*nix Tip of the Day: VMS

Posted Sun 29 November 2009 17:01 under category tips

Okay, so this is maybe a little unusual, but today's "*nix Tip of the Day" isn't about Unix/Linux/etc. at all. Instead, it is about their antiquated archenemy: VMS. First, a little bit of history:


Way back in 1970, the PDP-11 was hot stuff. Ken Thompson, Dennis Richie, Brian Kernighan, and others at Bell Labs were writing what would become Unix for the PDP-11 (well, for the PDP-7 at first, but nobody talks about that). Unix was a huge improvement over what DEC shipped with the PDP-11, DOS-11 and RT-11. This couldn't stand, so Dave Cutler at DEC designed VMS. It was a new operating system, with lots of fancy features, like networking and, uh, lots of upper-case letters.

VMS and Unix sort of battled on. Or so some people would have you think. Really, Unix won early on and VMS stumbled along with corporate financing and an obnoxiously difficult-to-use interface. It passed from DEC to Compaq to HP, from the PDP-11 to the Alpha to the Itanium. And it still lives on, churning away in scary back-rooms here and there.

Current Events

So, why do I bring this up? Well, as some of you may know, Harvey Mudd College has a few VMS machines around. The most well-known of these (to students) is thuban, which is a 667MHz DEC Alpha running OpenVMS 7.3-2. Today, I had the, uh, interesting experience of using it, and thought I'd share my impressions with my readers. You can see the proof of my VMS skills at my VMS homepage. That's right, I'm on the Internet. And on DECnet.

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*nix Tip of the Day: SSH SOCKS Proxying

Posted Tue 13 May 2008 16:00 under category tips

Continuing on my theme of SSH tips, today's Tip of the Day talks about the awesomeness of SOCKS proxying. As some of the more savvy among you may know, OpenSSH supports full Layer-2/Layer-3 VPN functionality using a tun device. This is an incredibly useful feature if you're off-site and need like-local access to home, work, school, or somesuch. But it requires root access, and is more than a little bit of a pita to set up. If all you need is access to things like the web, e-mail, and instant messaging, there's an easier way.


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*nix Tip of the Day: SSH Agent Forwarding

Posted Mon 12 May 2008 18:31 under category tips

Today's *nix tip of the day involves SSH and the magic that is Agent Forwarding.

SSH, as some of you know, is a handy way to connect to *nix systems in an untrusted environment. Its primary use is to allow one to remotely access a remote system and get a shell, securely. Basically, encrypted telnet. Of course, SSH has tons of other useful features (like tunneling, proxying, and multiplexing), some of which might come up in future Tips of the Day.

One of SSH's greatest features is its public/private key system. Basically, using private keys, you can ...

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*nix Tip of the Day: SSH Private/Public Keys

Posted Sun 11 May 2008 18:00 under category tips

Hello kind readers, and welcome to by *nix Tip of the Day. It's finals week, and I'm sort of slacking, so I thought I'd post some of my accumulated folk wisdom on the Internet, so that it might help others.

Today's topic is SSH Private/Public Keys. If any of you are CS majors, or go to a tech-heavy school, or generally interact with Linux/OS X/Solaris/HP-UX/AIX/any other *nix, you've probably used SSH. SSH, at its most basic, is a replacement for telnet and rlogin; it allows you to get a ...

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