Open Source on OpenVMS - A Progress Report 
Monday, October 5, 2009, 04:45 PM
Posted by Administrator
In the last few weeks I have been discussing the needs and requirements to revitalize the Open Source on OpenVMS Community. Along these lines I have been involved in discussions on various forums including: comp.os.vms, vms-sig-listserv, LinkedIn.com, my own VMSblog as well as Twitter and Facebook. The general consensus is that there needs to be communication, centralized repositories, coordination, continuity and critical mass. These "5-Cs" are all important to making the Open Source on OpenVMS Project succeed.

At present I can not say that any one of these issues is under control.

Communication:

We are a diverse community. Some of us are looking for simplification in our lives and processes and do not want to worry about some of the changes happening in technology and in fact would rather keep textual communication in clear ASCII. Others are involved in pushing the envelope to communicate to as many as possible. There are of course those that float in the middle. The challenge we face is having effective communication between those that use these diverse facilities. We currently have discussions and conversations going on the following platforms:

	comp.os.vms newsgroup
VMS-SIG@LISTSERV.ENCOMPASSUS.ORG
LinkedIn.com OpenVMS Community Group
and other DEC groups on the site
Facebook.com
Twitter.com
community-connect.org various groups
and blogs on the HP Connect web site
VMSblog my own Blog oriented toward
my thoughts and evangelism for OpenVMS
OpenVMS.org
OpenVMSHobbyist.com
VAXnotes on Eisner at the mail.encompasserve.org site

What has come of these conversations? People are asking more questions. There is more interest in seeing something move forward in the Open Source on OpenVMS arena. The HP OpenVMS Team has started some discussions with us. This initial level of activity has shown there is still a community interest in moving this segment of the OpenVMS puzzle forward.

What has not happened? We are still hampered by the need to communicate in many different environments and styles. Ah to have some "super glue" to bind this environments together. I have a bit of that started with an interface between my VMSblog and Twitter. I have also been using the "AddThis" Firefox addon to help with some of the other areas but I still have not found the application that really ties things together.

So if there are suggestions or thoughts I would appreciate them.

Centralized Repositories:

Source Forge seems like the logical place for much of this work. This is especially true since the main line code trees of many Open Source packages are already resident. In discussions with folks in OpenVMS Engineering it sounds like this is the way they are leaning. They already has a history there with GNV (although the code on Source Forge has not been update since 30 July 2004...). Other sites have GNV including ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/openvms/opensource/ where version V2.01.002.1 resides as well as at ftp://encompasserve.org/gnv/ where John Malmberg has posted various fixes and updates of the work he has contributed.

OpenVMS.org has an excellent page on packages ported to OpenVMS (http://de.openvms.org/OpenVMS-Ports/). A few people have started to add information to this about new or currently unlisted applications and packages. This could just as easily be used as a site for any OpenVMS Freeware whether it be from the Freeware CD era or the DECUS tape environment or the current Open Source fad. I encourage you to add your packages here or add information about packages that are missing - EMACS for instance. There are many more that need to be updated and added as well.

The Freeware CD contributions and DECUS Tape contributions are another area of repository that needs attention. HP has indicated that they are working to make this process more flexible and timely. Specifically expect to see the ability to download specific applications rather than entire CD images or tape images. Also expect to see a mechanism to support the updating of applications to current versions are available in a timely fashion as well.

There is also some work being done to potentially identify a mechanism of providing porting resources. As an example my CCSS Interactive Learning OpenVMS Lab Systems offer access to OpenVMS/VAX and OpenVMS/Alpha at no charge. While we have not yet added compilers we could do so on request. I am also looking at adding and OpenVMS/I64 system to the mix and then clustering the Alpha and Integrity boxes so as to provide development and testing resources for Open Source on OpenVMS projects. There are other sites available, the Deathrow Cluster for instance. There is also a possibility of a facility provided by the OpenVMS Team.

Coordination:

This is one of the difficult ones. If I could wave a magic wand to facilitate this I would. I suspect this will take continued effort and management. It will also take the active particpation of application authors and evangelists to make sure their offerings are well represented and supported.

Documentation of best practices and solutions is very important. Currently this information is scattered in many areas and needs a location for focus and exchange of ideas and information.

Continuity:

None of this effort will be of any use if applications become orphaned or if the project leaders get hit by the proverbial bus. So the need to make sure that each application is accurately documented and archived so it may be supported in the future given the worst of possible situations. We have orphaned Open Source applications all over the web which were great ideas and are now lingering and potentially dying as their authors have gone on to newer, more "interesting" projects.

The OpenVMS Community should take it upon itself to make sure that the Open Source we use and contribute has the best possible documentation and community support possible, no matter what the application. We pride ourselves on supportability and documentation and really complain when it is not up to our expectations. With Open Source we need to make sure the documentation is what we would expect and the support is similarly excellent.

Critical Mass:

Each project/package/application/utility needs a minimum number of interested and active participants to ensure its success/completion. The need to be involved and push information and comment to the appropriate people is very important. The opportunity we have to move OpenVMS forward in ways which we want and with tools we find useful is here and making a firm commitment to these tools is necessary to show HP Management that the OpenVMS Community is viable and wants to see OpenVMS continue to be developed, thrive and be sold and support for many years to come.

I look forward to the many voices and hands within the OpenVMS Community creating a buzz and helping with the projects and all of us seeing the fruits of our labor mature and evolve.


As we move forward I will continue my efforts to communicate with each of you. I will also work to improve the efficiency of the communication and look forward to feedback and comment from any and all in the OpenVMS Community.

Thanks,

Bill.
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Priority Number One - Develop Focus for #OpenVMS Open Source Team(s) 
Sunday, September 20, 2009, 02:38 PM
Posted by Administrator
Seems like the need now is to get those interested in Open Source development and support on OpenVMS to have a point of focus and community. This is probably as difficult as any task within the effort to develop momentum within the OpenVMS community and is typical of all segments within the our community. I will layout where we are first.

Within the community we have people who are exploring new modes of communication and development. We also have people who view the tools at hand (listserv email, newsgroups, VAXnotes) as the tools to use, rather than move to new environments - i.e. social media, blogs. No matter how you look at it we are a relatively small community which needs good communication and a mechanism to facility communications between all our members and to help us focus on developing new momentum within the community as well as to attract new people.

Along these lines I would love to have some magic glue to allow me to post a message once and have it go everyplace we need it to go for effective communications. Anyone want to step in? Well, that current lack not withstanding, I am looking at making it happen the old fashion way for awhile as I cogitate on how to improve the efficiency of my effort. A bit of wandering hither and yon through the hills and dales of the wilderness of the internet.

I will be posting at various spot over the next new weeks to attempt to pull the various parties together so as to work toward developing a consensus on a path to facilitate the porting of open source packages to OpenVMS. The overall belief is that this effort needs active participation in the open source project communities of each package so as to show commitment and facilitate the incorporation of OpenVMS specific code in the main line code for all packages. Resources are another issue at times so we will also be exploring establishing facilities to support current efforts and expand to new packages.

For those that are not aware there is list on OpenVMS.org. We look to grow this list and expand its detail with the help of the community.

I welcome suggestions and comment on this process. I also welcome support - moral, vocal, and otherwise are appreciated.

I have no misconceptions about the project. There is much to do. I have time and can keep the effort up and keep working to pull interested parties together to help build the community and add to the critical mass we require.

Well, time to change channels and move things on...

Thanks,

Bill.
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Integration of VMSblog with Twitter for #OpenVMS Evangelism 
Sunday, August 23, 2009, 12:19 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yes, that's right, now the Subject lines will be automatically posted to Twitter. And will see how we can move this into other portions of our effort to get more buzz and discussion going about OpenVMS.

As mentioned in my last blog I experimented with writing the blog from an Ipaq. While it is not the sort of thing I would recommend it was doable. The newer PDA with their micro keypads are much quicker with data entry but I must admit a certain desire to "stay in the family".

August has long been the "dog days of Summer" and that has been obvious with the slow down in blogs and comments on the web. We continue with our coordination efforts to pull different groups together. Many challenges exist. Some cultural, some geographic, some just people. At present we have the OpenVMS community spread across many different and disparate platforms - DECUServe, c.o.v. Newsgroup, Connect Community, LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter, OpenVMS.org, OpenVMShobbyist.com and many others. Part of the challenge will be to integrate these platforms so any communication about OpenVMS becomes available to each of us!

Along those lines I have experimented with the implementation of an interface between the blog engine I use here and Twitter. That has now been implemented and this is the first post of confirming its operation.

Looking forward to other progress as we move out of Summer and into a busy Fall season of Evangelism.

Bill.
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Blogging from an Ipaq 
Friday, August 21, 2009, 05:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well,it is not a VT420 or WordPress off astandard kb but it is possible to access this blog from an Ipaq and do useful work. Have recently loaded MiniMo for WinCE, Firefox''s abandoned little brother. What an improvement over MS IE!!!

Now I am not saying I would do this all the time I wanted to experiment as I work to understand the 'new' technologies and techiques of accessing the WWW. Yes, it can be done but I am at least FIVE paragraphs behind.

So, next time, more detail and it will be delivered via the normal input method.

Learnng all the way!!!

LATER...

Bill.
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Open Source for OpenVMS 
Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 06:54 AM
Posted by Administrator
In a recent series of posts Stephen Hoffman of HoffmanLabs noted that the current state of Open Source product for the OpenVMS environment is both in a disarray and is seriously lagging the rest of the industry. Hoff equates this current state of affairs as a train wreck or at least a train wreck in progress.

The efforts around open source product by HP and others seem to be too tightly tied to the issue of stability versus the issue of currency. In this day and age we somehow need to balance the issue of stability - OpenVMS is well known for this - with requirement to be on the cutting edge once again. Remember when OpenVMS (actually VMS) was on the cutting edge? It can be done. It was done! It needs to be done, AGAIN!

HP and its OpenVMS predecessors are all guilty of attempting to appease the user community with "open source" while not really embracing the concept. All too often, if not always, there has been the renaming of applications and the slow release and poor support of the application once they have placed their hands on it. You can go off and get Apache just about anyplace you want and you can use it or modify it as you desire. CSWS (aka Apache on OpenVMS) is really only available from HP, even though the product is Compaq Secure Web Server - no mention of Apache - ah the confusion. The list goes on...

Why not get the model back in place of open source? That's right, get it back to where the code is updated and the overall development community for an open source product and then apply its collective skills toward improving it. That is the idea behind open source - you have the COMMUNITY INVOLVED.

HP needs to get its resources focused on making OpenVMS a viable and growing environment. If that it thinks that means involvement in the open source community it needs to really participate on a timely basis. On the other hand, if the OpenVMS community wants to have product then it should stand up and get involved in open source directly and not wait for HP.

I support Hoff in his quest to push the OpenVMS community and HP to move forward more in the spirit of Open Source. Along these lines we are considering how to place a focus on this as well as other issues as we move as a community to centralize information about OpenVMS and related products and services.

Step forward. Comment. Participate. Contribute!
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