I just picked up a DEC VaxStation 4000 model 90 with a built in CDROM and an auxiliary SCSI storage module with tape archive drive. I believe it is functional although I cannot test it yet since I still do not have a working terminal or monitor. I can get a VT-520 terminal and keyboard and will also try to resurrect a separate now defunct Radius monitor with the BNC connectors and I believe the ability to sync on green (somebody unfortunately tried to convert that monitor to a standard VGA connection and butchered it in the process). I am fairly comfortable with Linux and have played around a little with FreeBSD and Solaris in the past. I have never used VMS in the past. This is the first time I am working with a VAX computer.
I have a few questions:
Which Unix version to install on the VAX? Original UC Berkeley BSD Unix? OpenBSD? NetBSD? Ultrix if I can get a legal copy? AT&T Unix? For emotional reasons I may prefer to install some version of the original UC Berkeley BSD (1980s Bill Joy/Marshall Kirk McKusick Era), but will go with whichever is easier to install, the machine is newer (production started 1991) than the original BSD Unix versions. I would call it nostalgia except I never did use the original BSD Unix! Another consideration would be some version of AT&T Unix if it will run.
Is there a version of FreeBSD for the VAX?
If there is a functional VMS install on the machine's 4 hard drives (2 each in the machine and the auxilliary SCSI storage module), is there a way to dual boot between Unix and VMS?
I presume that I can get some version of Emacs running on this system, it does not have to be recent. While Vi may be more historically correct on this machine I much prefer Emacs.
Any suggestions or ideas?
My cell phone probably has significantly more computing power and far more memory and storage than this "minicomputer", I am approaching this as a hobbyist. I hope to use the system to explore BSD Unix (and possibly AT&T Unix) further and do some C programming on it. I anticipate to be working purely from the command line. I may explore VMS also at some point.