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August 30, 2017

Wayback Wed: The Big Wet soaks HP's show

Sam-Houston-flood-HarveyDuring this week of 2005, a natural disaster the size of Hurricane Harvey sank the launch site of HP's conference debut. Hurricane Katrina socked New Orleans two weeks before the first HP Technology Forum & Expo was to make its appearance on the HP 3000 show calendar. Katrina's loss of life was staggering compared to Harvey's toll. In some way, though, the disruption for that conference devoted to HP business computing felt fated. HP's computer group bore down a storm of change on the Interex user group's shoreline that year, cooking up the Technology Forum all during 2005. The HP-led show was roping in exhibitor dollars which had kept the Interex user group afloat each year.

Houston-flood-totalsAs of this writing, HP Enterprise has not reported damages to the HP facilities in the Highway 249 corridor where the Compaq and HP facilities are located. The reported rainfall totals are staggering, however, and the hurricane is being declared the worst rainfall disaster in US history. HPE-Houston-Facilities

The company had its history with hurricanes and the Gulf Coast before this week, though. HP got close to Houston because of its Compaq acquisition in 2002. In 2005, Interex canceled its HP World show when the user group folded with millions in unpaid hotel deposits still on the books. At the time, HP said anyone who'd paid to attend the Interex show could shift their registration to the first-ever HP Tech Forum. The event was to be held in New Orleans in the thick of hurricane season. Katrina wrecked the city so badly that HP had to move its new show to Orlando.

The 2005 hurricane rescheduled an HP show that was not aimed to replace Interex's annual tentpole event. The scheduling might as well have been targeted at the user group, though. Interex got notice in 2004 it could collaborate with the DEC-driven Encompass user group on a 2005 conference, But the HP user group launched by HP 3000 customers was 30 years old by 2004. Interex had to go its own way to retain enough revenue from the event. User group leaders averred that the deciding factor was HP's insistence on steering the content and tone of the new event. In particular, the tone was cited by an HP liaison David Parsons. The Interex members had a history of going toe-to-toe with HP's executives in the legendary Management Roundtables.

As they often do, the storms triggered disaster recovery reporting. Before Katrina swept its broom of destruction in 2005, we ran a pair of articles about disaster recovery strategies. Our columnist Scott Hirsh has also weighed in with best practices on DR in hisWorst Practices column written in the wake of 9/11. Gulf Coast weather didn't sink Interex, but the tradition of an August-September schedule for North American HP trade shows was scattered for good by the storm. HP CEOs had a tradition of being in hurricane paths.

Katrina made landfall just two weeks before the new HP CEO Mark Hurd was to speak at the show. HP scheduled a 3000 migration roundtable for the event. Katrina struck New Orleans, a city also on target to take another Category 5 bullet — only three such monsters have ever hit the US — back in 1992. Hurricane Andrew bore down on the site of the final HP 3000 conference to be held there.

I was covering the show as editor of the HP Chronicle. HP had a new CEO that summer, too: Lew Platt. In that 1992 show, conference attendees watched masking tape go up on windows all day long all over the city, most of which sits below sea level. Platt made an escape in front of the storm, but not before one customer after another had to stop for a word while he was on the way to his limo. By 5 PM we were all confined to the Hilton Hotel for safety. We danced in comfort in the ballroom, drinking the city's signature hurricane cocktails and riding out the storm outside. Everyone was told to fill bathtubs before they came to the party, in case the water supply got cut off. We all hoped that housekeeping had been zealous on those tubs.

In the advent of that 2005 storm season we put up a podcast about the intersection of new HP CEOs and hurricanes. Encompass user group's executive director Mary Ellen Smith said at the time the user group was hopeful the storm's damage wouldn't impact the conference. Users could apply for a refund until Aug. 31. A few years later, Hurricane Ike struck Houston. But it did not linger like Harvey has this week.

HP touted its new conference as “the first conference to deliver qualified, consistent education and training opportunities across HP’s broad base of customers, partners and employees.” The claim led one Interex volunteer who’d led the group’s HP 3000 content, Jerry Fochtman, to dispute HP’s promise. What about the 30 years of Interex conferences, he asked?

“I guess everything up to this point over the last 30 years that has strived to do that, with both HP’s assistance as well as partnership, wouldn’t qualify,” he said in an Internet posting. “All this political-speak is just that...a bunch of bull-dung."

06:09 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 28, 2017

VMware ties virtualization to Amazon's tail

Comet-tailStromasys is a regular presence at the annual VMware conference. This year's event kicked off yesterday with an announcement that ties VMware to Amazon's Web Services. Businesses that want to run some VMware workloads on AWS can do so at Amazon's Oregon cloud datacenters.

VMware is also a regular in the Charon configurations for HP 3000 virtualization. Cloud-based offerings around Charon have been in the Stromasys lineup for several years. The opportunity to be the first 3000 site to operate from the cloud is still out there, but Stromasys is ready.

Charon's HPA product manager Doug Smith says VMware is by no means essential to eliminating a physical 3000. A lot of companies have VMware installed, though, and when they're spent that kind of money they're often interested in how to leverage their datacenter resource. Creating a virtualized Linux server to cradle the virtualization of PA-RISC demands a lot. Some companies have VMware on very powerful servers, so that can help.

Most of the Charon customers are on physical platforms. If VMware is available it can be used unless there's a customer requirement for direct access to a physical device like a tape drive.

Cloud promised a lot for a long time, but it has had costs to calculate, too. This is where the AWS partnership is likely to make a difference. Stromasys product manager Dave Clements said at the start of 2016, "A pretty good-sized virtualized server in the cloud costs about $1,000 a month. We don't discourage it, though."

VMware tried to launch its own cloud services and failed, so now their Amazon ally "gives us a strategic and long-term partnership." It's called VMware Cloud for AWS. The VMware show also included an introduction of a new Kingston SSD device, the NVMe SSD, to eliminate data bottlenecks. SSD is one of the hidden advantages of taking a 3000 host into virtualized Charon territory.

07:56 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 25, 2017

SSDs: Not a long-shot to work with MPE/iX

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is not entirely sure if it's leaving the support forum it once devoted to the HP e3000. (After so many years, "e3000" is still the go-to keyword while looking at the HPE resources that remain online.) To test if the forum was still alive, or entirely in archive stasis, I posed a question. Could an IDE SSD drive get a hookup to a 3000 using an SCSI converter?

Is there enough bus connectivity in the e3000 to install an SSD on the server? There are SSD drives that can link up via IDE and I've found a SCSI to IDE converter.

One reply bounced back on the forum. "Torsten" said, "If this is really an HP3000 server, this sounds like the most crazy tuning idea."

Not so crazy, we've seen. In 2015, after one 3000-L newsgroup user compared putting SSDs in 3000s to a McLaren racing engine in an SUV, a more plausible solution emerged: using SSDs to support a virtualized 3000 running on an Intel-based PC. "You could house your 3000 in a Stromasys emulator running on a Linux box with VMware," said Gilles Schipper of GSA, "employing as many SATA SSD disks as you want on your host."

But there was a time in another May when SSDs running native in HP's 3000 hardware was a possibility worth investigating. It was also a necessity, because it was the only way.

It was almost six years ago, and the Charon emulator was still in development. Extending the future of the HP hardware still a necessity for a homesteading user. Stan Sieler of Allegro said he'd be looking into what would be needed to bring solid state storage to MPE.

"I'm thinking about SSD and SATA/SCSI adapters to speed up the 'obsolete' -- but still world's-best -- business computer, the HP 3000," Sieler said in May, 2009. "I'm hoping to do some tests in the near future."

Sieler said that those SATA/SCSI adapters would be a crucial part of putting SSD on its MPE feet. "Few SSD drives have SCSI interfaces... hence the SATA/SCSI adapter component," he said. "An SSD with a SCSI interface would look completely like an SCSI disk drive."

This kind of design, to mimic the SCSI interface, would've helped to avoid using the SCSI Pass-Through code HP engineered during 2007. The community still hasn't heard reports of how the pass-through works, and HP said that employing it is "not for the faint of heart."

A HP-hardware based 3000 would need to ensure that old hardware could be represented in its original form. An IT shop preserving MPE applications, instead of the platform -- not so much. A virtualized 3000 will do. The Stromasys Charon installations can be run from an SSD.

07:46 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 23, 2017

Wayback Wed: Lights Out for 3000 Classics

Series 70 with Disk FarmDuring this month 20 years ago, HP sent its death notice out about the original systems it built to run MPE. All computers running CISC technology, systems the community learned to call Classic 3000s, got their end of support notice in August of 1997. Hewlett-Packard officially labeled them and the software built for MPE V as "vintage software and systems."

As continues to be the case for HP's end of life plans, the finale for the 3000's original chip design arrived more than a few years beyond the EOL of September 1998. Series 70s were still in use when the original notice went out, at least a decade beyond their final shipping date. HP created the Series 70 when the RISC Spectrum project looked certain not to rescue the highest-end HP 3000 users in time. Series 68 users were running out of horsepower, and HP's final CISC server filled the gap for awhile.

HP was consolidating its support resources with the announcement. Even though 20,000 HP 3000s shipped between system introduction and the arrival of the RISC-based systems, the newer, lower-priced MPE/iX servers became popular replacements for Classic 3000s. By 1997 the software vendors had made a complete embrace of the new OS. But 3000 customers, ever a thrifty bunch, retained what continued to serve them well enough. Customers noted that the approaching Y2K deadline was not going to hamper the vintage software or its hardware.

Although the announcement sparked a 3000 hardware sales bump and hastened the journey of the two-digit systems like the Series 42 to the scrap heap, the old compilers remained under support. A community advocate then asked HP to free up Basic/V to the community, along with the original Systems Programming Language (SPL). The request pre-dated the idea of open source by more than a few years. HP's response was no different than the one it held to when it stopped supporting MPE/iX. Once an HP product, always an HP product.

Wirt Atmar of AICS noted that "If HP has abandoned Basic, it would be an extraordinary gift to the MPE user community to make it and SPL legal freeware. Basic still remains the easiest language to build complex, easy string-manipulating software that must interact with IMAGE databases."

Another community leader, Chris Bartram, made direct reference to freeware in seconding the move to give Basic/V to the customers. Bartram's 3k Associates already hosted a website of shareware for the HP 3000. He said donating the MPE V versions of Basic and SPL fit with HP's new policy of relying on shareware for its HP 3000 customers.

"It certainly doesn't hurt anything at this point to make it freeware," he said, "and fits in well with the wealth of other freeware programs that are becoming available on the platform -- almost all without "official" support or significant investments from HP." Old hardware, on the other hand, suffered from the same issues as HP's aging iron of our current day. Parts became a showstopper at some sites.

Ken Kirby of Vanderbilt University said, "A good reason not to stay with the Series 70 is the difficulty of getting parts. The last time our 70 was down, it lay lifeless for three days waiting for HP to locate a part and have it sent here. Fortunately, there are no critical applications on our 70, as we have migrated most to a 987. The Series 70 was a fine piece of equipment in its day. So was the Titanic. For those of us still aboard, it looks like the iceberg is just around the bend."

Kirby added that the maintenance aspects—parts and HP support fees—were much cheaper for the newer systems. Cutting the costs for power, cooling, and service from generation to generation was in step with other enterprise vendors' strategies. Ten years after the Classic death notice, the head of HP's 3000 division operations was calling the 3000 a two-generation system: pre-2001 and its shutdown news, then post-2001. The genealogy of HP's hardware actually has three generations: Classic, PA-RISC, then the PCI-based A and N. The final generation was sold for less than a year before HP lost its desire for the 3000.

The Classic 3000's MPE/V, sent toward the sidelines with the 1997 announcement, was the last of HP 3000 operating systems whose source code was for sale. Tymlabs, a software vendor in Austin with products for backup and terminal emulation, said it bought a copy for $500 with full use. By the end of 2010, HP was selling a limited use, read-only license of MPE/iX code for $10,000—to a set of companies who had to apply to purchase it.

06:32 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 21, 2017

The Next Totality: Will it be our last?

21stCenturyNorthAmericanEclipsesA wide swath of North America sparkled with zeal for the sun today. The total eclipse cut across the US from left to right coasts, scattering visions many viewers never knew before in person. We had a partial here in Austin and built a binocular viewer. On TV a stadium full of astronomy enthusiasts saw the clouds dash all but 11 seconds of totality hopes in Carbondale, Ill. Not far to the west, the Stonehenge knockoff Carhenge had clear skies and a stunning swing of darkness for about two minutes.

The talk today began to turn to whether this would be the last total eclipse in our North American lifetimes. The answer is easy enough for things younger than 70: this won't be the last, because less than seven years from now a top-to-bottom totality will swing through North America. Austin is in the path of 100 percent this time. We have to decide if we'll be renting out the NewsWire offices for viewing parties in 2024.

Next EclipseThe question that's harder to answer with certainty is whether this is the last totality for the HP 3000. For many years by now we've heard sites talking about plans to work in the 2020's. Ametek Chandler Engineering has a plan to take them into 2023. Earlier this month, the 3000 manager at MagicAire shared the news that he's deciding if clearing the 2028 CALENDAR roadblock is worthwhile for his operation.

The number of companies who'll rely on the 3000 may be zero in less than six years, but I wouldn't bet on it. Series 70 machines were running in the Dallas area more than 15 years after they were taken off HP's 3000 lineup. The odds of zero MPE/iX apps running in less than six years are probably nil. Virtualized PA-RISC systems from Stromasys will be cradling what we call 3000 apps in 2024.

Not-BrightOur community of experts and customers might take up their circa-2017 eyewear once again when I'm turning 67. If back in 1979 — when the last total eclipse sailed through a bit of the US — someone figured nobody would need to be wearing glasses to watch a total eclipse in 2017, they'd be wrong about that. Old tech has a way of hanging on once it's proved itself. The last total eclipse I'm likely to see is in 2045. I'll only be 88, and MPE will be just a tender 63 years old. Anything first created in 1954 and still in use is 63 years old today. That would be nuclear submarines and M&Ms. Think the latter (alluring, durable) while considering MPE's lifespan. There's also that song about the future, brightness, and shades. As we saw today, stranger things have already happened.

09:29 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (4)

August 18, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: SCSI codes, and clean-ups for UDCs and 3000 power supplies

Cleanup-siteI need to clean up COMMAND.PUB.SYS on my 3000. There's a problem with BULDACCT. Is there a utility to help manage the UDC catalog?

Stan Sieler replies:

One option is "PURGE," which ships on all MPE systems :) Of course, that means you have to rebuild the UDC catalog. We recently encountered a site where, somehow, an HFS filename had gotten into COMMAND.PUB.SYS. You can't delete UDC entries with HFS filenames, nor can you add them. I had to edit the file with Debug to change the name into something that could be deleted.

Keven Miller adds:

I believe you want the utility UDCSORT from the CSL, the UDC sorting and reorganization program.

There are so many SCSI types. It's got to be the most confusing four letter acronym. Is there a guide?

Steve Dirickson offers this primer:

SE (single-ended): TTL-level signals referenced to ground; speeds from 5 Mhz to 20 MHz

Differential (HVD): something around +/-12V signals on paired wires (old-timers think “EIA 20mA current loop”); same speeds as SE

LVD (Ultra2): TTL-level differential; 40 MHz clock

Ultra160: same as LVD, but data signals double-clocked, i.e. transfers on both clock transitions like DDR DRAM. LVD and Ultra160 can co-exist on the same bus with SE devices, but will operate in SE mode. HVD doesn’t co-exist with anything else.

Upon arrival this morning my console had locked up. I re-started the unit, but the SCSI drives do not seem to be powering up. The green lights flash for a second after the power is applied, but that is it. The cooling fan does not turn either. The  fan that is built into the supply was making noise last week. I can’t believe the amount of dust inside.

Tom Emerson responded:

This sounds very familiar. I’d say the power supply on the drive cabinet is either going or gone [does the fan ‘not spin’ due to being gunked up with dust and grease, or just ‘no power’?] I’m thinking that the power supply is detecting a problem and shutting down moments after powering up [hence why you see a ‘momentary flicker’].

Denys Beauchemin added:

The dust inside the power supply probably contributed to its early demise. It is a good idea to get a couple of cans of compressed air and clean out the fans and power supplies every once in a while. The electrical current is a magnet for dust bunnies and other such putrid creatures. 

Tom Emerson reminisced:

Years ago at the first shop where I worked we had a Series III and a Series 48. Roughly every 3-6 months an HP technician would stop by our office to perform Preventative Maintenance. Amazingly, we had very few hardware problems with those old beasts. Once we didn't have a tech coming out to do PMs anymore, we had hardware related failures, including a choked-up power supply fan on a disk cabinet.

Finally, Wayne Boyer said"

Any modular power supply like these is relatively easy to service. It is good advice to stock up on spares for older equipment. Just because it’s available somewhere and not too expensive doesn’t mean that you can afford to be down while fussing around with getting a spare shipped in.

The compressed air cans work—but to really do a good job on blowing out computer equipment, you need to use an air compressor and strip the covers off of the equipment. We run our air compressor at 100 PSI. Note that you want to do the blasting outside! Otherwise you will get the dust all over where ever you are working. This is especially important with printers as you get paper dust, excess toner and so forth building up inside the equipment. I try and give our equipment a blow-out once a year or so. Good to do that whenever a system is powered down for some other reason.

 

01:47 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 16, 2017

How Free Lunch Can Cost You The Future

Blue-plate-special-free-lunchStaying put with 3000 homesteading has been a sure road to spending less. That's in the short term, or maybe for intermediate planning. A longer-term strategy for MPE/iX application lifespans, especially the apps serving ERP and manufacturing, includes a migration and less free lunch. Those times are ending in some places.

"Life was really easy for the last 25 years, with no upgrades and no new releases," Terry Floyd of TSG says of the second era of ERP on the 3000s. MANMAN customers looking into that past could track to 1992, and then the versions of MANMAN owned by Computer Associates. MPE/iX was in the 5.0 era, so there have been many revisions of the 3000's OS since then. The hardware was stable, while it was not so aged. It's not unheard of to find a company that hasn't upgraded their 3000 iron since the 1990s. Yes, Series 928 systems work today in production.

"There is just nothing cheaper than running a stable ERP on a stable platform like MPE," Floyd adds. He also notes that migrating a MANMAN site out of the 3000 Free Lunch Cafe is made possible by the latest Social ERP app suite. "If Kenandy was less flexible," he says, "it would be a lot harder in some instances."

Free Lunch, as described above with devotion to existing, well-customized apps, is quite the lure. It can cost a company its future, making the years to come more turbulent with change and creating a gap when a free lunch won't satisfy IT needs. Pulling existing apps into a virtual host with Stromasys Charon can pay for part of the lunch and provide one step into the future.

Migration to a subscription model of application, instead of migrating PA-RISC hardware to an Intel host, makes a company pay for more of the future. The payments are measured, though. If the payoff is in enhancements, the future can brim with value like a golden era of application software.

Kenandy does its ERP magic with its endless flexibility by subscribing a site to the software. Improvements and repairs that extend the value arrive like presents under the tree. The cost is determined in advance and support is wired into the same revenue stream as development. HP separated those streams in its 3000 era. App providers like Computer Associates did the same. Floyd points back to the ASK Computing ownership of MANMAN as a golden enhancement era. That was 1982-85, he says.

However, a subscription model nails a customer down for years of continuous paying. It's more like a very good lease, and if you read the software contracts closely you'll find most of it was licensed, not sold. The exceptions were the MANMAN sites which owned their source code. The idea of owning source that was built by a vendor who won't enhance it -- because you now own the code -- is a big part of the Free Lunch lure. You don't pay anymore for software.

"Free lunch is closing down," Floyd says. Yes, it was a relief to know owning a server and the code outright dialed back operating costs. But a subcription model "is of value because it forces you to move forward. It has continuous upgrades and enhancements."

 

07:34 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2017

Increasing Challenges of 3000 DIY Support

Beer-fridge-supportDo It Yourself efforts sometimes emerge from ingenuity. Enthusiasts build mashups of products like a beer cooler melded with an old fridge. DIY desktop PC builds were once the rage, but most datacenters' efforts today are Build To Orders. The challenges of DIY support for production-class servers is also starting to become a tall order. The increased efforts are being found in HP's Unix environments, too.

"DIY is increasingly hard to do," says Donna Hofmeister of Allegro, "mostly due to aging hardware. Often, those left in charge of MPE systems have little knowledge of the system. We get called when things are in a real mess. This applies to a lot of HP-UX shops now as well."

The oldest of hardware has its challenges on both sides of the PA-RISC aisle, both HP 3000 and HP 9000s. As an example, last week Larry Simonsen came upon DTC manuals in his cleanup pile. "I have some old manuals I do not find on the Internet using Google," he said. "Where do I upload my scans before I destroy these?" The aged gems cover support for the DTC 16TN Telnet Terminal Server, DTC 16iX Lan Multiplexer and DTC 16MX Communications server. The installation guide is HP part 5961-6412

Destroying old paper is environmentally friendly once the information is captured in some way. The capture gives the community ways to share, too. Keven Miller, a support pro who's stockpiled HP's manuals on the 3000 and MPE/iX, said those DTC manuals are only in his library as versions for HP-UX documentation. Like a good support provider always does in 2017, he got serious about capturing this tech data about the 3000.

"If you happen to choose to scan, send copies my way to include in my collection," Miller said. "Or if that's not going to happen, drop them off or I'll come get them and scan (at some future date) myself."

Parts have driven working HP 3000s into migration scenarios. A depot-based support operation assures a customer they'll never come of short of a crucial component. Pivital's Steve Suraci, whose company specializes in 3000s, pointed out that a weak Service Level Agreement (SLA) has a bigger problem than just not being able to get a replacement HP part.

How many HP 3000 shops are relying on support providers that are incompetent and/or inept? A provider is willing to take this company's money, without even being able to provide reasonable assurance that they had replacement parts in a depot somewhere in the event of failure. There are still reputable support providers out there. Your provider should not be afraid to answer tough questions about their ability to deliver on an SLA.

The easy questions to answer for a new client are "Can you supply me support 24x7?" or "What references will you give me from your customers?" Harder questions are "Where do you get your answers from for MPE questions?" Or even, "Do you have support experts in the 3000 who can be at my site in less than a day?"

But Suraci was posing one of the harder questions" "Here are my hardware devices: do you have spares in stock you're setting aside for my account?" Hardware has started breaking down more often in the 3000 world. Hewlett-Packard got out of the support business for 3000s for lots of business reasons. One consistent reason was that 3000-related spare parts got scarce in HP's supply chain.

07:49 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 11, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: A Diagnostics Tour

Newswire Classic
From Stan Sieler

There are two kinds of diagnostics: online and offline.

The online come in two flavors:

1. Older releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via SYSDIAG.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs DUI.DIAG.SYS). (MPE/iX 6.0 and earlier, possibly MPE/iX 6.5 (I'm not sure))

2. Newer releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via CSTM.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs /usr/sbin/stm/ui/bin/stmc).

Both are, well, difficult to use. (HP-UX also switched from sysdiag to stm.) Both have some modules that require passwords, and some that don't.

The offline diagnostics are on a bootable CD or tape. The lastest offline diagnostics CD (for PA-RISC) that I could find was labelled "2004."

That CD has seven diagnostics/utilities. I tried running all of them on an A-Class system. The "ODE" one is special; it's a program that itself hosts a number of diagnostics/utilities (some of which require passwords).

I'm not saying these diagnostics are "password-protected," because that implies they need protecting. "Password restricted" or "password deprived" might be a more accurate phrase. :)

filename type start size created
=====================================================
XMAP -12960 832 1568 04/08/10 17:12:26
ODE -12960 2400 880 04/08/10 17:12:26
EDBC -12960 31344 1696 04/08/10 17:12:26
EDPROC -12960 33040 6928 04/08/10 17:12:26
MULTIDIAG -12960 39968 6256 04/08/10 17:12:26
TDIAG -12960 46224 7216 04/08/10 17:12:26
CLKUTIL -12960 53440 240 04/08/10 17:12:26

ISL> tdiag
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> clkutil
no password

ISL> edproc
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> edbc
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> xmap
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> multidiag
****** MULTIDIAG ******
****** Version A.01.12 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

All the rest from here on are ODE utilities/diagnostics. I ran each one, and document whether or not it requires a password. (A few utilities seem to have little or no use because HP hasn't provided a method of saying "Hey, my disk drive isn't an HP drive, and it's over here.")

ISL> ode (collection of diags/utilities, each different) 

****** Offline Diagnostic Environment ******
****** TC Version A.02.26 ******
****** SysLib Version A.00.78 ******
****** Loader Version A.00.62 ******
****** Mapfile Version A.01.61 ******

(ODE) Modules on this boot media are:

filename type size created description
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
README2 TM 63 04/07/13 64 bit version that displays README fil
MAPPER2 TM 146 04/07/13 64 bit version of the system mapping ut
MEM2 TM 257 04/07/13 64 bit Memory diagnostic
AR60DIAG2 TM 590 04/07/13 Fibre Channel 60 disk array utility (64
ARDIAG2 TM 682 04/07/13 64 bit version of the ICE & ICICLE disk
ASTRODIAG2 TM 273 04/07/13 64 bit version of the ASTRO IO Controll
COPYUTIL2 TM 320 04/07/13 64 bit version of the Disk-to-tape copy
DFDUTIL2 TM 264 04/07/13 64 bit version of the Disk firmware dow
DISKEXPT2 TM 241 04/07/13 64 bit version of the expert disk utili
DISKUTIL2 TM 222 04/07/13 64 bit version of the nondestructive di
NIKEARRY2 TM 324 04/07/13 Nike disk array utility
VADIAG2 TM 906 04/07/13 hp StorageWorks Virtual Array Utility
WDIAG TM 1084 04/07/13 CPU diagnostic for PCX-W processors
IOTEST2 TM 880 04/07/13 64 bit version that runs ROM-based self
PERFVER2 TM 126 04/07/13 64 bit version that runs ROM-based self

ODE> mem2
****** Version B.02.27 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> ar60diag2
****** AR60DIAG2 ******
****** Version B.03.29 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> ardiag2
****** ARDIAG2 ******
****** Version B.05.11 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> astrodiag2
****** ASTRODIAG2 ******
****** Version B.00.25 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> copyutil2
****** COPYUTIL2 ******
****** Version B.01.11 (19th Mar 2004) ******

no password
NOTE: didn't seem to want to see Seagate disk drive.

Copy Utility (COPYUTIL) Help Menu
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

UTILINFO - Shows information on COPYUTIL including quick start info.

HELP - This menu, or use HELP <help item> for more detailed help.

DISPMAP - Displays the devices found.

TAPEINFO - Reads the header of a tape and displays the information,
such as the product string and path of the disk, the
creation date, the vol #, and so forth.

TAPEDRVINFO - Reads the hard compression mode of a tape drive and
displays the information.The info is only available for SCSI/FIBRE DAT tape drives.

DRVINFO - Shows inquiry information of any disk drive or tape drive.

TLINFO - Shows inquiry information for a Tape Library/Autochanger. The addresses of robot hands, magazine slots and tape drives are listed there.

TLMOVE - Moves a tape from a magazine into a tape drive, or vise versa.

BACKUP - Copies data from a disk to tape(s).

RESTORE - Copies from tape(s) back to a disk (The tape must be made with COPYUTIL's BACKUP command).

VERIFY - After a successful BACKUP, by VERIFY user may double check the contents of the tape(s) with the data on the disk.

COPY - Copies from a disk device to another disk device. The supported devices are restricted to SCSI devices so far.

FORMAT - Formats a given disk back to its default values.

TERSEERR - Turns on or off the terse error flag. Default is off.

IGNOREERR - Turns on or off the ignore error flag. Default is off.

ODE> dfdutil2

****** Disk Firmware Download Utility 2 (DFDUTIL2) ******
****** Version B.02.21 (23rd Sep 2003) ******
No Disks were found.

Didn't seem to want a password.

Since Seagate disks are so prevalent, one would expect some means of updating firmware on them ... if firmware updates exist.

ODE> diskexpt2
****** DISKEXPT2 ******
****** Version B.00.23 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

Note: although it doesn't "see" Seagate drives, you can configure them in and access them. 

ODE> diskutil2
****** DISKUTIL2 ******
****** Version B.00.22 ******
No supported devices found on this system.

Note: doesn't "see" Seagate drives, and you can't configure them in.

ODE> nikearry2
****** NIKEARRY2 ******
****** Version B.01.12 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> vadiag2
****** VADIAG2 ******
****** Version B.01.07 ******
Please wait while the system is scanned for Fibre Channel Adapters...
No Fibre Channel Adapters were found. The test cannot continue. Aborting.

(No password requested up to that point.)

ODE> wdiag
****** WDIAG ******
****** Version A.01.53 ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

(from a friend:)


WDIAG is the PCXW ODE based diagnostic program. It is intended to test the Processor of the various PCXW based systems in the offline environment. The program consists of 150 sections, 1/150, and are organized into the following groups:

1. CPU data path tests, Sections 1/6 (6 sections)
2. BUS-INTERFACE tests, Sections 7/10 (4 sections)
3. CACHE tests, Sections 11/25 (15 sections)
4. TLB tests, Sections 26/34 (9 sections)
5. CPU instruction tests, Sections 35/86 (52 sections)
6. CPU extended tests, Sections 87/101 (15 sections)
7. Floating point tests, Sections 102/134 (33 sections)
8. Multiple processor tests, Sections 140/150 (11 sections)

ODE> iotest2
****** IOTEST2 ******
****** Version B.00.35 ******

no password required

ODE> perfver2
****** PERFVER2 ******
****** Version B.00.15 ******

no password required

03:00 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2017

Parts become hair triggers for some sites

Ordering parts for HP 3000s used to be painless. HP's Partsurfer website showed the way, letting a manager search by serial number, and even showing pictures in a full listing of components. Click to Buy was a column in the webpage.

PartsurferThat's a 3000 option that's gone from the HP Enterprise Partsurfer website, but there are options still available outside of HP. Resellers and support vendors stock parts — the good vendors guarantee them once they assume responsibility for a server or a 3000-specific device. Consider how many parts go into a 3000. These guarantees are being serviced by spare systems.

Parts have become the hair trigger that eliminates 3000s still serving in 2017. "Availability of parts is triggering migrations by now," said Eric Mintz, head of the 3000 operations at Fresche Solutions.

Homesteading to preserve MPE/iX is different and simpler matter. Virtualized systems to run 3000 apps have been serving for close to five years in the marketplace. That's Charon, which will never have a faded Partserver website problem. No hardware lasts forever, but finding a Proliant or Dell replacement part is a trivial matter by comparison. A full spare replacement is one way to backstop a Charon-hosted MPE/iX system, because they run on Intel servers.

"Some customers do want to stay on as long as possible," Mintz said. Application support helps them do this. So do depot-based support services: the ones where needed parts are on a shelf in a warehouse space, waiting.

The longest-lived example of depot part service I've seen came for a Series 70 HP 3000. This server was first sold in 1985. About 22 years later, one of the last was being shut down in 2007.

Ideal has just retired its last 70 about a month ago," Ryan Melander said. "The machine was just de-installed into three pieces and shipped back East, where it will sit for two years—and if needed, be fired back up for archive data. We have only had two power supply incidents in the last year. However, the old HP-IB DDS tape units became very hard to support.  We do have a fully functional system in our depot."

One working theory about hardware in the industry is that older generations of computers were built to last longer. Given the capital cost of the units, customers (especially the 3000 owners) expected them to run forever.

A-Class servers were last built in 2003. A 22-year run of service would get the last one retired in 2025. Ah, but you have to factor in the quality of the build. Getting to 2020 might be interesting. A depot support solution would be essential to avoid squeezing that hardware trigger.

07:52 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2017

Support firms vet, curate online 3000 advice

French-CuratorsJust a few weeks ago, we reported on the presumed disappearance of the HP 3000 Jazz lore and software. The resource of papers and programs written for the MPE/iX manager turned up at a new address at Fresche Solutions' website. Fresche was once Speedware, a company that licensed use of all the Jazz contents—help first compiled by HP in the 1990s.

Now it looks like HP's ready to flip off the switch for its Community Forum. These have been less-trafficked webpages where advice lived for 3000s and MPE. Donna Hofmeister, a former director of the OpenMPE advocacy group, noted that an HP Enterprise moderator said those forums would be shut down with immediate effect.

I discovered this little bit of unhappiness:
7/31 - Forum: Operating Systems - MPE/iX

Information to all members, that we will retire the Operating Systems - MPE/iX forum and all boards end of business today.

As far as I can tell, all MPE information is no longer accessible! :-( I'm not happy that no public announcement was made <sigh> If you can demonstrate differently, that would be great!

But a brief bout of searching this morning revealed at least some archived questions and answers at the HPE website about the 3000. For example, there's a Community post about advice for using the DAT 24x6e Autoloader with MPE/iX. It's useful to have an HP Passport account login (still free) to be able to read such things. The amount of information has been aging, and nothing seems to be new since 2011. It wasn't always this way; HP used to post articles on MPE/iX administration with procedural examples.

Not to worry. The established 3000 support providers have been curating HP's 3000 information like this for many years. No matter what HP takes down, it lives on elsewhere. "We gathered a lot of the Jazz and other HP 3000 related content years ago to cover our needs," said Steve Suraci of Pivital. "While I don’t think we got everything, I do think we have most of what we might need these days." Up to date web locations for such information should be at your support partner. Best of all, they'll have curated those answers.

Knowing what's useful, correct, and up to date: that's what a guide does. Indie support companies like Pivital do this (Pivital happens to be an all-3000 company). Only a DIY shop -- with no support budget for the 3000 -- has any business skipping support. Production 3000s deserve the backstop of a support guide.

For example: That HP Community forum has lots of user-supplied answers to questions about MPE/iX. Without any direct access to the forum, though, the traffic died four years ago. That means there's nobody left reading the forum to check the accuracy of the free advice.

The 3000-L still has 470 subscribers, and a 3000-L archive that can be searched. That's a fair number of readers to keep solutions on target. However, if your production 3000's support resource is limited to 3000-L, that's probably not enough to keep a mission-critical application online. Taking a journey with a system whose OS has been static since 2009 requires a guide -- or at least an expert curator to filter what advice is working and what is not sound anymore.

John Clogg, still maintaining a 3000 at Cerro Wire, offered a link for HP's latest location of 3000 manuals.

As of this moment, MPE manuals are still available at:
http://h20565.www2.hpe.com/portal/site/hpsc/template.PAGE
/public/psi/manualsResults/
?javax.portlet.begCacheTok=com.vignette.cachetoken&
javax.portlet.endCacheTok=com.vignette.cachetoken&
javax.portlet.prp_e97ce00a6f76436cc859bfdeb053ce01=
wsrp-navigationalState%3DmanLang%253Den
&javax.portlet.tpst=e97ce00a6f76436cc859bfdeb053ce01
&sp4ts.oid=416035&ac.admitted=1501870675581.125225703.1851288163

Here's a Tinyurl link: http://tinyurl.com/yaw5o2wm

Judging from that HP URL, probably even HP can't find it to turn it off. I hope this post doesn't help them in that endeavor!

06:58 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 04, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: HP 3000 DLT vs. DDS

Dlt Backing up enterprise-grade 3000s presents interesting choices. Back in the 1990s when the 3000 being built and sold by HP, DDS at first had only two generations, neither of which were reliable. A DDS tape used to be the common coin for OS updates and software upgrades. The media has advanced beyond a DDS-4 generation to DAT-360, but Digital Linear Tape (DLT) has a higher capacity and more reliability than DDS.

When a DDS tape backup runs slower than DLT, however, something is amiss. DLT is supposed to supply a native transfer rate of 15 MBps in the SureStore line of tape libraries. You can look at an HP PDF datasheet on the Ultrium SureStore devices certified by HP for MPE/iX at this link.

HP 3000 community partners such as Pivital Solutions offer these DLTs, At an estimated cost of about $1,300 or more per device, you'll expect them to beat the DDS-3 transfers of 5 MBps.

When Ray Shahan didn't see the speed he expected after moving to DLT and asked the 3000 newsgroup community what might be wrong. Advice ranged from TurboStore commands, to channels where the drives are installed, to the 3000's bandwidth and CPU power to deliver data to the DLT. Even the lifespan of the DLT tape can be a factor. HP's MPE/iX IO expert Jim Hawkins weighed in among the answers, while users and third-party support providers gave advice on how to get the speed which you pay extra for from DLT.

Dave Gale wrote in an answer that device configuration and CPU are potential problems:

If you are using a DLT it likes to get data in a timely manner. Otherwise it will do the old 'shoe shine'. This means that other devices on the line can affect the bandwidth on the channel and starve the DLT. If you are using something like RoadRunner, then the CPU can be a real factor in this equation (especially single-CPU machines). So, you may not only want to check the statistics portion of the report, but monitor your machine during backup with Glance or SOS.

Gilles Schipper of GSA said that a TurboStore command is essential. "If you're using HP TurboStore, are you using MAXTAPEBUF option on STORE command?" MAXTAPEBUF and INTER can make a major difference, cutting a backup to DLT  from 7 hours to under 2 by  adding the parms.

HP's Hawkins said channel configurations of backup devices are key to ensuring that DLT tops the DDS speed:

Generally this shouldn’t happen. It might happen if the DLT and disc are on the same channel while the DAT/DDS was on a separate one. Might also happen with large numbers of small files on semi-busy system as some DAT are better at start/stop than DLT. If you are running STORE the STATISTICS option can give a broad indication of throughput for A/B comparison.

One simple piece of advice is to try a new DLT tape, too.

01:53 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 02, 2017

Long-term value rests in short-life servers

Buried-treasureIt's a summer afternoon in Virginia when a 3000 expert takes inventory. He's got a declining number of billable hours this month, enough of a problem to reach for resources to liquidate. His pair of big 9x9 systems in offsite storage have been offline for all of this year, and all of last year, too. There's gold in them there chassis, he figures. They've got to be worth something.

Then the expert has a look at last week's 3000-L newsgroup traffic. The messages have dwindled to a couple of dozen even in the good months, but one hardware reseller posts messages monthly. Old 3000s are for sale at an asking price that doesn't exceed $5,000 for even the biggest server. HP only built one N-Class bigger than the 4-way 550 N-Class that tops the list. The 9x9s in the message? About $1,000-$1,200 apiece, even for a 989. Selling servers like that to a broker might net maybe half that to our expert.

Even though the servers are in great shape, stored in temperature-controlled storage units, and sport some nice peripherals, the resale value of the boxes isn't surprising. They're short-life assets, because eventually they'll break down. There's something in them that might be more valuable than $500 per system, though. The MPE/iX licenses for these systems could be worth something, even if the hardware isn't exactly golden.

Series 989A historical note or two: The Series 989 models sold for as little as $175,617 when HP launched them 18 years ago. MPE/iX 6.0 was the first OS to power them. Like everything else HP built for MPE/iX, the servers stopped being sold in 2003

How much such licenses would fetch is an unknown this year. A low-cost server in the used market usually has MPE/iX loaded on its disks. A clear chain of ownership, though, might not be a part of that discount price. Who'd care about such a thing? Our expert thinks of the one company more devoted to the everlasting future of MPE/iX than anybody: Stromasys.

Any 3000 customer with enough dedication to using MPE/iX in an emulated environment may very well want good MPE/iX licenses. HP promised to deliver an emulator-only MPE/iX license to the community, but the vendor stopped issuing licenses before Stromasys Charon got into the market. A license for a 3000 is the one element of the MPE/iX environment in shortest supply. For now, nobody has started to list server licenses as a product that can be purchased.

It's going to kill our expert to just scrap all his hardware and software. But it's a buyer's market for HP's iron, since it's going to expire far sooner than later. Selling the licenses would be like trying to find someplace where at least those instances of MPE/iX could live on.

HP's 3000 boxes are stripped for parts every week, and for good reason. Part availability is still driving the ultra-long-term homesteaders into migrations. Stripping a 3000 for its license to be used in Charon has prospects that could last much longer. At a minimum, a license has a 10-year useful lifespan if Charon is involved.

Reseller systems on the market with explicit transfer paperwork aren't rare. The papers aren't automatic, though. Taking in HP's 3000 iron, but skipping the $432 fee to get HP's official transfer, complicates the value of the license. If any such hardware owner hasn't done the transfer, they'll have to deduct that expense from what the license will bring on the market. Anybody who wanted to get a Charon system set up, but doesn't have an eligible system from which to transfer a license, would find value in a license marketplace.

Charon customers I've interviewed so far don't need licenses for MPE/iX. Their old systems were still on hand when they made the jump to virtualized servers. User counts for licenses become important in the 9x9 family. One site that's looking at virtualization has utilities with support fees that will rise, they believe, when they make the jump. If there's a way that a license with a smaller user count could keep that from happening, then the licenses will be worth a lot more than the paper they're printed upon. And the shipping for this virtual 3000 component? So cheap, compared to moving HP's iron.

06:47 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)