Permanent Files

Although all file I/O was accomplished through local files, there was a separate, orthogonal system that kept track of permanent files (PFs). PFs were disk files that persisted between jobs. The relationship between local files and PFs was not intuitive, and was a frequent source of confusion and complaint from users.

PFs were managed by the permanent file system, which was largely distinct from the portions of the OS that did I/O to and from disk files. The PF system gave each permanent file a system-wide unique name containing 1-40 characters. Unlike local filenames, PF names could contain any Display Code character, though most filenames contained only alphanumerics. Because the PF namespace was systemwide, most users prefixed their permanent filenames with their initials or some other identifying string.

Cataloging files

Disk files were deleted from the system at job termination unless they were first entered into the PF system. This was done via the statement:

CATALOG,local_filename, permanent_filename [,optional parameters].

This made local_filename permanent by creating an entry for it in the PF system under the name permanent_filename. CATALOG did not make a copy of the data; the data still resided in the same sectors on the same disk drive. CATALOG simply made a copy of the pointers to those sectors.

To access an existing permanent file, a user issued an ATTACH statement of the form:

ATTACH,local_filename, permanent_filename [,optional parameters].

This created a local file which was associated with the named permanent file. For the rest of this job, I/O to local_filename was done to the file previously cataloged under permanent_filename.

Permanent file attributes

In addition to the 40-character file name, permanent files had these attributes:

Permanent file operations


It was relatively uncommon for permanent files to be modified. Many SCOPE/Hustler programs that maintained data in files worked by making a copy of the file; the new copy was then typically cataloged as a higher cycle number. A major exception to this was EDITOR, the standard system text editor. Of course, database programs also worked by modifying files directly. But traditional database software became available late in SCOPE/Hustler's career and was never used much.

On those few occasions in which a permanent file was appended to after being cataloged, it was necessary to perform an "extend" operation on the file in order for the appended data to become a permanent part of the file.  The control card for doing this was:


However, the EXTEND control card was rarely used, because those few programs that appended to permanent files generally performed the EXTEND operation programmatically.

Overwriting existing sectors in a permanent file did not require an EXTEND-like operation.  The changed portions of the local file would immediately become part of the permanent file.


An attached permanent file could be removed from the permanent file system by means of the PURGE control card:


Note that the local file, not the permanent file, iwa specified.  The local file remained available after the PURGE card, and could be recataloged if desired.  If it was not recataloged by the end of the job, the file disappeared at end-of-job.


There were different programs to backup permanent files to tape:  SELDUMP and PFDUMP.  (The word "dump" was used for this operation; unfortunately, the word "dump" was also used to mean other things.)  I believe that SELDUMP and PFDUMP used the same tape format.

SELDUMP was available only to Operations staff.  It was run daily to backup files for all users.  There was a regular backup cycle.  Each day, all files since the last "dump" were backed up to tape.  Periodically, a dump of the entire system was also made.  Since SELDUMP (and PFDUMP) would not backup a file that was attached with anything other than read access, care had to be taken to take periodic dumps of the system when it was not available to users, to ensure that at least occasionally, all files would be backed up.

SELDUMP was a sophisticated system that managed a tape library database and decided which reel of tape to use at any time. SELDUMP could also write to multiple tape units simultaneously.

PFDUMP was used by ordinary users to back up their own (or someone else's) files.  The PFDUMP control card had a complex syntax:

PFDUMP[,MT=vrn=...] [,NT=vrn=...] [,NEWPN=nnnnn] [,PFN=pf_name] [,CY=cycle_spec] [,ADD=lfn_of_pf_list] [,WAIT] [,ORDER] [,O=listing_lfn] [,U=unheadered_listing_lfn] [,IX=index_lfn] [,OLDMT=vrn=...] [,OLDNT=vrn=...] [,DROP=lfn_of_skip] [,KEEP=lfn_of_keep].

Both programs recorded the metadata for each permanent file (including passwords, owner, etc.) in addition to the file's data.

To restore files, the PFLOAD card was used.  PFLOAD could read either system dump tapes (written by SELDUMP), or user dump tapes (written by PFDUMP).  PFLOAD restored not only the program data, but all other information, such as owner, passwords, etc.

Tapes written to by SELDUMP had Visual Reel Numbers (VRNs) starting with the letters "PF" (?).  Tapes written to by PFDUMP had VRNs starting with "UP".  Jobs were not allowed to access tapes with VRNs starting with these special letters unless it was via PFLOAD.  This was a security precaution that was necessary because you could dump someone else's password-protected file to your own tape.  If you were allowed to read a dump tape with your own program, you could read someone else's file without knowing the password.

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