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September 30, 2005

Listen up to the question: What's a user group today?

In our weekly podcast (6 MB MP3 file) we talk for seven minutes about OpenMPE's chances to be your next 3000 user group. Interex is the model most 3000 users remember as a user group. After three decades, it had gotten big and established. A hundred thousand members, it crowed. Paid staff, executive director making 200 thousand a year, fueled by an established show, with $8 million yearly budget.

OpenMPE couldn’t be more different today. Zero paid staff. No executive director, less than 300 registered members. A checking account balance under $2,000. No show. But the two organizations have one thing in common: volunteers. And out of one group’s past comes the next group’s future — and yours, if you're taking care of a 3000 for the next few years or more: advocacy and maintenance for your HP 3000.

04:00 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

Places to procure 3000s, post-Katrina

Out on the 3000-L mailing list and newsgroup, a customer has reported that Hurricane Katrina had taken down his company's HP 3000 for good, dumping five feet of water into an office whose roof was ripped off by the storm. The customer wanted to know where he might start looking for a replacement Seris 918LX, one of the most common HP 3000s in the installed base.

The 3000 community is full of resources for such hardware. The Web is a great help.

Pivital Solutions provides used HP 3000s — and it was one of the last authorized new HP 3000 resellers before HP de-commissioned the whole new 3000 sales business nearly two years ago:

www.pivitalsolutions.com

For many years, Genisys has also supported our newsletter by advertising its used HP 3000 systems:

www.genisyscorp.com

Resource 3000’s consortium for homesteaders also includes a hardware sales and support operation, courtesy of R3K partner Ideal Computer Services:

www.icsgroup.com/sales/sales.html

Update, Sept. 30

HP's Bill Cadier of the MPE/iX Lab located a Web page with contacts that will assist HP customers post-disaster:

I just read your most recent blog on places to procure 3000's post-Katrina, and I wanted to let you know that HP also has a Web site where hurricane victims can find assistance recovering their systems: http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/
cache/262807-0-0-225-121.html (Opens in a new page)

There are other resources for hardware sales, including a healthy list of brokers and resellers at the only user advocacy group operating for HP 3000 customers — OpenMPE.

OpenMPE, the group serving 3000 sites exclusively now that Interex has gone broke, has a good page of used 3000 equipment brokers:

www.openmpe.org/mpebokers.htm

918 systems do come up on eBay from time to time. There’s an 918RX, not an LX, being offered this week on eBay by Cypress Technology for  $5,000, including a COBOL compiler and lots of other software licenses.

HP 3000s which don't survive disasters like Katrina — and many have survived such severe storms — still have their software intact, so long as the backups are stored safely. The customer on the 3000-L list had safe backups, so whenever this 3000 shop gets its replacement machine, it will need to have the software licenses transferred. HP does this service for the MPE/iX software and subsystems, but the vendor now charges a $400 fee for such transfers.

The transfers are necessary because HP says a 3000’s software licenses are tied to the hardware, like "license plates are tied to specific vehicles." The point surfaced while HP was suing hardware brokers for violations of HP's licensing. HP tried to sue its insurance company in 2004 for unpaid claims on the 3000 hardware which HP claimed was sold illegally. HP's claim was reduced by two-thirds in a settlement.

09:02 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 28, 2005

3000 veterans want to reopen certifications

OpenMPE treasurer Paul Edwards — who's maintaining HP 3000 education options, along with his partner Frank Alden Smith — wants to ensure that certifications in 3000 skills don't disappear like HP's MPE/iX classes. It seems HP has cut the funding to support the operating system's certification process, even though HP's MPE/iX support doesn't run out for another 15 months.

HP has cut off the 3000 certified professionals so completely they can't log access much of the certification Web site at HP with their 3000 IDs. Since it looks like HP's certification efforts for 3000 skills are over, Edwards wants to take on the 3000 certification program, if HP will permit it. The vendor recently signed an agreement to turn over the class materials for its 3000 classes to Edwards' Paul Edwards & Associates and Smith's Alden Research.

Edwards reports that HP will investigate starting up the certification funding and the future of the process. He gave us his first report after a weekend of writing it up, and also passed on the details to the 3000 newsgroup and the OpenMPE mailing list. He's inviting any MPE/iX certified professionals to send him comments, which he'll pass on to HP.

Edwards said in his report:

In my e-mail inbox recently was the following message from the HP Certification Program Manager:

We show that you currently hold the following certification: MPE/iX System Administration. This credential has been expired, which means it is no longer recognized by the HP Certified Professional Program and will no longer be maintained.

ACTION ITEM: If this is the only credential you hold in the HP Certified Professional Program, you will no longer hold the title of “HP Certified Professional.” We highly recommend that you pursue one of the active credentials currently supported by our Program. A list of active certifications and the requirements for each can be found on our Web site at www.hp.com/go/certification/americas.

Once you fulfill the requirements of the credential, you will be sent a new certificate with your new title. If you have any questions, please visit our web site at www.hp.com/go/certification/americas or select the “contact us” link on that page to email or call us.

Rich Gossman
Manager, Americas HP Certified Professional Program

I logged into the certification site as noted in their message to verify the status of my certifications. The only access I was allowed was the ability to update my profile. All access to other parts of the site was denied.

I contacted Rich Gossman for an explanation, since MPE/iX is still a supported operating system and I felt my certifications were still valid. He told me that the division had declined to continue to fund the certification program for over 50 MPE/iX professionals who hold the System Administration certification. He also discussed with me the major changes, additions, and consolidations that were made to the whole certification program after the merger with Compaq. The lack of continuing the HP Star certifications is understandable since the date of the end of sales of the HP 3000 has passed.

I contacted Mike Paivinen of HP’s [virtual 3000 division] to gain his assistance to resolve the issues. I pointed out to him that this was like college graduates being notified by their university that their degree is no longer valid. Additionally, any MPE/iX certification holders who want to certify for additional HP certifications in other areas will be discouraged to do so, because they can’t access most of the HP site. The internal cost to continue the program for the MPE/iX certified community  by vCSY has got to be minimal.

Because Alden Research, Inc. and Paul Edwards & Associates have just signed an agreement with HP to assume the responsibility for MPE training, Mike was asked about the possibility of [our companies] acquiring the HP certification testing materials, procedures, and their responsibility for MPE certifications to be added as part of that agreement. MPE/iX professionals deserve to have their certifications continue in force for as long as they are actively involved with the HP3000 platform.

There is no reason to end certification qualification, even though HP made the decision to discontinue the testing process. Besides, HP has had no new releases of the operating system that would require re-certification. Mike agreed to investigate the funding issue, the reinstatement of the MPE/iX certifications, the certification testing issue, and the future of the MPE/iX certification process.

I will update the HP Certified Professionals community as soon as I receive any information from HP. Any feedback sent to me by MPE/iX certified professionals will be passed on to HP.

11:22 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2005

Onward to DAT's latest generation

Our veteran blog editor Gilles Schipper has updated us on his exploration of more current DAT backup for HP 3000s. Back in July he posted a story here on the blog — Easy and Affordable Backup Optimization — about how keeping up to date with DAT not only gives you faster backups for the HP 3000, it also makes them more reliable and expands the tape capacity.

While helping a user on the 3000-L mailing list, Gilles recently took note of some other advantages to working with DDS-5. (That's a format not officially supported by HP for the 3000 — but then, nothing will be officially supported by HP after the end of next year.

As long as you’re “heavily into DDS”  you should probably consider the DAT40 (aka DDS-4) or even DAT72 (aka DDS-5, or DAT 5th generation). I’ve recently completed a benchmark that measured the speed of a DDS-4 drive compared to a DDS-3 drive.

Since that "Easy and Affordable Backup Optimization” article was written, I have been able to conduct a test with the DAT72 which resulted in only marginal speed improvement over the DAT40 — but offers higher-capacity tapes (triple the capacity of DDS-3 and almost double of DDS-4) and works very nicely on an HP e3000 without requiring configuration changes to your existing DDS-3-configured system.

And, as you seem to be well-aware of the refurbished market, you will be very pleasantly surprised to discover that the DDS-4s are indeed quite affordable — even in the autoloader multi-cartridge variety.

More details on the future of DDS technology can be seen by visiting www.datmgm.com

06:59 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 26, 2005

Interex hopes to keep some assets

Lawyers for the defunct HP user group Interex have filed a motion to keep books, records and physical assets of the organization, despite the fact that the group went bust owing more than $4 million. The motion asks that the court permit the user group to "abandon" office equipment, computer systems and more, much of which was carefully itemized including depreciation records in the Interex Aug. 11 bankruptcy filing.

Carol Wu, the court-appointed trustee for the bankruptcy, explained that when a bankrupt company files for abandonment, it seeks to regain possession of the assets in question. "When the assets are abandoned they revert back to the debtor," she said in an e-mail.  "It’s up to the debtor at this point on what will be done with them."

Interex's lawyers contend that selling off the equipment and assets would decrease the value of the organization's holdings, because the cost of the inventory and auction would exceed what Interex might get from selling off things like HP-UX and HP 3000 servers, more than a dozen laptops and an array of desktop computer networks and switches. HP 3000 customers and former user group members are wondering if the abandonment includes the group's mailing lists, an asset whose value was listed as "unknown" in the Federal filing. The list of abandoned materials does include "books and records." The deadline for filing an objection is the end of this week.

Terry Simpkins, a director of the CAMUS manufacting user group and frequent reporter on SOX issues for the ERP 3000 user, asked if any of the Interex assets might help along the OpenMPE homesteading efforts. "Did anyone object?" he said in a message on the 3000 mailing list.  "Is anyone going to be able to rescue the mailing list, membership list? Is OpenMPE going to be able to 'adopt' any computing equipment that it may have a use for?"

The motion can get a hearing before judge Marilyn Morgan in the US Bankruptcy Court in San Jose, but only if the court receives an objection. The notice of the abandonment arrived 10 days ago in mailboxes of all creditors, both secured and unsecured:

Notice is hereby given that Carol W. Wu (“Trustee”), trustee of the above referenced bankruptcy estate, intends to abandon the Debtor’s remaining books and records, furniture, fixtures and equipment, including, but not limited to, used computers, used copiers, office furniture, computer monitors, printers and cubicles, located at the Debtor’s former premises at 1192 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, California.

The Trustee believes that it is in the best interest of the estate to abandon the estate’s interest in the remaining records, furniture, fixtures and equipment because the records, furniture, fixtures and equipment are of inconsequential value and benefit, and are burdensome to the estate.  The trustee estimates that the cost of sale would result in a net loss to the estate, and in addition the estate needs to avoid the possibility of rent or relocation expense.

Pursuant to Rule 6007 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, a party in interest may file and serve on the undersigned an objection within 15 days of the mailing of the notice.  If a timely objection is made, a hearing shall be set on notice to the objecting party, the United States Trustee and to other entities as the court may direct.  If not timely objection is made, the abandonment shall be effective with or without entry of an order.

The assets and records are in the possession of Interex's landlord, Woodmont Real Estate Services. Interex listed the value of the office equipment, furnishings and supplies at a total of $24,558 in its bankruptcy filing. HP 3000 equipment is limited to a Series 70 Classic HP 3000 and a Series 925 server, purchased in 1989; HP 9000 gear includes two systems purchased for a total of $39,290 in 1998. The group purchased at least 11 laptops since 2000; records get cryptic after 2002. "Membership lists" have a separate entry on Schedule B of the filing.

08:54 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

Listen Up for the sound of HP Integrity

HP 3000 sites are starting to check out HP’s integrity this season. In this week's 8-minute podcast (7 MB MP3 file) we talk with a customer who's deployed the Itanium-powered server, as well as check in with HP's director of virtualization Nick van der Zweep, who explains why the Integrity HP-UX systems can go much more virtual than HP's PA-RISC alternatives.

The 3000 sites that want to migrate to HP’s Unix want to know: should they buy Integrity servers to replace HP 3000s, if they're moving to HP-UX? The alternative is HP’s servers with PA-RISC chips, the processor that powers everyone’s 3000. That's a PA-RISC that oh yeah, still powers about three-fourths of the rest of HP’s business critical servers. Buy for today's well-adopted market, or shop for tomorrow's opportunity — it's the kind of question that 3000 sites have considered before. They will have to consider something other than MPE/iX if they want virtualization, a technology that lets CPUs work to capacity more often.

02:26 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

CAMUS show: A 3000 MANMAN event

In about a month the Computer Aided Manufacturing User Society (CAMUS) is hosting its 2005 conference in Chicago, where the O'Hare Hilton will welcome a host of HP 3000 experts as speakers. The conference has a strong focus on making a transition away from the MANMAN ERP system, software that could still be at work on as many as 400 servers across the world. MANMAN, owned now by the SSA Global Technology empire of ERP solutions, has a future as a stable application with little chance for upgrades. SSA has said it will support MANMAN sites who stay on the 3000 beyond 2006. But the vendor is also encouraging sites to shift to SSA's Baan solution. Meanwhile, the MANMAN app is still gaining third-party solutions for the 3000, like the Summit Systems audit tool released this year.

This year's CAMUS lineup is dominated by such vendors, people who have been supplying the 3000 community with solutions for 15 years and more. The Support Group inc., specializing in MANMAN support and migration options for more than a decade, is well represented with founder Terry Floyd, now a member of the CAMUS board, as well as Chuck Combs. But there are a few other unique 3000 speakers on the schedule, too.

Two speakers who don't appear often at 3000-related events will talk at CAMUS. Michael Hornsby, the CTO of support provider Beechglen, is talking about "HP 3000 Homesteading Tips and Traps." And Victoria Shoemaker of Taurus Software, which launched a data mart for MANMAN and now offers the BridgeMan software for cross-platform data sharing, will talk about "Bridging the Gap Between MANMAN and Open Systems."

More familiar speakers at the CAMUS show from the 3000 community include the ubiquitous Birket Foster, talking about how to mitigate the risk of a MANMAN migration, as well as HP's Alvina Nishimoto outlining transition options, and Terri Glendon Lanza talking on MANMAN/3000. A full lineup is at the CAMUS Web site, where you can register online. Early registration ends Oct. 14; the cost is $250 for a CAMUS member and $350 for non-members until then.

Former Interex members can transfer their allegiance to the group, which stepped in quickly to host the MANMAN mailing list in the wake of the Interex bust-out. Board member Terry Simpkins reminded 3000 sites that "CAMUS has extended an offer to all (former) Interex members the opportunity to attend the upcoming conference at CAMUS member rates."

A $450 membership in CAMUS is something to consider for any MANMAN site, whether they are migrating or not, according to Floyd. In his company's latest newsletter, Floyd said, "I don't want the end of CAMUS to be a big surprise, and I want to help forestall that inevitability for as long as possible." While events like the Interex bankruptcy show that everything has an end, a user-run group like CAMUS still has value to supply to ERP companies such as construction materials supplier ED Bullard, which is giving a talk at the CAMUS show.

As Floyd adds in his newsletter, "It's not necessarily your very last chance to attend a nationwide MANMAN and MK user conference, but it might be. C'mon, let's all get together at least one more time and talk about what's best for our companies in an open meeting."

12:00 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 21, 2005

Transoft gains a new UK parent

US and UK-based migration and tools company Transoft, which has operated in the States since the middle 1980s, was acquired this month by a UK corporation seeking a stronger foothold in the US migration and tool marketplace. Transoft marketing rep Jackie Anglin said the sale of the company to Computer Software Group (CS Group) will have no impact on the Transoft US engagements and operations, which include several notable HP 3000 transitions to Unix and Windows systems. Its customers include The Gap, Boeing, Tetra Pak, NAPA Auto Parts and L’Oreal, where Mexican operations were moved to Windows NT servers off of an HP 3000.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The 30-year-old CS Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange (CSW). Its client list includes Blick UK, CBI, Cembre, Chelsea Football Club, Chesterfield Borough Council, Connaught, Electrolux UK, Morphy Richards, RNLI, Rocom and Thomas Plant.

In a press release, Transoft's CEO Paul Holland said that "by joining CS Group, our existing and future clients will benefit from the extended and integrated business solutions portfolio including CRM, distribution, finance, ebusiness, manufacturing, mobile data, field service and hire. We too are excited about the stronger Managed Service focus that is now deliverable worldwide.”

Transoft Group Ltd., founded in 1986, has become a software and services business with its head office in Slough, UK, and US offices in Atlanta and Dayton. Transoft products are sold worldwide through its reseller and distribution channel in addition to its directly sold service-based solutions. This year the company began selling its migration software tools directly to HP 3000 sites after serveral years of development and field use in migration engagements.

Vin Murria, CEO of Computer Group plc, said in his company's acquisition press release that "With the acquisition of Transoft, we are well positioned to address the concerns of legacy application integration and modernisation, and to help our customers and prospects to drive down costs and increase productivity — providing a faster and greater return on investment.”

CS Group also lists itself as the leading software house for the IBM iSeries, a business platform with much in common with the HP 3000's integrated design. These iSeries solutions are said to be installed on one-quarter of the UK's iSeries installed base.

01:04 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2005

Forum migrates a migration agenda

HP re-opened its registration on Friday for the first HP Technology Forum, a conference whose content is certain to serve the vendor's recommendation of migration from HP 3000s. (The conference is moved to Orlando, where HP CEO Mark Hurd is still set to deliver the opening keynote.) HP has never been bashful about the path it's plotting for 3000 sites. Even though the erosion of the system's ecosystem is not taking place as quickly as HP predicted, HP's model still assumes there's more risk in staying than homesteading.

The Forum includes at least one MPE-specific session that promises to be more about technology than strategy. Jim Hawkins, one of the engineers still dedicated to MPE development inside HP, will give a talk entitled Migrating Your HP e3000 Peripheral and High Availability Environment. The high-detail abstract of the presentation on the Tech Forum's Web site says the talk

"is geared to those who must migrate their HP e3000 peripheral and high availability environment to other HP platforms and need an understanding of which products will map over to the other HP platforms.

• Hear about the capacity and performance concerns when migrating from MPE/iX.

• Explore the portfolio of peripheral and high availability products available for the HP e3000 and similar or like products available on other HP platforms.

• Examine the use of DTCs on a network with an HP e3000, and review the issues that need to be covered when migrating network connectivity to another platform.

This is a subject that's been presented in years past as a tutorial on understanding HP 3000 storage options; we heard Hawkins talk on the topic at the final Solutions Symposium in California in 2004. Expecting a migration audience at the Tech Forum, HP is customizing its messages. It will be refreshing to hear HP talk at all about DTCs, MPE-specific technology still at work in lots of sites running 3000s.

Another migration that has taken place from the HP 3000 world will be in evidence at the Technology Forum. Chris Koppe, marketing director for Speedware, has moved from the Interex HP users group board of directors to the board of Encompass, the user group founded by Digital customers and assimilated into HP's environment during the Compaq merger. Koppe now has a non-voting post on the Encompass board, according to a note from the Encompass newsletter:

Former Interex board member Chris Koppe has joined as a non-voting member of the Encompass Board of Directors. Encompass welcomes Chris and his many years of experience and looks forward to working with him in the coming year.

Koppe joined the Interex board at the beginning of 2004, and spoke with us in our Q&A that year about the future of the HP user group as well as Speedware's plans for migration assistance. At the time he said that "one of the main goals of Interex is to work better with Encompass and HP."

The user group behind the Tech Forum looks to be organized quite differently from Interex. Encompass has 13,000 members, according to exective director Mary Ellen Smith — significantly less than the 100,000 claimed by Interex, but active members, according to Smith. Many of those Interex memberships existed more in the minds of the Interex staff than anywhere else; thousands were added to the rolls on the basis of interest in Interex free publications. Encompass is co-producing the Technology Forum along with HP. The user group is professionally managed by Smith Bucklin, a Chicago-based exposition and user association company that took on the job in 2000.

11:35 AM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 19, 2005

Easy FTP passes to MPE

HP 3000s do lots of duty with data from outside the server. The 3000's FTP services sit ready to handle transfers from the world of Windows, as well as other systems, but PCs far outnumber the non-Windows computers networked to 3000s. Several good, free FTP clients on Windows communicate with the 3000, even though MPE/iX still has some unique "features" in its FTP server.

John Burke of Burke Consulting Services reported that his MPE/iX 6.5 HP 3000 emits a second line of text during an FTP session that can confuse one of the newer, more popular open source FTP clients, FileZilla:

FileZilla issues the PWD command to get the working directory information. On every other system I've tried, the result is something like 257 "home/openmpe" is the current working directory However, MPE responds with something like 257-"/SYSADMIN/PUB" is the current directory. 257 "MGR.SYSADMIN,PUB" is the current session. The second line appears to be confusing FileZilla because it reports the current directory as /MGR.SYSADMIN,PUB/, which of course does not work.

Craig Lalley took note of a worthy freeware program, WS-FTP from IP Switch. Another user suggested a free program from Whisper Technology, makers of The Programmer Studio development environment for HP 3000s. But an MPE setting even removed the problems that were choking up FileZilla.

Lalley, who runs the 3000 consultancy Echo Tech, offered this advice about WS-FTP, and another freeware offering:

I have used it for several years now, without any problems.  I also have used Bullet FTP and CuteFTP, both of which I think are free. Finally, I just tried the built in FTP with Interet Explorer (IE).  Don't go there.

Chris Thompson of The Internet Agency, another 3000-friendly vendor, echoed the praise of WS-FTP and added another resource from a company based in the UK;

WS-FTP is a really good product. I believe you can still get a free copy from this location: http://www.download.com/3001-2160-1572132.html This is the Lite version. There is also the Professional 2006 version, which can be downloaded on trial from http://www.wsftp.com. Also, try FTP Surfer which is freeware from Whisper Technology Limited. Usually we use this product to FTP to our 937. It's always worked well.

But as might be expected, there's a way to make HP's FTP behave in less unique and more compliant way. Lars Appel, who ported Samba to the HP 3000 and left HP's support team last year, delivered the answer that makes FileZilla work with the 3000:

John, have you tried the "SITE POSIX ON" command in your FTP session already (or the respective POSIX=ON setting in the SETPARMS.ARPA.SYS config file to change the default, in case the FileZilla session cannot issue "site")? See ftpdoc.arpa.sys for details of this enhancement.

Burke reports that "POSIX = ON in the SETPARMS file did the trick, eliminating the message that confused FileZilla. I maintain (via FTP) a number of web sites on all kinds of different machines, including MPE, and it would be nice to use the same process. I've been using FileZilla for all my ad hoc ftp needs for some time now —works great to all manner of Unix, Windows and Linux systems."

HP's James Hofmeister, who's led the effort to keep FTP up to date on the 3000, took issue with claims that the 3000 doesn't play well with Web-based FTP clients:

Lots of work went into an implementation of the FTPSRVR to support web access to the 3000... The "SITE POSIX ON" command can be sent by a FTP client and the 3000 FTPSRVR will emit Posix "standard" FTP output and will react like a Posix host (including file naming conventions).

It also is possible as documented to specify "POSIX=ON" mode in the SETPARMS.arpa.sys file and achieve this functionality system-wide for all non-3000 client to 3000 FTPSRVR connections; again the FTPSRVR will emit Posix "standard" FTP output and will react like a Posix host (including file naming conventions).

Warning:  Before you specify "POSIX=ON" mode in the SETPARMS.arpa.sys file, make sure you read the FTPDOC file closely; as you are warned that MPE file syntax will "no longer" work; The 3000 FTPSRVR is acting in Posix mode.

11:48 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 16, 2005

Listen Up to the Sounds of Your History, and Ours

We launched The 3000 NewsWire 10 years ago this month, in business to track changes. Our 14-minute 10th Anniversary Podcast (16MB MP3 file) shows how we're now making some changes to our publishing schedule, too. Our podcast includes the historic sounds of HP's managers over those 10 years being encouraging about your platform, as well as warning about the ecosystem. Change has been a constant to keep us in business over our first decade.

In our broadcast, my partner in life and the NewsWire, Abby Lentz, talks with me about our hopes for the future of a NewsWire that will still ship some paper and keep even more stories flowing from the community in transition today. Listen up to hear our take on the evolution of your ecosystem, as well as our thanks to everyone who's been generous, from HP to the everlasting 3000 community.

06:48 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

Set up guards for viruses

HP 3000s have a built-in defense against viruses and malware which plagues the Windows alternatives. The 3000's operating system is tougher to penetrate, in part because of its design and in part because it's not as well-understood. But that doesn't mean managers don't have to answer questions about keeping the 3000 virus-free in today's hacked-up environments.

An IT manager recently wondered how to answer the question, "Where's your anti-virus protection for that 3000?"

"We have been asked if we run virus detection and prevention software on our 3000.  The questions regard a client who wants Internet access (VPN) between the 3000 box and the client’s internal network security division.  Any thoughts on how to satisfy the requirement? Unfortunately, they aren't likely to believe our claim that it's just not a problem. People are so used to the Windows status quo it's hard for them to accept that things might be better in other environments!"

As one user pointed out, "There’s that 'security through obscurity' aspect.  There are more viruses written for Windows simply because there are so many Windows machines.  But that’s a bad thing on which to rely." 

There are several things you can do to secure your 3000s and deliver a reasonable answer to such anti-virus questions.

Mark Landin noted that "If accounts and users are properly configured (i.e., only certain accounts or users have, say, SM and PM capabilities) then there are no opportunities for 'malicious' code to run."

Art Bahrs of The Regence Group gave a first-rate talk on security and the impact of SOX and other federal regulations at the latest OpenMPE user group meeting. Bahrs said

Run LanGuard (www.gfi.com) against the 3000 via IP address, and see if any exploits are found. This will only work against your Posix side of the 3000.

James Hofmeister of the HP IT Response Center added that keeping up with MPE/iX network and Internet patches is a good defense, too:

I would recommend installing the GR networking patches for your [MPE/iX] release, specifically but not limited to the Internet products that have been reported in CERT security warnings or have been hacked on non-3000 platforms. Some examples: FTP, Telnet, INETD, Apache Web Server, sendmail, TCP...

There are also fixes for socket/port based denial of service attacks in NS Services. I would be more concerned about this when introducing a 3000 on the Internet than an encrypted VPN telnet access, but something to think about.

There is the design aspect of MPE which makes it tougher to hack, too. Jeff Kell, curator of the 3000-L mailing list/newsgroup and a veteran of networks from the late 1980s onward, has this explanation which you might forward to any non-MPE network security staff:

The 3000 (hardware and software) was designed from the ground up with separation of code and data in mind, as well as relatively intricate hardware protection mechanisms for storage protection. Most Windows/Unix exploits function at a base level of overwriting code and/or manipulating the code or data registers dynamically. With MPE, you can’t overwrite code, and you can’t execute data, and that’s a vast majority of the solution right there.

The point was driven home quite well back in the early Posix days, specifically when the old pioneering (at the time) NCSA httpd server was ported to MPE. One of the exploits that targeted NCSA httpd could compromise the system on most Unix and Linux implementations, and HP-UX as well.  The MPE port aborted with a VSM protection error, but did not result in any compromise (only a DoS).

12:14 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

Streaming bytes: A key step in moving

Making a move to another platform from the 3000 demands you bring your data. A growing array of tools can assist in this transfer, including Rosetta Store, software from Allegro Consultants that's sold by Resource 3000 partner ORBiT Software. Rosetta Store even gained a new version this year that converts IMAGE databases to Eloquence databases. But it looks like the 3000 users bound for Linux won't be able to use Rosetta. User Ernie Newton of the Yolo County School District in California reports that Allegro is putting a hold on its Linux version of the product that moves 3000 backups to non-3000 systems:

We are migrating to Linux from our HP3000 and were excited about Rosetta Store that would be a tool to access data stored on fairly old and fairly new HP3000 machines. We were told last week that this product probably was not going to be available for restore to Linux boxes because they don’t see a market for that venue.

But for Newton, and other tight-budgeted migrating 3000 shops looking at Linux, there's another way to at least move files to Linux, if not access backups directly: bytestream conversion. While it won't do everything that Rosetta Store does, it at least gets database data moved to Linux. Tony Summers, who's moving his shop to HP-UX systems, said that bytestreaming portion of his migration process can be handled by MPE, or MPEX.

Summers, who works at financial services group Smith & Williamson in the UK, said migrating the data files involved bytestreaming, packing up with a compression utility, FTP and then unpacking:

I thought about using Rosetta Store for a short while, but decided it was going to be easier to convert the data I need to export off the HP 3000 to bytestream files, and then zip/Tar these files on the HP 3000, and then FTP the file across to the target platform.  On the target platform, simply unzip and then re-load the data into your preferred database.

Summers told us that export to bytestream is a matter of using Vesoft's MPEX (with the command %Altfile <file>;byte), or use MPE/iX itself, with the tobyte command from the Posix shell. Summers cautions you shoule beware of case-sensiitive file names while using tobyte. He updated us on the migration project at his shop:

The files we will be moving to the HP-UX server will be our database files, which are all KSAM files. The plan is to unload the data from KSAM into plain text files (via FCOPY) and then convert that file to bytestream and finally FTP the resultant file to the HP-UX server and re-load the data into a version of C-ISAM.  (We have identified several versions of C-ISAM that we can use, but our final target database software will be the Vision file system of AcuCOBOL).

In fact, the conversion to Bytestream on the HP 3000 may be redundant, because the process of transferring the file via FTP to a Unix server might do this anyway.

We haven’t the requirement to be able to access old HP 3000 backup tapes. I know some HP 3000 shops have this as a regulatory requirement for 6-7 years after the end of support date. If this had been imposed on me, I would have chosen a third-party vendor who is keeping HP 3000 hardware on tap for a few years after HP’s end of support date.

11:48 AM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005

Tool combo blends extraction, database emulation

Press releases about new HP 3000 software have been elusive during the last couple of years, so the appearance of Robelle's release yesterday certainly qualified as news. The company put up its notice out on the PR Newswire press release service about SUPRAMXW, "a combination of the power of SUPRTOOL's data extraction and manipulation components with AMXW's ability to emulate MPE databases, files and commands."

The product simplifies migrations of data away from HP 3000 systems, combining the data extract power of Suprtool with Speedware's Automated Migration to Unix and Windows (AMXW) suite. Database administrators rely on Suprtool, and AMXW really helps a 3000 shop continue working with familiar concepts. Robelle's Bob Green notes in the release:

Unix does not have the concept of a record length for files (all files are just a string of bytes). MPE does have this concept and AMXW adds it, and many other MPE-isms to Unix.

Robelle's got a full article on their new product up on their Web site, including all the technical details of how it works. We've outlined the advantages of AMXW working with Suprtool in NewsWire articles, had John Burke track down some details on pricing ranges when the product first emerged from Neartek (Speedware purchased it in 2003) and we've reported a user's testimony from Expeditors International on using AMXW to migrate a customer with more than 150 HP 3000s.

Data migration can turn out to be the most complex part of a 3000 migration, according to users we've interviewed. Since the HP 3000 is a do-it-yourself community, the emergence of tools like SUPRAMXW is another sign that the customers who are migrating can gather momentum for their move.

10:34 AM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005

HP streamlines virtualization alternative

    HP 3000 customers on the move have heard HP talk up its Adaptive Enterprise for more than two years. This year might be the first when adapting gets easy enough and small enough for the typical 3000 enterprise.

    The changes are rolling out this fall for customers looking at HP-UX as a target environment for their migrations. HP’s Nick van der Zweep, director of virtualization and utility computing, said the new software makes managing virtual environments simpler. It also gives HP-UX customers a way to sample extra horsepower for free.

   “We’re really making virtualization hit the mainstream,” van der Zweep said. The virtualization concept makes IT resources adaptable, so month-end and high-impact processes don’t bottleneck a company’s computing capacity. The Adaptive Enterprise has been an elusive concept in the past, but HP seems to have narrowed the offering down to “synchronizing business and IT,” a way of explaining that heavy computing loads won’t outstrip a company’s IT power.

   A sub-CPU virtualization feature is new, but HP is only letting customers split CPUs for multiple OS instances on its Integrity systems. Three fourths of the BCS server revenues still come from PA-RISC servers such as the HP 9000.

HP has posted a press release on its Virtualization Innovations at its Web site. A set of PDF files with supplemental releases is at an "Interactive Press Kit" link about the announcement

    HP’s now got new and expanded HP Integrity Essentials software, part of the HP Virtual Server environment for both the Integrity HP-UX systems as well as PA-RISC-based HP 9000s. A new HP Integrity Essentials Capacity Advisor lets system admins plan and simulate placement of application workloads. A Virtualization Manager configures and manages all types of virtual and physical resources from one management console.
    Customers automatically allocate server resources based on business priorities using the HP-UX Integrity Essentials Global Workload Manager software. HP’s adding the OpenVMS environment for this tool that’s already supported on HP-UX 11i and Linux.
    HP 3000 customers are working to justify migration expenditures, outlays for development and systems that far outstrip the regular budgets for their MPE/iX computing. New capabilities like virtualization — unavailable on the HP 3000 — can help deliver more than just a target environment that takes over for MPE/iX systems.

We have a more complete report coming out in the September printed edition of The 3000 NewsWire.

09:00 AM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

HP reschedules Technology Forum

HP and the Encompass US user group, co-producing the Forum, have rescheduled their event for Oct. 17-20 in Orlando, Fla. at the Orange County Convention Center. Existing registrations have been transferred; HP said it would re-open registrations on Sept. 16 for the Forum. The latest information on the show, where HP will present updates on migration plans and post-2006 HP 3000 options, is available at www.hptechnologyforum.com.

Forum attendees will hear talks from HP e3000 business manager Dave Wilde, a panel of migration customers led by HP's Alvinia Nishimoto and HP's Colleen Mueller, as well as a talk on IO futures from vCSY engineer Jim Hawkins. Oh yes, and HP CEO Mark Hurd is still scheduled to speak first thing Monday morning, Oct. 17.

01:29 AM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2005

Former HP CEO Lew Platt dies

Lew Platt, the last HP CEO to give a talk including the HP 3000 in the company's strategic plans, died today of a brain aneurism at age 64. Platt took over the reins of HP in 1992 from CEO John Young, becoming only the second man other than founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard to lead the company.

On Platt's watch, the 3000 group enjoyed a renaissance of the platform, catching up on needed networking enhancements to MPE/iX in an era when the Internet was taking the business world by storm. Ultimately, critics within HP's board as well as Wall Street analysts painted his leadership as lacking initiative to seize the opportunities of the dot-com boom.

But after he resigned in 1999 to make way for Carly Fiorina, Platt helmed the Jackson-Kendall winery. Last year he took over at Boeing as chairman, pulling that longtime HP 3000 customer out of a bog of mismanagement.

CNET's report has the most complete summary of Platt's position as a supporter of the HP Way. HP posted a brief statement about the former CEO and board chairman.

10:16 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Listen Up: The Howling Wind of Outrage

In our weekly 3000 NewsWire Podcast (MP3 file, 8 MB) we talk for about seven minutes about outrage, a familiar emotion in the current month. Today marks the original date HP was to report on the new date for its Technology Forum, postponed by one of the harshest modern-day natural disasters in US history. Harsh could describe the Computerworld response to HP's momentary caution about postponing the show: an editorial lambasts HP for having some of the most awkward relations with its users.

HP 3000 users know about HP's response, and some still muster outrage over the company's cancellation of its 3000 business. But a company that has migrated many other vendors' users has another point of view about vendor migration response. HP scored better than we expected when we interviewed Paul Holland of Transoft this spring. Have a listen to the podcast and see whether it might be time to put transition outrage aside — at least until HP is done making its 3000 decisions.

10:59 AM in Migration, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

Patches clear beta status, and RSS rises at HP

HP's is making good on its commitment to get enhancements rolled out for the HP 3000, and the logjam of beta test patches looks like it broke up a little at the end of August. A new 7.0 version of patch MPEMX39B, for example, went into general release. This patch fixed problems with Series 997s using more than 3.75GB of memory:

The 7.0 (B) version of this patch includes the new :SHUTDOWN command introduced with MPEMX06. There are new catalog messages associated with this enhancement, so if patch MPEMX08, or a patch which supersedes it, is not already installed, it is recommended that it be installed at the same time as this patch.

HP's patch process tests against many interdependencies; a repair patch like MPEMX39 needed to be altered to accomodate the SHUTDOWN command. HP's has released patches for 6.5 that include repairs to Network Services Transport, telnet, SNMP, and Streams/iX.

HP is going to make it even easier to keep up with changes to its patching process this fall, the vendor promises. It will use RSS feeds for patch updates, a Web format which makes reviewing new material much simpler than reading through the rough formats of HP's e-mail notificiations. An article out on the HP Web site explains RSS  — a tool we use to deliver this blog's headlines, by the way; just click on the link at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar to take our headline feed (feed://feeds.feedburner.com/3000Newswire). You can see how HP's press release headlines look by entering the following address in your RSS reader or RSS-friendly browser:

feed://www.hp.com/hpinfo/news.xml

01:27 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 07, 2005

Keep up with HP's 6.5 fixes

Even if your company plans to migrate its systems off the 3000 platform, you may need repairs from time to time until your 3000 slides out of everyday service. For the homesteading customer, this kind of upkeep on patches to the 3000 is even more crucial, since those sites don't even know an end-date for their systems' service.

Third party support companies — Pivital Solutions, Resource 3000, Beechglen, GSA — can keep track of this kind of activity for you. If you're more of a self-maintainer, there are resources from HP to help you keep up with every little change in MPE/iX status.

MPE/iX 6.5 is a release of particular interest to the community, since it's more widely installed than either the 7.0 or 7.5 releases — and still a version of MPE/iX that HP is patching. (6.0 is out on a lot of systems, but HP's not updating that release anymore). Awhile back we mentioned that HP is PowerPatching 6.5 for the fifth and final time this fall. HP wanted to remind us that doesn't mean 6.5 won't get other patches through the December, 2006 deadline for the end of HP's 3000 support.

HP's Mike Paivinen took time to clarify our blog report of Aug. 24, where we passed along word about the deadline for getting patches out of beta and into the PowerPatch for 6.5:

Although we may be working on the last 6.5 PowerPatch, it does not mean that we are done creating 6.5 patches.  We will continue to produce patches on 6.5 for critical fixes, as necessary.  We may also choose to create 6.5 patches for other SIB enhancements, if the effort to move a patch back to 6.5 is relatively small and the enhancement would provide value for a customer on 6.5.  We simply have no plans to do another 6.5 PowerPatch after this one. 

So, beyond the middle of 2006, a customer may need to install 6.5 PowerPatch 5 plus some individual patches to get the complete set of 6.5 patches available at the time.  Similarly, your statement that, “Now the patch will be unavailable in seven days for 6.5 beta testing,” is either misleading or incorrect. If either of these patches did not progress from Beta Test to General Release by the deadline for the PowerPatch, which I didn’t bother to look up, it does not mean that the opportunity has been lost.  It simply means that they will not be in the PowerPatch.  However, they can still become General Release after that point and become available as an individual patch.

You can get updates on patch status changes e-mailed to you from HP. A good FAQ on the process is out on the HP IT Response Center Web site, a place you can access even if you're not an HP support customer:

h30046.www3.hp.com/faq.php?regioncode=NA&langcode=USENG

HP is still pushing patches for 6.5 out to the customer base. We'll have more on the newest entries tomorrow.

10:44 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2005

Expect repair code in the future

Patches are a complex subject for HP 3000 customers. Some avoid this code that repairs system problems, saying no changes will ensure stability. Others say only three things can happen when you apply a patch, and two are bad. But if you have a problem — like the LargeFile datasets that can corrupt IMAGE databases — or need features, like better control over FTP, patches can be essential as electricity.

HP says it intends to make MPE/iX 6.5-7.0-7.5 patches available after 2006, even though it will be out of the 3000 business by then. HP's Mike Paivinen reported on the OpenMPE mailing list:

It’s possible that *all* of the MPE/iX patches on ITRC may be available after end-of-support, but we’ve only made commitments to maintain the 6.5, 7.0, and 7.5 patches.  So, if you’re on a release older than 6.5, don’t count on them staying there.

As for the date when they’d be removed from ITRC, we haven’t set one.  I thought that was good news.  I expect that sufficient notice will be given to the e3000 community before those patches are taken off of ITRC, whenever that occurs in the future.

If you're not on those releases yet, and concerned over the status of HP's patches for an MPE/iX version you might use in the future, you could do what Allegro's Gavin Scott suggested: just download the code now. It's not a lot of bits, just crucial ones.

Scott, whose company is part of the Resource 3000 support alliance, suggested making a CD of your own MPE support tools:

Honestly if the future availability of these legacy patches is a concern for your systems, just go download them all now and burn them to a CD or something.

This is not some vast database of a thousand patches for each release; there are only about 100 available for each one, of which probably most are superceded by others in the list so if you only want the latest patches then there probably are less than half that number.

If you go to the patch download page there’s a “search by” drop down (or something like that) which you can set to Browse Patches, pick the OS version of your choice, and then in the number to be displayed select “all” and hit search.  There you are.  A list of all available patches for that release.

04:48 AM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 05, 2005

Counting on Collaboration

Here in the US we're celebrating Labor Day, a holiday created to honor the spirit of the unions and the collective bargaining that established the rights of American workers. I thought it would be a good day to point at the latest NewsWire Q&A interview, a talk with the founder of the now-defunct user group Interex, Doug Mecham. All though our talk Mecham mentioned the power of collaboration — how working closely with the management of HP gave the HP 3000 a chance to become the reliable system you count upon today.

Collaboration can have a pejorative definition, too; in the second World War the collaborators who were women had their heads shaved, and the men were usually killed. Similar passions still live in the 3000 community, where one group of customers believes HP is the enemy for deciding to end its 3000 business. One of the greatest marks of growth the our ability to change our viewpoint, however. OpenMPE seems to be working from a model of collaboration, rather than conflict. One of the group's board directors, John Burke, had strong words about the level of collaboration before he joined. Now he's the group's Webmaster, a key part of the OpenMPE communication with customers.

At this point in its lifespan, the 3000 needs more collaboration than conflict. Labor and management had bitter, bloody battles in the US before a mission of cooperation emerged. I hope that's where the 3000 community is heading in these key months before HP ends its 3000 operations. Looking around the Gulf Coast this week should be all we need to see how much more we can accomplish by working together.

07:45 AM in Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 02, 2005

Listen up for the sound of relief

In our weekly podcast, (7MB MP3 file) we talk for about six minutes about the connection of care we want to make this week with the thousands of refugees on the move away from the scene of the Gulf Coast devastation — and how our new awareness of loss can help us all take hope in what we can do to make our own fate. The transfer of HP's education materials to third parties — a deal that took years to broker — shows us that 3000 relief can demand extra effort, but your community is up to the challenge. When you can believe in your power to relieve, pulling together helps us all make our own fate.

10:45 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Podcasts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 01, 2005

Getting Clear About HP's 3000 Futures

HP has been reading our blog closely since the OpenMPE annual meeting last month, close enough to help us clarify what the patch plans are for the HP 3000 and its MPE/iX enhancements in the future. Mike Paivinen, the HP engineer who's the primary liasion to OpenMPE, helped me clear up what we've been reporting:

In the 19 August blog [Listen Up: 3000 Friends Want to Stay at HP] you said, “HP’s also committed to hardening device drivers for the 3000, so non-certified tape devices can be attached to the system to expand the range of backup peripherals.”  It would be more correct to say that “HP’s also committed to making changes to the SCSI Pass-Thru driver for the 3000, so non-certified tape devices may be able to be attached ...” It’s the SCSI Pass-Thru driver project that *may* enable attachment of tape devices.  The device driver hardening is more focused on disk devices. However, we’ve only committed to investigating that issue.

In that same paragraph, you also said, “HP now also has got a non-division, 3000-savvy engineer doing an internal review of its source code and MPE/iX version-building process — an important preliminary to a potential thumbs-up on releasing MPE/ix source.”  You should drop the “source code and” from the statement.  The engineer reviewed our build processes not the source code.  As you said in your 30 August blog [HP reaches out for its MPE bits], “HP is funding an engineer project this month to review its build process for MPE/iX, to ensure that an outside organization could find everything it needs to carry MPE development forward,” a much better summary of the effort.

02:01 PM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack