name = RSX-11
Digital Equipment Corporation
Command line interface
family = DEC OS family
released = 1972
working_state = Historic
license = Proprietary
RSX-11 is a family of
real-time operating systems mainly for PDP-11computers created by Digital Equipment Corporation(DEC), common in the late 1970sand early 1980s. RSX-11D first appeared on the PDP-11/40 in 1972. It was designed for and much used in process control, but was also popular for program development.
Dave Cutler was the project leader for RSX-11M, which was an adaptation of the earlier RSX-11D for a smaller memory footprint. Principles first tried in RSX-11M later appeared in DEC's VMS. Microsoft's
Windows NTsystem is a conceptual descendant of RSX-11M but is more directly descended from an object based operating system Cutler developed for a RISC processor (PRISM) which was never released. This lineage is made clear in Cutler's foreword to "Inside Windows NT" by Helen Custer. [http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/docs/Windows-NT_is_VMS_re-implemented.html "Windows-NT" is "VMS re-implemented"] ]
RSX-11 existed in many versions:
*RSX-11A, C -- small paper tape real time executives.
*RSX-11B -- small real time executive based on RSX-11C with support for disk I/O. To start up the system, first DOS-11 was booted, and then RSX-11B was started. RSX-11B programs used DOS-11 macros to perform disk I/O.
*RSX-11D -- a multiuser disk-based system. Evolved into IAS.
*IAS -- a timesharing-oriented variant of RSX-11D released at about the same time as the PDP-11/70. The first version of RSX to include DCL (
Digital Command Language), which was originally known as PDS (Program Development System).
*RSX-11M -- a multiuser version that was popular on all PDP-11s.
*RSX-11S -- a memory-resident version of RSX-11M used in embedded real-time applications.
*RSX-11M-Plus -- a much extended version of RSX-11M, originally designed to support the multi-processor PDP-11/74, [http://groups.google.com.au/groups?selm=7656%40shlump.nac.dec.com&rnum=2] a computer that was never released, but also used widely as a standard operating system on the PDP-11/70.
*RSX-20F --11/40 front end processor operating system for the DEC KL10 processor. Derived from RSX-11M
*Micro/RSX -- a stripped-down version of RSX-11M-Plus implemented specifically for the Micro/PDP-11, a low-cost multi-user system in a box, featuring ease of installation, no system generation, and a special documentation set.
*P/OS -- A version of RSX-11M-Plus that was targeted to DEC's PRO-325,
PRO-350, and PRO-380 line of PDP-11-based personal computers.
*DOS/RV, OSRV-SM -- Two names for the clandestine clone of RSX-11M that was produced in the Socialist bloc. This system appeared to be an exact duplicate of RSX-11M save that the prompt was changed in the binary files. The full RSX-11M source code was always delivered with the distribution of the operating system (and used in the system generation process), so it was easy to make a copy. If read as
Cyrillic, the name OSRV is an abbreviation for 'Operatsionnaya Sistema Realnogo(Razdelenija) Vremeni' -- Russian for 'Real Time(Time dividing) Operating System'. Not surprisingly, the six-character string 'OSRVSM' fits nicely in the same 16-bit RADIX-50word as 'RSX11M'. But, there are differences between RSX and OSRV because of differences between SM and PDP' hardware and recognised by Soviet engineers bugs in RSX. (OSRVM is the next model of OSRV-SM for the SM-1425. [cite web | url=http://web.archive.org/web/20050119123952/http://www.computer-museum.ru/histussr/sm1425.htm | title=СМ 1425 | language=Russian | accessdate=2008-06-30] ) But RSX11M 'patched' for the SM's processor was used more often than rewritten OSRV. That happened because of better work by the RSX-11' re-coders, stability of patched RSX, and a faster update cycle for SM-RSX drivers & patches, made possible by the SM users community. OSRV and RSX driver interfaces are different & incompatible.
*"RSX was a separate path at DEC and the progenitor more than anything of VMS that went to NT via Dave Cutler." —
Gordon Bell, Vice President, Research and Development, Digital Equipment Corporation.
*"My purpose was to come up with a good acronym and then find some appropriate words to justify it. ... Oh, by the way, the acronym stood for "Real-Time System Executive". Years later that was changed to "Resource Sharing Executive", which I think is even better." — Dan Brevik who designed the "forerunner" RSX-15, about which Brevik said: "At first I called the new system DEX-15. It was an acronym for "Digital's Executive - for the PDP-15".
*"My first operating system project was to build a real-time system called RSX-11M that ran on Digital's PDP-11 16-bit series of minicomputers. ... a multitasking operating system that would run in 32 KB of memory with a hierarchical file system, application swapping, real-time scheduling, and a set of development utilities. The operating system and utilities were to run on the entire line of PDP-11 platforms, from the very small systems up through the PDP-11/70 which had memory-mapping hardware and supported up to 4 MB of memory." — Dave Cutler
*In order to support large programs within the PDP-11's relatively small
virtual addressspace of 64 KB, a sophisticated semi-automatic overlay system was used; for any given program, this overlay scheme was produced by RSX's "taskbuilder" program (called "TKB"). If the overlay scheme was especially complex, taskbuilding could take a rather long time. Outside the office of the engineer in charge of ongoing maintenance of the taskbuilder was a whiteboardlabeled "Taskbuilder wishlist". For several years, the top item on the wishlist was "same day service".
*Before DCL, the usual RSX prompt was ">" or "MCR>", standing for the "Monitor Console Routine".
*When run on certain PDP-11 processors, each version of RSX displayed a characteristic light pattern on the front of the processor any time the system was idle (and the processor was executing the PDP-11 "WAIT" instruction). The RSX-11M light pattern was two sets of lights that swept outwards to the left and right from the center of the light display (or inwards if the IND indirect command file processor program was currently running). The IAS light pattern was a single bar of lights that swept leftwards.
*Dan Brevik posted a [http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=g11Va.162679%24ye4.109589%40sccrnsc01&output=gplain history of precursors to RSX-11] in [http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&safe=off&group=alt.sys.pdp11 alt.sys.pdp11] .
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20050404121912/http://www.demillar.com/RSX/ Dan's RSX-11 prehistory] contain documents which trace RSX-11 back through RSX-15 and the real time executive written by John Neblett in the late 50's for the RW-300 process control computer. (Via archive.org, version fetched April 4, 2005)
* [http://www.spies.com/~aek/ Al Kossow] posted some further [http://groups.google.com/groups?dq=&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&safe=off&selm=bij4na%24r8v%241%40spies.com notes on RSX-11] in [http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&safe=off&group=alt.sys.pdp11 alt.sys.pdp11] .
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