to create the disk drive image file. Be patient.
Here's what this got me. A black Putty window opened, that said:
ERROR: ISA table corrupt!
Initializing table to defaults
type >>>init to use these changes
TIMER_TPS environment variable invalid
Defaulting to 1mS per tick
V7.0-9, built on Mar 18 1999 at 13:25:37
Hmmm. Don't know why the "ISA table" (whatever that is) is corrupt. Turns out this issue is covered in the FreeAXP User's Guide, section 7.7 FIRST LAUNCH MESSAGES. Briefly stated, it is to be expected. Here's the long version:
This behavior is similar to what happens on a real AlphaServer the first time it is powered on or when the CMOS battery is replaced. The Time Of Year (TOY) and NVRAM variables have not yet been initialized by the console firmware. Once the emulator has successfully booted to the console prompt and has then been shut down in a controlled fashion using the exit command, TOY and NVRAM information will be written to .toy and .nvr files. The next time the emulator boots, the required information will be extracted from these files and the above errors will not occur.
Anyway, I did init as suggested and then show device:
V7.0-9, built on Mar 18 1999 at 13:25:37
>>>show device
dka0.               DKA0                           RZ73  T366
dka100.             DKA100                        RRD42  4.5d
dva0.               DVA0
ewa0.              EWA0              08-00-2B-DE-43-00
pka0.               PKA0                  SCSI Bus ID 7
Now, DKA100 is the CDROM. So I'll try to boot from it.
>>>boot dka100
(boot dka100. -flags 0)
block 0 of dka100. is a valid boot block
reading 1226 blocks from dka100.
bootstrap code read in
base = 1f2000, image_start = 0, image_bytes = 99400
initializing HWRPB at 2000
initializing page table at 1e4000
initializing machine state
setting affinity to the primary CPU
jumping to bootstrap code

    OpenVMS (TM) Alpha Operating System, Version V8.3
    Š Copyright 1976-2006 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.

Please enter date and time (DD-MMM-YYYY  HH:MM)
Hmm. So far, so good!
Please enter date and time (DD-MMM-YYYY  HH:MM)  02-MAY-2012 11:22

    Installing required known files...

    Configuring devices...
%EWA0, Twisted-Pair mode set by console


    You can install or upgrade the OpenVMS ALPHA operating system
    or you can install or upgrade layered products that are included
    on the OpenVMS ALPHA distribution media (CD/DVD).

    You can also execute DCL commands and procedures to perform
    "standalone" tasks, such as backing up the system disk.

    Please choose one of the following:

        1)  Upgrade, install or reconfigure OpenVMS ALPHA Version V8.3
        2)  Display layered products that this procedure can install
        3)  Install or upgrade layered products
        4)  Show installed products
        5)  Reconfigure installed products
        6)  Remove installed products
        7)  Find, Install or Undo patches; Show or Delete Recovery Data
        8)  Execute DCL commands and procedures
        9)  Shut down this system

Enter CHOICE or ? for help: (1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/?)


Installing VMS is of course beyond the scope of this entry. But you can just have at it - why not?


  1. There seems to be some missing steps there. You talk about creating a RZ73, but you don't explain about the RRD42 CDROM. Which is confusing since you boot from it.

  2. Today I have just installed FreeAXP and added disk0.1 as raw device with CD_ROM ticked - that gave me correct device list of init BUT if I attempt boot dka100
    I get error
    (boot dka100. -flags 0) failed to open dka100.
    Am I meant to have an OPEN VMS image on a physical CD/DVD?