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December 29, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Moving DDS stores to disk

Moving-van-640Editor's note: In the last two weeks 3000 owners have been asking about DDS tape storage migration and how to find 38-year-old systems. Here in the last working day for the year 2017, it seems like we're running in a time machine. Here's some help on moving old data to new media.

We're taking Monday off to celebrate the new year. Not many people figured the 3000 would have users working in that 15th year since HP stopped making the server. We'll be back Wednesday with a new story. Seems like anything can happen.

I want to restore some files from a DDS tape to a store-to-disc file. It been a while I am not sure if this is something that can be done. I need some help with the syntax.

Alan Yeo says

I think you need to restore the files from the tape and then store them to disc, as the resulting disc file needs to build a header of the files it contains.

So after restore, the store to disc syntax is something like

!SETVAR BACKUP_FILE "nameoffileyouwantocreate"
!FILE BK=!BACKUP_FILE;DEV=DISC
!FILE SYSLIST=!BACKUP_FILE;DEV=LP
!STORE fileselectionstring;*BK;SHOW;PROGRESS=5

Keven Miller adds

There is also TAPECOPY that reads STORE tapes and creates an STD (Store to Disk) on disk -- provided the STORE is all on one tape. I have a copy of the program on my website. Look for TAPECOPY, it's a tar file.

At another location on my site you can see the Text file document, and a .wrq file for using with Reflection with Labels option, or the .std  file which is a store-to-disc.

I also have Tapecpyv, an SPL version usable on both MPE/iX and MPE/V. This SPL one is the latest.

The syntax


:FILE TAPEIN;dev=7
:TAPECPYV  "TD  MYSTD"

Reads the STORE tape on dev 7 into STD file MYSTD.

05:22 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 27, 2017

2028 and beyond: This FAQ answers all

FaqAbout a month ago, HP 3000 managers, vendors and developers shared techniques on getting their MPE/iX systems a longer lease on life.That upcoming CALENDAR issue hits 3000s at midnight, Dec. 31 2027. The barrier of 2028 and beyond has been cleared. Now it's time to clear up some questions about the fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding the lifespan of the 3000's OS.

Will my HP 3000 stop working on January 1, 2028?

The hardware itself may be worn out by then, but nothing in the operating system will keep PA-RISC systems — emulated or actual — from booting, running programs, or passing data and IO through networks and peripherals. MPE/iX will do everything it can do today, except report dates correctly to and from software and applications which rely on an older CALENDAR intrinsic.

Is this a problem with the hardware from HP? Will an emulated 3000 prevent this?

The CALENDAR problem is in the OS, not the hardware. The old intrinsic was only built to record accurate dates until then. The resolution will involve work within applications' use of intrinsics, among other software revisions. Replacing CALENDAR with HPCALENDAR is part of the solution. Stromasys Charon sites will have to deal with it too, because they are running faithful virtualizations of the PA-RISC hardware — and use MPE/iX. 

If I don't change anything on my 3000, will the operating system know what day it is on January 1, 2028?

SHOWTIME will report that it's the year 1900. SHOWCLOCK will report the correct year.

Will all file information remain correct?

All file creation and file modification timestamps will be accurate, and files which are created will have correct timestamps, too.

So what kinds of software will be reporting the wrong date starting in 2028?

Software which still relies on CALENDAR for its date-keeping may show incorrect dates. This software can be applications as well as utilities and reporting software. Changes to source code for the programs which use CALENDAR, replacing it with HPCALENDAR, take care of the issues. If software uses internal logic for data calculations, it will continue to work correctly in 2028, so long as it doesn't rely on CALENDAR. The problem actually occurs if FMTCALENDAR is called to format the date. Unless that call is trapped, FMTCALENDAR will always produce a date between 1900 and 2027.

What about the compilers for the OS?

COBOL 85 uses the newer HPCALENDAR intrinsic. The older COBOL 66 uses the older CALENDAR. 

What can I do if I don't have source code for my applications?

Vendors who continue to serve the MPE/iX market can change the call to CALENDAR into a call to HPCALENDAR. A support provider can assist a customer, with the cooperation of the source code holders, in using the newer HPCALENDAR. Alternatively, the call to FMTCALENDAR can be trapped at run time, and the replacement routine can re-map early 1900 years into years starting with 2028.

How about MPE/iX itself? Will that intrinsic ever be repaired? How do I get SHOWTIME running correctly?

Some portions of the OS will continue to rely on the old CALENDAR, which only has 16-bit range to use. Source code license holders—the eight companies licensed by HP to use MPE/iX source—may have an advantage in bringing some OS internals into line with site-specific patches. They are site-specific because HP doesn't permit a revised version of the OS to be recompiled and distributed. SHOWTIME is likely to remain incorrect, since it uses CALENDAR and FMTCALENDAR.

What about date-dependent work like job streaming?

Applications that can be revised to use HPCALENDAR will stream jobs on correct dates. Native job-streaming service in MPE/iX will work if a command uses a request such as "three days from now." In general, the more closely a piece of MPE/iX software relies on CALENDAR, the less likely it will be to deliver accurate dates starting in 2028.

My third-party software might keep track of the date to keep running. What can I do?

Source code revision will be the most direct solution in this case. Some support companies are considering a certification service for Year 2028 operations.

08:01 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 20, 2017

Replacement hardware archives key context

Wayback Wednesday

The replacement hardware arrived in a box that fit inside my mailbox. We bought a jumbo-sized mailbox in 1993, one big enough to let the industry trade journals lie flat on its floor. In those days our community relied on big tabloid publications to keep abreast of the future. Today the pages are digital and needing paper for news is fading fast.

MD RecorderThe Minidisc MZ-R50 showed up in great working order, a replacement for the recorder that logged my interviews in the rowdy and roiling days of the 3000's Transition Era. The Minidisc is late '90s tech that can arrive by way of US Mail. A Series 929 wouldn't fit in any cardboard box with padding. That server is 104 pounds of a 2-foot by 18-inch unit that's 22 inches high. UPS could pull it off a truck, though.

My 1997 MZ-R50 has the same age as a Series 997, and like the 3000 server, the hardware has unlocked access to archival information. You buy these things to replace failed hardware, or sometimes for parts. Only the battery had failed on the R50. That's a component likely to be dead on old 3000s, too.

I plucked a Minidisc at random to test my new unit and found an interview about how Interex decided to put distance between itself and Hewlett-Packard. I wrote about the change in the relationship in 2004, but just a fraction of the interview made it into the NewsWire.

The thing about archival data is it can grow more valuable over time. Context is something that evolves as history rolls on. In the late summer of 2004 it wasn't obvious that Interex was overplaying its hand, reaching for a risk to sell the value of a vendor-specific user group. HP told the group's board of directors that user group support was going to be very different in 2005. The reaction to the news sealed the fate of the group. It began with a survey, shifted to a staff recommendation, and ended up as a board decision.

The recorded 2004 interview now puts those views and choices in context. You'll care about this if you ever need a user group, wonder how your enterprise vendor will support customers' desires, or hope to understand how corporate resources influence partnerships.

The key interview quote that made its way into our "HP World stands at brink of changes" report was a line from then-board president Denys Beauchemin. “We’re not competing with HP,” Beauchemin said about HP World 2005. “HP’s going to be there next year. HP will scale back drastically.” The scaling back was a correct assessment. The competition turned out to change everything.

The demise of a 31-year-old user group might seem like an inevitability from a 2017 perspective. Connect is the user group serving anyone in the HP Enterprise market today. It's joined by the small CAMUS user society, the same one that discussed and uncovered the strategy to get beyond the year 2027 with MPE/iX. Membership in both groups is free. Back in 2004 those were $99 memberships, with thousands to count on.

The rescued recording from that chat with Beauchemin gave me context a-plenty to absorb.

What HP said is they have four user group events to go to next year. They're trying to cut back. They're trying to do an HP-produced show and invited user groups to attend.

HP aimed to replace its spending on user group-run HP shows with one event. Cutting back was always going to happen in the plan. Interex got notice a year before it collapsed that HP's spending was going to drop.

If we decide to do our own thing, then HP will be at HP World in San Francisco — but it would not be with the same presence they had in the past. No huge booth. They will scale back drastically. They would sponsor and endorse HP World. It's not like they're yanking the rug out from under us, not at all.

There was no rug-pulling. The deck of the Good Ship User Expo Floor was tilting hard, though. HP said it was going to do enough of a show to let user groups will share revenues from an HP Expo “to support and sustain those organizations," adding that "The user groups’ charters are not to drive revenue and profit, but to train end-users in a way that the groups can recover costs.”

The revenue and profit was the charter of any Interex show. An organization with teeth needs to be fed. Now Interex had a competitor: the vendor at its own heart. Customers and vendors had a choice to make about conferences.

They respect the independence of Interex. They really like the advocacy survey and all of the other stuff we do— which is very much in keeping with our screaming at HP, but in a nice way.

The screaming was customer communication that dated back to the 1980s. A management roundtable was a publicity and customer relations minefield starting in the 1990s. Interex considered itself an advocacy group first. The engine of its enterprises, though, was booth sales for its annual expo.

If we were to go with HP in their mega-event, the impact would be in terms of the independence of third party folks we could have at the show. 

The archival recording off my replacement hardware took note of the kinds of vendors who'd never make it onto an HP-run expo floor. Competitors in systems, in storage, in services. Interex needed those prospects to fill up a healthy show floor.

To his credit, Beauchemin and the board recognized HP was essential to the conference's survival. 

If HP were to say it wasn’t interested in going to San Francisco in 2005, then we would have an issue. They haven't said they'd do that. HP is trying to cut back on the number of events they go to — especially the ones that are not in their control.

The group used this decision process about control: First, survey members about moving closer to HP and giving up independence—and learning that 55 percent favored that move. Then the user group staff got a shot at developing a recommendation about staying independent or ceding control of the conference to HP. Finally, the board took a vote based on that recommendation. There was a short timeframe to decide.

HP World 2004 is fast approaching. We need a story to tell about HP World 2005.

It's easy to see, in the context of 2017, that a user group staff would recommend staying on a course to keep projects and jobs in group control. It's hard to see how a board would vote to oppose any recommendation of joining with HP. So there was an approval to stay at a distance from HP. Cutting across the desires of any organization's managers is tough. What turned out to be just as hard was finding enough revenue to keep the organization alive.

The exhibitors and community leaders who helped found the group already saw a show that focused elsewhere. The fate of HP World had more impact on the 3000 customers who are leaving the platform than those who staying to homestead.

“It’s all focused on migration,” said Terry Floyd of the ERP support company the Support Group. “I expect that a lot of the 3000 people at HP World will be looking for HP 9000 solutions. We’re sending someone to talk to partners on the Unix and Integrity side.”

Pursuing a bigger relationship with partners who competed with HP had a huge cost. It was a risk that the group couldn't afford by the next year. One of the most senior members of the 3000 community said the end was in sight for Interex.

“HP would rather not spend another dime on something that has no future with them,” Olav Kappert said. “It will first be SIG-IMAGE, then other HP 3000 SIGs will follow. Somewhere in between, maybe even Interex will disappear.”

10:40 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 18, 2017

Reaching for replacement systems is news

IMG_2873Replacing HP's 3000 hardware is a natural occurrence in a homesteader's life. Components and systems built in the middle 1990s wear out after 20 years of use, whether it's frequent or infrequent. I felt the same way when I checked out the stored recordings here in my offices. I've been at conferences and interviews with a recorder since 1996. I used Sony's Minidisc all the way through the middle 2000s. It was better at indexing than cassettes. Finding anything is the real magic trick once the talk or the interview is done.

A homesteader might feel the same way about their applications and data created for MPE/iX. My Minidisc recorder above that failed was built in 2001 and like an HP 3000 of that era, alas, it runs its recordings no more. I could walk away from the Minidiscs — a couple of dozen at 74 minutes each — and assure myself nothing of value would be there.

MZ-R50Homesteaders don't have that luxury because their applications are so much harder to replace. It's easier for them to replace their aged hardware. My replacement Minidisc unit that's on its way was built even earlier than the one that just failed on me. The new-to-me MZ R-50 scheduled to arrive Saturday was first sold in 1997. The one that eBay's delivering might be a little less aged than that. But it's safe to say my replacement system will be 18 years old. It's advertised as still-working. Lots of its brethren are being sold for parts only.

In 1997 Hewlett-Packard was rolling out the Series 997, a high-end server that delivered the best performance numbers MPE/iX could claim by that fall. The Series 997 sold for $327,930 for a single-processor server, including a 100-user license, 512Mb of memory, a console and a UPS. IMAGE/SQL was part of that package, but the real value there is the compatibility with the applications—the equivalent of those talks and interviews.

IMG_2874That 997 server costs as little as $1,200 for a 5-processor unit today. A homesteader will need to arrange an MPE/iX license to step into that replacement hardware. I don't need a license to run those old Minidiscs, but I don't get the same level of hardware discount, either. The $329 R-50 now sells for $71. It will, if it arrives in working shape, run these recorded bits of 3000 history above.

That's 80 percent off for the 1997 Minidisc, and almost 100 percent off for the Series 997-500. The mere availability of 1997 hardware for business or recording is a testament to good design and the willingness to spurn change.

The 997 was sold in the fall of 1997 as network-ready, something not to be taken for granted just three years after the Web emerged. ARPA Services was how HP described the industry-standard networking software. HP changed customers for each new IO slot for the card cage to increase capacity (the $950 part A1828AZ). A DDS-3 DAT tape Autoloader was $7,999.

Today's tape systems that still work for these classic beasts usually sell for under $200. The tape is a moving component, much like the Minidiscs are. Again, that they're sold at all is the miracle of us all staying connected. A simple search for "Series 997 replacement hardware" turns up parts for a Porsche. Adding "HP 3000" to the front of that search points to a web page from Cypress Technology.

In addition to being forced to pay a much greater part of my original Minidisc recorder price, I also don't have the emulation option which MPE/iX apps enjoy. There's no equivalent of the Stromasys Charon HPA virtualized server in the Minidisc world. The Minidisc recorder-players didn't do much calculation, although I could tag and name recordings and jockey through them using a crude thumbwheel input.

By the end of the week I'll see how well an 18-year-old business recorder has survived in the wild. It will do well to perform like an HP 3000 does after two decades. But the hardware vitality is not really news to us, is it? Oh, and the Minidisc media—that's still for sale (new) today.

07:50 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 15, 2017

Making a 3000 respond to networks, faster

I have a new HP 3000 A-500 installation that I can't Telnet to. Ping works both ways, but I get nothing with Reflection's Telnet. What do I need to check on the 3000 to get Telnet running?

Robert Schlosser says:

Two things come to mind: Check if the JINETD job is running [run it by streaming JINETD.NET.SYS]; and if the line "telnet 23/tcp" is in your SERVICES.NET.SYS file.

Donna Hofmeister adds:

You also need to have INETDCNF.NET configured.

There's a collection of 'samp' files in .NET that in most cases need to be copied to their 'real' file name in order to make TCP/INETD networking work.

Hofmeister, one of the community's more experienced hands with the standard Unix and Posix utilities built into MPE/iX and the HP 3000, explains.

The samp files are 

BPTABSMP -- bootptab (most people don’t use)
HOSTSAMP -- hosts
INCNFSMP -- inetd configuration
INSECSMP -- inetd security 
NETSAMP  -- reachable networks
NSSWSAMP -- nsswitch
PROTSAMP -- protocol
RSLVSAMP -- DNS resolving
SERVSAMP -- services

I believe each of the files also has a counterpart in /etc which is a link to the real file in .NET.SYS. If the real files are missing from .NET.SYS then many things (including Telnet and FTP) won’t work.
Our N-Class response times have slipped into unusable measurements. Linkcontrol only shows an issue with Recv dropped: addr on one path. Our enterprise network monitoring software sends a packet that the HP 3000 cannot handle. Do I need to shutdown and restart JINETD or restart the network to have my TCP changes in NMMGR take effect?

Craig Lalley wonders:

How are your gateways defined? If you change the gateway

NSCONTROL ;UPDATE=INTERNET

then you could try deleting the wrong gateway and see if it helps. You may have a router broadcasting a wrong gateway.

Hofmeister says the problems might be in the physical layer:

Did you change NMMGR before or after the reboot? If after, you're going to want to reboot again. Your packet loss is disturbing. I'd be suspicious of a physical layer problem.

Problems in the physical layer can be addressed by replacing parts, Mark Landin advises.

  • Could be a bad network cable or connector. Replace them.
    Could be a bad network switch port. Connect the system to another port (properly configured, of course).
  • Could be a bad NIC. Swap them in the 3000 and see if the problem moves with the card.

Hofmeister points back to TCP timer issues"

On PCI (A- and N-Class) systems with 100bt cards, you're more likely to see 'recv dropped: addr' counts due to the way the card handles (or not, actually) traffic routed for a different destination.

Typically these counts are nothing to be concerned about. What is concerning are the TCP statistics.  Retransmits are almost always a function of using the default (or otherwise messed up) TCP timers.

08:23 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 13, 2017

Forbes news not fake, but it's surely slanted

Fortran-coding-formIt was an odd encounter to see the HP 3000 show up on the Forbes website recently. An article about technology and school systems mentioned the server in a sideswipe of a wisecrack. Justin Vincent, a CTO at a school software vendor, wondered aloud how 1970s computing would've handled a 20-student computer lab.

Since the HP 3000 has been a K-12 solution for more than 30 years, Vincent's article took aim at the computer. It was just a glancing blow.

When people first started talking about education technology in the '70s, technology itself was the main blocker. We simply didn’t have the capacity to scale networks. Our devices were huge, input methods were clunky, the cost of each device was prohibitive and there was simply no understanding of how to design easy-to-use K-12 software with individualized and blended features.

Can you imagine if a school district did decide to set up a 20-student computer lab in the '70s? With Hewlett Packard's first “small business” computer (the HP 3000), it would have cost the equivalent of $10 million, and the computers alone would fill up a standard-size classroom!

I was a student in a K-12 classroom in the 1970s. Instead of putting us high school seniors though advanced algebra, we could take a Computer Science course. I was eager to do this and learned that the only lab work we'd do in our parochial high school was filling out an IBM coding form (above) with FORTRAN commands. The actual IBM 029 keystrokes had to happen at the University of Toledo labs. We brought the green-bar output back to the classroom to debug our efforts.

It felt unfair to see those quotes around "small business" computer, though. The 3000 was a genuine small business solution compared to the mainframes. I also wonder how a 20-user 2000 of the late 1970s could have occupied a full classroom. Even in that day, terminals could fit on an average lab desk. The dimensions of tape drive, disk, and CPU still would leave room for students and instructors. Even the small Catholic school classrooms could accommodate a Series III with room to spare.

The writing arrived in the blogosphere by way of Forbes' Community Voice. In the 1970s this was called advertorial, the kind of copy I had to write as a young journalist to meet an advertiser's needs. By 2017 this writing is now being farmed out straight to the advertiser's staff. At least we had to label our advertorials as un-news. What might come as news is the HP 3000 is still running school administration in a few places.

Quintessential School Systems was sold into the portfolio of Harris School Solutions early this year. QSS broke a lot of ground for K-12 software systems, and at the time of its transfer in February there were still some customers waiting for their migration to the Linux version of OASIS.

The QSS saga included a long-term migration campaign of HP 3000 users. When HP cut its 3000 plans short in 2001, finding a replacement platform with no such single-vendor trap door was paramount to QSS. Well before the environment was established as a commercial choice, QSS went down a path toward Linux. The company calls this Version L, with the migrations coming away from Version H. This past year, the majority of QSS sites crossed over from the 3000 to Linux use.

Harris and QSS are in the administrative space for school software, while Vincent's firm Modern Teacher is pushing its spear of digital convergence to modernize the classroom pedagogy. That the HP 3000 would appear on the radar of a cloud-based software vendor — even as a "back in the day" reference — speaks to the legacy of MPE/iX. OASIS's days might be numbered on 3000 hardware. Other applications are going forward on the OS, though, carried by the virtualization strategy that puts "small business" computing on servers that fit onto a closet shelf.

 

07:38 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 11, 2017

Still migrating after all these years

Project-scheduleI began writing about migrations only in 2001, after HP decided that moving was the way forward for 3000 folk. I already had 17 years on the 3000 beat by then. Much has happened over these last 16 years, and yet, less than you would think in some places. Companies began in earnest to move away from MPE/iX, sometimes for very good reasons. For example, if your application vendor starts sending you end-of-life warnings for your software, it's a good time to plan for a trip away from an HP 3000.

At other kinds of companies, migration seemed to be the safest way forward. Starting sooner than later was part of the 3000 ethos, too. That ethos might be one reason why some 3000 customers were working in their second decade of departing the 3000. The apps that were not broken didn't have to replaced right away, did they?

Eleven years have gone by since I produced this 8-minute podcast about one of those customers. From the very first year of the Transition Era we knew about the Speedware shop at Virginia International Terminals. VIT was a success story HP shared with its uncertain customers. VIT made the move to HP's Unix and all was well.

However, more than four years later (in 2006) not everything was moved off the 3000. Earlier this year we heard from someone at VIT about replacing their final MPE/iX app. This year. An interesting thing happened on the way to the exit. First they found the job bigger than they could handle themselves. To their credit, their IT management saw a bigger picture. Why just have a functional migrated application? You want it as efficient as it can be.

Back in 2006 VIT thought that way. It tested its migration about 18 months later than expected. Not everything made its way through that assisted migration process. VIT must have found a way to let migration pay its way, permitting a bit of functional MPE/iX to be left alone. Our 2006 podcast talks about the Why of a migration, as well as what happens when that Why changes.

Start to finish from 2002-2017 might be the longest term of any migration. A good 3000 manager doesn't care how long it takes. They care if it's done right—and on the schedule that best suits their organization. The podcast made a point back then which continues to be true. It's your calendar that matters.

08:15 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Podcasts, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 08, 2017

Distributor seeks 3000 experts for contract

Help-wantedIt doesn't happen often, but the 3000 world has a request for experts in the employment market. Dwight Demming at National Wine & Spirits posted a notice yesterday, saying he needed two to three "HP 3000 programmers to work on a year-long project."

NWS has been a 3000 user since the 1990s, running an in-house application that tracks shipping of, well, wine and spirits. The customer has always been a forward-looking shop. A few years back the company in Oak Brook Illinois was using Hillary Software's byRequest to move its email and PDF from the 3000 to computers in the rest of the IT environment. byRequest is built to extract and distribute reporting from any HP 3000 application.

Kim Borgman of National Wine & Spirits said at the time, "We [use it to] e-mail all our reports now. Hardly any printing happens on the line printer anymore." byRequest will support secure FTP as well as standard FTP.

The current assignment at the company calls for programmers who are "highly skilled in COBOL, Image/SQL, and VPlus. The work can be done remotely, Demming said in his posting, "with occasional visits to Oak Brook."

The biggest payoff for the employment offer might be in the final line of Demming's post: "Possibly leading to full-time employment." That might be HP 3000 and MPE/iX work, or it might be work on a migrated platform. But a year's worth of HP 3000 work starting around 2018 is a benefit few people could have forseen back when HP turned off its MPE/iX lab lights seven years ago.

Applications for the jobs can be sent to Demming at his email address.

08:21 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 06, 2017

Staying on target is tough for 3000's exiles

3000 firing squadThe perspective of tech veterans who left the 3000 community used to sway opinions of those who remained. Vendors sold services like support or software for MPE/iX. Then HP made sales difficult by striking the 3000 off its price lists. So the vendors and IT pros who couldn't make a sale or a living left our world. Some departed and remained wistful and respectful of what HP created for MPE/iX. Others have not done so. They departed and began to disrespect and mock the tech solution that made them a pro.

It makes no sense, they've now said for more than a decade, to put any more resources into MPE/iX or a 3000. Some exiles once lined up a 3000 in a cornfield and shot it up with weapons. The act was an effort at comedy. (A great actor on his deathbed reminded the world that dying was easy, and comedy is hard.) The cornfield gunfire was ruthless because those shooters were targeting a legacy.

The bullets hit the computer, but the shooters were off target. The firing squad treatment included an arsenal worthy of Yosemite Sam. A cannon missed the mark and had to be wheeled closer. The buffoons acted out a fantasy, the finale of what they called “an HP 3000 mainframe computer.” 

Those shots felt the same as those the 3000's devotees have endured in the Migration Era. The era is just about over, but so many of its exits were based on fears of parts inventories gone dry or a lack of vendor attention. Some vendors turned on their community, stoking new business by running down the old success. Those parts are rare, they say, and you can pay us to help you change your mind. HP ran aground with its strategies for computing. Now the CEO is leaving and saying that technology wisdom has a better chance of hitting the value target than business experience.

The web, social media, and even 20-year-old mailing lists have made civil speech an endangered species. It's not professional or honest to label a line of work, and those who do it, as "stupid." That ignorant distain has given us Fake News and Alternative Facts. Crackpots and nincompoops make for outlandish exiles. Building something up by tearing something else down still remains Bad Form, as Captain Hook said in Peter Pan. Misfires on migrations have turned three-year exits into 12-year boondoggles. 

I'm sitting on a story about one of those odysseys. After HP gave the 3000 a bum's rush to the business door, the exiles' potshots at MPE's value rang out. Catcalls at MPE from the 3000's exiles won't put such odysseys on course. The simple math of taking four times longer to do something than planned—well, that's a True Fact, even if it's not often told. The target for why anything happens can be tough to find. When life doesn't turn out as you hoped, and your 3000 lifetime doesn't last, taking blind shots at a legacy always looked like going off half-cocked.

11:35 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 04, 2017

2028 was never MPE's end of life date

HourglassEven though it was designed in the late 1960s, MPE never had an end of life date. Hewlett-Packard chose to call its end of business deadline for MPE/iX the 3000's end of life. HP was done in December of 2010, but the end of life claim was never true. Now we've learned that not even the expiration of the CALENDAR intrinsic's accuracy, in 10 years from this month, won't make the 3000 die, either.

During the latest CAMUS conference call, a few developers and support providers made the future clear. The year 2028 would not be the moment when a 3000 would fail to boot up and run software including the MPE/iX OS. This was only the year when CALENDAR wouldn't be useful.

"I'm hearing the system won't roll over and die on January 1, 2028," said one 3000 owner during the call. 

"Correct," said Doug Werth at Beechglen. "There are some things that may stick at 2027, depending on how the code was written." Some dating features go back to 1900 for the YYYY elements of the date fields. "There are a lot of places in the operating system that still use the CALENDAR format," Werth added.

Support providers can prepare repairs for the places where MPE uses CALENDAR. The seven companies with source code for the 3000's OS, such as Pivital Solutions, can craft more elegant solutions.

Terry Floyd of the Support Group said MANMAN calls CALENDAR in the subroutine SLJDMPE, "which is used all over the place." Floyd has identified and outlined a repair for MANMAN's source code that permits the MPE/iX application to run until 2049.

Nobody has had much conversation about another alleged end of life date for alternatives to MPE/iX. Unix and its date handling routines stop being accurate in 2038. It's also true for Linux, which drives a lot of the enterprise applications that have tried to replace 3000 apps, as well as much of the cloud-based servers like Amazon's. End of life is not a phrase used in that discussion, one so prevalent that Year 2038 has its own Wikipedia page.

The latest time that can be represented in Unix’s signed 32-bit integer time format is 03:14:07 UTC on Jan. 19, 2038. The date is 2,147,483,647 seconds after Jan. 1, 1970. (Both MPE used 1 January 1900 as a start date.) Beyond that time in that January of 2038, due to integer overflow, Unix time values will be stored as a negative number and the Unix and Linux systems will read the date as Dec. 13, 1901 rather than Jan. 19, 2038. There's even a cute animation of what the cutover will look like 20 years from now.

Embedded Linux is getting some attention for its date failure situation. Linux uses a 64-bit time_t for 64-bit architectures only; the pure 32-bit Application Binary Interface would not be changed due to backward compatibility. Embedded Linux systems would then support 64-bit time_t on 32-bit architectures, too.

At least MPE's CALENDAR will continue to provide the correct date of the correct month on the first day of 2028. A pivot point might be one way to resolve that for any customer who cannot modify application source code. The modification would use HPCALENDAR as a replacement for CALENDAR.

As we expected and hoped, MPE experts are already thinking about how to resolve Y2028. That they'd be doing so here in 2017 should be proof enough that the end of life of MPE/iX is far away. That's not so for the HP 3000—although an emulated 3000 has got a hardware end of life. Stromasys Charon relies on Linux, so there's work afoot to resolve that, too.

01:29 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 01, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: ODE's 3000 diagnostics

DiagnosticsOne diagnostic super-program, ODE, holds a wide range of tests for HP's 3000 hardware. These testing programs got more important once HP mothballed its Predictive Support service for the HP 3000 in 2006. Predictive would dial into a 3000, poke around to see what might be ready to fail, then report to HP's support engineers. ODE's diagnostics are a manual way to perform the same task, or fix something that's broken.

However, ODE includes programs that require a password. Stan Sieler has inventoried what was available in MPE/iX and examined each program for whether it's unlocked for customer use. That was back in the days when 3000 owners were still HP support customers. Today the 3000 owners are customers of third party support firms like Pivital Solutions, or Sieler's own Allegro. The locked programs remain in that state, more than six years after HP shuttered its support operations.

ODE's options received a run-through from Sieler.

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

Note: 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.

DISKEXPT2 
Version B.00.23

Note: Needs a password

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

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.

NIKEARRY2
Version B.01.12

Needs a password

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.)

WDIAG
Version A.01.53

Needs a password

WDIAG is the PCXW ODE-based diagnostic program. It tests the processor of the various PCXW-based systems in the offline environment. The program consists of 150 sections, 1/150, which 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)

IOTEST2 
Version B.00.35

PERFVER2
Version B.00.15

06:09 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)