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Old 09-07-2004, 01:40 AM   #1
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Denton
Distribution: debian, freebsd
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where oh where has VAX gone?

I was thinking the other day, "you know, I've used windows, linux, freebsd, different unixes, but what else is there?" then I remembered something about 'vax' ... I had no idea what it is, not many people do. I asked myself, "well, what is the vax? is it an OS? is it a type of architecture?"

I did figure out that it was a 32bit computer invented in the 70's. The operating system commonly run on vax machines seems to be vms... This is apparently way before my time (i myself was born in 86), though i remember reading about it in computer security-type papers from the 80's now that i think about it.

Can anyone tell me about it? I am always interested to learn about new things... Why don't we have them anymore, is it because of intel? hmm

also if anyone knows of any good vms tutorials of any kind ...I'm very curious about this machine ( found a shell acct ) ... and I like to be proficient in everything just for the sake of it (also so that if I have to use a vax I'll know what I'm doing and be able to impress my friends
Old 09-07-2004, 02:42 AM   #2
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VAX was a line of mainframe computers built by Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). From an engineering standpoint, DEC was pretty much hands-down the best, but their marketing efforts sucked, and although they did enjoy some success (on the technical superiority of both their machines and their operating system, called VMS) they were unable to sustain it. DEC eventually was bought out by Compaq in the late 90's, which itself was bought out by HP a few years ago.

An excellent Wiki article summary of DEC can be found here

As a side comment, VMS was a *real* operating system, and not even Linux offers some of the same features that just came standard. In addition to having 4 user levels (system, group, owner, world) and 4 file permission settings (read, write, execute, and delete) VMS included automatic version control -- the first version of a file was called "file.txt;1" and each subsequent edit would increment the counter by one. The number of versions could be unlimited, or capped at a maximum, and what was so great about it was that if you needed to, say, retrieve a file as it existed 14 versions ago, you could. VMS likewise had 4 digit years built-in. The "Y2K" issue simply didn't apply to VMS itself (although obviously it could apply to poorly written applications that were running on VMS).

Just my 2 cents, but even though I only used VMS for a couple of years, it rocked. -- J.W.
Old 09-07-2004, 10:59 AM   #3
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One of the lead designers of VMS was Dave Cutler.

You know what else he designed? Windows NT. That's where VMS is now.
Old 09-07-2004, 11:20 AM   #4
Registered: Jul 2003
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Originally posted by bakery2k
One of the lead designers of VMS was Dave Cutler.

You know what else he designed? Windows NT. That's where VMS is now.
The next letter...
V -> W
M -> N
S -> T

I've had some exposure to VMS and it's very stable. Most implementations are run in a cluster allowing distributed workload and redundancy. (not like some clusters where you have an active node and a node that is sitting there doing nothing until the first node fails...) I thought it was a little strange going from a Unix background to VMS. Forget the GUI it doesn't exist. Commands are similar to DOS but you can type parts of commands and VMS figures it out. Example: You can type dir or directory or even DiReC and all produce the same output. Capitalization doesn't matter, and the version control is cool.


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