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June 11, 2008

What emulation might mean to tomorrow

    We hear of emulation as a potential lift for homesteading. A 3000 hardware emulator is a product that won’t have a market for another three years, judging by the ready availability of resellers’ systems and peripherals.

    The only thing that can solve 3000 problems, at least those unsolved by third party workarounds, is HP’s licensing of MPE/iX source code to a lab with a commitment to serving for the long term. With each passing month, I hold less hope that the HP Services group will ever let that licensing happen. But those third party support teams in the community grow ever more clever, now being stocked with ex-HP expertise.

    Documentation is important to homesteading. Recently a 3000 customer was striking out in a search for a manual for their HP SureStore Autoloader tape library. A remarketed replacement arrived with no manual while a configuration problem loomed.

   It took from Friday until Monday to find the needed manual, but HP could not supply it online this homesteader. A Phoenix Police Department IT pro located the manual at an Irish university, still online in PDF format. Now that's community at work.

   

I can hear the snort — that if that’s the state of manual availability, good luck in 2011. That university server could crash, be backed up poorly, storage device fail, and so on.

   Well, as for server failures, I recall that the HP Invent3k server went offline this year. Community developers worried they had lost years of work. Mark Klein feared that the outage would make him a victim of a verb that includes a screwdriver. Lucky for all, the Invent3K sprang to life again. That server at HP held the keys to the Gnu tools Klein ported, code vital to the open source options for the HP 3000. So HP’s Public Development Server is also subject to an outage of the unexpected variety. What server is not?

   No site is immune from bad luck or component failures. The tragic part of the story is that HP is clearly not managing such 3000 resources with the same funding, in spite of mission statements about supporting the community that still homesteads for now or the foreseeable future. HP’s effort at keeping homesteaded businesses running is being curtailed. If the liaison to the OpenMPE effort has no power to make this a priority, it seems clear that HP believes migrating right now is the only choice the vendor will fund.

   Migrating today may not be for some of you, mired in this trough of the economy. I hear from enough sources that migration won’t work today, but maybe tomorrow. “To-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow,” begins a speech from Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. The speech adds that “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”

   Everything dies, and there lies the tragedy if you loved that thing. Tragedy is a risk in any computer’s lifespan, whether moving or staying. To dismiss or deride either choice “is full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.” We do our best here to keep track of tomorrows for this community, while we take note of what’s not online anymore.

07:06 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink

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