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June 07, 2017

CSL image shimmers today on open website

MirageThe era of the Contributed Software Library ended officially when Interex ended its lifespan. The CSL was an asset that never made it into the bankruptcy report about the user group. In a lot of ways it was the most tangible thing Interex ever did. CSL tapes -- yes, DDS cartridges -- still flutter about the 3000 community. Programs are on disks. Finding the whole shebang has been tricky. This week, it's less so.

Knowing what's inside the CSL is less difficult to discern. Tracy Johnson operates a 3000 called Empire under the auspices of OpenMPE. Empire knows what's in the CSL. The Empire program list is just that, though: an index to programs that don't reside on the Empire server. Managers can match the index with a downloadable CSL image referenced on the Facebook group HP 3000 Appreciation Society. What is available has a good pedigree, although recent achievements are murky.

When a manager wanted to track down something called HPMAIL, the 3000-L readers learned a lot, as is often the case. One of the most interesting revelations was the location of a CSL release that can be downloaded. The short answer is a link from Frank McConnell at the HP 3000 Appreciation Society. "It's a copy of the CSL tape," reported Ian Warner on the 3000-L list. "It’s not exactly straightforward, but for now there is a CSL ISO image on the Web."

CSL software once drove attendance at Interex user conferences. Not entirely, but a manager could get the latest of the 80s-90s era freeware by contributing a program. All the contributions would be copied onto a swap tape -- something you could only get at the conference (an attending friend could pick up yours for you, if memory serves).

For example, one program called Whitman Mail was award winning. A 1989 Robelle contest for best new CSL program named the Whitman Electronic Mail System as the winner during that year PA-RISC was only first arriving for most of the community. Yes, that long ago. Neil Armstrong of Robelle forwarded the citation that MAIL received.

This electronic mail system provided the most user value. Many sites have been put off from E-mail by the cost and complexity -- now they can try E-mail at virtually no cost, and with a system that is extremely accessible.  Whitman mail is a great way to get started.  Later, if you need a multi-CPU network, file transfer or other specific features, you can purchase a supported product.

It's quaint to think of datacenters where a multi-CPU net was an option instead of a fundamental. File transfer is an essential benefit a 3000 mail program delivers by today, and it looks like Whitman Mail might still be lacking in that department -- hence, Robelle's nod toward supported software. These are different days in some ways. And not so different.

Unsupported software, or community-supported shareware, can be essential to a datacenter. WordPress, which drives untold corporate websites, is still free and open source. Support options for this stuff are everywhere as indie companies (like Pivital Solutions for the 3000) fix and integrate software. The CSL had this, too. It was called Interex volunteers, or support companies. Everyone knew about CSL and a surprising amount of the software was wired into production shops.

To be complete about searching the CSL (if you've already downloaded that disk image) here's Johnson's instructions on how to do an index search of that 1995 CSL set.

Using NSVT protocol (Reflection, Secure92, WS92) connect to the Empire machine (http://invent3k.openmpe.com/empire/)

Logon as {username},USER.CSLXL
Select option 5 "CSL Index"
Enter command "FIND"

Select 2 (Name), or 3 (Keyword), or 6 (Search Abstract), then enter "MAIL"

 There's no telling how long the disk image of the CSL will stay online. The software will live in the hearts and minds of those who love it, though.

10:49 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink

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