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:
LinkedIn.com OpenVMS Community Group
and other DEC groups on the site
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
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.