Article 1: CHARON-VAX: An Amazing VAX Emulator
This first column looks at one of the most exciting new products I've run across, CHARON-VAX (http://www.charon-vax.com/) , an amazing VAX emulator.
2: Windows 2000 Software Links for the OpenVMS User (Updated 28-AUG-2001)
I recently received a new laptop PC for use on the road, primarily to be able to dial in to my office VMS system to check e-mail while I'm away. After pretty quickly learning that the preinstalled Windows 98 was not a stable operating system, I upgraded to Windows 2000, which I knew had to be better than 98, if for other reason than it is the next generation of Windows NT, which we all know was heavily influenced by VMS design.
So, OK, I have a laptop PC that runs Windows 2000. I can use it to run PowerPoint to work on DECUS seminars, and I can use it to dial in to check my e-mail. But aside from the occasional DVD movie, I assumed that was about all it would be good for.
But then I heard about a new software product
called CHARON-VAX. What I heard seemed too good to be true. It was
said that CHARON-VAX was a software VAX emulator that was capable
of running VMS under Windows NT and Windows 2000. I had previously
heard about, and tried, Forest Edge Software's eVAX
Not so with Software Resource International's CHARON-VAX, which emulates a MicroVAX II computer with 16MB of memory, and features emulated versions of most of the hardware typical of a MicroVAX II, including a DEQNA Ethernet card, DHV-11 serial terminal lines, and DU-style disks. When CHARON-VAX is launched from a desktop shortcut, or the Windows Start menu, the emulator command window is displayed, followed quickly by a simple VT52 emulated-terminal window which serves as your console device (OPA0:). Once started, CHARON-VAX displays the MicroVAX II banner "KA630-A.V1.3" and begins performing "normal system tests," just like a MicroVAX II, finally dropping into the familiar MicroVAX II console prompt (>>>). At that point, assuming you have followed the initial setup instructions to create a system disk within a Windows container file, you can type BOOT and be amazed as you watch a normal VMS startup sequence commence.
From this point, CHARON-VAX looks like just another VAX computer running VMS. You can use the console to login, or you can set up the DHV-11 serial lines to allow a number of methods of connecting, including setting them up to listen to particular TCP/IP ports, so you can TELNET from your laptop or another system to the "serial ports" on the CHARON-VAX, thereby using your favorite terminal emulator to log in. There's really not a whole lot to say now, because it just looks like any other VAX running VMS. Except that it's running under Windows, and you can still open up Windows applications while running CHARON-VAX in its window. As a die-hard VMS programmer, CHARON-VAX has allowed me to actually see some potential benefit to a Windows-based PC.
In fact, this column was written using EVE running
on a CHARON-VAX VMS V7.2 system on my laptop while I watched History's
Mysteries on The History Channel. I connected to the CHARON-VAX serial
line using TeraTerm Pro
As for speed, SRI states that you get roughly 1 VUP for every 100Mhz that your PC CPU runs. On my laptop with a 700Mhz Pentium III CPU, I get approximately 7 VUPs of performance from CHARON-VAX. Not bad at all.
The CHARON-VAX manual is well-written, providing you with all the details needed to get CHARON-VAX installed and running VMS. The initial setup takes a little bit of work, since CHARON-VAX comes with a blank system disk (actually a container file sitting on the Windows disk). You have to install VMS from a VMS distribution CD, but that CD has to be turned into a container file itself. That task is easily done using the CD2IMAGE utility provided with CHARON-VAX.
CHARON-VAX is currently available to OpenVMS Hobbyists for non-commercial use. Commercial versions of CHARON-VAX are planned for availability in September 2000. The hobbyist version does not currently include Ethernet support, but the commercial releases will, which means it will be possible to run DECnet or TCP/IP, including MultiNet and TCPware, on your CHARON-VAX, making it accessible to and from other systems over your network. I've been able to try a beta version with Ethernet support, and I was even able to display DECterms from CHARON-VAX on my AlphaStation display over both DECnet and TCP/IP.
Even though Ethernet support is not currently available in the Hobbyist version, the emulator is not useless. There are a few methods that can be used to transfer files into and out of CHARON-VAX. One method is to use C-Kermit to connect over the CHARON-VAX serial lines and use the Kermit protocol to transfer files back and forth. It's not blazingly fast, but it does work. SRI also provides VAXft, a utility that runs under Windows and gives you access to the VMS container file, allowing you to copy files in and out of the container file. (The current release has problems creating VMS files, but that problem is being addressed.) There is a third method that works real well if you have other VMS systems available. The container files used by CHARON-VAX are compatible with the container files created by the VMS Freeware utility LD and the older VDDRIVER. It's very easy to create a logical disk on a VMS system with one of these utilities, populate the disk with the necessary files, then FTP the container file to your Windows PC. CHARON-VAX can be configured to mount that container file as one of its disk drives, providing a fairly simple file transfer mechanism by just FTPing the container file back and forth between the PC and your other VMS systems.
While I've only run VMS on CHARON-VAX, since it emulates a MicroVAX II, you can run any operating system that ran on a MicroVAX II, presumably including ULTRIX, NetBSD, and other UNIX systems.
I've only tried the Windows 2000 version of CHARON-VAX. There is also a version that runs under Linux on Intel system, and SRI plans to provide a version that runs under VMS on an Alpha, allowing you to run VAX applications under OpenVMS Alpha without recompiling them. For more information on CHARON-VAX and to download the Hobbyist version, visit the CHARON-VAX web site at www.charon-vax.com . Oh, and if you're looking for a PDP-11 emulator, SRI also produces CHARON-11!
NOTE: Process Software is not connected with SRI or CHARON-VAX, but we are hosting the CHARON-VAX-Users mailing list. To subscribe to the mailing list, send the following command in the body of a mail message to CHARON-VAX-Usersemail@example.com:
SUBSCRIBE "Your real name"
If you have any comments or questions about this article, please send e-mail to goathunter@PROCESS.COM .