The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

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3.3 OpenVMS Product Information Telephone Numbers?

Information on HP hardware, software, products and services is available through telephone numbers listed in Table 3-2:

Table 3-2 Telephone Numbers
Telephone Description
1-800-AT-COMPAQ HP (Compaq, including DIGITAL and Tandem) products and services
1-800-STORWORK The HP StorageWorks team

3.4 How do I extract the contents of a HELP topic to a text file?

To extract all the text of a HELP topic (and its subtopics) to a text file for perusal with a text editor, printing out, etc., use the following command:

$ HELP/OUT=filename.txt help-topic [help-subtopic] 

If the help text you want is not in the standard help library (for example, it's help for a utility such as MAIL that has its own help library), add /LIBRARY=libname after the HELP verb. To see the names of help library files, do a directory of SYS$HELP:*.HLB.

3.5 Does OpenVMS Marketing have an e-mail address?

Yes - if you can't get the answers to marketing questions elsewhere, if you have comments or complaints about OpenVMS, send mail to This address is not a support channel, and is solely intended to provide informal method to communicate directly with members of OpenVMS Marketing.

3.6 Where can I learn about OpenVMS executive internals?

The OpenVMS Internals and Data Structure manual (IDSM) explains how the OpenVMS executive works. The book covers the operating system kernel: process management; memory management; the I/O subsystem; and the mechanisms that transfer control to, from, and among these. It gives an overview of a particular area of the system, followed by descriptions of the data structures related to that area and details of the code that implements the area.

The first edition of the OpenVMS Alpha internals book describes Version 1.5. Although there have been several releases of OpenVMS Alpha since Version 1.5 (V6.1, V6.2, V7.0, V7.1, etc) and many details in the book are no longer accurate, it continues to provide a strong conceptual description of OpenVMS internals.

This book has been split into five pieces, each to be updated separately. The first such volume, published in early 1997, was "OpenVMS Alpha Internals and Data Structures: Scheduling and Process Control," which covers the Version 7.0 implementation of true multithreading and the changed scheduling model it implies.

The internals books are available through Digital Press, see Section 3.7

3.7 Where can new users find tutorial information about OpenVMS?

First, see if your local site has information on this topic. Each site can have site-specific features and configuration. Some sites will have site-specific new user's documentation, covering various site-specific things that are difficult or impossible for the general OpenVMS documentation to cover.

3.7.1 Tutorial Websites?

Various websites with OpenVMS information are available; Table 3-3 contains some suggested URLs.

Table 3-3 OpenVMS Tutorial Websites
URL Sponsor
  Various introductory materials
  Members of the Encompass DFWCUG maintain a website with many materials available, including an Overview of OpenVMS, an Introduction to DCL and the TPU Editor, Advanced DCL Command Procedures, OpenVMS Operations: Batch, Print, Tape, an Introduction to OpenVMS Management, to OpenVMS User Management, to OpenVMS Network Management, and to OpenVMS Cluster Management. These training materials have been presented at various DECUS symposia.
HP OpenVMS Documentation
  Various introductory guides as well as more advanced manuals are available in the OpenVMS and layered product documentation set.
HP OpenVMS Training
  HP offers training information and Technical Resource Kits (TRKs) and other Training for OpenVMS. An OpenVMS certification (testing) program is also available.
  An OpenVMS Quiz
  CCSS Interactive Learning has OpenVMS training materials
  AcerSoft Training information, and Shannon Knows Punditry
  MindIQ training information

3.7.2 Books and Tutorials?

Some of the OpenVMS books that are or have been available from the Digital Press imprint

are listed in Table 3-4:

Table 3-4 DP Books
Title and Author ISBN
Introduction to OpenVMS, 5th Edition
Lesley Ogilvie Rice
1 55558 194 3
Introduction to OpenVMS
David W Bynon
1 878956 61 2
OpenVMS Alpha Internals: Scheduling and Process Control 1 55558 156 0
OpenVMS AXP Internals and Data Structures: Version 1.5 1 55558 120 X
OpenVMS System Management Guide
Richard Berry
1 55558 143 9
The OpenVMS User's Guide, Second Edition
Patrick Holmay
1 55558 203 6
Using DECwindows Motif for OpenVMS
Margie Sherlock
1 55558 114 5
VAX/VMS Internals and Data Structures: Version 5.2 1 55558 059 9
Writing Real Programs in DCL, Second Edition
Hoffman and Anagnostopoulos
1 55558 191 9

For various featured OpenVMS books, also please see:

For a bibliography of various OpenVMS books, please see:

3.8 What OpenVMS mailing lists are available?

Various OpenVMS mailing lists are available, with some of the available lists detailed in Table 3-5.

Table 3-5 OpenVMS Mailing Lists
Subscription Interest Area
OpenVMS Freeware archive announcement list 1
Two-way echo of vmsnet.internals 1
OpenVMS Alpha Internals discussions 1
BLISS discussions 1
Process Software MultiNet mailing list (news gateway) 1
Process Software TCPware mailing list (news gateway) 1
Process Software PMDF mailing list (news gateway) 1
The SRI CHARON-VAX VAX emulator package 1
Info-Zip's Zip & UnZip discussion list 1
RADIUS-VMS, a RADIUS server for OpenVMS discussion forum 1
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) running OpenVMS 1
Users of Mark Daniel's WASD web server for OpenVMS VAX and Alpha exists. Information about this list server and details on how to subscribe to the list are available at the referenced website.
VMS Forum

1This is the subscription address. Usually, you will want to send a mail message with no subject line, and a SUBSCRIBE or HELP command in the body of the mail message.

3.9 What is this Ask The Wizard website I've heard about?

The HP OpenVMS Ask The Wizard (ATW) website is an informal area containing questions and answers on a wide variety of topics.

For additional information on the OpenVMS Ask The Wizard (ATW) area and for a pointer to the available ATW archive, please see Section 3.9.

To access a cited topic directly, use the URL filename WIZ_topic-number.HTML. For example, topic (1020) can be accessed directly using the URL filename wiz_1020.html at the following URL:

A zip archive (named containing all of the available topics and questions can be downloaded from the above URL. The zip archive is completely regenerated when new batches of topics are posted out to the ATW website.

Before posting a question to the Ask The Wizard area, please read and please heed the posting rules---and please remember to search this document, the OpenVMS FAQ. And if you have a question that requires an answer, or if your question has time-critical constraints or business constraints, please contact the HP customer support center directly.

3.10 Access to the OpenVMS Netscape Navigator documentation?

The documentation URLs embedded into the browser itself may not operate correctly in all cases, and (for reasons not worthy of repeating here) redirects may not be available.

You can manually access the documentation via:

For information on the Mozilla web browser, please see Section 13.3.

Chapter 4
Time and Timekeeping

4.1 UTC vs GMT vs vs UT1/UT1/UT2 TDF? What are these acronyms?

The results of an international compromise---though some would say an international attempt to increase confusion---UTC is refered to as "Coordinated Universal Time" (though not as CUT) in English and as "Temps Universel Coordinné" (though not as TUC) in French. (No particular information exists to explain why UTC was chosen over the equally nonsensical TCU, according to Ulysses T. Clockmeister, one of the diplomats that helped establish the international compromise.)

Universal Time UT0 is solar time, UT1 is solar time corrected for a wobble in the Earth's orbit, and UT2 is UT1 corrected for seasonal rotational variations in rotation due to the Earth's solar orbit.

GMT---Greenwich Mean Time---is UT1. GMT is the time at the classic site of the since-disbanded Royal Greenwich Observatory; at the most widely-known tourist attraction of Greenwich, England.

UTC is based on an average across multiple atomic clocks, and is kept within 0.9 seconds of GMT, through the insertion (or removal) of seconds. In other words, UTC matches GMT plus or minus up to 0.9 seconds, but UTC is not GMT.

TDF is the Timezone Differential Factor, the interval of time between the local time and UTC. Areas that celebrate daylight savings time (DST) will see periodic changes to the TDF value, when the switch-over between daylight savings time and standard time occurs. The switch-over itself is entirely left to local governmental folks, and can and has varied by political entity and politics, and the switch-over has varied over the years even at the same location.

If your local OpenVMS system time is off by one hour (or whatever the local DST change) for some or all applications, you probably need to reset your local TDF. (For related details, please see sections Section 4.4 and Section 10.22.1.)

Further discussions of history and politics, the Royal Observers' outbuildings, and the compromise that left the English with the Time Standard (the Prime Meridian) and the French with the standards for Distance and Weight (the Metric System) are left to other sources. Some of these other sources include the following URLs:

4.2 A brief history of OpenVMS Timekeeping, please?

Why does OpenVMS regards November 17, 1858 as the beginning of time...

The modified Julian date adopted by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) for satellite tracking is Julian Day 2400000.5, which turns out to be midnight on November 17, 1858.

SAO started tracking satellites with an 8K (nonvirtual) 36-bit IBM 704 in 1957 when Sputnik went into orbit. The Julian day was 2435839 on January 1, 1957. This is 11225377 octal, which was too big to fit into an 18-bit field. With only 8K of memory, the 14 bits left over by keeping the Julian date in its own 36-bit word would have been wasted. SAO also needed the fraction of the current day (for which 18 bits gave enough accuracy), so it was decided to keep the number of days in the left 18 bits and the fraction of a day in the right 18 bits of one word.

Eighteen bits allows the truncated Julian Day (the SAO day) to grow as large as 262143, which from November 17, 1858, allowed for 7 centuries. Possibly, the date could only grow as large as 131071 (using 17 bits), but this still covers 3 centuries and leaves the possibility of representing negative time. The 1858 date preceded the oldest star catalogue in use at SAO, which also avoided having to use negative time in any of the satellite tracking calculations.

The original Julian Day (JD) is used by astronomers and expressed in days since noon January 1, 4713 B.C. This measure of time was introduced by Joseph Scaliger in the 16th century. It is named in honor of his father, Julius Caesar Scaliger (note that this Julian Day is different from the Julian calendar that is named for the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar!).

Why 4713 BC? Scaliger traced three time cycles and found that they were all in the first year of their cyle in 4713 B.C. The three cycles are 15, 19, and 28 years long. By multiplying these three numbers (15 * 19 * 28 = 7980), he was able to represent any date from 4713 B.C. through 3267 A.D.

The starting year was before any historical event known to him. In fact, the Jewish calendar marks the start of the world as 3761 B.C. Today his numbering scheme is still used by astronomers to avoid the difficulties of converting the months of different calendars in use during different eras.

The following web sites:

are all good time-related resources, some general and some specific to OpenVMS.

4.2.1 Details of the OpenVMS system time-keeping? VAX hardware time-keeping details... TOY clock

This is battery backed up hardware timing circuitry used to keep the correct time of year during rebooting, power failures, and system shutdown. This clock only keeps track of months, days, and time. The time is kept relative to January 1st, at 00:00:00.00 of the year the clock was initiailized. EXE$GQ_SYSTIME

This is the OpenVMS VAX system time cell. This cell contains the number of 100ns intervals since a known reference. This cell is incremented by 100000 every 10ms by an hardware interval timer. EXE$GQ_TODCBASE

This cell contains the time and date the system time was last adjusted by EXE$SETTIME. It uses the same format as EXE$GQ_SYSTIME. On adjustment of the system time a copy of EXE$GQ_SYSTIME is stored in this cell in both memory and on disk. This cell is used to get the year for the system time. EXE$GL_TODR

This cell contains the time and date the system time was last adjusted by EXE$SETTIME. It uses the same format as the time of year clock. On adjustment of the system time this cell gets saved back to both memory and disk. The contents of this cell are used to test the validity of the TOY clock.

The system parameters SETTIME and TIMEPROMPTWAIT determine how the system time will be set. IF SETTIME = 0
THEN the contents of the TOY clock are compared to those of EXE$GL_TODR. IF the TOY clock is more than a day behind EXE$GL_TODR
THEN the TOY clock is presumed invalid.

  • IF SETTIME = 1 or the TOY clock is invalid
    THEN the value of TIMEPROMPTWAIT determines how to reset the time of year. IF TIMEPROMPTWAIT > 0
    THEN the user is prompted for the time and date, for a length of time equal to TIMEPROMPTWAIT microfortnights.

    When booting a CD-ROM containing an OpenVMS VAX system, the system will typically be deliberately configured prompt the user to input the time -- this is necessary in order to boot with the correct time.

    If either TIMEPROMPTWAIT or SETTIME are set to zero, OpenVMS VAX will use the TOY clock to get the time of year, and the year will be fetched from the CD-ROM. The value of the year on the CD-ROM media (saved within the SYS.EXE image) will most likely be that of when the CD-ROM was made, and cannot be changed. Unless the current year happens to be the same year as that on the CD-ROM, most likely the year will be off. (Further, with the calculation of Leap Year also being dependent on the current year, there is a possibility that the date could be off too.)

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