Introducing VistA VivA 0.1

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"Release early, release often," is a mantra of the open source movement, I believe attributed to Eric S. Raymond.

A klunky first release of VistA VivA, the VistA Linux live CD is available for download from the WorldVistA project at Source Forge ( This live CD is based on remastering Morphix ( ) and is a combination of Morphix and VistA SemiVivA.

To use it, download and burn the ISO CD image from Source Forge, and boot an x86 PC (probably at least 128MB RAM and a Pentium processor -- I don't know what the minimum requirements really are, but I have tried it on a 256MB 700MHz Athlon PC and a 1GB 1.8GHz Pentium IV PC) from it. This will put you in a Linux desktop. Caveat: a PC running off a CD-ROM based compressed file system will run more slowly than a PC running off uncompressed files on a hard disk.

To run VistA, the operating system (if any!) on the hard drive will not be touched. However, since I haven't yet figured out how to operate a database on a CD-ROM (and don't expect to any time soon!), the database will need to be installed on the hard drive. Open a terminal window by clicking on the terminal icon at the bottom of the screen.

Morphix does not mount hard drive partitions by default, so you will need to mount the partition on which you wish the database to reside, e.g. "sudo mount -o rw /mnt/hda1" (if you are not sure what partitions you have, type "cat /etc/fstab" and look for names that look like /mnt/xdy or /mnt/xdy# where x is one of the letters h or s, and # is a number).

To install the database and run it, to run a previously installed database, or to erase a previously installed database, run "sudo /usr/local/VistA/vista" (UNIX/Linux users note: there is no ampersand at the end of that command!). You will be prompted for required input (and taken to a GT.M shell Prompt for the initial install, from where you will be able to type D ^XUP, D P^DI, etc.). On an install, the dialog box telling you the database is being copied may go away before the copy is complete. You should wait for the GT.M Prompt.

When completed, logout of Morphix. You will be taken to a shell Prompt from where you can type "halt" or "reboot". Since the CD-ROM drive won't open at that point (since the CD is still mounted), I find that I need to type reboot, and then eject the CD as the PC reboots, and then power it down. Awkward, but it works. If you type halt, you will be able to open the CD-ROM drive only on the next boot, as the BIOS does comes to life.

This first release is klunky and primarily aimed at friendly users. If you are uncomfortable with a GTM> command mode Prompt from where you have a roll and scroll VistA interface, this is not for you. Remember that from "GTM>" you can type "Halt" to exit to a Linux shell.

I have created a forum ( for discussion of any issues at the WorldVistA project at Source Forge. You can also submit Bugs ( and Patches ( and ask for Support ( at the WorldVistA project at Source Forge.

Networking is supported by Morphix. So you should be able to configure your network interfaces and run a CPRS GUI on a Windows machine against VistA VivA.


If your PC can't boot from a CD-ROM, you can make a bootable floppy ( is a 1.4M floppy; I believe there is a 2.8M floppy image on the CD). Use the Linux dd command or the DOS/Windows RAWRITE.EXE (available on the CD if you just mount it) to write the floppy images. <p>KNOWN LIMITATIONS

Only hard drives with FAT16/32 (Windows 95/98/ME and some Windows NT PCs) and common Linux partitions are supported. Hard drives with NTFS partitions (some Windows NT, and most Windows XP and Windows 2000) are known to be not supported. I don't know about partitions with Linux file systems such as jfs and xfs, since I don't have access to PCs with them.

The GT.M database is not configured here with journaling turned on. So, if you power down the PC without shutting down GT.M cleanly (Halt from the command Prompt -- unlike other M implementations GT.M doesn't use a daemon), you will get database errors (likely to be benign, but you should repair them). Refer to the Administration and Operations manual, available at Source Forge ( You will need to enable and turn on journaling if you want more operational robustness.

VistA VivA is set up as a demo. It comes with no warranty express or implied. Use it at your own risk.

VistA VivA was done by me as a personal project and Sanchez was not involved in any way.

Never trust technical work done by a manager.

VistA VivA is untested by anyone except me, and my testing too has been cursory.

D ^XUP from the GT.M Prompt results in a VistA Application complaint about a terminal device not being configured in the database. I have no idea what to do about it.

The time reported by Morphix seems to be one hour behind the actual time. I have no idea why.

-- Bhaskar