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December 18, 2012

Freeware MPE/iX systems get first tries

Stromasys put its freeware edition of the HPA/3000 emulator on the Web yesterday, giving the 3000 community its first taste of a free HP 3000 server, complete with a pre-installed 2-user instance of MPE/iX 7.5. Using the software requires a valid HPSUSAN number to activate it, a string of characters which users type in themselves. Stromasys download procedures require a user to tick a box "yes" to make a promise about only using a valid HPSUSAN.

Stromasys reports that the very first time the freeware starts up, no HPSUSAN is defined, "and so the emulator is designed to stop, after displaying a helpful error message," said product manager Paul Taffel. "After the user specifies an HPSUSAN number, it should then start up with no problem."

John Stephens of Take Care of IT was curious about whether any HPSUSAN would do the job. The independent support consultant, like some early testers, wants to look over the size of his desktop or laptop PC for the best trial performance. Stromasys instructions say that an i5 Intel processor -- much more common in the marketplace -- will run HPA/3000.

"I have to verify if any of my collection of computers has the correct CPU," Stevens said, "I know I have an i5, but I don't think if have an i7." Martin Gorfinkel, who worked with OpenMPE while that volunteer group was negotiating transition needs with HP, also said he's making his list and checking it twice for a PC.

"I need to get a new PC to load it," Gorfinkel said, "and that will likely take me a few weeks. The newest PC I have is now about 5 years old."

The head of OpenMPE Birket Foster mentioned the prospect of talking to HP about licensing subsystem software -- currently not a part of the bundled MPE/iX install on the freeware. Foster's company is among several vendors which are testing the emulator against complete MPE installations, as well as its own MPE/iX products.

Foster's company is testing a complete production-grade version of the emulator. He's been trading notes with Stromasys product manager Paul Taffel.

"We're serious about it," he said of the testing that's taking place in the development team at MB Foster. "There's some assembly required. We're going to do some work over the next two weeks. At the end of the day I believe it will be a business decision" about using HPA/3000 to replace a production system. Foster's lab had 5TB of disk storage available on its desktop box. "We know customers who don't want to pay $5,000 a month to keep their HP 3000 hardware running."

"Stromasys in general has done a good job with this," he added, while he noted that "there are a lot of pieces and parts" in the solution.

Minisoft's lead developer Neal Kazmi used the freeware edition of the emulator to test connectivity and ODBC links yesterday, after the bundled package came online. He shared his first impressions, including tests of the company's Javelin, Secure92 and middleware software.

The core middleware (ODBC/JDBC/OLEDB) servers have been installed and tested. Looks like an MPE box to me.

The Javelin jar file will drop into the Fedora VM as shipped and run. Connecting to port 30002 on localhost as TELNET works well to run VPlus, etc.

Secure92 works with NSVT+SSH to tunnel into the MPE system using the shipped SSHd server in Fedora for anyone wanting only encrypted connections on their network. The next release of Secure92 adds the SSH tunnel to TELNET to access the console from a PC.

Yet another OpenMPE veteran, John Burke, looked on the freeware release as the start of an entertaining era. "Sounds like fun times are ahead for many of us," he tweeted to the Newswire.

Stromasys says it's glad to explain details of HPSUSAN licensing for the emulator, including freeware editions, to users who have questions about them one-on-one. The company prefers to talk to users directly to handle the nuances of licensing in detail. Contact Stromasys support channels at [email protected].

Send us your message, via our @3000newswire account on Twitter, or by regular email, about how the freeware is working for you now -- or your plans for it in the near future.

12:45 PM in Homesteading | Permalink

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