This makes me wonder: I know OpenVMS has X, but does it also easily run
Xaw programs that typically come with X, like xcalc, xclock, xedit, etc?
Easily? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Older versions of some of the X
tools are provided with DECwindows, some (usually older) ports of other
tools and apps are available, and the X11 version itself is very old.
The usual presentation is either an older version of CDE or Motif, and
you won't find Qt or other tools around. There'll be serious
problems getting newer apps to work with the implementation, and there
are some application-level porting differences such as the
XtAppAddInput() call having different and platform-specific arguments,
Barely related, but I found the fastest and surest way to learn how to
use an OS is to use it as your only desktop for a few months, without
falling in to the temptations to switching back to what you were using
VSI has stated that OpenVMS is for servers. Not for workstations.
Beyond the GUI itself — that's only the very tip of this whole desktop
or workstation iceberg — there are very few apps for the sorts of tasks
that are now commonly expected and needed by folks looking for client
computing, too. Run an inventory of what you expect, and see if it'll
work or not. Some folks live in terminal sessions running
OpenVMS-specific text editors reading and writing ASCII or DEC MCS
(mostly ISO Latin 1) text files, and OpenVMS works for that. Other
folks have different expectations for their desktops. For many of the
common tasks on OpenVMS, you'll be using terminal sessions and be
willing to haul around your own tool chains for accessing common file
formats such as Word or Excel or PDF or otherwise, or not need to
access any of those sorts of files. Or you'll be using another client
computer a I did. There is no modern web browser available, either.
I used OpenVMS as my desktop for twenty years, though stopped that a
decade ago. Back when I was doing that, that was largely possible
because I had a Microsoft Windows box alongside to deal with all the
files and activities that OpenVMS couldn't do. Over time, more and
more migrated over to the Windows system, and to the Windows Server
systems behind it.
Get yourself a hobbyist license and media and go install OpenVMS
yourself on either real hardware you've acquired or on an emulator
you've loaded onto something else, and learn what to expect, and learn
what's necessary to (for instance) set up IP networking and NTP time
synchronization or other such tasks. Or — to defer having to learn how
to install and configure OpenVMS — register for and log into the
decuserve server (telnet to decuserve.org — telnet, not ssh — and
follow the bouncing ball) and maybe then learn how to SET DISPLAY and
to aim a remote DECwindows session back at some local X Windows server
system you've previously configured. (Getting a decuserve login is
also how you can register for the hobbyist licenses, so that's almost
invariably going to be on your path to learning more about OpenVMS.
Once you have a decuserve login, enter the command HOBBYIST to get the
license information for the hobbyist registration. Also have a look
at the NOTES conferences while you're there.)
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