Friday, June 16, 2023

HECnet-in-a-Box distribution: A virtual machine for quick and effortless connection to HECnet - the global hobbyist DECnet network

HECnet in a box

Here is a Oracle VirtualBox appliance intended for people wanting to get on HECnet (the global hobbyist DECnet computer network) in a few minutes (after obtaining Nodenames and DECnet addresses from one of the HECnet Area owners) .

It comes with a bridge that provides TAP interfaces and a VDE Switch for emulators to connect to, as well as a DECnet/Python instance and a SimH PDP-11/70 running RSX-11M-Plus. Configuration involves answering a few questions pertaining to node names and addresses and firing them up which shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Instructions are in the README file.

Both SimH and QEMU support VDE switches directly, so it is easy to keep adding SimH and QEMU emulated machines to it.

The home partition has 80GB of space as-shipped, and memory is set to 2GB but it is a VirtualBox thing and it is trivial to bump up memory as needed.

Maybe it will be of help to people interested in joining HECnet with minimal effort. It can be downloaded from

Any feedback for the next revision welcome.

Thank you Paul Koning for DECnet/Python and Johnny Billquist for the immaculately curated RSX distribution.

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