HP OpenVMS Systems

Ask the Wizard

HP OpenVMS Systems

OpenVMS information

» What's new on our site
» Upcoming events
» Configuration and buying assistance
» Send us your comments

HP OpenVMS systems

» OpenVMS software
» Supported Servers
» OpenVMS virtualization
» OpenVMS solutions and partners
» OpenVMS success stories
» OpenVMS service and support
» OpenVMS resources and information
» OpenVMS documentation
» Education and training

Quick Links

» Non-javascript page
» Ask the Wizard

Test Drive OpenVMS

» OpenVMS I64 test drive
» Java test drive

Other information resources available to you include:

» OpenVMS freeware
» ECO kits, software and hardware support, prior version support
» Alpha SRM, ARC, and AlphaBIOS firmware updates
» ENCOMPASS - HP user group
» OpenVMS software downloads, OpenVMS freeware CD-ROM
» OpenVMS firmware locations
» DECconnect passive adaptor charts
» Cables reference guide
» MicroVAX console commands
» OpenVMS student research

Select a topic below to see Questions Frequently Asked by partners

» Using the online documentation library(installing BNU from the asap SDK)
» Global sections(how to create and use.)
» xx$CREATE_BUFOBJ system service(usage)
» Ethernet address(methods of determination)
» Shareable images(cookbook approach to creating one)
» Sharing data/code at absolute addresses(a guide with examples)
» Determining the Alpha microprocessor
» Using GETSYI to get hardware status

Evolving business value

» Business Systems Evolution
» AlphaServer systems transition planning
» Alpha RetainTrust program

Related links

» HP Integrity servers
» HP Alpha systems
» HP storage
» HP software
» HP products and services
» HP solutions
» HP support
disaster proof
HP Integrity server animation
HP Integrity server animation
Content starts here

Ask the Wizard Questions

System hangs under heavy load

The Question is:

On our MicroVax 3900 we have been having a problem with
the system locking up.  Usually when the number of users
gets around 40-45 the system will no longer allow users to
log in.  It does not say that you cannot log in but after
you enter your username, when you enter you password it says
user authorization failed. Even from the system account.
Everyone who is currently logged on is still active, but
new users can't get in.  The only thing you can do is to
reboot the system.

We have increased the swap file and added a secondary
swapfile.  This seemed to help some but we still have the
problem from time to time.
The system has 32MB of memory.

Any suggestions (other than upgrade to an ALPHA)?

The Answer is:

  This sounds suspiciously like SECURITY_SERVER has gone into RWMBX state.
  I'm involved with one of these which has been unresolved and ongoing since
  July last year. I have another customer who is experiencing similar problems,
  but to a lesser extent and a further customer who has seen it once (so far!).

  Here is the (sanitised) version of the text of a STARS article which
  describes the problem. Interested internal people can look in STARS to see
  the whole article which has lots of hidden text. Note that the patches
  mentioned in this article have NOT fixed the problem for my original

[OpenVMS] System not Accepting Logins & SECURITY_SERVER Hung In RWMBX

COPYRIGHT (c) 1988, 1993 by Digital Equipment Corporation.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No distribution except as provided under contract.

Copyright (c) Digital Equipment Corporation 1995, 1996.  All rights reserved.

PRODUCT:    OpenVMS VAX, Version 6.1

COMPONENT:  Security Server Process (SECURITY_SERVER)

SOURCE:     Digital Equipment Corporation


The SECURITY_SERVER process hangs in a Resource Wait Mailbox (RWMBX)
state with a channel assigned to a high numbered mailbox.  Once the
process hangs, all user login attempts fail even though the
username/password pair entered is correct.  The following error
message is returned:

     User Authorization Failure

During this time, the following OPCOM messages are displayed on the
operator console:

     %SECSRV-E-ASSIGNFAILED, security server failed to assign a
        channel to a client
     %SYSTEM-W-NOSUCHDEV, no such device available

     %SECSRV-I-INVALIDTERMNAME, received invalid terminal name for
     %SYSTEM-W-NOSUCHDEV, no such device available

Additional symptoms of the problem are that the hang typically occurs
on a heavily loaded system and the DCL command, SHOW INTRUSION also
hangs in RWMBX state.


This problem is corrected in OpenVMS VAX V7.0.  If you are unable to
upgrade, use one of the WORKAROUNDs below.


Empty the high numbered mailbox by copying it to the null device.  For
example use a DCL command similar to the following:

     $ COPY MBA3419: NLA0:


A VAXLOGI ECO kit may address the problem described in this article.
Refer to the ECO-SUMMARY article to determine if this ECO corrects the
problem for your specific configuration.  The ECO-SUMMARY information
may be found by opening the ECO-SUMMARY database and using a query of


The high numbered mailbox appears to be a client mailbox.  It is
believed that a client has requested a return message from the
SECURITY_SERVER process, but the client process no longer exists.  The
SECURITY_SERVER process hangs in RWMBX state waiting for the client
process to read from the client mailbox.

It appears that during heavy load periods, a small timing window
exists in which the SECURITY_SERVER is able to assign a channel to the
client mailbox before the client process dies.  However, it is unable
to write to the mailbox until after the client process dies. Thus the
SECURITY_SERVER process hangs in RWMBX state.