The OpenVMS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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14.19 Which video monitor works with which graphics controller?

To determine the answer to the "will this video monitor or this LCD panel work with this graphics controller?" question, please first locate the resolution(s) and the frequencies that are possible/supported at both ends of the video cable (on the display and on the graphics controller, in other words), and then determine if there are any matching settings available. If there are multiple matches, you will need to determine which one is most appropriate for your needs.

You will also need to determine if the video monitor or graphics controller requires the 3 BNC signaling with the synchronization signals on the green wire, or the 5 BNC signaling common on many PCs, or other connections such as the DB15 video connector or USB connector used on various systems. (BNC signaling is comparatively old, but prevalent with many older hobbyist AlphaStation or VAXstation configurations.)

If there are no matches, you will likely need to change the hardware at one or both ends of the video cable.

The refresh frequencies for many devices have been posted to comp.os.vms and/or other newsgroups. Search the archives for details. Also see:

LCD-based and plasma-based flat-panel displays are generally compatible with all recent OpenVMS Alpha systems and supported graphics controllers. For best results, you should generally set the graphics controller to match the native LCD or plasma display resolution and (for LCD displays) also set the controller refresh rate to 60Hz. Check your graphics controller and your display documentation for any device-specific requirements and/or configuration recommendations.

Some of the older graphics controllers around do not necessarily generate stable signals at 60 Hz, if the controller can even generate that refresh rate; you may end up upgrading to a less-old controller. (At least some of the PowerStorm 3D30 and PowerStorm 4D20 series controllers, for instance, are not necessarily the best choice for 60 Hz operations with an LCD, based on empirical testing with an AlphaStation XP1000, PowerStorm 3D30, and a TFT2025 series LCD. Degraded or mismatched signals produce degraded displays, obviously. The newest graphics controllers compatible with your particular system are generally better choices here for use with LCD; the Radeon 7500 series is a good choice for most EV6-class AlphaStation systems, for instance.

Also see Section 14.18.

14.20 Where can I get information on storage hardware?

Information on various HP (Compaq, DIGITAL) OpenVMS and other disk storage hardware and controllers, and related technical information on SCSI, device jumpers, etc., is available at:


the aquascape website appears to have become unavailable, and the FAQ maintainer is unaware of a new or replacement server. You may or may not have some success looking for this or of any other now-unavailable sites using the world-wide web archives at:

14.21 Why does my LK401 keyboard unexpectedly autorepeat?

There are several modes of failure:

14.22 Problem - My LK411 sends the wrong keycodes or some keys are dead

Check the firmware revision on the keyboard. Hardware revision B01 introduced an incompatability with the device driver which causes the keyboard to not be recognized correctly. There is a patch available to fix this problem: [AXPDRIV06_061] - the fix is also included in OpenVMS V6.2. The rev A01 keyboard, and the LK450 should work without problems.

If you are working from another operating system platform, please see the DECxterm tool and related information on OpenVMS Freeware V5.0.

14.23 Which DE500 variant works with which OpenVMS version?

Ensure you have a version of the Alpha SRM console with support for the DE500 series device. Apply ALL mandatory ECO kits for the OpenVMS version in use, and also apply the CLUSIO, ALPBOOT, and ALPLAN kits, and apply any available ALPCPU ECO kit for the platform.

To check the DE500 device hardware id from OpenVMS, use the following command:


The "hardware version" will be displayed.

To set the DE500 speed and duplex settings via the associated Alpha SRM console environment variable, see Table 14-4.

Table 14-4 DE500 Speed and Duplex Settings
EWx0_MODE setting Meaning
Twisted-Pair 10 Mbit/sec, nofull_duplex
Full Duplex, Twisted-Pair 10 Mbit/sec, full_duplex
AUI 10 Mbit/sec, nofull_duplex
BNC 10 Mbit/sec, nofull_duplex
Fast 100 Mbit/sec, nofull_duplex
FastFD (Full Duplex) 100 Mbit/sec, full_duplex
Auto-Negotiate Negotiation with remote device

To override the console setting and use LANCP:

LANCP> SET DEVICE EWA0/SPEED=100/full_duplex 

Fast Ethernet (100Base, 100 megabit) controllers such as the DE500 series have a pair of connections available---while traditional Ethernet (10Base, 10 megabit) is inherently a half-duplex protocol, Fast Ethernet can be configured to use one or both of the available connections, depending on the controller. Fast Ethernet can thus be half- or full-duplex depending on the configuration and the capabilities of the network controller and the Ethernet network plant. Some Fast Ethernet controllers can also operate at traditional Ethernet speeds, these controllers are thus often refered to as 10/100 Ethernet controllers.

14.24 How do I set the speed and duplex on OpenVMS I64?

OpenVMS I64 on Integrity servers does not provide a console-level environment variable akin to the SRM console variables used to manage the network speed and duplex settings on OpenVMS Alpha and Alpha systems. On OpenVMS I64 on Integrity servers, LANCP is used to manage the speed and the duplex setting of the network controllers.

LANCP> SET DEVICE EWA0/SPEED=100/full_duplex 

The EFI-level network bootstrap operations for a network-based upgrade or a network-based installation of OpenVMS I64 require the use of autonegotiation and a switch capable of supporting it.

See Section 14.23 for a related discussion.

14.25 Third-party or Unsupported disk/tape/controllers/SCSI/widgets?

A wide variety of third-party and formally-unsupported widgets---SCSI and ATA/ATAPI (IDE) disks and tapes, graphics controllers, etc---are obviously widely available, and are used on various platforms.

If you purchase third-party or unsupported or generic SCSI, ATA/ATAPI (IDE) storage devices, you and your device vendor will be responsible for the testing and the support of the devices. In general, you can expect that HP will address non-standards-compliance problems within OpenVMS (changes that will also not prevent operations with other supported devices, of course), but you and/or the device vendor and/or the device manufacturer are responsible for finding and fixing problems in the particular third-party device and or controller involved.

In particular, realize that neither SCSI nor ATA/ATAPI (IDE) is a particularly standard interface, these interfaces tend to be a collection of optionally-implemented and standardized interface features. You should not and can not simply assume that all SCSI nor ATA/ATAPI (IDE) storage devices are interchangeable. If you want to try to use a generic SCSI device, use V6.2 or later, or (better) V7.1-2 or later. If you wish to try to use ATA/ATAPI (IDE), use OpenVMS V7.1-2 or later.

On older OpenVMS releases, see the disk capacity limits ( Section 9.5).

With SCSI disks on releases prior to V6.2, ensure that you have the ARRE and ARWE settings configured correctly (disabled). (If not, you will see DRVERR fatal drive errors and error log entries.)

Some SCSI disks set the medium type byte as part of the SCSI size field---this is a SET CAPACITY extension to SCSI specs. This problem also applies to VAX V7.1 and later.

Disks with SCSI disk sizes past 8.58 GB and/or with the SET CAPACITY extension require ALPSCSI07 ECO or the OpenVMS Alpha V7.1-2 or later release. (See Section 9.5 for further details.)

Based on the displays of the (undocumented) SYS$ETC:SCSI_INFO tool; this tool is present in OpenVMS V6.2 and later:

Issuing 6-byte MODE SENSE QIOW to get current values for page 01h 
       Page Code ................. 01h 
       Page Name ................. Read-Write Error Recovery 
       Saveable .................. Yes 
       Size ...................... 10 
       Hex Data .................. E6 08 50 00 00 00 08 00 
                                   00 00 

The E6 shown indicates that the AWRE and ARRE bits are set, and this is incompatible with OpenVMS versions prior to V6.2. Further along in the same SCSI_INFO display, if you also see:

Issuing 6-byte MODE SENSE QIOW to get changeable values for page 81h 
       Page Code ................. 01h 
       Page Name ................. Read-Write Error Recovery 
       Saveable .................. Yes 
       Size ...................... 10 
       Hex Data .................. C0 08 50 00 00 00 08 00 
                                   00 00 

The C0 value means that the AWRE and ARRE values can be changed on this particular SCSI device. (This is not always the case.) If the bits are set, you can use RZDISK from the OpenVMS Freeware, and can reset the E6 flag byte to hexadecimal 26 (or whatever the remaining mask when you remove bits C0) on page one.

Each SCSI and ATA/ATAPI (IDE) host contains non-trivial SCSI and IDE driver software, and each device contains equally non-trivial firmware--- taken together with the mechanical and electronic components, this software and firmware will determine whether or not a particular device will function as expected.

Also note that various devices---such as various SCSI CD-R devices ---can implement and can require vendor-specific protocol extensions, and these extensions can require modifications to OpenVMS or the addition of various utilities. In various of these cases, these devices perform functions that will require them to use SCSI or ATA/ATAPI (IDE) commands that are (hopefully) architecturally-compatible SCSI or ATA/ATAPI (IDE) command extensions. (Also see Section 7.1 and Section 9.7.)

Some SCSI tapes lack odd-byte transfer support, making operations with OpenVMS problematic at best, as OpenVMS expects odd-byte support. Examples of such include LTO-1 devices such as the HP Ultrium 230 series tape, and the DLT VS80 series tapes. Due to the lack of odd-byte transfer support, LTO-1 devices are not supported by OpenVMS. LTO devices in the LTO-2 and later series do reportedly presently all have odd-byte transfer support, and operations are reportedly rather easier. Do check for formal support, of course.

In order for OpenVMS to officially support a particular device, integration and testing work is mandated. There can be no certainty that any particular device will operate as expected in any particular configuration without first performing this (non-trivial) work.

It is quite possible to find two devices---both entirely compliant with applicable standards or interface documents---that will not interoperate.

The same general statement holds for OpenVMS bootstrapping on an unsupported VAX or Alpha platform. It might or might not work. In particular, please see the OpenVMS Software Product Description (SPD) for the list of platforms supported by OpenVMS. OpenVMS is not supported on the Personal Workstation -a series, on the Digital Server series platforms, on the AlphaServer 2100 series 5/375 CPU, on the Multia, on the AlphaServer DS20L, and on a variety of other platforms. (You might or might not see success booting OpenVMS on any of these platforms.)

14.25.1 Lists of third-party widgets on OpenVMS?

Various folks have successfully used common third-party disk disk devices with OpenVMS, such as the ATA (IDE) and SCSI variants of the Iomega Zip250 removable disk device.

Common SCSI CD-R/CD-RW devices such as the Plextor PlexWriter 12/10/32S SCSI series and the HP DVD200i series (recording CD-R) have also been successfully utilized with various AlphaStation and VAXstation systems, and with tools such as CDRECORD. (A Plextor PlexWriter burn of 614400000 bytes (300000 sectors) requires just over six minutes at 12x, using an AlphaStation XP1000 666 MHz EV67 system UltraSCSI host.) (See Section 9.7 for detailed discussions of recording optical media on OpenVMS, and the available tools.)

If you choose to attempt to use third-party devices, ensure that you have the most current OpenVMS version and the most current ECO kit(s) applied. In the specific case of the ATA (IDE) Iomega Zip250 drive, ensure that you have the most current revision of SYS$DQDRIVER installed.

14.25.2 Are the 2X-KZPCA-AA and SN-KZPCA-AA LVD Ultra2 SCSI?

Yes. Both of these controllers are Ultra2 low-voltage differential (LVD) SCSI controllers.

14.25.3 Resolving DRVERR fatal device error?

If this is on an OpenVMS version prior to V6.2, please see the AWRE and ARRE information included in section Section 14.25.

14.26 Looking for connector wiring pin-outs?

The DECconnect DEC-423 Modified Modular Jack (MMJ) appears similar to a telphone or network modular jac, though with the key offset to one side. The DECconnect MMJ connector pin-out is listed in Table 14-5, with an end-on view of the connector pins and the connector key shown below.

Table 14-5 DEC MMJ Pin-out
Pin Description
1 Data Terminal Ready (DTR)
2 Transmit (TXD)
3 Transmit Ground (TXD-)
4 Receive Ground (RXD-)
5 Receive (RXD)
6 Data Set Ready (DSR)

   | 1  2  3  4  5  6 | 
   +------------+    ++ 

The BC16E-nn (where the "-nn" indicates the cable length) cabling and keying "flips over" or "crosses-over" the signal wires, and this allows all DECconnect MMJ connections to be wired identically; the ends of the BC16E are symmetrical and fully interchangeable, and allows either end of the cable to be connected either to the terminal or to the host. Specifically, the BC16E-nn cross-over wiring looks like this:

        Terminal                         Host 
        MMJ                              MMJ 
     DTR 1 --->---------->----------->--- 6 DSR 
     TXD 2 --->---------->----------->--- 5 RXD 
         3 ------------------------------ 4 
         4 ------------------------------ 3 
     RXD 5 ---<----------<-----------<--- 2 TXD 
     DSR 6 ---<----------<-----------<--- 1 DTR 

DECconnect parts and connections are available from HP, and MMJ crimping dies for use in typical telco-style crimping tools, and MMJ connectors, are available from Blackbox and from other communications equipment vendors.

The PC-compatible DB9 connector pin-out found on Alpha and Integrity COM serial ports---and on most PC systems is listed in Table 14-6.

Table 14-6 PC DB9 Pin-out
Pin Description
1 Data Carrier Detect (DCD)
2 Received Data
3 Transmit Data
4 Data Terminal Ready (DTR)
5 Ground
6 Data Set Ready (DSR)
7 Request To Send (RTS)
8 Clear To Send
9 floating

The MicroVAX DB9 console connector pin-out predates the PC-style DB9 pin-out (adapters discussed in Section 14.27), and uses a then-common (and older) standard pin-out, and uses the EIA-232 series standard signals shown in Table 14-7.

Table 14-7 MicroVAX DB9 Pin-out
Pin Description
1 Protective Ground
2 Transmited Data
3 Received Data
4 Request To Send (RTS)
5 Data Terminal Ready (DTR)
6 Data Set Ready (DSR)
7 Signal Ground
8 Shorted to pin 9 on MicroVAX and VAXstation 2000...
9 ...series systems, otherwise left floating.

When pin 8 is shorted to pin 9, this is a BCC08 (or variant) cable, most commonly used as a console cable on the MicroVAX 2000 and VAXstation 2000 series. (Other systems may or may not tolerate connecting pin 8 to pin 9.)

The BN24H looks like this:

     MMJ       RJ45 

The BN24J looks like this:

     MMJ       RJ45 

Also see:

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