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Mount ISO and execute scripts on OpenVMS

Published: 08-05-2018 | Author: Remy van Elst | Text only version of this article

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(You can read all my OpenVMS articles by clicking the picture above)

I'm playing around with OpenVMS on Alpha using an emulator, but was notable to copy paste in my Hobbyist License. I suspect Putty pasting too quickly,so I had to get the license script on the OpenVMS, without using the network. Inthis article you'll learn some OpenVMS filesystem history, how OpenVMS handlesline endings and in the end I get my license installed by creating an ISO withthe script on it.

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-SYSTEM-W-DATAOVERUN, data overrun

When pasting in my ISO using simh and a VAX system, I had no issues. When tryingit on the Alpha and putty, it errors out:

%DCL-W-IVVERB, unrecognized command verb - check validity and spelling \$\$ $ /ISSUER=DEC -%DCL-W-NOCOMD, no command on line - reenter with alphabetic first character$ /AUTHORIZATION=H%RMS-F-RER, file read error-SYSTEM-W-DATAOVERUN, data overrun

On a few forums it was suggested to create an ISO with the license script on it,mount that and execute the script from there. Since the installed system has nonetwork yet (I'm having a lot of issues with Windows and bridging in Virtualbox)I cannot just copy over the file via FTP.

Create the ISO

On Ubuntu and Debian you can apt-get install genisoimage. Place the LicensePAK script in a new folder, in my case the folder is named license. The PAKscript is named Generate the ISO:

genisoimage -V license -o a.iso license

-V license is so that the ISO label is license.

Using your favorite emulator, couple this ISO to your OpenVMS installation andboot up. I'm using a trial version of AlphaVM Basic, but FreeAXP isavailable as well as is es40.

In the case of AlphaVM the disk drive is DKA400.

OpenVMS mounts

When OpenVMS is booted up, in my case it complains about the licenses:

 Welcome to OpenVMS (TM) Alpha Operating System, Version V8.4Username: systemPassword:%LICENSE-I-NOLICENSE, no license is active for this software product%LOGIN-S-LOGOPRCON, login allowed from OPA0:   Welcome to OpenVMS (TM) Alpha Operating System, Version V8.4$

Find out what your cdrom device is:

$ SHOW DEVICEDevice                  Device           Error    Volume         Free  Trans Mnt Name                   Status           Count     Label        Blocks Count CntREMY1$DKA0:             Mounted              0  REMY1          5419104   307   1REMY1$DKA400:           Online               0

In my case DKA400. You can find more information by specifying it to the SHOWDEV command:

$ show device dka400 /fullDisk REMY1$DKA400:, device type EmuVM CDROM ISO image, is online, file-oriented    device, shareable, available to cluster, error logging is enabled.    Error count                    0    Operations completed                268    Owner process                 ""    Owner UIC                      [SYSTEM]    Owner process ID        00000000    Dev Prot            S:RWPL,O:RWPL,G:R,W    Reference count                0    Default buffer size                 512    Total blocks                 256    Sectors per track                   128    Total cylinders                1    Tracks per cylinder                   2

Let's try my linux-mindedness and see if mounting is the same. First create afolder to mount the device on:


Try to mount the device:


And nope, no luck this time:

%MOUNT-I-OPRQST, incorrect volume label%MOUNT-I-OPRQST, Please mount volume [.MNT] in device _REMY1$DKA400:

Different variations on this command with the ISO label did not help.

Looking around the OpenVMS HELP for mount I found the OVERRIDE option.


Snipping the relevant part:

 IDENTIFICATION Overrides processing of the volume identifier                in the volume label. Use this keyword to mount                a volume for which you do not know the label,                or for an ISO 9660 volume whose label is not                unique in the first 12 characters. Only the volume                identifier field is overridden. Volume protection,                if any, is preserved. The volume must be mounted                /NOSHARE (either explicitly or by default).                The /OVERRIDE=IDENTIFICATION qualifier is                incompatible with the /GROUP and /SYSTEM                qualifiers.

Let's try that since I'm not able to figure out this volume label:

$ MOUNT /OVERRIDE=IDENT DKA400%MOUNT-I-WRITELOCK, volume is write locked%MOUNT-I-CDROM_ISO, license: (1 of 1) , mounted on  _REMY1$DKA400:

Lets see if the SHOW DEV output shows it as mounted now?

$ SHOW DEV DKA400 /FULLDisk REMY1$DKA400:, device type EmuVM CDROM ISO image, is online, allocated,    deallocate on dismount, mounted, software write-locked, file-oriented    device, shareable, available to cluster, error logging is enabled.    Error count                    0    Operations completed                267    Owner process           "SYSTEM"    Owner UIC                      [SYSTEM]    Owner process ID        00000216    Dev Prot            S:RWPL,O:RWPL,G:R,W    Reference count                2    Default buffer size                 512    Total blocks                 256    Sectors per track                   128    Total cylinders                1    Tracks per cylinder                   2    Volume label           "license"    Relative volume number                1    Cluster size                   0    Transaction count                     1    Free blocks                    0    Maximum files allowed                 0    Extend quantity                0    Mount count                           1    Mount status             Process    ACP process name           "DKA400CACP"  Volume Status:  ISO 9660.  Members of this volume set are REMY1$DKA400: (rvn 1).

So now for the easy part right? Go into the device folder and execute thescript. Can't go wrong here.

But oh yes we can go wrong. Lets see what happens if we cd (SET DEFAULT onOpenVMS) into the device:

$ SET DEFAULT _REMY1$DKA400:$ DIR%DIRECT-E-OPENIN, error opening REMY1$DKA400:[SYSMGR]*.*;* as input-RMS-E-DNF, directory not found-SYSTEM-W-BADIRECTORY, bad directory file format

Again an OpenVMS error message. Not sure why, but I guess I did something wrong.

[000000], the Master File Directory

Diving into some history we find more on why our previous command did notwork. We did not execute it in the root directory of the device. On OpenVMS afilesystem's root directory is [000000].

The HP documentation is not very helpfull on this part. I had to go on my localebook seller and buy this book since Google Books doesn't allow copy pasting.But, reading through it, it seems to be a good book for me. Shame it cost me EUR30. A few hours of reading later I realised I was busy with an ISO mount.

Quoting verbatim:

Files11 is the file system used by OpenVMS. As one might imagine, the filesystem is that part of an operating system that controls the storage andmanipulation of files.

ODS2 stands for OnDisk Structure, Version 2. It describes the actual layout offiles on the disk, including all control information needed to interpret thecontents of the disk. Later versions of OpenVMS Alpha (and presumably, theupcoming Itanium version) also support a newer Files11 structure level, ODS5.ODS2 and ODS5 volumes may exist on the same system, so long as the system isrunning a compatible version of OpenVMS.

On ODS2 disks, the toplevel directory is called [000000]. This topleveldirectory is also known as the "MFD," or "Master File Directory."

New users may find it curious that directory listings of the [000000]directory include the file 000000.DIR. This is because the MFD includes an entryfor itself, making it appear that the MFD "contains itself."

Why Call It 000000?

The unlikelysounding name 000000 has a historical basis. On much older Digitalsystems, the directory name for each user took the form [gggmmm], where ggg wasthe UIC group number for that user, and mmm was the member number. So,000000 represented the MFD. (Try it: as of OpenVMS V7.3, the commandDIRECTORY [0,0] still works as a substitute for DIRECTORY [000000] if you havethe appropriate privileges.)

(Duffy, M. (2003). Getting started with openVMS system management: a guide for(new users. Boston: Digital Press, p. 76-78)

When we execute the command in the correct folder it does show my script:

$ SET DEF _REMY1$DKA400:[000000]$ DIR _REMY1$DKA400:[000000]Directory _REMY1$DKA400:[000000]A_COM.;1Total of 1 file.

Execute a DCL script

From the documentation:

@ (Execute Procedure) Executes a command procedure or requests the commandinterpreter to read subsequent command input from a specific file or device.

So no ./ as in linux.

Do specify the version number, otherwise it will fail:

$ @A_COM%DCL-E-OPENIN, error opening REMY1$DKA400:[000000]A_COM.COM; as input-RMS-E-FNF, file not found

My license script did fail nontheless:

$ @A_COM.;1%DCL-W-IVVERB, unrecognized command verb - check validity and spelling \RODUCT\%DCL-W-IVVERB, unrecognized command verb - check validity and spelling$\%DCL-W-UNDSYM, undefined symbol - check validity and spelling \APR\

I re-downloaded my license PAK and created a new ISO. That did not help. Isuspected it had something to do with line endings as I was using Windows tocreate the text file. Opening the file with EDIT comfirmed my suspicion:

Line endings

A search around the web lead me to the OpenVMS Wizard. Read the page forthe full answer and explanation. I've snipped the relevant parts here:

This depends on the current format of the file.  The OpenVMS Wizardassumes that the reason for the CR characters is that this is a STREAMfile copied from Microsoft MS-DOS or Microsoft Windows system, as thisis a common reason for seeing apparently extraneous CR characters embeddedwithin a file.RMS recognises three types of stream files:  1) STREAM_LF - in which records are delimited by an LF character  2) STREAM_CR - in which records are delimited by a CR character  3) STREAM    - in which records are delimited by an LF character,             a CR+LF character pair, or an FF or VT characterOften, text files from MS-DOS or Windows systems will have records endingwith a CR+LF pair. When such a file is copied onto a VMS system as aSTREAM_LF file, the CR character becomes part of the data stream andtherefore will appear at the end of each record.You can check if your file falls into this category with the followingtwo commands:    $ DIRECTORY/FULL filespecCheck that the Record Format is Stream_LF:    Record format:      Stream_LF, maximum 0 bytes, longest 0 bytesand that the records contain a CR+LF pair. Ensure you dump sufficientblocks to see the ends of a number of records    $ DUMP/BLOCK=COUNT:1 filespec31310962 65462031 300A0D38 312E3009 .0.18..01 Feb.11 000020                  ^^^^0A0D is a CR+LF pair (remember that the hex dump reads right to left!).If your file satisfies BOTH these conditions, you have two choices forremoving the CR from your data. The first doesn't actually remove thecharacter, it just tells RMS that the CR is part of the recorddelimiter:    $ SET FILE/ATTRIBUTE=(RFM=STM) filespecNote that this does not involve any conversion or copying of data. TheDIRECTORY/FULL command will now display the record format as:    Record format:      Stream, maximum 0 bytes, longest 0 bytesand applications reading the file will no longer "see" the embedded CRcharacter.If you really must physically remove the CR character, you can now doso with a simple CONVERT command:    $ SET FILE/ATTRIBUTE=(RFM=STM) filespec    $ CONVERT/FDL=SYS$INPUT filespec newfilespec        RECORD          FORMAT STREAM_LF    $The first command tells RMS that the record relimiter is CR+LF as before.The second performs a conversion of the file to STREAM_LF format, so whenthe new file is created, records will be delimited by a single LF character.

Since the CDROM is mounted read only we cannot change the file spec:

$ SET FILE/ATTRIBUTE=(RFM=STM) A_COM.;1%SET-E-READERR, error reading REMY1$DKA400:[000000]A_COM.;1-SYSTEM-F-WRITLCK, write lock error

Copy the file over to your home folder:


Change to that folder:


Retry the command, which should work now:


In my case, it now looks correct in the editor:

But would it actually execute?

$ @A_COM.;1


%SHOW-I-NOLICENSE, no licenses exist%LICENSE-I-DISABLED, ACMS has been disabled%LICENSE-W-NOENT, no license was loaded for this product - DEC ACMS%LICENSE-I-ENABLED, ACMS  has been enabled%LICENSE-I-LOADED, DEC ACMS was successfully loaded with 0 units%SHOW-I-NOLICMATCH, no licenses match search criteria[...]%LICENSE-W-NOENT, no license was loaded for this product - DEC X500-DIRECTORY-SERVER%LICENSE-I-ENABLED, X500-DIRECTORY-SERVER has been enabled%LICENSE-I-LOADED, DEC X500-DIRECTORY-SERVER was successfully loaded with 0 unitsCompletion of PAK Load Command File....

Yay! It works and my licenses have been setup.

I can now check my activated licenses:

$$ SHOW LICENSEActive licenses on node REMY1:------- Product ID --------    ---- Rating ----- -- Version --Product            Producer    Units Avail Activ Version Release    TerminationACMS               DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019ACMS-REM           DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019ACMS-RT            DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019[...]VMSCLUSTER         DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019VOLSHAD            DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019X25                DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019X25-CLIENT         DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019X500-ADMIN-FACILIT DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019X500-DIRECTORY-SER DEC             0  0     100    0.0  (none)       1-APR-2019

When it's not DNS it's line endings. In this small adventure I learned theOpenVMS mount command with a few options. Furthermore, it's not only betweenWindows and Linux that line-endings cause issues, even in OpenVMS.

Tags: alpha, blog, dec, decus, es40, itanium, openvms, pdp, simh, vax, vms