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Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

Occasional Visitor

Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

I have to take the systems down to do backups and other things from time to time. But when I boot from CD it always prompts for the Date/Time. Is there anyway around haing to enter this. I have two systems that it is simi important to get near the same time on and would rather not reset the Date/Time every boot from CD I do.
Trusted Contributor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

Do you have to set time when you reboot again normally? If so, perhaps the battery on the motherboard is weak/dead.

If not, then it must be a setting on the CD. System Parameter SETTIME controls whether or not you are asked for the time during boot. Try a conversational boot of the CD and check the value of SETTIME, and reset it to 0 if necessary.

Why does it matter what the system time is when you are booted from CD?
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

I could be suffering from False Memory
Syndrome, but I have a dim recollection of
some date-time being stored on the system
disk. For a CD-ROM, that'd now probably be
some old-looking date-time, which might be
enough to trigger the demand for a fresh
(operator-supplied) value.

Around here,
discusses some such criteria.

> [...] Is there anyway around [...]

Install a (CD-ROM-like) minimal VMS on some
real disk, and then use that instead of a
CD-ROM? You might still need to boot it up
now and then and do a "SET TIME" (no
parameter) to keep it happy for later, when
you actually care.

If that is the problem, and if you can find
the magic datum, then I suppose that you
might also be able to make a freshly updated
CD-ROM every few years, and use that instead
of the (old) factory-made CD-ROM.

> Why does it matter [...]

If you write any date-time-stamped data (to,
say, a tape or disk), then it might be nice
to have realistic date-times on those data.
A read-only system disk does not imply that
everything in the system is read-only.
Bob Blunt
Respected Contributor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

Yes, the time, or at least part of it, gets saved on the system disk. I can't remember if it ends up in SYS.EXE or APB.EXE, though. I think SYS but I'd have to check. At boot times are compared and if the difference is significant, a year or more I think, you get the prompt. There really isn't a way to get around it unless you copy the install CD to a writable disk where the O/S can save the time for the next time it gets checked. Otherwise you're stuck because the O/S can't change what the CD has on it.

Personally I would always use the most recent install CD I had available as long as no bugs were identified in drivers or BACKUP. You're not required to use the version of the O/S install CD that matches your current installation and in some cases you do get some improvements from the more current releases of the native utilities. That still doesn't guarantee you won't get the prompt to set time...

Respected Contributor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

I hate booting from CD. One option you might wish to consider, if you have a small spare disk somewhere, is to create a minimal boot disk that you can use to do backups, etc. The procedure to create this small system disk is located on:


Just my humble suggestion...
Andy Bustamante
Honored Contributor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

Following on Edgar's solution, you can take a backup/image of the CD to a scratch boot disk.

If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? Reach me at first_name + "." + last_name at sysmanager net
Occasional Visitor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

I will try Edgar's solution and see how it goes.
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

> [...] create a minimal boot disk [...]

Why didn't _I_ think of that. No, wait...
Honored Contributor

Re: Alpha VMS Boot from CD and not set time

Welcome to the ITRC forums.

Some general requests... Please avoid proposing specific solutions to your questions, unless you are certain you have a very targeted question and don't want or don't need alternatives suggested. Also please do specify the configuration and general versions and your current requirements; what you're working with, and what you're trying to solve.

Why do I suggest his? When you propose a specific solution as you've done here, you'll usually get specific and targeted answers. And quite possibly you'll miss out on an alternative approach that may well better meet your needs.

Please always also specify basic system configuration information and version information also means you'll get tailored answers.

Now as for your question, and guessing that you're reasonably current on your OpenVMS Alpha version...

For an alternative solution to loading the CD into the CD drive in the box, I'd suggest using host-based InfoServer, and this approach particularly if you're on OpenVMS Alpha V8.3 or later. Way easier...

To use an InfoServer solution, you load the disk into the local host-based InfoServer box (another VMS box), and then perform a console network boot, and off you go with whatever template image or CD image or whatever you've configured.

This approach can also be a fast restoration path, too.

And if you work at it a little with some of the available tools and a tweaked environment via what you're serving via InfoServer and a properly-selected boot_file and default_boot setting, and you can probably automate this whole path. Here are some of the pieces of this approach, combined with a custom startup procedure for whatever you're booting; basically the backup procedure is the startup procedure in the environment you're (temporarily) booting:


Now as for the underlying request here, there's a wholly different approach to solving the timekeeping issue here.

Here, I'd dispense with all this time-related prompting silliness and whatever all else, and get NTP going on your network and (just before your full boot launches NTP) I'd use NTPDATE via the site-specific TCPIP$NTP_SYSTARTUP.COM procedure to reset your system time from the servers.

This way, the box gets the right time.

Some details are here:


With NTPDATE and related, you can use a 1990s-vintage CD solution, or an alternate system root on your system disk (which takes up little extra space ad is supported) or a system root on an alternate disk, or via InfoServer, and still get the correct time when the dust settles and the "real" system boots.

And welcome to the forums, and to OpenVMS.