VistA Gems

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The Concept
The VA's VistA software is comprised of many clinical applications that are based on a common infrastructure. A fully installed and patched VistA account can require several hundred megabytes of space, without any clinical data, and requires a great deal of effort to keep fully patched. Hey, after all, it is an integrated Hospital Information System (HIS)!

Wouldn't it be useful, in some instances, to have a preinstalled, recently patched VistA account that contained only the infrastructure?  You wouldn't have to use the extra disk space by having all of the VistA Applications installed that you may not want to use. Well, the concept is reality and it is a real gem!

If you are interested in studying the VistA HIS, then you don't want the Diamond. It is way too much work to install all or selected portions of the VistA HIS applications in the Diamond. Instead, you want the preinstalled, patched applications found in the Platinum Account that is available as a very large download from the VA's web site or via media.

  The Hardhats Diamond 3.0 install is a Cache.dat file, which means you must have Intersystems' Caché™ 2.1.x or better to use it. VistA requires many background jobs for running Task Manager, Mailman Filers, etc. As a result, it is not feasible to run a fully operational installation with less than a license that provides about 20 jobs, of which  5-6 jobs can be users. You can, however, experiment with limited simultaneous capabilities with a lesser license. (Intersystems is offering a free single-user license for download or on media.)

This very clean install contains the following installed applications, fully patched as of the first quarter of 2001. These packages are the ones released under FOIA.

  • Kernel v8.0
  • FM v22
  • Mailman v7.1 (including patch 50)
  • Programmer Toolkit v7.3
  • RPC Broker v1.1
  • *VPE v10
  • *FixIT 3.0 development and demo installations
  • *GUIMail 2.1 (only on Diamond 2.0)
  • Tested for:
    • Red Hat Linux
    • Windows (95/98/NT)
  • Patches

* VistA add-ons

It is recommended that you visit the designated areas on Hardhats to learn more about VPE, FixIT and GUImail. Some of the add-ons require you to install client-side software to use them, but they are well worth the effort if you are interested in putting a GUI face on your VistA applications or if you just want to see their potential.

Romance the Stone
Download the Diamond ZIP file (read our disclaimer) and refer to the readme file and the following notes to get started!

First Time Installation

For those who want to evaluate the Caché Red Hat Linux download from Intersystems, you can take a short cut and download a preconfigured .cpf file. The file is named kernel.txt.  Rename it to kernel.cpf, once it is downloaded, and place it in the Caché directory where the cache.cpf file is located. You will then need to specify this new kernel.cpf file as the startup configuration for Caché.

Update an Installation without preserving work

If you do not want to preserve any work in your current installation, updating is very simple:

  • shutdown Caché or make certain no jobs are running in your Diamond namespace/uci and then uses the Caché Control Panel to dismount the database associated with the Diamond namespace/uci.
  • copy the new Diamond Cache.dat into the folder where you have the old Cache.dat (this will erase your old Diamond, so be sure of your decision).
  • startup Caché or remount the database.

Update an Installation, preserving work

This is a complex problem, one which we have not solved yet. Some of the issues are:

  • Conversions performed on data by a patch installed in the new Diamond
  • Capturing and resolving pointers when restoring data into the new Diamond

If you would be willing to help in developing a solution, please contact us.

Customizing your installation

Diamond 2.0+
If you elected to not use the name KERNEL for your Diamond UCI or if you created a custom name for your Caché installation, it will be necessary to run this program while logged into Diamond. It will default to the name of your namespace (UCI).

Production UCI: DMD// 
uci/namespace: DMD - applied
     vol:box : CACHE:VISTA - applied


  • VistA logon (the ZU program) displays  "** TROUBLE ** - ** CALL IRM NOW! **", if the number of available jobs drops below 3. For those of us with small Caché licenses, this is a permanent condition, so you may decide to edit the ZU program to change the threshold.

  • When starting up the RPC Broker Listener, it must not be running on port 9200 if you plan to log into the Broker with the server as the client PC running RPCTest.exe or another RPC Broker application. The client part of the RPC Broker uses port 9200 and will clash with the Listener's use of 9200 on the same machine. Typically, the Listener would be started on a port greater than 9200, in this situation.

Trademark notes: Caché is a trademark of Intersystems Corporation.

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