HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation
OpenVMS User's Manual
1.7.1 Selecting Your Own Password
If your system manager does not require use of the automatic password generator, the SET PASSWORD command prompts you to enter the new password. It then prompts you to reenter the new password for verification, as follows:
If you fail to enter the same new password twice, the password is not changed. If you succeed in these two steps, there is no notification. The command changes your password and Enters you to the DCL prompt.
Even though your security administrator might not require the password
generator, you are strongly encouraged to use it to promote the
security of your system.
If your system security administrator decides that you must let the
system generate the password for you automatically, the system provides
you with a list of password choices when you enter the DCL command SET
PASSWORD. (If your system is not set up to use automatically generated
passwords, you can use them by specifying the SET PASSWORD command with
the /GENERATE qualifier.) The character sequence resembles native
language words to make it easy to remember, but it is unusual enough to
be difficult for outsiders to guess.
In the following example, the system automatically generates a list of passwords made up of random sequences of characters. The minimum password length for the user in the following example has been set to 8 characters in their UAF record.
Note the following about the example:
1.7.3 Generated Passwords: Disadvantages
There are two disadvantages to using generated passwords:
1.7.4 Changing a Secondary Password
To change a secondary password, use the DCL command SET PASSWORD/SECONDARY. You are prompted to specify the old secondary password and the new secondary password, just as in the procedure for changing the primary password. To remove a secondary password, press the Enter key when you are prompted for a new password and verification.
You can change primary and secondary passwords independently, but both
are subject to the same change frequency because they share the same
Even if your current password has not yet expired, you can change your password when you log in to the system by including the /NEW_PASSWORD qualifier with your user name. When you enter the /NEW_PASSWORD qualifier after your user name, the system prompts you to set a new password immediately after login.
The following example shows how to change your password when you log in:
1.8 Password and Account Expiration Times
Your system manager can set up your account so that your password, or
the account itself, expires automatically on a particular date and
time. Password expiration times promote system security by forcing you
to change your password on a regular basis. Account expiration times
help to ensure that accounts are available only for as long as they are
As you approach the expiration time of your password, you receive an advance warning message. The message first appears 5 days before the expiration date and at each subsequent login. The message appears immediately below the new mail message and sounds the bell character on your terminal to attract your attention. The message indicates that your password is expiring, as follows:
If you fail to change your password before it expires, you receive the following message when you log in:
The system prompts you for a new password or, if automatic password
generation is enabled, asks you to select a new password from those
listed. You can abort the login by pressing Ctrl/Y. At your next login
attempt, the system again prompts you to change your password.
If secondary passwords are in effect for your account (see
Section 1.3.4), the secondary password expires at the same time as the
primary one. You are prompted to change both passwords. If you change
the primary password and press Ctrl/Y before changing the secondary
password, the login fails. The system does not record a password change.
If the system manager decides not to force you to change your expired password upon logging in, you receive one final warning when you log in after your password expires, as follows:
At this point, if you do not change the password or if the system fails
before you have the opportunity to do so, you will be unable to log in
again. To regain access, see your system manager.
If you need your account for a specific purpose for a limited time only, the person who creates your account may specify a period of time after which the account lapses. For example, student accounts at universities are typically authorized for a single semester at a time.
Expired accounts deny logins automatically. You receive no advance warning message before the account expiration date, so it is important to know in advance your account duration. The account expiration resides in the UAF record, which can be accessed and displayed only through the use of the OpenVMS Authorize utility (AUTHORIZE) by users with the SYSPRV privilege or equivalent---normally, your system manager or security administrator.
When your account expires, you receive an authorization failure message
at your next attempted login. If you need an extension, follow the
procedures defined at your site.
Illegal system accesses involving the use of a correct password are more often traced to disclosure of the password by its owner than to surreptitious discovery. It is vital that you do not reveal your password to anyone.
You can best protect your password by observing the following rules:
1.10 Recognizing System Responses
The system responds to the commands you enter in one or more of the following ways:
1.10.1 Default Actions
A default is the value supplied by the operating system when you do not
specify one yourself. For example, if you do not specify the number of
copies as a qualifier for the PRINT command, the system uses the
default value 1. The operating system supplies default values in
several areas, including command qualifiers and parameters. The
defaults that the operating system uses with specific commands are
described in each command's entry in the OpenVMS DCL Dictionary.
The system responds to some commands by displaying information in a system message about what it has done. For example, when you use the PRINT command, the system displays the job identification number it assigned to the print job and shows the name of the print queue the job has entered.
Not all commands display informational messages. Successful completion
of a command is usually indicated when the DCL prompt Enters.
Unsuccessful completion is always indicated by one or more
If you enter a command incorrectly, the system displays a system message and prompts you for the correct command string, as the following example shows:
You can also receive system error messages during command execution if the system cannot perform the function you have requested. For example, if you type a PRINT command correctly but the file you specify does not exist, the PRINT command informs you of the error with a message like the following:
The first message is from the PRINT command. It tells you it cannot
open the specified file. The second message indicates the reason for
the first; that is, the file cannot be found. RMS
refers to the OpenVMS file-handling software, Record Management
Services; error messages related to filehandling are generally OpenVMS
If you suspect that your process is not doing what you think it should be doing, press Ctrl/T. Ctrl/T displays a single line of statistical information about the current process. The statistical information includes node and user name, current time, current process, central processing unit (CPU) usage, number of page faults, level of I/O activity, and memory usage, which is listed in number of CPU-specific pages.
When you press Ctrl/T during an interactive terminal session, it momentarily interrupts the current command, command procedure, or image to display statistics. Although Ctrl/T disrupts the characters on the screen, it does not affect any procedure or editing session. For example, if a user named MCCARTHY on node GREEN presses Ctrl/T while using the EVE editor, the following line is displayed in the EVE message window:
Ctrl/T is disabled by default. If you know your system is running and
Ctrl/T does not display statistical information, you can enable Ctrl/T
with the DCL command SET CONTROL=T. Enter the command at DCL level (at
the dollar sign ($) prompt), then press Ctrl/T again. Ctrl/T will
remain in effect for the duration of your process, unless it is
disabled from a program or command such as SET NOCONTROL=T. Note that
your terminal must be set to BROADCAST mode for Ctrl/T to display on
your screen. BROADCAST mode controls whether reception of broadcast
messages (such as those issued by MAIL and REPLY) is enabled. To set
your terminal to BROADCAST mode, enter the DCL command SET
TERMINAL/BROADCAST at the DCL prompt.
When you are logged in to the operating system, you can obtain
information about using the system and available commands by using the
HELP command. You can also get help on system messages by entering the
HELP/MESSAGE command as shown in Section 1.11.3.
Use the following procedure to get help on OpenVMS commands and utilities:
The following example shows the commands that you would enter to look for help about the SHOW USERS command:
1.11.2 Getting Help on Specific Commands
If you know the command you need information about, enter HELP and the command name. For example, to get help about the SHOW USERS command enter the following command:
If you need help but do not know what command or system topic to specify, enter the command HELP with the word HINTS as a parameter. Each task name listed in the HINTS text is associated with a list of related command names and system information topics.
The OpenVMS DCL Dictionary contains more information about the HELP command.
Use the Help Message utility (MSGHLP) to get online help for system messages. To display information on how the last command completed, type:
You can also display information about a specific message by including the message identifier or words from the message text. For example:
A message and its description can also be accessed by entering the message status code. For example:
The Help Message utility allows you to update the messages database with your own messages or to add comments to existing message descriptions. You can also extract a subset of messages from the messages database to create and print your own customized messages documentation. For details on how to use the Help Message utility, see OpenVMS System Messages: Companion Guide for Help Message Users.