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January 31, 2018

What to do when there's no HP patch

PatchesPatches and workarounds will be a continuing part of the 3000 manager's life, even here in the second decade of the 3000's Afterlife. You can get patches if you want 'em. You may want a workaround instead.

A custom workaround is a more reliable repair for something that's not operating correctly inside MPE. The very last round of patches which HP built were not tested to HP's standard. By now there's no more HP work for new repairs.

Some independent support providers know the 3000 as well as anyone left at HP. Some of the biggest and best-connected vendors have a license for MPE/iX source code, because a patch isn't what most customers want. Such a thing has to be tested, and a lot of production 3000s are under lockdown today. Changes are not welcome.

Enter the indie patching potential for MPE/iX. Binary patches are much more of a possibility when source code is in the hands of a support company. There were seven licensees who got MPE/iX source back in 2010. Working with a support firm that's got source is one step closer to a custom patch.

The path to patching can be tricky for some owners. "MPE folks are very reluctant to patch," said Donna Hofmeister, former OpenMPE board member. "The HP-UX folks are often desperate to patch."

It’s been 10 years since OpenMPE wanted to administer patches, post-HP, and HP hasn't released this software into the wild yet. Back then patches were nearly in the wild, and definitely free; a 3000 owner could call the Response Center and get a PowerPatch tape or a link for a download at no cost—if they could find a Response Center rep who understood what a 3000 was. 

Hofmeister says she's confused about the current state of IT management. "It's probably a gray-beard/hair thing, but I've always worked in shops where keeping your mission critical servers under support was essential — both to upper management and to the auditors."

"More and more now, it's this 'it's running fine, leave it alone' management attitude. It more often than not winds up biting the company in the rear. I don't know how IT managers keep their jobs when it's their decisions that halt production for days, weeks, or months at a time."

HP decided to charge for patches in 2011 by forcing customers into full support agreements, and "in the long run, this is part of why HP-UX has stagnated, and is probably on life-support at this point," Hofmeister says.  "If they had, say, created a "subscription" support level that only provided patch access, I think their ecosystem would be healthier (albeit not robust)."

Those beta release patches have become the stuff of some legend. Several 3000 support resources said they don't have betas. One said he didn't even know of any. The general-released patches are on hand, though, and owners will share catalogs of them for some informal supply of the software. One system expert said "I was hoping to get them online someday—when I wouldn't get into trouble."

07:12 PM in Homesteading | Permalink

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