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Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

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Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

We have 10-member Alpha cluster. A couple of
automated processes crashed earlier today as a
result of a file header problem on one of the
MSCP-served disks.

While investigating why there was a file header
problem on the disk, I noticed that there
were 255 directories named SYSx (where x is
a single hex char) or SYSxx (xx is two hex
chars) in [000000]. Each of these directories
has the same contents:

Directory $222$DKA200:[SYSE]


Each of SYSx/SYSxx directories contains
the same 80 subdirectories and 3673 files
and occupies 667030 blocks. All the creation
dates are the same (2003 Oct. 31).

What are these directories? Why were they
created? Why aren't they present on every
disk in the cluster? Can I delete all or most
of them?

Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

I know nothing, but, as I recall, a VMS Alpha
installation CD-ROM has all those [SYSxx]
directories, and they're actually hard links
(SET FILE /ENTER) to the same thing. I
always assumed that the idea was that you
could boot the thing no matter what your boot
flags value might be.

DIRE /FILE_ID should be able to tell you if
you're looking at different files or the same
files everywhere. If they're all the same,
then they're not really wasting much disk
space, but the directory clutter can be
annoying, so you might wish to delete any of
the unused ones. (SET FILE /REMOVE on the
SYSxx.DIR directories would be my first

> [...] Why [...]? Why aren't [...]? How
> [...]? [...]

Don't know.
Shriniketan Bhagwat
Trusted Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

Hi Gareth,

As Steven said, I would also suspect that this disk could be the copy of installation CD-ROM. If the disk is copy of installation CD-ROM, then you should be able to boot from it. Is this the first time you are seeing the disk content? Doe some one copied the files from installation CD-ROM to the disk?

Bob Blunt
Respected Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

Gareth, it looks like someone "installed" OpenVMS by using BACKUP to create an on-disk copy of the distribution CD. Few system managers would install a single system disk with that many system roots (for many reasons).

IF, as Steven suspects, those multiple files have the same file ID then you're probably seeing a misleading amount of space consumed. However if those files do NOT have the same file ID I'd suspect that the copy of the CD was done incorrectly, probably without the /IMAGE switch, and you're wasting space. You'd also have a scrozzled disk structure that isn't really a proper OpenVMS installation. If you find the files in the various system roots do have different file IDs for the same filenames I'd encourage engaging OpenVMS support or someone with ample experience to recommend a fix. It isn't something to approach if your OpenVMS management skills are minimal.

Shriniketan Bhagwat
Trusted Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

Hi Gareth,

Attached is the typical output after copying the content of installable CR-ROM to disk. These SYSx.DIR are alias files and SYS0.DIR is the primary file. Please refer the output of DIR/FILE and DUMP command output from the attachment.

Shriniketan Bhagwat
Trusted Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks


Missed attaching the file.

Jan van den Ende
Honored Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks


Essentially Steven and Bob gave the correct answer.

But, (guessing from the fact that you had to ask) PLEASE take Bob's advise serious! Hire an experienced VMS troubleshooter to clean this up (and be at his side, to give you some valuable training at the same time).

Many of the regulars here provide this service (but I myself am not really tempted to go to the USA)
Indicate whereabouts you are located to facilitate offerings. Also indicate how to contact you, because ITRC rules do not allow to use the forums directly.

And DO update this thread when and how the issue is resolved.



Have one on me.

Don't rust yours pelled jacker to fine doll missed aches.
Robert Gezelter
Honored Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks


It is a distinct possibility that these directories are, as others have said, merely a copy of the distribution CDROM.

However, I recommend caution. While they may have initially been copies, they may have been since modified for different operational contingencies.

First, Do NOT delete any files. Do a full directory (with /FILE_ID) and cross-check which directory entries are merely aliases. Accidentally deleting a file incorrectly could render the system (or cluster, if it is a shared system volume) unbootable.

If you are not intimately familiar with how an OpenVMS system volume is structured, seriously consider Jan's suggestion. A ounce (28.4 grams, for those working in metric) is worth several tons of cure [Disclosure: We provide services of this type; as do several other frequent contributors to this forum].

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com
Honored Contributor

Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

You're fine, this construction isn't a problem, leave it alone, don't delete stuff, step away from the keyboard. :-)

Do move along to sorting out why the applications crashed. That "file header problem" would be the priority here, and not particularly trying to fathom the thinking of whomever set up this admittedly-odd system disk configuration.

I'd guess (without details of the header-related error messages) that you'll probably want to reload the system disk onto a scratch disk initialized with more headers, or poke around and find out of you have an excessive build-up of log files (for instance) with a gazillion lower versions filling up the available headers.

Here's a write-up on managing disks with insufficient numbers of file headers configured:


Re: Strange directories in [000000] of certain user disks

As noted in the subject line, this is
not a system disk. The situation is
as described in the first response:
someone apparently copied an installation
disk onto this user disk. I have cleaned
out the installation files.