The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


This document contains answers to many common questions on the OpenVMS operating system, and covers OpenVMS, and OpenVMS running on Itanium, Alpha, and VAX hardware.

While this document is available in multiple formats, the text-format version is far and away generally the easiest format to search.

Revision/Update Information OpenVMS V8.3

Revision/Update Information: Revision Date/September 2006

Contents Index


This is the OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) posting for the news:comp.os.vms and news:comp.sys.dec usenet newsgroups.

Suggestions and Updates Welcome!

Please send your suggestions for changes, additions, or corrections directly to FAQ Editor

No Support Questions, Please

Please do not send technical questions to the FAQ Editor . The FAQ Editor is not in a position to answer general questions, nor to provide general product support. Rather, please post your questions to the appropriate newsgroup, or please contact your preferred hardware and/or software support organization(s) directly.

Your understanding in this matter is greatly appreciated.

If you believe any particular discussion worthy of inclusion in a future edition of the FAQ and particularly once you have or know both the question and the answer, please then send the entire discussion along to the FAQ Editor for potential inclusion.

Do note that the FAQ Editor takes URL link continuity seriously, and strives to maintain current links. This is, however, a large task, and it is only becoming more difficult. URL link continuity is also something that you can assist with, of course. If you should find a dead link or a stale URL pointer, please notify the FAQ Editor . If you have or can find the current, correct or updated URL, of course, that greatly assists the FAQ Editor in maintaining the most current set of links.

Thank you!

Post to Newsgroups With Care!

Please consider reading Section 1.3 before posting to the news:comp.os.vms or any other newsgroups. (What you post can come back to haunt you.)


Many people have contributed to this FAQ, directly and/or indirectly. In many cases, part or all of an answer included in the FAQ has been adapted from one or more postings from the news:comp.os.vms or other newsgroup---this though individual citations and specific quotations are generally not included in this FAQ. (The FAQ Editor wishes to thank to all of those folks who post answers to the newsgroups, and that have contributed to the contents of and to the general improvements of this FAQ.)

The following is an incomplete list of the folks that have contributed directly or indirectly to the contents of the OpenVMS FAQ. Additions, corrections, and updates to this list of contributors and to the contents of the FAQ itself are welcome, and all omissions and misspellings are unintentional. Thanks to each of the contributors here, and to all of the folks that have participated in the FAQ and in the newsgroups.

Jim Agnew, Paul Anderson, Jason Armistead, Zoltan Arpadffy, John AtoZ, Bailey, Gary Barclay, (The) Beav, Jeremy Begg, Colin Blake, Fabrice Blanquart, Ken Blaylock, Kenneth Block, Bol, Craig Berry, Mark Berryman, Jim Becker, Verell Boaen, Bol, Jim Brankin, Richard Brodie, Colin Butcher, Robert Alan Byer, Jeff Campbell, Scott Campbell, Antonio Carlini, Keith Cayemberg, Ken Chaney, Cristy, John Croll, David J. Dachtera, Robert Deininger, Dale Dellutri, Leo Demers, Sue Denham, Thomas Dickey, Eric Dittman, Mike Duffy, Jim Dunham, Eric, Glenn Everhart, Ken Fairfield, Yaacov Fenster, Gunther Froehlin, Harry Garonzik, Derek Garson, John Gillings, Andy Goldstein, Clair Grant, Hunter Goatley, Ruth Goldenberg, Vance Haemmerle, Ki Suk Hahn, SHarris, Rich Hearn, Fletcher Hearns, Phillip Helbig, Hein van den Heuvel, Stephen Hoffman, Eberhard Heuser-Hofmann, Sue Holt, Mark Hopkins, Horn, Jaf, Leif Jansson, Kevin Jenkins, Don R. Jones, Henry Juengst, inazu_k, Geoff Kingsmill, Fred Kleinsorge, Felix Kreisel, Veli Korkko, Ruslan R. Laishev, Peter "EPLAN" Langstoeger, Norm Lastovica, p_lee, Jerry Leichter, Richard Levitte, Tom Linden, Steve Lionel, Denis Maillard, Kerry Main, John E. Malmberg, David Mathog, Dale Miller, Ian Miller, Dick Munroe, Patrick Moreau, Morrison, otis, George Pagliarulo, Keith Parris, Guy Peleg, Plass, pvhp, David Rabahy, Stan Rabinowitz, Mike Raspuzzi, Steve Reece, Neil Rieck, Ian Ring, Aaron Sakovich, Warren Sander, Mark Schafer, Brian Schenkenberger, Atlant Schmidt, Wayne Sewell, Steven Shamlian, Sue Skonetski, Scott Snadow, Sue Sommer, Scott Squires, stfp, Dave Sweeney, Mike Thompson, Arne Vajhøj, Martin Vorländer, Peter Weaver, William Webb, Williams, Paul Winalski, Uwe Zinser.

Again, any omission from this list and any errors or misspellings are entirely unintentional. Please notify the FAQ Editor of any omissions, corrections, or updates that might be needed within this list. And thanks to each of these individuals for their assistance and for their contributions, and particularly for sharing their expertise.

FAQ Archives and FAQ Locations

The OpenVMS FAQ is archived in (at least) the following locations:

Other internet FAQs are generally available in these locations:

FAQ File Formats and Production Information

This FAQ is available in ASCII text, Postscript, Bookreader, and HTML, and potentially in other file formats. Certain formats, such as the Adobe Acrobat PDF conversion from the Postscript format, are provided downstream from the FAQ text formatting, and are provided and maintained by others.

As the HTML-format FAQ is not a single monolithic (and accordingly large) HTML file, it is the most difficult format to search using the most common standard (platform-local) tools. Accordingly, the FAQ Editor recommends downloading, using and searching the ASCII text FAQ format.

The OpenVMS FAQ is maintained in DECdocument SDML format and all FAQ maintenance and the primary output file format conversions are performed on OpenVMS systems. For information on the DECdocument product, please contact Touch Technologies.

Old FAQ Section Notations Available in Index

For the folks that are familiar with older editions of this FAQ and specifically for those folks looking for the older section name keywords, please see the index entries located under FAQ Sections (Old). These older section names include the prefixes DCL, DECW, DOC, FILES, MISC, MGMT, INTRO, SOFT, VMS, etc., followed by the section number.

The Fine Print

Corrections and suggestions are welcome. Should you believe you can provide better stewardship of this FAQ, or should you have strong feelings over the content, structure, organization or implementation of the FAQ, do realize you may be offered the editorship. The editor maintains this document as a free service to the OpenVMS community.

While the information contained here is believed correct, the use of any and all information acquired from this document is entirely at the risk of the user(s). If your system should crash or your data should become corrupted or the answer(s) found here should be found erroneous, that is solely your risk and your responsibility.

Though various folks that have contributed to this FAQ are or have been employees of Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), this posting and the information contained within this FAQ are not an official statement of HP, nor a commitment by HP. All information, comments or opinions included, cited or otherwise referenced here may or may not reflect the stated opinions of HP, of the FAQ editor, or of any other entity.

All trademarks, registered trademarks, servicemarks and registered servicemarks used or referenced here are the properties of their respective owner(s) or holders. Please route any corrections, requests or related updates to the FAQ Editor

The redistribution, reposting and/or the web-serving of complete and unaltered copies of this FAQ document is permitted. Other uses only with prior permission.

The master copy of this FAQ is posted at

Translations of this FAQ into various languages may be available, please contact the maintainer(s) of any translated document for assistance or feedback involving the particular translated edition of this FAQ.

Chapter 1

If you are searching for something here, please consider using the text-format FAQ.

1.1 What core OpenVMS URLs do you need to know?

If you have no other OpenVMS URLs bookmarked, you will want to be familiar with the URLs listed in Table 1-1:

Table 1-1 Core Websites
URL Contents
Core OpenVMS Information, including roadmaps and release schedules
OpenVMS and Core Layered Product Documentation
Core OpenVMS Support Search Engine URLs, the ITRC support and discussion forums, and the ITRC FTP-accessable Patch Area (formerly the NLSA Natural Language Search Assistant, and formerly AskQ.)
The OpenVMS Freeware
The OpenVMS Hobbyist License Program

1.2 What are the OpenVMS Usenet Newsgroups?

There are a huge number of newsgroups available, some of which discuss topics of interest to folks using OpenVMS operating system. Key among these are the news:comp.os.vms newsgroup and the vmsnet.* heirarchy of newsgroups.

1.2.1 What is the scope of the comp.os.vms newsgroup?

The news:comp.os.vms newsgroup is the primary newsgroup for discussion of the HP OpenVMS operating system and the computer systems on which it runs. Questions about layered products which run on OpenVMS are also welcome, though many of them (in particular, language compilers and database systems) have more specific newsgroups. If a question has some relationship to OpenVMS, it belongs in news:comp.os.vms .

1.2.2 What newsgroups carry VMS-related information?

The vmsnet.* hierarchy is operated by the Encompass users group (formerly known as DECUS), and contains various newsgroups of interest, including vmsnet.misc and vmsnet.alpha.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Besuchen Sie bitte den newsgroup de.comp.os.vms.

The comp.sys.dec newsgroup carries general discussions about various HP computer systems, and specifically systems that were acquired by HP as part of the acquisition of Compaq, systems which had previously been acquired by Compaq as part of the acquisition of Digital Equipment Corporation (DIGITAL).

Also of interest are resources and conferencing systems including Encompasserve (formerly known as DECUServe) and Ken Farmer's OpenVMS.Org forums:

1.2.3 What newsgroup archives are available?

Extensive archives of INFO-VAX mailings and news:comp.os.vms postings are archived and available at SRI International:

Google also has extensive newsgroup archives available at

1.2.4 What is the INFO-VAX mailing list?

INFO-VAX is a mailing list which is bidirectionally gatewayed to the news:comp.os.vms newsgroup. This means that postings to news:comp.os.vms get automatically sent to INFO-VAX subscribers and messages sent to the INFO-VAX list are automatically posted to news:comp.os.vms

INFO-VAX can be a useful way to participate in the newsgroup if you can't access the newsgroup directly through a newsreader. Note that INFO-VAX is a closed mailing list, which means that only subscribers may post to it. Please see Section for information on how to subscribe, and how you can subscribe such that you can post from multiple addresses but still receive no more than one copy of the mailings.

Please remember that propogation delays can and do vary, meaning that mailings and postings may be delayed or even lost. It is quite possible that postings may not be delivered for several days, and that some postings will appear out of the expected order.

For details on the available archives, please see Section 1.2.3. How do I subscribe to or unsubscribe from INFO-VAX?

The address for subscription requests is Info-VAX-Request[at]Mvb.Saic.Com. Subscription requests are handled automatically by a mail server. This mail server ignores the subject line and processes each line of the message as a command.

The syntax for subscribing and unsubscribing, as well as setting various parameters on your subscription, is:

Table 1-2 INFO-VAX Mail Server Commands
Command Description
HELP Acquire information on mail server
SUBSCRIBE INFO-VAX Join to the mailing list
UNSUBSCRIBE INFO-VAX Leave the mailing list
SET INFO-VAX DIGEST Select periodic omnibus mail messages from the mail server, rather than multiple individual messages for each posting.
SET INFO-VAX NODIGEST Separate mail delivery of each message posted
SET INFO-VAX NOMAIL Establish an email address for posting, though not for receiving, mail.
SET INFO-VAX MAIL Establish an email address for both posting and for receiving mail from the mailing list.

The mail server is not case-sensitive; case is irrelevant. Settings and policies can be retrieved from the mail server, typically using HELP.

The INFO-VAX moderator can be contacted directly at the email address Mark.Berryman[at]Mvb.Saic.Com.

1.3 What is [n]etiquette?

Before posting or emailing a question, please use the available local resources, such as the OpenVMS manuals, the HELP, and the resources and information in and referenced by this FAQ. See Section 1.1, for instance. Please (try to) use these first.

When posting, please consider the etiquette/netiquette suggestions that are available in RFC 1855, a document available at various sites including: .


Please do not post security holes or system crashers

Rather, please report these problems directly to HP. Why? So that HP has a chance to resolve and to distribute a fix before other customer sites can be affected.

Most folks in the newsgroups are honest and deserve to know about potential security problems, but a few folks can and will make nefarious use of this same information. Other sites will hopefully return the courtesy, and will not post information that will potentially compromise your site and your computer environment.

1.4 What OpenVMS user group(s) are available?

Encompass, the Enterprise Computing Association, is a user group comprised of information technology professionals that are interested in the Enterprise-oriented products, services, and technologies of Compaq and of the former DIGITAL. Encompass offers newsletters, the Encompass website, and offers various gatherings and related services, including symposia events and local users group meetings.

Encompass is a descendent of the organization known as DECUS, the Digital Equipment Computer Users Society.

For more information on Encompass, please visit the Encompass web site:

The organization comprised of customers of Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) that is probably most analogous to the Encompass organization is Interex:

Like Encompass, Interex offers various services and events of interest to folks that presently work with and/or that wish to learn about HP products and offerings. Please see the Interex website for details.

1.5 OpenVMS Support, Questions and Comments?

The following section includes contacts for OpenVMS Feedback, and information on how to obtain technical support information.

1.5.1 Corporate contacts for OpenVMS Business Issues?

The HP corporate contact for OpenVMS business issues is Ann McQuaid, the HP General Manager directly in charge of OpenVMS and OpenVMS Engineering, while feature requests and other related matters should be routed to MaryJane Vazquez, the OpenVMS Business Manager.

Ann and MaryJane will quite obviously respond best to cogently-worded OpenVMS corporate-level business issues or requests. With all due respect to all involved, neither Ann nor MaryJane are appropriate contacts for technical support matters nor for technical support requests, nor for any other non-corporate-related, non-business-related issues---these questions are best routed to the local or regional customer support center; to the support, technical and engineering teams.

To reach Ann or MaryJane via electronic mail, place a dot between the first and the surname, and append the expected HP.COM domain.

Next Contents Index