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SubjectRe: FreeVMS? (long)

I've been following this little thread for the last few days and, based on
some observations, have a few comments. Realize that, with the exception
of some gleanings from research papers, everything here is based on my
opinion alone.

First off, we use two main operating environments here at USM. Most
research and almost all of our Internet access is Unix-based. Our
largest Unix cluster is, in fact, Linux. We also run the gamut of other
Unices including AIX, Digital Unix, Dynix, SunOS/Solaris, HPUX, Irix,
SYSV/88000, etc..

However, our main administrative environment, which is currently based on
an ancient Bull HN OS known as CP6, is in the process of being converted
to OpenVMS. Like many production environments, ours is very high
availability. A fifteen minute non-scheduled outage is considered

Why OpenVMS and not Unix?

Anyone who knows me, can tell you I'm a Unix hound from a *long* way back.
When other *computer geek* kids were playing with C64's, IBM's with MSDOS
and the like, I was playing with Unix. I know the environment well and
couldn't think of a better system tool to have on my desk. I avoid
MicroSloth Windoze like the plague (personal opinion again).

So, again, Why not Unix?

Because, I am so familiar with Unix, I know many of it's strengths and
limitations. It, by nature, was never designed, philosophically, to be a
24X365 operating environment. Now, before everyone gets that-look(tm),
consider -- every commercial Unix has a plethora of "add-ons" that are
designed to support a "production" based environment and, giving credit
where it is due, they *are* getting there -- slowly.

Enter, other operating systems. Those that were conceptually designed as
production operating systems from the start. OpenVMS is one of them.
Yes, I know that its roots have some research base (for example RSX) in
them. But Digital started VMS with the concept of a secure, 24X365
environment from the very start. Does this make OpenVMS better that Unix?
No, just possibly better suited for one area in a very large field.

One research paper made an interesting point. If the various Unix
flavors tried to pull together all the features of a high availability,
high performance, scalable operating system supporting production
oriented features, they would end up with something that looks very much
like OpenVMS or, to a lesser extent, IBM's MVS.

Another philosophical difference is that in a comparison of the
programming environment and OS services, Unix traditionally gives much
control to the programmer. OpenVMS, and it's ilk, do much work FOR the
programmer, and shield much of the operating system's internals from
access. To put it another way, OpenVMS programmers become horrified that
Unix allows an applications programmer access to so many system functions.
While the Unix camp is equally horrified with any operating system that
interferes with their freedom.

Would I run OpenVMS on my desktop? Not of your life! I love the freedom
that Unix gives me, I love it's tools, flexbility and very spirit which is
so evidenced by discussions on this list (to name just one example). But
would I trust *my* paycheck to it? No way. I'll put up with screwy
command parsers like DCL all day rather that put my 24X365 in Unix's

The bottom line for me is: FreeVMS? Sure, entirely possible. Do I have
any interest in it? Consider the reason I have VMS to begin with and
you'll quickly realize the answer.


My $0.02(US).

P.S. There is an "interesting" postscript to this. Digital is expected
to submit OpenVMS to X/Open for certification under the common Unix95
specification -- and it is expected to pass without difficulty. Digital
could then legally call it "OpenVMS Unix". Kinda makes me itch all over,
doesn't it you?

-Jonathan _ _
Jonathan A. Davis | Academic Systems Analyst | Hattiesburg/Gulf Park/Stennis
Computing Center | Box 5171 | 39401-5171 | (601) 266-4103 | | Linux: The choice of a GNU generation

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