Monday, September 17, 2012

New toy...

This is going to be a short post... I've just got a little nice toy, and I've moved 3 of my SIMH machines to it. 

Yes, it is a Raspberry PI. And right now it is hosting three simulated machines: a VAX 780 running VMS 4.7 (and working as area router for my HecNet link), a microVAX 3900 running openVMS 7.3 and a PDP-11 running RSX11-MPlus 4.6. Of course, the simulated machines are idle most of the time, otherwise I guess they would overwhelm the poor raspberry...

To make it run, I have cloned the SIMH git repository from, and before compiling it I've installed the packages for libpcap and vde2 (if you are going to do this, don't forget you have to install the -dev packages). SIMH compiled without any complaint, and once I got the simulated machines copied to the USB pendrive I've plugged to the thingy, they booted without a hassle.

After that, I just edited /etc/networking/interfaces so the vde magic gets configured at boot time:

auto lo

iface lo inet loopback

#iface eth0 inet dhcp

auto eth0
     iface eth0 inet static

auto tap0
     iface tap0 inet manual
     vde2-switch -t tap0 -n 16 -s /tmp/vde.ctl -M /tmp/vde.mgmt -m 666 --mgmtmode 666 

auto br0
     iface br0 inet static
     bridge_ports eth0 tap0             

And that is basically all (I'm using a static IP address bound to br0... the default configuration for the debian-based distribution I'm using is to use DHCP).

Not bad for a 35€ little computer...


  1. Congratulations! :) I am actually considering something similar, but I want to use shellinabox to provide me with web-access to the underlying Unixoid so that I can kind of "telnet into some ancient machine" over the browser... (And no, I have not yet given up on RSX-11! ;) )

    [And I find it a bit of a pity that nowadays, you apparently have a bit of an "OSS monotony" - mostly Unixoids. I hope one day ReactOS ( will become "practically useable", it is quite advanced actually. As I unfortunately do not have a VMS licence, a "Windowsoid" is the closest thing, and hey, if you feel bored, I absolutely and most definitely think they could need some help from a man with expertise like yourself!]

    By the way - I just remember that I built a funny toy myself that you might find intriguing in your own experiments: an acoustic coupler.

    Ingredients: A modem and an old telephone ("phone A"). You basically just connect the two with a phone cable which you have cut open and connected to a battery, so they think they are on a phone circuit. If you activate the modem, "phone A" will start to chatter the modem sounds. - If you now call to some modem over a landline ("phone B"), and connect "phone A" to "phone B" (micro-to-speaker and speaker-to-micro) they actually can start to chit-chat and there you go... 300 bps connections work very nicely, even though the passers-by on the street DID look at me a bit weirdly, what the heck I am doing in that phone cabin... :D


    Aeneas - now, obviously a fan of your blog

  2. Thanks for your comments... That acoustic coupler thing makes me recall "War games" :). I hope you won'd end calling the WOPR and starting a fun Global Thermonuclear War game...

    As for the unix-ish monothony, I agree. Unix has definitely won the OS wars. Not bad for a semi-jokeish operating system developed in their spare time by two guys using semi-discarded equipment :). As for myself, I definitely dislike a lot of the unix paradigms (specially, I hate the "everything is a file" approach), but we have to work with we have...

    Oh, you can get an openVMS license for free, and absolutey legal. Check how to do it at You will have to join an openVMS user group (the HP sponsored one has a free membership option), apply for the licenses (for the OS and a lot of layered products) and obtain the installation kits (formely, buying a CD, right now I think they are downloadable). With that and simh you can operate your own emulated VAX at home at no cost.

  3. Thank you! :) It was exactly that membership-thing that put me off (because, myself being in Austria, that membership in the German group would have cost me some 100 EUR p.a. the last time I checked, and that was a bit too much for a rare pass-time).

    And yes, you guessed very well, it actually *WAS* War Games that inspired me! I am now 29, so that all predates my time, but I found it all very intriguing (the Hunt for Red October, Star Wars, Ghost in the Shell & Matrix naturally did the rest). Also this VMS phone and Unix talk commands were VERY nice...



  4. Well, I am in Catalonia and I am member of the US chapter. They will take your membership regardless of where you live (unless you are in North Korea, Iran or a similar place...),.