PiDP-8/I SoftwareOS/8 System Patches
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Between major updates to distribution media, DEC would send out important information and patches to customers through its publication PDP-8 Digital Software News (DSN for short).

Many issues of DSN can be found on under pdf/dec/pdp8/softwarenews.

To help customers keep track of which patches to apply, DSN added a Cumulative Index.

Using the PDP-8 DIGITAL Software News Cumulative Index found in the latest available issue of DSN, October/November 1980, I created a spreadsheet of all patches relevant to the OS/8 V3D packs under construction. That spreadsheet enabled me to go to the particular issues containing the patches, and keep track of what action I took with them.

I reviewed all the patches and came up with a list of the mandatory patches. Using OCR'd text from each relevant DSN issue, I created a file per patch, which I then compared to the scanned PDF and corrected the OCR errors.

Then I created a way to apply the patches in an automated way. Most of the patches were for programs available in source form, so I built the programs from source, and then bench checked the patch against the source. In a few cases the code was too obscure, and I marked the patch as "plausable" rather than "verified" in my spreadsheet.

The file patch-list.txt lists all of the patch files in media/os8/patches. Comments in that file begin with # and are used to disable patches we have rejected for one reason or another. Each rejected patch also has a comment that explains why that particular patch was rejected from the default set. Typical reasons are:

You may want to examine this file to see if there are any decisions you would reverse. After modifying that file, say "make" to rebuild the OS/8 binary RK05 disk image file with your choice of patches.

Review of Recommendations

BRTS 31.11.2O is an optional patch which disables 8th bit parity. It is recommended because sometimes we may want to allow output that does not force the 8th bit.

BRTS 31.11.3O is an optional patch that enables 132 column output. It is recommended because it is expected that wide column output is desirable.

TECO 31.20.1O is an optional patch that permanently forces no case flagging. It is not recommended because we want to allow the option of case flagging.

TECO 31.20.2O is an optional patch that turns off verbose errors. It was for slow terminals and experienced users who didn't want to wait to see the long error messages they already knew. It is not recommended because we expect a majority of users to be on high speed terminals needing the verbose errors.

TECO 31.20.3O turns off a warning that you are using the YANK command to completely overwrite a buffer full of text. Issuing the command a second time succeeds. It was again to avoid experienced users. It is not recommended because we expect fewer advanced users who would be annoyed by the protection.

TECO 31.20.4O implements rubout support specifically and uniquely for the VT05 terminal in a way that breaks it for all other video terminals. It is not recommended because there are VERY few VT05 deployments that would use it.

It is at this point that I began to notice that in later years, patches became less carefully produced, and more prone to errors. Some are not correctable, even today.

BASIC.UF-31.5.1M shows:

4044/4514 4556

changing location 4044 from 4514 to 4556. Such a change would be consistent with the stated purpose of the patch, to correct references to page zero literals that moved with the V3D version of BRTS. The source around location '4044' looks like this:

04043  4775          JMS I   (BUFCDF /SET UP USER BUF
04044  1273          TAD     NSAM
04045  7041          CIA
04046  3276          DCA     NCTR    /-#OF BOARDS TO CLAR

In my judgment the TAD NSAM to get the subscript into the AC should be retained, and the 4556 call to UNSFIX to truncate the value of the Floating Point Accumulator should NOT be inserted. I modified the patch to leave out that change. It remains to be seen if calls to User Functions in OS/8 BASIC will ever be run to test this code. Here at least is an analysis to later explorers.

EDIT 21.17.4 M is supposedly a mandatory patch. It fixes a problem with line printer output through a specific parall interface card. Unfortunately, the patch overwrites mandatory patch in 21.17.2 and is NOT recommended.

ABSLDR 21.29.1 M is supposedly a mandatory patch that enables ABSLDR to work with SAVE image files. Normally ABSLDR only loads BIN format files. The patch sequence number, 21.29 identifies the patch as being for the OS/8 V3D version of ABSLDR. But the patch changes locations that are not used by ABSLDR.SV. Furthermore, the patch says it upgrades ABSLDR from version 6B to version 6C.

Version 6 of ABSLDR was part of the OS/8 V3D Device Extensions kit. See our documention on the OS/8 V3D Device Extensions. Verification of this now seems within reach, with the expectation that it is mis-labeled, and is properly applied to the version with the Extensions kit. Until it is verified, applying this patch is not recommended.

PAL8-21.22.4M is broken and doubly mis-labeled. Mis-label #1: It is an optional, not mandatory patch. Mis-label #2: It is for product sequence 35.14, the V13 codeline of PAL-8 that, like ABSLDR V6, is in the Device Extensions kit. The breakage: Source listing quits working. Do not apply this patch!

Patch FRTS-51.3.3-O.patch8 is to enable 2-page system drivers like RL01. Except that the RL01 driver is only available in the Extensions kit. The patch overwrites existing code that makes FRTS able to function with the TD8E 2-page system handler. I've read the code but don't fully understand it. Perhaps it generalizes the TD8E support. But if you happen to be using this setup under TD8E and FRTS doesn't work, then back out this patch.

Patch Application Order

In the creation of v3d.rk05 image booted by default, the script v3d-rk05.os8 defines the order in which the patches are applied. It started off alphabetically by subsystem, but evolved as order dependencies emerged.

For example, if the ABSLDR patch actually did work, it needs the FUTIL 31.21.2 M in order to patch into the ABSLDR overlay bits.

I was skeptical of FUTIL 31.21.2M because, when I load ABSLDR.SV into core with GET, the contents of memory showed by ODT are DIFFERENT from those shown by FUTIL. With deeper understanding of the OS/8 Device Extensions kit, I see that the patch was incorporated into the version 8 FUTIL source, and also that ODT is expected to be updated in version 3S of the Keyboard Monitor.

Then There's MACREL

I've gone into detail on the explorations and understandings with regard to MACREL in a sister document to this one.

Originally I reviewed the patches for MACREL v1, because that's all we had. But the version numbers of the patches did not match the version numbers of the executables. A little diversion into the guess work surrounding patch verification:

Version number mismatches sometimes do occur with patches. For example, TECO 31.20.11 M says that it upgrades TECO to version 5.06, but got the bits wrong. Instead of changing contents from 0771 to 0772, it looked to change from 0772 to 0773. 772 octal is 506 decimal, and the TECO version number is represented with a 12 bit number. It's called "5.06" but it's represented as 0772 octal, or 506 decimal.

With that TECO patch, I simply changed the version amendment line in that TECO patch, because the rest was correct. Whoever published the patch got the version number wrong, and nobody complained.

With no MACREL v1 source code, verification was not really possible, so applying those patches was postponed. But then we found both binary and source of MACREL v2!

None of the available MACREL v2 patches are currently applied. We may get to that later.

After further testing of MACREL, I have concluded that integrating the source-level patch 41.5.1M will reduce uncertainty, so I have hand-integrated that patch into the MACREL tu56 image as well.


I was dubious of some of the FUTIL patches, but with finding source to version 8A, I gained confidence in the version 7 patches, and understood how seriously important the first patch was to version 8.

The MACREL v2 tape shipped with version 8A of FUTIL. That was necessary because V2 of MACREL supported the latest memory expansion, and so the OS/8 Core Control Block needed to change.

Unfortunately, the FUTIL.SV distributed as version 8A had the wrong starting address and Job Status Word settings. It hangs when run under BATCH. Our automated pack builder and patcher script v3d-rk05.os8 runs FUTIL under BATCH.

The MACREL v2 DECtape image we use with automated building contains a hand-applied patch 35.13.1M that fixes this problem.

Currently if you opt in to having MACREL on the system packs, you get FUTIL version 8B. If not, you get FUTIL version 7 and v3d-rk05.os8 applies the relevant patches. If FUTIL version 8 is installed, the automated patch applier recognizes the version 7 patches don't fit and fails to install them.

One-off Patches

Most of the patches are parsed and applied in an automated manner by v3d-rk05.os8. However some are one-offs.

See the FUTIL section above with regards to patch 35.13.1M.

FORLIB 51.10.1 M is a one line source change to DLOG.RA. The patch file provides that line. It also provides instructions on how to use RALF to assemble the source and on how to to use LIBRA to replace the old version of DLOG with the new one in FORLIB.RL. I followed the instructions to hand-tool a patched FORLIB.RL which I then put in the local.tu56 DECtape image along with the other local hacks. The v3d-rk05.os8 script has conditional code to replace FORLIB.RL on SYS: if installation of FORTRAN IV is enabled.

Unfinished Business

There remain the following patches that are still under development, because they are not simple binary overlays on executables that could be applied with simple scripts driving ODT or FUTIL. Instead they are either batch scripts, or are applied to source code that is rebuilt either with an assembler or high level language compiler.

LQP 21.49.1 M patches a device driver .BN file, then using BUILD to insert it into the system. At the present time the OS/8 V3D packs we build do not use the LPQ driver. (We ran out of device ID space and so we don't have anywhere to put an active LPQ driver.)

The Tracking Spreadsheet

Below is the latest snapshot of the tracking spreadsheet.

Status column key:

A Patch Applies Successfully
V Patch Source Verified
K Patch Source Probably OK. Weaker confidence than "Verified".
P Patch Source Plausible. Weaker confidence than "OK".
N Not recommended
O OCR Cleaned up. No other verification or application done.
D Does not apply.
B Bad patch. DO NOT APPLY.

OS/8 V3D Patches

Component Issue Sequence Mon/Yr Notes Status
HANDLER CTRL/Z and NULL 01 O * Oct-77 Optional. Not going to apply.
CREF Bug with FIXTAB 21.15.1M Apr/May-78 CREF-21.15.1-v2B.patch8 Corrects bad patch AV
Input and output file specifications 21.15.2M Feb/Mar-80 CREF-21.15.2-v2C.patch8 AK
EDIT EDIT Problem with no FORMFEED at end of the input file 21.17.1M Mar-78 EDIT-21.17.1M-v12B.patch8 AV
EDIT Q command after L command 21.17.2M Jun/Jul-79 EDIT-21.17.2M-v12C.patch8 AV
EDIT Q command patch 21.17.3M Jun/Jul-79 EDIT-21.17.3M-v12D.patch8 AV
EDIT.SV V option will not work with LPT DKC8-AA 21.17.4M Feb/Mar-80 EDIT-21.17.4M-v12C.patch8 Overwrites patch 21.12.2M AVB
FOTP Incorrect directory validation 21.19.1M Jun/Jul-79 FOTP-21.19.1M-v9B.patch8 (Corrected from Aug/Sep 1978, Detailed in Apr/May 79) AV
MCPIP DATE-78 Patch for MCPIP 21.21.1M Mar-78 MCPIP-21.21.1M-v6B.patch8 AV
PAL8 Incorrect core size routine 21.22.1M Aug/Sep-78 PAL8-21.22.1M-v10B.patch8 AV
Erroneous LINK generation noted on PAGE directive 21.22.2M Aug/Sep-78 PAL8-21.22.2M-v10C.patch8 AV
EXPUNGE patch to PAL8 21.22.3M Feb/Mar-80 PAL8-21.22.3M-v10D.patch8 AK
TABs are translated incorrectly 21.22.4M Oct/Nov-80 PAL8-21.22.4M (Supercedes June/July 1980 (which had wrong contents of memory.)) Bad! Wrong version of PAL8! Breaks list output. AB
PIP PIP /Y option does not work properly when transferring a system 21.23-1M Aug/Sep-78 PIP-21.23.1M-V12B.patch8 AK
PIP10 DATE-78 Patch to PIP 10 21.24.1M Jun/Jul-79 PIP10-21.24.1M-V3B.patch8 (Corrected from Dec 78/Jan 79) AV
SET Using SET with two-page system handlers 21.26.1M Apr/May-78 SET-21.26.1M-v1C.patch8 AV
SCOPE RUBOUTs fail in SET 21.26.2M Apr/May-78 SET-21.26.2M-v1D.patch8 AV
Parsing of = in TTY WIDTH option 21.26.3M Aug/Sep-78 SET-21.26.3M-v1E.patch8 AV
LPQ LDP01 Handler fails to recognize TABs 21.49.1M Dec/Jan-80 LQP-21.49.1M-vB.patch8 (supercedes Mar 1978) O
TM8E Write protect patch to TM8E.PA 21.61.1H Feb/Mar-80 New TM8E Source. Too hard to correct.

OS/8 Extension Kit V3D Patches

Component Issue Sequence Mon/Yr Notes Status
SABR Line buffer problem in SABR 21.91.1M Oct/Nov-79 SABR-21.91.1M-v18B.patch8 AV
BASIC.UF BASIC.UF Incompatible from OS/8 V3C 31.5.1M Aug/Sep-78 BASIC.UF-31.5.1M-V5B.patch8 Source also in DSN. AV
BLOAD BLOAD Will not build CCB properly 31.10.1M Feb/Mar-80 BLOAD-31.10.1M-v5B.patch8 AV
BRTS IOTABLE Overflow 31.11.1M Mar-78 BRTS-31.11.1-M-v5b.patch8 AV
BASIC PNT Function 31.11.2O Jun/Jul-78 BRTS-31.11.2-O.patch8 (superceds/corrects Mar 1978) AV
Line size on output of BASIC 31.11.3O Jun/Jul-78 BRTS-31.11.3-O.patch8 AV
Change line printer width 31.11.4F Oct/Nov-79 Optional change of width to 132 columns
Patch to BRTS for addressing LAB 8/E functions 31.11.5M Oct/Nov-79 BRTS-31.11.5-x.patch8 (BASIC.UF patch is a prerequisite.) AV
TECO Changing the default EU value for no case flagging 31.20.1O Mar-78 TECO-31.20.01O.patch8 AVN
Changing the default EH value for one line error printouts 31.20.2O Mar-78 TECO-31.20.02O.patch8 AVN
Removing YANK protection 31.20.3O Mar-78 TECO-31.20.03O.patch8 AVN
SCOPE Support for VT05 users 31.20.4O Mar-78 TECO-31.20.04O.patch8 AP N
Problem with AY command 31.20.5M Mar-78 TECO-31.20.05M-v5A.patch8 AV
Conditionals inside iterations 31.20.6M Mar-78 TECO-31.20.06M-v5B.patch8 AV
Echoing of warning bells 31.20.7M Mar-78 TECO-31.20.07M-v5B.patch8 AV
CTRL/U Sometimes fails after * 31.20.8M Apr/May-78 TECO-31.20.08M-v5.04.patch8 AK
Multiplying by 0 in TECO 31.20.10M Apr/May-78 TECO-31.20.10M-v5.05.patch8 AV
Q registers don't work in 8K 31.20.11M Apr/May-78 TECO-31.20.11M-v5.06.patch8 AV
Can't skip over W 31.20.12M Apr/May-78 TECO-31.20.12M-v5.07.patch8 AV
Unspecified iterations after inserts 31.20.13M Oct/Nov-78 TECO-31.20.13M-v5.08.patch8 (Corrected from Jun/Jul 78) AV
New features in TECO V5 31.20.14 N Aug/Sep-78 Documentation Only
FUTIL FUTIL Patch 31.21.1M Apr/May-78 FUTIL-31.21.1M-v7B.patch8 AV
Fix SHOW CCB and mapping of CD modules 31.21.2M Oct/Nov-78 FUTIL-31.21.2M-v7D.patch8 (Corrected from Aug/Sep 78) AV
Optional: change XS format from excess-240 to excess-237. Useful for viewing COS data files. 31.21.3O Aug/Sep-78 FUTIL-31.21.3O.patch8 AVN
FUTIL Patch to MACREL/LINK overlays 31.21.4 N Jun/Jul-79 Documentation Only
MSBAT DIM Statement not working in MSBAT 31.22.1M Dec 78/Jan-79 MSBAT-31.22.1M-v3B.patch8 AV
BATCH MANUAL INTERVENTION REQUIRED Erroneously 31.23.1M Aug/Sep-78 BATCH-31.23.1M-v7B.patch8 AV


Component Issue Sequence Mon/Yr Notes Status
F4 EQUIVALENCE Statement 02M / 21.1.2M Dec/Jan-80 F4-21.1.2M-v4B.patch8 (Revised, Oct 77: F4 and PASS3 not FRTS patched.) AP
FORTRAN Compiler fails to recognize " as an error 51.3.1M Jun/Jul-78 F4-51.3.1M-v4C.patch8 (Corrects March 1978) AP
FORTRAN Compiler not recognizing syntax error 51.3.2M Jun/Jul-78 F4-51.3.2M-v4x.patch8 AP
FORTRAN runtime system 2-page handler 51.3.3O Oct/Nov-78 FRTS-51.3.3-O.patch8 Needed for RL02. (Corrected from Aug/Sep 78) A
Restriction with subscripted variables 51.3.4R Aug/Sep-80 Documentation: FIV FORTRAN IV will not allow subscripting to be used on both sides of an arithmetic expression.
FORLIB FORTRAN IV DLOG Patch 51.10.1M Feb/Mar-80 FORLIB-51.10.1M.patch8 (apply to DLOG.RA) AV


These patches are listed for completeness. The version numbers don't match. We lack source so we cannot verify them. we've moved on to MACREL v2 as canon.

Component Issue Sequence Mon/Yr Notes Status
LINK Patch V1D to LINK 40.2.1M Apr/May-78 LINK-40.2.1M-v1D.patch8 O
Patch VIE to LINK 40.2.2M Apr/May-78 LINK-40.2.2M-v1E.patch8 O
LINK Corrections 40.2.3M Apr/May-78 LINK-40.2.3M-v1F.patch8 O
MACREL Patch V1D to MACREL 40.5.1M Apr/May-78 MACREL-40.5.1M-v1D.patch8 OD
Patch V1E to MACREL 40.5.2M Apr/May-78 MACREL-40.5.2M-v1E.patch8 OD
OVRDRV Patch V1B to OVRDRV.MA 40.6.1M Apr/May-78 OVRDRV-40.6.1M-v1B-8srccom O

OS/8 V3D Device Extensions December 1978 Patches

WARNING: Do not use this kit without first consulting DSN Apr/May 1979. See also: Our OS/8 Device Extensions documentation

Component Issue Sequence Mon/Yr Notes Status
FRTS FRTS Patch 35.1.3M Apr/May-79
MONITOR MONITOR V3S Patch 35.2.1M Apr/May-79
FUTIL FUTIL hangs under BATCH 35.13.1M CRITICAL! Apr/May-79 AV
PAL8 EXPUNGE Patch to PAL8 35.14.1M Feb/Mar-80 PAL8-35.14.1M-v13B.patch8 AN
ABSLDR Loader problem with SAVE image files 21.29.1M Oct/Nov-80 ABSLDR-21.29.1M-v6C.patch8 (Supercedes June/July 1980) Bad: v6B was with OS/8 Device Extensions. OB
ABSLDR ABSLDR Patch 35.18.1M Apr/May-79
BLOAD BLOAD Will not build CCB properly 35.51.1M Feb/Mar-80 BLOAD-35.51.1M-v5C.patch8 ON


These patches have not been turned into files. Armed with newly discovered sources verification is possible. Work on these will begin soon.

Component Issue Sequence Mon/Yr Notes Status
User's EXPUNGE Documentation error 41.1.1N Jun/Jul-79
Guide MACREL Version numbers: MACREL is V2C not V2D; LINK is V2A not V2B. 41.1.2N Jun/Jul-79
Macro restriction in MACREL 41.1.3N Aug/Sep-79
Error in .MCALL macro example 41.1.4N Feb/Mar-80
KREF Correct printing of numeric local symbols 41.3.1M Apr/May-80
MACREL EXPUNGE Patch to MACREL 41.4.1F Jun/Jul-79
Inconsistencies in MACREL error reporting 41.4.2N Aug/Sep-79
Forward reference patch to MACREL 41.4.3M Aug/Sep-79
Correct macro substring problem 41.4.4M Apr/May-80
Correct printing of numeric local symbols 41.4.5M Apr/May-80
OVRDRV Correct CDF problem 41.5.1M Dec/Jan-80 Source change applied by hand. AV
FUTIL FUTIL hangs under BATCH 35.13.1M Apr/May-79 Critical to proper operation of our automated builder. Applied by hand to the MACREL v2 integration. AV


Copyright © 2017 by Bill Cattey. Licensed under the terms of the SIMH license.