[rescue] uVAX II funtimes

Ian Finder ian.finder at gmail.com
Mon Jul 27 13:01:03 CDT 2009

Hello all,

So I've recently acquired a MicroVax II [my first Vax!] courtesy of a
list member. (to whom I'd once again like to extend my thanks)

Neither he nor I haven tested it comprehensively yet (plan to make a
serial cable today) but it appears to be a fairly barebones setup with
just enough for me to hopefully make it bootable with the limited
resources at my disposal.

The only qbus card other than the CPU is the DEQNA ethernet card,
which, to my understanding, is the less preferable of the two cards
commonly found in such a unit.

Still, it's probably a very good thing I have it as there is no hard
disk, the floppy drive was disconnected and is missing its cable, and
the disk controller was given to me separate from the chassis and is
in unknown condition. I should also make clear I don't have a hard
drive, and I have no idea what sort of drive I'd even need, though I
haven't researched the topic thoroughly.

So, the way it looks to me, if I want this thing to actually *do
stuff,* the network is my only option.

Now, to reiterate, I know next to nothing about VAXen or VMS. The
machines in my collection prior to this were  fancy workstations from
c.1990 or newer, discounting a few exceptions and simple home
computers from the 80s. Either way, media and I/O connectivity have
never been a huge problem before.

For now, instead of tackling a pile of 25 year old hard discs, I was
thinking I could netboot the MicroVax and operate it completely
diskless. I *believe* this is easy with NetBSD, but I really want to
try VMS. Is this a retarded idea? Will it even work, and if it does
will it totally sack my performance?

It's my understanding that VMSclusters have provisions for diskless
clients beyond installation and maintenance, so I was going to attempt
this by setting up a PC networked with the Vax (the decnet port is
just standard AUI, correct?) and running VMS under SIMh. The diskless
Vax would then be able to run VMS as well as any standard, uncrippled
machine, right? Or am I way off-base and describing a
performance-tanking deadweight for a machine with such limited

I've also heard that VMS after version 5 or 6 something will refuse to
play nice with the DEQNA, and the hobbyist CDs currently available
have only later versions, so does anyone know where I can get any sort
of install image for 5.5?


- Ian

P.S.: If anyone near Seattle's U-District has a spare AUI to Twisted
Pair transceiver, let me know.

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