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VAX Computer Systems 1-7

What's Hacking?
A series by David Lightman


This is a requested discussion from Jolly Bardsman's Pub & Tavern at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. If you have any requests, send me mail at any address listed below:

USENET: [email protected] ... or ... {texsun..texbell..}!attctc!bdunn

TELEMAIL: csupport/a755.cc3556/

Elm Street Jolly Bardsman's Pub & Tavern
Channel Z Spyder's Web
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Oblivion (if AO gets the damn thing off the ground) By 03/06/90, you may connect to a beta Twilight Zone at XXX-XXX-XXXX. You may also reach me voice at 214-660-6054. Limit the calls to an EXTREME minimum!

If I get multiple requests about a topic (as I did with VAX), I will put something online the WHAT'S HACKING? subboards and the beta system Twilight Zone ]I[.


VAX: The VAX acronym is derived from Virtual Address eXtension.
The VAX computer is designed to use memory addresses beyond the hardware's actual limits, enabling it to handle programs that are too large to fit into physical memory. The VAX computer system is a member of the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) computer family.

Currently the VAX series includes models spanning the desktop VAX station to mainframe class multi-CPU VAX processors. These vary from the superminis, like MicroVAX, to the older, moderate sized 11/7XX series, to the newer 6000 series. These computer systems commonly use an operating system known as VMS.

VMS: The VMS acronym is for Virtual Memory System. The operands of VMS are very similar to other operating systems. Back in the days of stand-alone computer systems, DEC had the idea for streamlining the operation of their computers for business and engineering. It conceived VMS as a way of allowing the basic computer management to be done by a user familiar with any of the multiple systems it made.

DCL: The DCL acronym is for Digital Command Language. It is the fundamental language of the VMS. Those of you who have an IBM system, you can think of a DCL program like a batch file. You can do a lot with it (much more than a PC-DOS or MS-DOS batch) but it work basically the same way.

One difference is that when you want to execute anything as if you were typing it in at the command prompt, you first must put a "$" in front of the command in the DCL program. DCL programs are commonly called COM files as well. When you are not executing a COM or DCL program file, you are almost always typing things into the DCL processor.

Subject: What's Hacking VAX Special - 2
From: David Lightman (Level 30) [A dude who wanted access]
Sent: 3/1/90 at 2:49 pm


When you log into a VAX, you will see something similar to the following:

Username: (username here)
Password: (password here... does not echo)
$ (<-- this is your prompt)

You will know if you have a VAX type system if you get the "Username:" and "Password:" prompts. Anything is just extra that helps you guess passwords.

I will only tell you one thing here. VMS 4.X and especially VMS4.4 are goldmines. I am not going to go into this at all, because it is a lengthy explanation that doesn't fit in the scope of this message. You can find this discussion on ARPANET and USENET. You can also get this information on CompuServe Information Service, BYTE Information Exchange, and Digital Electronics Corporation's VAX BBS. There is also a big problem with VMS 5.1, but that doesn't involve getting in. If there are enough requests, I will cover this information in another message.

There are several default accounts that were put in by DEC when testing and installing the VAX. These accounts have passwords which don't change from system to system. The SYSOP should have removed these accounts or changed the passwords, but it is not done a lot of times.

Below, I have listed several defaults:
-------- --------

Where I have listed several passwords, I have found the respective usernames passworded that way as much as the default password. The accounts with asterisks beside them are powerful accounts by default.

Subject: What's Hacking VAX Special - 3
From: David Lightman (Level 30) [A dude who wanted access]
Sent: 3/1/90 at 2:51 pm

Once you get your "$" prompt, you will be able to type in hundreds of commands of course. I will go over a few basic ones here:

@ - Execute procedure. When you want to run any DCL batch or .COM; file, you must include this "@" before the filename.

ACCOUNTING - This will run the accounting program. If you log out of a system and you see charges put on your account for the amount of time you are on, the system is using account. Actually every system uses accounting somewhat, but it can be made virtually invisible. If you are desperate, or you are having troubles with the system operators of the VAX (SYSOPS from now on), you can use this program to your advantage.

CREATE - This will create just about anything. If you have a program that you have written on your PC's Pascal interpreter, you can Ascii upload the file to the VAX using the CREATE command.
EX: CREATE program.pas;1

CREATE/DIR - This will simply create a SUB directory for you. I will explain how to get around a VAX in a minute. See the SET command.

DELETE - Just used to delete a file or EMPTY, UNPROTECTED DIRECTORY. To delete a file, just type "DEL filename.ext;x." To delete a sub directory, first delete all of the files in the directory: "DEL/LOG .;*" Next, you will need to SET PROTECTION: "SET PROTECTION=OWNER:D dirname.DIR" Next, delete the directory: "DEL dirname.DIR"

DIRECTORY - This will show you what files are contained in the current directory. Adding "/BRIEF" will give you a short listing and adding "/FULL" will give you a full listing including security information on each file. You can shorten the command to DIR and you may use wildcards. The "*" means anything of any length. The "%" means anything one character length.

EDIT - This command will bring up the editor. Some VAX systems use a type of editor similar to MS-DOS/PC-DOS's EDLIN. HOWEVER, some VAX systems use EDT/EVE editing which is a full screen editor (usually). With this editor, you can do a lot quickly, but only if your terminal will support cursor control. VT-100 is very clumsy. Try getting VT-220 when you use the EDT/EVE editor.

Subject: What's Hacking VAX Special - 4
From: David Lightman (Level 30) [A dude who wanted access]
Sent: 3/1/90 at 2:53 pm

HELP - This command will bring up the HELP program.
This is just a clumsy imitation of what you are reading. (heh heh)
LIBRARY - Used for archive purposes. You will probably not use this command much if you are new.
I am mentioning it now because I will type up a more in depth discussion of VAX later on the "What's Hacking?" sub boards.
LOGOUT - Logs you out.
MAIL - Loads the mail program. Used to send mail to others users and CAN (YES, IT CAN) be used to send mail (or other) to (OR FROM) the network if the VAX is connected to a network. It CAN (YES, CAN) also send data to (OR FROM) the computers on the DECNET (if used).
$PASSWORD - Changes your password.
EX: $PASSWORD mynewpass
PHONE - Used to talk to another user. This command is pretty nice compared to other means. Your "$" prompt will be replaced with a "%" prompt once phone is executed. If you want to talk to someone, type his username. If you want to talk to someone on a different node, type his nodename, two colons, and then his username. A lot of times you will find this one disabled (especially on University computers), but there are alternate ways to communication online other than MAIL and PHONE. See below.
% node13::dlight
PHOTO - Records session.
RUN - Executes executables. (simple?)
SET - Wow... this is a lot. See below.
SHOW - This involves a lot too, but not as much as SET. With SHOW, you can look at a lot. I am just going to list a lot of things you can view and what it will show you.

CLUSTER - VAX cluster if any
DEFAULT - Directory path and device
DEVICES - The system devices (drives, etc.)
INTRUSION - If any accounts are being hacked
MEMORY - Memory of course
NETWORK - Network and the VAX's location within
PROCESS - PROCESS ProcessName shows status
PROTECTION - Protection on files
QUOTA - Shows disk space allowed for your account
SYSTEM - Miscellaneous system info
DAY - Day & date
TIME - Time
USERS - Users online all systems

Subject: What's Hacking VAX Special - 5
From: David Lightman (Level 30) [A dude who wanted access]
Sent: 3/1/90 at 2:56 pm

TYPE - Shows the contents of a file by sending it to the terminal.
The SET command is one of the most widely used and versatile commands on the VMS 5 series DCL.

I suppose the most frequent use of SET involved the PROTECTION option. These protections, known as SOGW or UIC protections, can be put on any file or directory that you have WRITE & EXECUTE privileges on. Setting the protection involves allowing different users on the VAX to read, write, execute, or delete your file or directory. The FILE /PROTECTION option of SET is used to accomplish this. An example is:

If you typed this command in the DCL for a program called DAVID.EXE;4 (4 is the version number), then the owner (or creator) of the file can do nothing to the file but execute it. However, in another example:

you are going to be able to "R"ead, "W"rite, "E"xecute, and "D"elete the program. The same applies to a directory. Just substitute the directory name for the filename above. When creating a directory, the SET is set so that you may not delete it. As discussed previously, you will have to issue a "SET PROTECTION OWNER:D dirname.dir;1" and "DEL dirname.dir;1" to delete the directory.

Other than the owner, UIC file protection can be placed on any of the following:
WORLD - Any user on the system.
GROUP - Any user in your group.
OWNER - Only your account or matching UIC.
SYSTEM - Anyone that has SYSPRV privileges or the octal UIC groups.

This is VERY important to all of us who call into the VAX system. If you have a VT100 (not just ANSI), you can use:

Additional terminal settings are possible, for example:
SET TERMINAL/WIDTH=80 - Sets width to 80 columns
SET TERMINAL/ANSI_CRT = ANSI escape sequences
SET TERMINAL/AUTOBAUD = Possibly gets higher baud rate SET TERMINAL/BROADCAST = Enable messages from SEND, MAIL & PHONE SET TERMINAL/DEVICE_TYPE=VT220 - Sets terminal type to VT220 SET TERMINAL/ECHO = Enables echoing from DCL command line SET TERMINAL/FULLDUP = Enables full duplex
SET TERMINAL/HANGUP = Causes account to log off if no carrier SET TERMINAL/INQUIRE - Shows device_type of terminal SET TERMINAL/PAGE=43 - Sets display length to 43 lines SET TERMINAL/TYPE_AHEAD = Sets type ahead function on SET TERMINAL/UNKNOWN - Used for ASCII device types SET TERMINAL/WRAP = Used to set wrap around feature

All of the above denoted with a "=" rather than a "-" can be changed to the opposite setting by placing a "NO" directly in front of the qualifiers. EX: SET TERMINAL/NOECHO

Subject: What's Hacking VAX Special - 6
From: David Lightman (Level 30) [A dude who wanted access]
Sent: 3/1/90 at 2:58 pm

To move around the VAX DCL, in and out of directories, I need to tell you about the SET DEFAULT command. It is just like the CD command on UNIX and MS-DOS/PC-DOS, except it follows a format. The format is "SET DEFAULT [.subdir]" to go down to a sub direc- tory and "SET DEFAULT [-]" to go to the parent directory. I will explain more involved uses like changing disks, if asked, to keep you out of trouble for now. First, I will show by example and then explain my example to those out there who lack a brain.

$ DIR (step 1)
$ CREATE/DIR example (step 2)
$ DIR (step 3)
$ SET DEFAULT [.example] (step 4)
$ DIR (step 5)
no files, animals, vegetables, nor minerals error
$ SET DEF [-] (step 6)
$ COPY PROGRAM.EXE;2 [.example] (step 7)
$ SET DEF [.example] (step 8)
$ DIR (step 9)

Here's what I did...

STEP 1: I asked to see the contents of the current directory. I found that I have the program PROGRAM.EXE is the 1st and 2st versions in the directory.

STEP 2: I created a directory called "EXAMPLE." This name can be anything of course.

STEP 3: I again asked for the contents of the directory. It now shows me that I have a "file" called "EXAMPLE.DIR;1." That is just the directory. Any- thing with an extension of "DIR" will be a directory. For more on extensions, see below.

STEP 4: I changed directories by use of the SET DEFAULT command. You must always follow this format to change into a SUB directory.

STEP 5: I AGAIN (!) looked into the directory. This time, my directory was EXAMPLE so I of course saw nothing. You will get an error I believe when you try to DIR an empty directory.

STEP 6: This command is used to rise up to the parent direc-
tory. The parent directory contains the filename "EXAMPLE.DIR;1," remember? The DEFAULT option can be shortened to DEF.

STEP 7: Here I am illustrating how to move programs around a little. I just copied the program PROGRAM.EXE;2 into the subdirectory EXAMPLE.

STEP 8: See step 3. (a lazy, tired Dave)

STEP 9: I >ONCE MORE< issued the DIR command to reveal the contents of the directory. I now find the program PROGRAM.EXE;2 in my directory listing of my sub directory EXAMPLE.

If you don't understand the basics of moving around a VAX by now, push "OFF".

Subject: What's Hacking VAX Special - 7
From: David Lightman (Level 30) [A dude who wanted access]
Sent: 3/1/90 at 3:00 pm

Occasionally you will run across a BIG directory. This will
hopefully not happen until you read more on VAX on my WHAT'S
HACKING sub boards, but if it does, this list will hopefully help
you avoid making too big a mistake or wasting a lot of time.
ADA Ada compiler source code file
BAS BASIC compiler source code file
B32 BLISS-32 compiler source code file
C C compiler source code file
COB COBAL compiler source code file
FOR FORTRAN compiler source code file
MAR MACRO compiler source code file
PAS Pascal compiler source code file
PLI PL/I compiler source code file
CLD DCL command description file
COM DCL batch or command procedure file
DAT Data file
DIS Distribution file (as in mail)
DIR Directory file (as in a subdirectory)
EDT Command file for the EDT editing program EXE Executable program
HLP Text for help libraries
JOU EDT editor journal when problems occur
LIS System listing file (as in TYPE, PRINT, & PHOTO) LOG Batch job output file
MAI Mail message file
MEM DSR output file
OBJ Object code created by compiler before LINKing RNO Source file for DSR
SIXEL Files for Sixel graphics
SYS System image file
TJL Journal created when the unusual occurs (DECNET a lot) TMP Temporary file (sometimes valuable)
TPU Editor command file
TXT Text library input file (also MAIL output file) UAF USER AUTHORIZATION FILE

I will comment extensively on UAF files if I decide to type up another VAX tutorial.
Posted on October 7th, 2009 - Updated on December 31st, 2010
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