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AXPbox version 1.0.0 released! (Open source Alpha emulator)

Published: 23-01-2021 | Author: Remy van Elst | Text only version of this article

❗ This post is over three years old. It may no longer be up to date. Opinions may have changed.

openvms login

OpenVMS in AXPbox with an X session, (run sys$system:decw$startlogin.exe)

Last year November, I posted on a new OpenVMS related project, AXPbox, the open source Alpha emulator, a fork of es40 by Tomáš Glozar.

I got involved a bit in the project, submitting a few patches here and there, editing the Wiki and thus now have contributer rights on the github repository. After discussing a bit back and forth with Tomáš, I put together the first official release of AXPbox, very exciting news.

The release can be found here on github. This article has the release notes and a bunch of screenshots of OpenVMS inside AXPbox running GUI applications over the network.

You can find my installation guide for OpenVMS with networking here.

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Release notes v1.0.0

The release notes are copied here below.

The first official release of AXPbox, the open source Alpha emulator forked from es40, automatically compiled via Github Actions for a variety of different platforms and incorporating a few fixes and improvements. Most fixes are related to the build system, there are a few stability improvements and some code is modernized.

This release runs HP OpenVMS 8.3, VSI OpenVMS 8.4 and VSI OpenVMS 8.42L1, NetBSD 8.2 and NetBSD 6.1.2 without major issues. See here for more information and other operating systems.

Installation instructions and more guides can be found on the wiki


Contributers include, in random order:

(Names taken from github profiles)

Binaries are provided for:

  • OS X (x86) 10.15
  • Windows
  • Linux on ARM (armv7)
  • Linux on x86


Changelog as to the latest es40 release from which AXPbox forked:

  • Automated builds via Github Actions for all above platforms including cross-compiling to linux-arm (#59, #51, #26, #15)
  • MAC OS X M1 (ARM) build fixes for Catalina & Big Sur (#58)
  • Improved network stability, DEC21143 partial frame fix (#60), DEC21143: set pcap to non-blocking mode (3029ce4)
  • Various formatting and sign-ness patches from Promovicz's fork (#56)
  • Smart pointers and C++ threads instead of POCO threads (C++ 11 make_unique as well) (4540e18, a2c4890, #35
  • Check for writable disk files (#30)
  • Some compiler warnings (#27)
  • Version information in the command line output: #20
  • Fix segfault on non-existing disk image: #19
  • OpenVMS Memory Test in SRM can be skipped: 0fca5b2, 837750f
  • Improve TOY clock: c1db0aa
  • Fix for #18 Bringing up graphical window with SDL crashes when interactive debugger happens: 9ef3473
  • Patches from @mvorl and @veprbl es40 forks, e.g. for the MC146818, allows NetBSD to boot: a13670d, 05e782e
  • Workaround for #5, typing on serial is slow (c215fcd)
  • AliM1543C ide: Fix semaphore overload bug (d8e35ee)
  • Fix double free of SCSI bus (cb92951)

What doesn't work (also see issues)

  • Some guest operating systems (see Guest support)
  • ARC
  • VGA in OpenVMS
  • SDL keyboard (partly works, but easily breaks)
  • Multiple CPU system emulation
  • Running on big endian platforms
  • Some SCSI and IDE commands
  • Networking for a longer time (breaks after a couple minutes)
  • Copying large files between IDE CD-ROM to IDE hard drive (this usually doesn't affect OpenVMS installation)

The linux ARM build is compiled statically, without networking, graphics or SDL support due to cross-compilation. It is recommended to compile it yourself on your own ARM hardware.

Downloads are on github


Here are some more screenshots of this release, mostly of my experiments with a remote X session.

First start up a remote X server on your local workstation:

Xephyr -screen 1024x768 -ac -query :1

Replace by the IP of your OpenVMS server (AXPbox).

Start an X session inside OpenVMS:

set display/create/node=

Replace by the IP of your workstation where the remote X server runs.



session manager

Session manager and login screen (not sure how I got there)



terminal crash

DECTerm crashed my entire system, a reboot followed

login screen

After logging in, this screen pops up

I wasn't able to get any further into a CDE session than this, but here, Dieter shows a screenshot of a full CDE session inside AXPbox:


OpenVMS Commands to start:

$ show log cde$sessionmain
   "CDE$SESSIONMAIN" = "mcr cde$system_defaults:[bin]dtsession" (LNM$SYSTEM_TABLE)

$ mcr cde$system_defaults:[bin]dtsession
Tags: alpha , axpbox , blog , dec , decus , es40 , itanium , openvms , pdp , simh , vax , vms