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November 10, 2014

Sharing the Source of SLEEPER for MPE

Sleepy penguin,jpgSLEEPER is one of the best-known Contributed Software Library (CSL) programs in the history of the HP user group Interex. For years after the user group shut down, the CSL tapes -- created once a year and refreshed with new programs after every annual user meeting -- were the most significant Interex asset left to the community. But making the CSL a public asset, after the Interex shutdown, encountered a snag. How could those useful programs like SLEEPER get shared, if they didn't have clearance from the contributing companies?

SLEEPER and BOUNCER were the programs most often cited in the snags, since they were shared by way of the 3000 shop at Boeing. It was heard a lot, this caution, while people were searching for CSL collections after the Interex meltdown. "Oh, we can't go and release that swap tape," people like the Interex curators would say. "There's BOUNCER on there, and we'd have to get permission from Boeing." Well, that's not exactly true.

Maybe one email would've gotten the process of permission started. It's different times by now. The SPL source for SLEEP, a progeny of SLEEPER, was shared up on the 3000-L mailing list last week. (That's a link to the 3000-L archive message, containing the code in the message body.) Ray Legault offered the code when John Korb, a 3000 consultant, was asking around for it.

Korb thinks so highly of SLEEPER that wants to port the program to PHP, for use on a Linux system. "My goal is to create a PHP version of SLEEPER," he said, "something that can run on Linux desktops and servers and Windows 8.1 desktops -- so I can avoid cron on the Linux box, and avoid the Windows task scheduler."

SLEEPER's powers are jobstream-related -- scheduling, after-execution error examination, and so forth. SLEEPER can handle some such scheduling, but the software is not as flexible as the MBF Scheduler written for Windows by MB Foster. That would also be something that can be run on Windows. On MPE/iX systems, the old Nobix Transpooler product is an improvement at sending spoolfiles to printers over the standard MPE/iX jobstream utilties.

However, compared to the built-in job management and scheduling powers of Linux or Windows, the 3000's tools are powerful and nuanced. So much so that MB Foster built Scheduler just for 3000 users who had thousands of jobs to be migrated to Windows application replacements. It's also for sale to non-3000 prospects, too.

Legault created that SLEEP program at a shop outside of Boeing. "The SLEEP I shared was written in Santa Fe drilling by a few of us, including Jay Zimmett and David Mendoza," he said. "I put in Y2K enhancements later on. I still use it today."

As for sharing the code for BOUNCER, Legault said he might be able to help there. BOUNCER logs users off after a specified amount of time, to free up seats on 3000s with limited license counts. VEsoft's LOGOFF also bounces users off a system after a specified amount of time. That is a good security practice, so users who abandon sessions by walking away from a keyboard don't put a system at risk.

The community's never gotten a replacement source for the hundreds of CSL programs that were shared for decades through swap tapes. There was so much value in shared programs that Interex made a business out of it, selling collections as a user group membership benefit. That software exists only inside former members' shops around the world, where DAT tapes live in cabinents or are programs stashed away in 3000 accounts -- ones that might be outside the awareness of IT managers who take on 3000 operations.

There was a time when HP was just as protective of its MPE-related creations, and the vendor still manages license transfers for the ultra-particular 3000 owners who need it. But SLEEPER and BOUNCER were meant to be shared. The CSL was an open source initiative before we ever used the term open source. It's good to see the sharing continue, more than 35 years after the first CSL tapes emerged.

07:39 PM in Homesteading | Permalink

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