Open what?! VMS huh?!
Is it another Unix variant or Linux distro? The answer is NO! OpenVMS is another high-end operating system which according to a DEFCON presentation, “is the most secured Operating System but still it has it’s own vulnerabilities and disadvantages”. VMS is a high performance operating system made by DEC that runs on DEC VAX. OpenVMS is an updated version of VMS and runs on both the DEC VAX and the DEC Alpha.
There are actually some clarifications about the terms OpenVMS and VMS just like what Joshua Cope said that “VMS and OpenVMS are the same operating system under two different names (the name changed to OpenVMS about the time POSIX support and a few other “open” items were added.)” Thus, OpenVMS and VMS shouldn’t be confused as totally different.
You maybe wondering why I’m writing an article about the old VAX architecture; it’s because I once accidentally registered to a public SSH access to an OpenVMS Cluster from Deathrow which at first I thought was just another Linux or Unix SSH account. After that, I learned that the said cluster was an OpenVMS and so my interest and curiosity about OpenVMS began. I did some researching and found this video and pdf presentation from DEFCON 16 entitled “Hacking OpenVMS“:
I realized that OpenVMS is also a good and secure Operating System but then it also depends on how security is administered to the said OS and how the lock down is done. “It’s not about the ride, it’s the rider!”. Moreover, OpenVMS is proven to be secure and reliable than OSX and is certified by the US Department of Defense. In an OpenVMS, size does matter.
So when was the last time you saw an OpenVMS exploit in exploit databases? I’m not really sure about this but so far, I haven’t seen a published exploit yet. I only saw DEFCON’s exploit presentation about OpenVMS.
What now? I’m currently researching about OpenVMS and got some free access to FAFNER (owned by Dr. Bernd Ulmann a.k.a the VAXMAN), Deathrow (an OpenVMS cluster that has IRC, classic games, and has some good notes about information security) and currently waiting for Emgee’s free access to his OpenVMS cluster. But if you ever wanted to run OpenVMS at home and thought it’s software and license to power it are costly, don’t worry there is a program called The OpenVMS Hobbyist Program. A program which is for non-commercial use only provided by Montagar Software Inc. and also sanctioned by Hewlett Packard. And with this you can run fully the OpenVMS OS which I wanna try. =) And I hope luffy wants this kind of machine. (Obviously coz his a pirate!)
But if an administrator allows you to run on an emulated environment then you can a DECWindows Session. Your lucky if you meet a good administrator who allows you this kind of process.