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Thread: OpenVMS PAKs and their current usefulness?

  1. #1

    Default OpenVMS PAKs and their current usefulness?

    I am writing this with some extreme discomfort just because of how I learned of these PAKs. Long story short, my company owned at one point 16 AlphaServer 800 or DS10 units - which were decommissioned and either sent to a recycler or a dumpster somewhere by the looks of it. I am still searching my building since we have a tendency to "lose" items in a closet for YEARS until someone literally stumbles on them - but I am not holding my breath.

    What DID come of interest was during my process of searching for them, I came up on a box of paperwork destined for destruction. Inside it was some manuals which were useful - and a folder with OpenVMS 7.1 install disks, a 7.3 install disk, a master license backup disk... and the original printed PAKs for the servers. So in my hands I have the paper and digital backups for OpenVMS Base for 16 servers with TCP/IP, Concurrent Use License, DECnet, and DECwindows motif for 1600 users.

    Can these PAKs and license backups be still useful? As in my thought was to buy a DS10, load the licensing into it, and have the DS10 as the basis for my key management as I either find more Alpha hardware or migrate licenses to Itanium. This is all for my own use at this point - but my thought was to set up some servers using these licenses for experimentation and possible commercial or free use later.

    Luckily among what I found was a nearly immaculate PDP-11/73 as well but that will be another post!

  2. #2
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    You can currently get Open VMS PAKs under the hobbyist program , but they are only valid for one year... Some PDP-11 software is however virtually impossible to get new licences for...
    Dave
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by g4ugm View Post
    You can currently get Open VMS PAKs under the hobbyist program , but they are only valid for one year... Some PDP-11 software is however virtually impossible to get new licences for...
    I have a Hobbyist license as well but I always understood that was meant to be for actual Hobbyist purposes - so if I were to create a colocafed server somewhere to allow other access and for whatever software/reasons I want: I’d have to find a commercial licensed OS.

    As for the PDP libraries I am wondering the same - and might stumble on some software and licensing if I keep digging.

    I do know I have an 11 CD VAX software library from circa 1999 I dug out of the scrap pile.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by NavyBOFH View Post
    I am writing this with some extreme discomfort just because of how I learned of these PAKs. Long story short, my company owned at one point 16 AlphaServer 800 or DS10 units - which were decommissioned and either sent to a recycler or a dumpster somewhere by the looks of it. I am still searching my building since we have a tendency to "lose" items in a closet for YEARS until someone literally stumbles on them - but I am not holding my breath.

    What DID come of interest was during my process of searching for them, I came up on a box of paperwork destined for destruction. Inside it was some manuals which were useful - and a folder with OpenVMS 7.1 install disks, a 7.3 install disk, a master license backup disk... and the original printed PAKs for the servers. So in my hands I have the paper and digital backups for OpenVMS Base for 16 servers with TCP/IP, Concurrent Use License, DECnet, and DECwindows motif for 1600 users.

    Can these PAKs and license backups be still useful? As in my thought was to buy a DS10, load the licensing into it, and have the DS10 as the basis for my key management as I either find more Alpha hardware or migrate licenses to Itanium. This is all for my own use at this point - but my thought was to set up some servers using these licenses for experimentation and possible commercial or free use later.

    Luckily among what I found was a nearly immaculate PDP-11/73 as well but that will be another post!
    Yes, these are useful. If you don't want them all I will be happy to use one on my Alpha. I have the same software CDs disks but no PAKs that I can find.
    @ BillDeg:
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  5. #5

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    They're certainly still useful in my opinion, although I'd have to question their legal validity.

    In my case, despite me owning a 90s-era software distribution, PAKs haven't been much of an issue for me. Deduce that how you will.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by NavyBOFH View Post
    Inside it was some manuals which were useful - and a folder with OpenVMS 7.1 install disks, a 7.3 install disk, a master license backup disk... and the original printed PAKs for the servers. So in my hands I have the paper and digital backups for OpenVMS Base for 16 servers with TCP/IP, Concurrent Use License, DECnet, and DECwindows motif for 1600 users.
    It has been a while, and my personal memory appears to not have any error correction, but there are probably a few potential restrictions. Whether they are relevant is up to you:

    1) Some "PAKs" were actually shipped with media kits, for people who hadn't yet received their official PAKs. I think these were TSPs, but I don't remember. That was far more likely to happen with VAX layered products, since PAKs came along well before Alpha. But a layered product that included both VAX and Alpha binaries in the kit might still have one.

    2) Some PAKs were time- or version- limited. "Product release date" means you couldn't install anything released after that date. "PAK termination date" was when the PAK would stop working, regardless of the version or release date installed. "Version" limited you to running the stated version or older of the software. "Units", "Activity", and "Options" limited you to a subset of possible hardware - bigger CPUs required more units. Some software that didn't care used "constant=100" in its PAKs which meant that all systems were treated as 100 units by that software.

    3) Some PAKs are supposedly restricted to a particular piece of hardware. Due to the lack of a true processor serial number on VAXen, this was usually more of a "soft suggestion" than a hard check. But see #2 above for other ways a PAK might be limited.

    4) Notwithstanding any of the above, the normal DEC / Compaq / HP[E] policy was that if you wanted to use old licenses on a newer system, you needed to pay a license transfer fee as well as any other fees (for example, if the new system required PAKs with more units).

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy View Post
    It has been a while, and my personal memory appears to not have any error correction, but there are probably a few potential restrictions. Whether they are relevant is up to you:

    1) Some "PAKs" were actually shipped with media kits, for people who hadn't yet received their official PAKs. I think these were TSPs, but I don't remember. That was far more likely to happen with VAX layered products, since PAKs came along well before Alpha. But a layered product that included both VAX and Alpha binaries in the kit might still have one.

    2) Some PAKs were time- or version- limited. "Product release date" means you couldn't install anything released after that date. "PAK termination date" was when the PAK would stop working, regardless of the version or release date installed. "Version" limited you to running the stated version or older of the software. "Units", "Activity", and "Options" limited you to a subset of possible hardware - bigger CPUs required more units. Some software that didn't care used "constant=100" in its PAKs which meant that all systems were treated as 100 units by that software.

    3) Some PAKs are supposedly restricted to a particular piece of hardware. Due to the lack of a true processor serial number on VAXen, this was usually more of a "soft suggestion" than a hard check. But see #2 above for other ways a PAK might be limited.

    4) Notwithstanding any of the above, the normal DEC / Compaq / HP[E] policy was that if you wanted to use old licenses on a newer system, you needed to pay a license transfer fee as well as any other fees (for example, if the new system required PAKs with more units).
    That's what I was told by my uncle as well (a retired DEC/Compaq/HP engineer) and from the looks of it all PAKs I had were not time or version limited - but after computing the "units" per system it seems like I have (after digging through the time limited and duplicate papers) enough licensing to run two DS10 systems with the full Enterprise Integration kit. But you're right about changing hardware and such - if I was to grab a newer unit I MIGHT be able to get away with combining both licenses to get enough "units" for one operational server but HP has their controls in place to ensure you pay their $1500 licensing to upgrade hardware. If that is so - I might grab a couple DS10s to just run for kicks.

  8. #8
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    I suggest you or whomever gets a PAK to try to also generate a same license PAKs using the means I and others have described using lmfgen, then compare what you get from the LMFGEN process with the actual PAKs, see if one or both work. It would be educational.
    Bill
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by billdeg View Post
    I suggest you or whomever gets a PAK to try to also generate a same license PAKs using the means I and others have described using lmfgen, then compare what you get from the LMFGEN process with the actual PAKs, see if one or both work. It would be educational.
    Depending on the age of the PAKs and the particular tool (LMFGEN, PGEN, LICENSE GENERATE, etc.) you may end up with PAKs that have 1-, 2-, or 4- as the behinning of their checksum. Not all products will accept all checksums so you'll need to experiment. Also, some products are picky about producer / issuer in non-obvious ways. For example, PMDF accepts different producers but then enforces different requirements on the other PAK fields depending on which producer is chosen.

    And then there are products that use homebrew licensing, like GrayMatter ScriptServer. Those require different solutions.

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