Charon-AXP and Charon-VAX logos

OpenVMS Licensing

OpenVMS licenses are required to even boot OpenVMS, much less to do anything useful.

OpenVMS uses a "License Unit" scheme. A minimum number of License Units is required for each kind of hardware. This is the entire list of license requirements.

Key to License Type Codes and Values

OpenVMS licenses use letters to distinguish their function:
  • A - Increase the number of simultaneous logins
  • B - Required to boot OpenVMS on a server
  • C - OpenVMS Concurrent User
  • D - Required to boot OpenVMS on a workstation
  • E - System Integrated Products (SIPs).
  • F - Layered Products for VAX.
  • G - Reserved
  • H - Layered Products for Alpha.
  • I - Layered Products for VAX.

SIPs are products that are built into OpenVMS. They just need a license to enable them. Clustering and volume shadowing are examples.

Getting Licenses

Migration to Charon

Systems migrated to Charon require no new licenses. Transfer to the Charon system is covered by the HPE Software License Transfer. There is a transfer fee, starting at $2,000 USD. High-end servers have a larger transfer fee. But even the higher fee is insignificant compared to purchasing new licenses.

Some customers have been known to buy hardware that has OpenVMS licenses, transfer them to a Charon system, and sell the hardware (with its licenses removed) on the open market.

New Licenses

It's possible to get new OpenVMS licenses from vendors such as Island Computer (off page) .

Gray Market

There is a "gray market", licenses previously issued to someone else. It seems to be legal, as several licenses providers sell them.

Hobbyist Programs

No discussion of licenses is complete without mention of the Hobbyist Program. They are offered by two groups:

Both programs provided time-limited licenses, typically for one year.

It must be emphasized that the licenses from the hobbyist programs must NOT EVER be used for business purposes!