I come from a mostly-UNIX, mostly-TCP/IP background. I don't understand DECnet well yet, but I want to learn more! Much of my interest in joining HECnet and playing around is because I largely skipped over DECnet in its original airing, and now it seems like a weird foreign land that I feel an irrational need to grok in fullness.
What are/were the conventions for providing public services over DECnet Phase IV networks, to remote users without their own local user accounts? I.e., let's say that I had a node on a large DECnet-only network back in the before time, and I wanted to share a file repository in a manner comparable to anonymous FTP on a TCP/IP network. How would I have done that? Were there conventions for doing that sort of thing back then, or was that a foreign concept on large DECnet networks at the time?
Were there any examples of BBS-like servers living on DECnet networks? Online multi-player games such as MUDs? Early DECnet-based examples of "log into the coffee pot to see if the brew is fresh"? DECnet-based analogs to Archie for discovering stuff? DECnet-based USENET-like communities?
I don't know if any of these concepts even made sense in the DECnet world at the time. In addition to only understanding the networks of the 80s from a UNIX-centric, TCP/IP-centric worldview, I'm also having a hard time un-thinking the newer concepts I'm used to after so many years of steeping in a broth of HTTP and social media. I have somewhat conflicting urges to both learn how to think like a 1980s DECnet user, and to retcon modern concepts into an alternate reality where TCP/IP never took off.
Mark J. Blair, NF6X <nf6x at nf6x.net>
Hi there, everybody! I'm a vintage computer collector in southern California, USA, and I'm interested in joining HECnet. I thought I'd introduce myself and then ask some questions on the mailing list before I ask to join the network.
One of my favorite computers in my collection is a VAX-11/730 system with an R80, RL02, TU81 and DECwriter III. It has an ethernet card, and it came with OpenVMS 7.3 on the R80 and VMS 5.3 on an RL02 pack. I don't seem to have a single good TU58 tape, even after repairing the capstan rollers in the drives, but I can boot up the computer via tu58em. I've shared the boot-optimized console tape image I put together, as well as an image I created of the CRDPACK RL02 pack that came with the system:
It's been a couple years since I fired up that system, but I recently had another burst of interest and began setting up some VAX emulations in simh. I have a simulated VAX-11/785 running in simh on a BeagleBone Green (a little embedded computer board, similar to the Raspberry Pi). I plan to leave it running as a full-time VMS presence at home, so it can be up on HECnet all the time. It would be a natural host for any bridging or routing I need to do, and I plan to use it as my main bridge between my modern computers and anything I have speaking DECnet. I have TCP/IP set up on it so I can FTP files on and off of it from my modern systems. The 11/730 won't be powered up very often, and probably mostly during winter!
I have plans to restore a heap of parts that I have into a working PDP-11/44 eventually, and I suppose it should be able to run RSX-11 and also visit HECnet?
I expect that I'll probably get more DECnet-capable hardware in the future. I'd like to get a PDP-11/73 someday, and I'm curious about those little QBUS MicroVAXen. Maybe I should add a VAXstation to the mix, too?
So now it's time for me to figure out how to join HECnet. I gather that my best options would be to either use the bridge program, or to set up my VAX-11/785 emulation to bridge things somehow.
If I use the bridge program running on a Linux box, can I configure it to only bridge traffic to/from the rest of HECnet? I don't want the traffic between my local DECnet nodes to leave the house. If the bridge program forwards all DECnet packets that it sees, then maybe I should learn how to set up my emulated VAX-11/785 as a router instead?
And now for the really tough question: Once I add my systems to HECnet, what can I *do*? I'd like to join HECnet just because it's there, but it would be swell if there's more fun stuff to do.
Mark J. Blair, NF6X <nf6x at nf6x.net>