« January 2018 | Main | March 2018 »

February 28, 2018

An Opening for MPE's Closing Numbers

OpenMPEHeaderTen years ago this month OpenMPE was holding one of its last contested board elections. Spring meant new questions and sometimes new people asking them. The advocacy group launched in the wake of HP's 3000 pullout notice never had a staff beyond its directors. Once in awhile a 3000 expert like Martin Gorfinkel would be contracted for a project, but most of the time the six to nine volunteers from the 3000 community debated with HP on every request, desire and crazy dream from a customer base stunned into transition.

Directors operated on two-year terms, and those elected in 2008 were the last to serve theirs in the era when HP operated an MPE/iX lab. While the lights were still on at HP, there was some hope homesteaders might receive more help. OpenMPE was in charge of asking, but could report nothing without HP's okay.

OpenMPE never pulled from a deep base of volunteers. Most elections featured the likes of nine people running for seven seats, so a long list of losing candidates was never part of the results. The ballots came through from members of the group via emails. Here at the NewsWire I counted them and had them verified by a board committee. In the biggest of elections we saw 111 votes cast.

OpenMPE Links
OpenMPE's 2009 patch proposal

The 2008 election revolved around source code licensing for MPE/iX. The vendor would report the last of its end-game strategies by November, and the end of HP's 3000 lab activity was to follow soon after. Support with fixes to security problems and patches would be over at the end of 2008, and that made the election important as well. There was no promise yet of when the source code might be released, to who, or under what conditions. It looked like HP was going to shut down the MPE/iX lab with beta test patches still not moved to general release.

Getting candidate positions on the record was my role. I dreamed up the kinds of questions I wanted HP to answer for me. HP only promised that by 2010 customers would know whether source would be available and to who. A question to candidates was, "Is it acceptable for the vendor to wait until the start of 2010, as  it plans to do now?"

The question was more confrontational than the volunteers could ask. HP controlled the terms of the discussion as well as the content. Hewlett-Packard held conference calls with volunteers for the first five years of the group's existence, but the calls stopped in 2008. 

Fewer than 30 people ever served on an OpenMPE board. The list was impressive, but keeping good talent like consultant and columnist John Burke or Pivital Solutions' Steve Suraci was tough. Directors like that always wanted more out of HP than the vendor would provide: more transparency, more resources. Of the final three to volunteer, Keith Wadsworth was the only one ever to ask the board to consider if OpenMPE should continue to exist. His election in 2010 gave him the platform to demand an answer. During the next year the directors dwindled to three. 

The group was finally granted a license for MPE source, but it had little else as an asset. There was a $10,000 fee due to HP in 2010 for that license which the group couldn't pay. It also didn't have developers who'd polish it toward any productive use among 3000 customers. That source code was like metal stock without a drill press to shape it, or even an operator.

Staffing resource was always an issue. The group did its best work when it pointed out the holes HP had left behind in its migration strategy for customers. A license transfer process would've never surfaced without OpenMPE's efforts. As of this year, license transfers are the only remaining HP 3000 service a customer can get from HP Enterprise.

Springtime in the 3000's Transition Era replaced the summers of Interex advocacy. During the spring hard questions would be asked in public of people whose mission was getting answers and making promises. HP always gave a nod of thanks to OpenMPE but never portrayed the group as the keystone to the homesteading experience. After awhile the group began to hope HP would find a gracious way to contribute source code to the community.

A limited number of licensees was all the community would ever get. As he ran for his board seat in 2008, Tracy Johnson said that it was fruitless to tell HP a 2010 deadline for source news was unacceptable. Even while customers continued to drift away, HP held all the cards, he said.

It is apparent HP cares not one wit whether OpenMPE declares any decision "acceptable" or not, and making such declarations isn't going to gain any friends at HP.  We're more like a public TV station that needs a telethon every once in a while to keep us going.  But there's only one donor with the currency (MPE) to make it worthwhile, and that is HP. The one accomplishment that OpenMPE needs to put under its belt is to get HP to work with us, and not be at odds with each other.  Everything else hinges on this.

Third parties were supposed to negotiate their own separate contracts for support tool licensing. Testing the beta patches thoroughly using OpenMPE volunteers was proposed and Johnson signed off on it. The volunteer group couldn't line up testing resources, which didn't matter because HP didn't release the beta patches for tests beyond HP's support customers. Nobody even knew for sure if patches were something customers desired.

"Addressing the question of testing," Wadsworth said 10 years ago this spring, "although the OpenMPE board members and  members at large command considerable expertise, it does not seem apparent that OpenMPE as a whole has the ability, let alone the infrastructure, to  conduct such testing."

Higher-order proposals—like un-crippling the final generation of 3000 boxes—went unpursued, too. It seemed like HP was shutting down this product line. Why give customers the rights to full use of their servers at shutdown? "This type of change  would not only add new breath to the e3000, it would add new life to a platform that is being shut down," Wadsworth said in answering a candidate question. "So because of the unlikelihood of this happening I do not think it is a direction that OpenMPE should concentrate resources on at this time."

Source was released and licensed in the spring of 2010, and the group did the advocacy for the transfer of licenses, and to include an emulator clause in that license transfer. By the end of the effort, funding came from loans and contributions from the board members." The group's chairman Jack Connor, the next to last leader, said "the contributions showed their commitment to the OpenMPE concept."

That concept changed constantly over the almost nine years of the group's existence. It began with the desire to get HP to open up source code and technology about a server it was discontinuing. Then the mission was the creation of a 3000 emulator. MPE/iX licensing issues, as well as necessary but overlooked HP procedures for migration, because the longest-term mission.

HP's Dave Wilde, the penultimate HP 3000 business manager, said that OpenMPE was an important part of HP’s planning for a post-2008 ecosystem for the platform. Springtime elections offered hope that the ecosystem would flourish. 

 

 

08:19 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 26, 2018

Overview compares emulation strategies

MBFA Emulation OptionsMB Foster has put some of its Wednesday Webinars online for streaming. A link to a web page leads to a form for input of your name and email, and eventually a return message gives a link to the streams. The company has a lot of firsts to its name for transition training, and this might be the first delivery online of 3000-specific advice since HP's migration broadcasts of 15 years ago.

Much of the online content wraps around the MB Foster product line: UDACentral, UDASynch, and MBF-Scheduler all have webinars. One broadcast, though, promises to be one of the first overviews of emulation strategies. These are the ways customers can re-host HP 3000 applications. Virtualization, using the Charon HPA solution from Stromasys, is the ultimate solution discussed in 45 minutes of presentation.

"I don't think there's anybody else in the marketplace that's given an overview of the emulators," said MB Foster's Chris Whitehead. "It's been up to each individual company to decipher what they can and cannot use."

He's right, and the webinars from early this year and the middle of last year give a broad overview of what emulation might look like. It's an interesting term with many definitions, according to our overview. For some planners, this word means getting away from MPE/iX-based hardware, creating a shell on a Windows or Unix host where MPE/iX apps run. The infrastructure and surround code changes, along with databases and services like job streaming. A more current solution, from Stromasys, gives modern Intel hosts a Linux cradle, where a PA-RISC lookalike runs existing MPE/iX code, infrastructure and all. Nothing changes except the hardware in that emulation.

CEO Birket Foster said some of his customers have deployed the Charon emulator. A few on the call said the overview was helpful in understanding the options for emulation.

The link to the emulation show is available by following the MB Foster link to its email-collection page. One pass through what the company calls HP 3000 Emulation Options (free signup required) has about 45 minutes of review including slides. The Stromasys information shows up at the 34:00 mark of the show, which includes summaries of EZ-MPE, TI/Ordat, and Marxmeier's Eloquence database — the latter a TurboIMAGE lookalike.

The goal of most emulation is to keep changes to a minimum. Charon does the most complete job of limiting change.HP helped emulation become virtualization for 3000s. Emulation of HP's hardware on Intel came to our community after Stromasys re-engineered code for PA-RISC boot up. HP gave help directly to the company to complete the project after a long pause on HP's part.

Along the way toward explaining how Stromasys became a part of the MB Foster customer experience, there's a comment about the help OpenMPE provided in the effort. After OpenMPE's eight years of lobbying and negotiations, HP in 2010 ultimately made a source code license for MPE/iX available to the market. Seven companies licensed it. Stromasys (called SRI at the time) was not a licensee, though. The code was important to support providers, of course, companies like Pivital Solutions

Adager and Ordat -- the latter the European supplier of the IMAGE wrapper technology mentioned in the webinar, the former the market leader in IMAGE tools -- were among the software development companies, along with healthcare application vendor Neil Harvey & Associates. Pivital Solutions, Allegro Consultants, Beechglen Development and Terix got right to the source code in support of their HP 3000 customers.

The licenses delivered code that couldn't be used in the marketplace until January 1, 2011, the first day that HP no longer offered HP 3000 support services. HP described the read-only licenses as a means for "delivery of system-level technical support."

Whatever the benefits of source code might be for the market—workarounds are a big plus for tech problems on the 3000—emulation in it's least-changing definition doesn't have a link to MPE/iX source.

The link between MPE/iX and the Charon emulation lies in its unique ability to run any code built for the 3000 hardware on Intel systems. OpenMPE opened its quest in 2002 for post-HP 3000 use by hoping for an open source version of MPE. Open hardware arrived instead, using the Stromasys product, an emulation of the iron that HP stopped building in 2003.

08:31 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 23, 2018

Friday Fine-tune: Check on LDEV availability

Is there a way to have an HP 3000 jobstream check to see if a tape drive (LDEV) is available? I am not seeing a HP system variable that seems to list the status. I can see via a SHOWDEV that the device is available or not. I just need a jobstream to be able to do the same.

Roy Brown replies

We use a utility, apectrl.pub.orbit, that we found in our ORBIT account alongside Backup+. We use this, in a command file run as a jobstream, to check that tapes are mounted ready for our nightly backups, and, in the backup job itself, to eject them when complete.

Tom Hula says,

It's been awhile since I've messed with the 3000. I have a utility that I received from Terry Tipton many years ago that does that checking. It is called CHKTAPE. So if the tape drive is dev 7, I have CHKTAPE 7 in the jobstream and then check for the results in CHKTAPE_RESULT. We are looking for a value of 0, but here are all the results:

0 - Tape is unowned, online, at BOT and writeable
1 - Tape is unowned, online, at BOT and write protected
2 - An error occurred.  Probably an invalid device number
3 - Device is not a tape drive
4 - Device is owned by another process
5 - Device is owned by the system
6 - Tape is not online
7 - No tape in device

Terry has a reminder that the program must reside in a group with PM capability. I have been using it on all my backups since without any problems. Let me know if you are interested in getting a copy of this utility.

Alan Yeo adds,

We use the little ONLINE utility from Allegro to put a tape on-line, or back on-line; we use it to put automatically back on-line to do a verify after the store.

Donna Hofmeister replies

Here's a scripted solution to the question. MPE has the best scripting language of any OS. Thanks, Jeff (Vance)!

The following will return CI variables that can be easily used in a job:
parm tape=0,entry=main

if "!entry" = "main"
 if "!tape" = "0" or "!tape" = "?"
   echo ![basename(hpfile)] [tape_ldev_num]
   echo              req.
   echo ![basename(hpfile)] is designed to check the 
   echo !desired tape
   echo   device to see if a write-enabled tape is mounted and
   echo   available for use.
   echo
   echo The boolean variable _TAPE_READY will be returned.
   echo The string  variable _TAPE_LABEL will be returned, if available.
   return
 endif
 if numeric("!tape")
   setvar _ct_tape !tape
 else
   echo ERROR: The parameter "!tape" is not numeric
   return
 endif
 file sdtemp;rec=-80,,f,ascii;temp
 if finfo("*sdtemp","exists")
   purge sdtemp,temp
 endif
 errclear
 continue
 showdev !_ct_tape > *sdtemp
 if hpcierr <> 0
   echo !hpcierr   !hpcierrmsg
   escape !hpcierr
 endif
 setvar _ct_tape_ready false
 setvar _tape_ready false
 setvar _tape_label ''
 xeq !hpfile !_ct_tape,process < *sdtemp
 if _ct_tape_ready
   setvar _tape_ready true
 endif
 if _ct_tape_label > ''
   setvar _tape_label _ct_tape_label
 endif
 deletevar _ct_@
 purge sdtemp,temp
 reset sdtemp
elseif "!entry" = "process"
 setvar _ct_eof finfo(hpstdin,'eof')
 while setvar(_ct_eof,_ct_eof-1) >= 0
   input _ct_rec
   if numeric(word(_ct_rec))
     if pos("AVAIL    (W)",_ct_rec) > 0
       setvar _ct_tape_ready true
     endif
     setvar _ct_tape_label   repl(str(_ct_rec,43,14),' ','')
   endif
 endwhile
endif

In a job, it might look something like this:

!chktape 7
!if not _TAPE_READY
! tellop No Tape is mounted
! setjcw jcw=fatal
!endif

09:03 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 21, 2018

HP's Enterprise reports a rising Q1 tide

HPE Hybrid IT Q1 2017
Source: HPE reports. Click for details.

As her parting gift to incoming CEO Antonio Neri, HP Enterprise leader Meg Whitman left him with one of the best quarters HPE has posted in years. While the company that makes systems to replace the HP 3000 posted 34 cents a share in profits, its revenue from server sales rose by 11 percent, along with gains in storage revenues (up 24 percent) and datacenter networking gear (up 27 percent).

The increase in server sales has been a difficult number to deliver ever since HP stopped supporting the HP 3000. The gains came in the computer lines driven by Intel's chips, not HP's Itanium processors.

An analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy was quoted in the Bay Area's Mercury News as saying "If this is what HPE will look like under new CEO Antonio Neri, investors, customers, partners and employees will be pleased.”

The results came from the final quarter of Whitman's leadership, though. The company is raising its quarterly dividends to almost 12 cents a share, a 50 percent increase, to return money to shareholders. HPE will be buying back its stock throughout 2018 as well. The stock price rose to $18.35 on the report, which beat analysts' estimates of 22 cents a share in profits and $7.1 billion in revenue. HPE's Q1 2018 revenues were $7.7 billion.

Industry Standard Servers—the type of computer system that can drive the Stromasys Charon virtualized MPE/iX environment—came in for specific mention in HP's conference call with analysts. ISS contributed to the overall growth in servers, according to Neri. 

He also commented on the change in US tax laws benefiting HPE ("we have more flexibility in using our overseas cash") and then explained how his HPE Next is going to shift the culture of the corporation that was once ruled by the HP Way.

Neri, the first career-long HP employee to become CEO since Lew Platt in 1993, architected and initiated HPE Next. "It's all about simplification, innovation and execution," he said in a Q&A session with analysts. "I'm pleased with the first quarter performance where we executed well with no disruption. This is an opportunity for me as the new CEO to establish a new culture as we transform the company, and to really architect the company from the grounds up with a clean sheet approach. And this is going to change the culture of the company."

What I learned is the fact that you can push more, you can do more. And the organization is actually very excited about what we’re doing, because this is an opportunity to improve the way serve our customers. So it is very critical initiative for us and we are confident we’re going to deliver not only the improvements in our cost savings but also the way we work and employee productivity. And most importantly that should reflect in our business performance and our customer satisfaction.

Neri said HPE will also be re-investing at a higher level in employee 401k accounts, and assisting in more degreed education "so employees can fulfill their visions in our company as they progress in their careers."

Neri started at HP working in a call center for customer support during the 1990s. Whitman remains on HPE's board of directors after retiring from the corporation's CEO job.

06:46 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 19, 2018

Relief at Finding One Another is Real

Missed-youIt can be difficult to round up a collective of HP 3000 and MPE users. Even the CAMUS user group society meeting of November was dominated by vendors, consultants and non-customers. I began long ago to classify consultants as customers. They're representing a company that needs expertise but can't put an expert on the payroll. During the call one consultant spoke up saying he was doing just that. A representative from Infor was asking how many of the meeting's attendees had MANMAN installed.

After awhile Terry Lanza, who'd organized the meeting conducted on a widespread conference call, asked "Is there an HP 3000 user group still going, or has that kind of folded?" Doug Werth of Beechglen replied, "The user group doesn't really exist much. It's just the HP3000 Listserv."

Even the 3000-L, where the L stands for Listserv, has many moments of absolute quiet. People are curious, reading what's been up there for more than 25 years. But it can be weeks between messages. The Quiet Day Count stands at seven right now, after an exchange about groups residing on multiple volumesets.

That's why it's encouraging to see people like Lanza and Dave Wiseman bring efforts to bear on finding one another. Wiseman, who's hosted some 3000 gatherings over the very-quiet last five years, still has his eye set on a 2018 3000 meeting. He's looking in specific at two dates for a meeting in June: Saturday the 16th or Friday the 22nd. That could be a meeting in Cupertino, or a gathering out on the California coast in Santa Cruz, he says. I'd be voting for that Friday (flights are cheaper on Thursdays) with time to enjoy California for a couple days afterward.

Get in touch with us via email, or better yet with Wiseman, to show a preference. (davebwiseman@googlemail.com or +44 777 555 7017)

The overwhelming emotion I see and hear during meetings like that CAMUS call or an in-person event is relief. "I thought I was the only one left out here running a 3000," someone said during the CAMUS call. You're not, and gatherings reinforce your good stewardship of an IT resource. They might also provide an update on what to do next. It could be virtualization or a migration. Real world experience flows easier in person. You can also learn what you might have missed.

10:18 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 16, 2018

Friday Fine-tune: Deleting Bad System Disks

As HP 3000s age their disks go bad, the fate of any component with moving parts. Even after replacing a faulty drive there are a few software steps to perform. Wyell Grunwald explains his problem after replacing a failed system bootup disk

Our disk was a MEMBER in MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET. I am trying to delete the disk off the system.  Upon startup, the 3000 says LDEV 4 is not available.  When going into SYSGEN, then IO, then DDEV 4, it gives me a warning that it is part of the system volume set — and cannot be deleted. How do I get rid of this disk?

Gilles Schipper of support provider GSA said that INSTALL is something to watch while resetting 3000 system disks.

Sounds like your install did not leave you with only a single MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET disk. Could it be that you have more than one system volume after INSTALL because other, non-LDEV 1 volumes were added with the AVOL command of SYSGEN — instead of the more traditional way of adding system volumes via the VOLUTIL utility?

You can check as follows:

SYSGEN
IO
LVOL

If the resulting output shows more than one volume, that's the answer.

He offers a repair solution as well.

The solution would be as follows:

1. Reboot with:

START NORECOVERY SINGLE-DISC SINGLE-USER

2. With SYSGEN, perform a DVOL for all non-LDEV1 volumes

3. HOLD, then KEEP CONFIG.SYS

4. Create new SLT.

5. Perform INSTALL from newly-created SLT.

6. Add any non-LDEV1 system volumes with VOLUTIL. This will avoid such problems in future.

If you do see only one system volume with the LVOL command, the only thing I can think of is that VOLUTIL was used to add LDEV 4 to the MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET after the install.

07:43 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 14, 2018

Wayback Wednesday: An Armload of Value

Snow with A-ClassOn a February afternoon in a Silicon Valley of 2001, the HP 3000 realized its highest order of invention. The PA-RISC processors had been powering the server for more than 13 years, and HP was working on the next generation of systems. Y2K was already one year into the rear view mirror and the lineup needed a refresh. HP responded by giving the customers a server they could carry under their arms.

The first A-Class model of what HP called the e3000 came into the meeting room of the Interex Solutions Symposium under Dave Snow's arm. The audience was developers, software company owners, and the most ardent of 3000 customers. The box was the realization of a low-cost dream about the 3000s. The installed base had been hoping for hardware that could keep the 3000 even with the Intel-based hardware powering the Windows business alternatives.

Snow was a little out of breath as he came to the front of the meeting room in the Sunnyvale hotel. He set the 3.5-inch-high server down and caught the eyes of people in the crowd, lusting for the computer. "No," he said, "this one is already spoken for in the labs." Like in the older days of Hewlett-Packard, the company created a tool its own engineers wanted to use. He said the computer was the result of a challenge from a customer the year before: "bring a 3000 into the Chicago HP World show you could carry under your arm. It's a portable computer, although it does weigh a bit."

A-ClassCPUsThe A-Class systems cost thousands less per year to support than the Series 9x8 and 9x7s they replaced. HP told resellers A-Class support would be $415-$621 a month for systems running up to 65 percent faster than the older models. But HP also horsepower-throttled the servers in a move to preserve value for the most costly servers already in the market. The HP-UX version of the A-Class was more than twice as fast.

Snow borrowed one of the few that were testing-ready from HP's MPE/iX labs on that day. In a movie of 5 minutes, Snow leads a tour of the advantages the new design offered over the 9x9 and 99x 3000s. HP pulled the covers and cabinet doors off to show internal hardware design.

HP introduced the speedier N-Class systems just a few months later, and so the market had its ultimate generation of Hewlett-Packard hardware for MPE/iX. The 2001 introduction of the A-Class—a computer that sells today for under $1,500 in some price lists—was part of the reason for the whiplash when HP called off its 3000 futures just 9 months after that February day. When the Chicago HP World closed in that summer, it was the last expo where HP's slides showed a future of more innovations.

These 14-year-old systems have been eclipsed by the Intel hardware, but running a virtualization system. The Stromasys Charon HPA is running MPE/iX production applications on servers even smaller than that A-Class. HP had the idea of making its computers smaller. It was up to the virtualization concept to make them both smaller and faster.

07:16 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 12, 2018

MPE/iX keeps propelling relevant history

Professor KanzbergAt a recent meeting of HP 3000 managers running ERP shops, the present conditions and futures surfaced during a discussion. The MANMAN users, running an application on 3000s that hasn't seen an update in more than a decade—like their servers and OS—marveled at the constancy in their community.

Things change slower than expected. A monolithic application like ERP is the slowest of all to change. MPE/iX and its apps are proof: the history of technology is the most relevant history. History makes migration a requirement.

Ed Stein is a board member of the CAMUS user group. At the meeting he said the past three years have not removed many members. The 2028 CALENDAR replacement process caught his eye.

"I chuckled when I read a NewsWire article in 2015 and thought, 'Hey, how many of us are going to be around in 2028?' Well, most of us who were community members in 2015 are still members now," Stein said. "There's a future for those still running on MPE. If you don't like the hardware, then there's Doug Smith [from Stromasys] telling you how to get over that issue. MANMAN could be around in archival use 10 years from now—if not in actual production use."

Stein read that article about the CALENDAR intrinsic's shortcomings and decided he'd plan ahead, just to check off one more crucial challenge to the 3000's useful lifespan. 

"We want there to be a CALENDAR fix sooner than later," Stein said. "Because later, the talent might be retired or gone to fix this thing. We're looking at this as more of an insurance policy. If by chance we're still on this platform 10 years from now, we're going to be okay."

The platform's history is responsible for HP's continued standing in the business computer market, after all. Professor Melvin Kranzberg (above) wrote a set of laws to show how we relate to technology. MPE's relevance is more proven with every subsequent development.

Rule 5 among technology historian Kranzberg's rules: All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant. The laws read as a cheat sheet for explaining our era that includes Facebook, Google, the iPhone—and yes, cloud-based ERP replacements for MANMAN.

From an article in the Wall Street Journal published just after the MANMAN meeting:

The Cold War led to the buildup of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them anywhere on Earth. That led to the development of a war-proof communication system: the internet. Many related innovations subsequently seeped into every aspect of our lives.

But does that mean we owe the modern world to the existential contest between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.? Or was that conflict itself driven by previous technological developments that allowed Hitler to threaten both nations?

Without prior historic events, how could ERP become a system built upon Salesforce and served up from cloud-based computing resources? No MANMAN or HP 3000 success drags back the entry date for the ERP replacements in the cloud.

The 3000 owners preparing for their migrations continue to prove the worth of their investments from the 1990s in MANMAN. 

"You're not alone here in the MANMAN arena," said Doug Werth of Beechglen at the meeting. "MANMAN is still a fairly small subset of companies that are still running HP 3000s. I'm really shocked to say here in this year that there are that many people running HP 3000s. But you're not alone here."

08:56 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 09, 2018

Using a PURGEGROUP to clean volumes up

Empty file cabinetIs using PURGEGROUP a way to clean up where groups reside on multiple volume sets? I want to remove groups from Volumesets that aren't considered HOMEVS.

Tracy Johnson says

The syntax for a command on group PUB.CCC might read

PURGEGROUP PUB.CCC;ONVS=USER_SETSW

Denys Beauchemin says

The ALTGROUP, PURGEGROUP and NEWGROUP commands act on the specified volumeset after the ONVS keyword.

The HOMEVS keyword is used to specify in which volumeset the group is supposed to reside and where the files will be found in a LISTF or FOPEN.

If you have the same group.account existing on multiple volumesets and they have files in them, the entries on volumesets—other than what is in HOMEVS for that group—are invisible. If you want to get to them, you need to point the group's HOMEVS to that volumeset and then you can get to the files.

If there are no files in the group.account of other volumesets, it's not a big deal.

Keven Miller says

You could review the volume scripts available that were once on HP's Jazz server. 

Take care in using  the PURGEGROUP command. You can have files existing in the same group name, on separate volumes—which makes mounting that group a problem. So make sure the group on the volume is clean of files you might desire before the PURGEGROUP.

HP's documentation for the PURGEGROUP command has a similar warning.

In the two pages devoted to PURGEGROUP, the manual says,

Do not attempt to purge the PUB group of the SYS account. The public group of the system account, PUB.SYS, cannot be completely purged. If you specify this group in the group name parameter, all non-system and inactive files are purged, which seriously impairs the proper functioning of the entire system.

04:09 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 07, 2018

Living with what's still working in MPE

Classic-carsSome functionality of MPE/iX will be outliving its accuracy. That's the situation with the CALENDAR intrinsic, which now has less than 10 years of correct capability remaining. Few 3000 support and development companies can reach inside MPE/iX source, and of those, nobody's going to fix the original intrinsic.

"There is no fix inside the CALENDAR routine," says Steve Cooper of Allegro. "There is no pivot point in the CALENDAR routine. It's returning a number from 0 to 127. It's up to the program to decide what to do with that. Or you live with it."

On the latest technical conference call, some companies with access to HP's MPE/iX source were on the line. "If you want to fix the banner when you log in, then you need the source code for MPE," said Doug Werth. "If you want to fix the program that's printing the wrong date on a report, then you need the source code to your program."

To be clear, even having MPE/iX source code won't give CALENDAR more years of accuracy. Werth said that fixing MPE/iX—something the source code companies like Pivital at least have enough license to attempt—isn't an open subject, either. "There's a lot in that HP licensing we're probably not allowed to talk about," he said, speaking of Beechglen.

Chevrolet ApacheLooking the other way and living with what's still working—that's genuinely possible for a 3000 that's not calculating time between transactions. "For this group of people," said CAMUS board member and 3000 manager Terry Simpkins, "if they're still using MANMAN transactionally, they're going to care. If you're in an archive mode where all you're doing is looking up things that happened in the past, not so much."

Many adjustments for declining functionality will come by revising application code. "You can intercept the call to CALENDAR, but the program will be expecting a 16-bit return value in the CALENDAR format," Cooper said. "There's nothing you can do with CALENDAR's value at that point."

The 3000 has been here before. The last time there was a lot of company, as 1999 turned into 2000 for computers from every vendor. CALENDAR won't kill MPE/iX—in that way, it's unlike what the community did for Y2K remediation. 

Allegro was one of the companies that gave 3000 managers date management tools to help get applications beyond Y2K. "I lost a lot of sleep between 1992 and January, 2000," he said. "I'm not losing sleep over this one."

"If you don't have source, and it bothers you, then there are solutions," he added. "The rest of it is cosmetic and you ought to be able to look past that. If you have your application source code, by all means it's simple."

Werth said, "I still have a customer with an application that is not even Y2K compliant. Every year they set their calendar back to the year where the day of the year lines up with the current day of the week. So Wednesday November 16 is still Wednesday, November 16. The year is just wrong."

"There may be some things you just have to live with. You run a report and it says it's 1909 instead of 2037. You live with that. Where it's critical, you figure out a fix for it. Where the applications are having problems, there's plenty of people who will be available to help fix it." 

08:12 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 05, 2018

Migrations Altered to Appear as Emulation

Terms about transition have been fluid and flexible for more than a decade in the 3000 community. People say migration when the solution is actually conversion. Migration has also been called emulation, a status that was the holy grail when HP canceled its 3000 plans. "If only," said the companies dug in on MPE/iX, "there was a way to make something behave like the 3000 value set."

Altered-Carbon-MigrationOpenMPE spent the first four years of its lifespan chasing that ideal. First there was the goal of getting ahold of enough source code that MPE/iX could continue to evolve in labs outside HP. That was shot down right away, and then there was the goal of getting a replacement platform for HP's hardware. The 3000 experience was lashed to PA-RISC and HP wasn't building any more of those servers by 2003.

Enter the first discussions of making a chip that could mimic PA-RISC, a PA-8000 at the least. This emulation was not going to happen in hardware. One plan proposed that HP would continue to make the chips and sell them to a third party vendor. People wanted to believe something.

What people wanted was a way to slip their 3000 computing into a new body, something fresher than HP's old designs. This past weekend, Altered Carbon dropped on Netflix. The story shows how the things that make up our true selves — like the programs custom-built to run a company — can be re-sleeved into a new body. The brain is called a Stack on the show, the body is a Sleeve. Sleeves are disposable for the right price. The Stack is backed up and treasured. You only experience Real Death when your Stack is destroyed.

The magic is moving the Stack into a new Sleeve. The magic was putting MPE/iX stacks onto the disposable sleeves of Intel hardware. After emulation's ideal went into hibernation, Stromasys opened the door back up with software, and true emulation was born. It's been more than five years by now, and the project became a product quickly. Emulation means making one host mimic another. It's got a powerful attraction: limited change and no re-training.

Emulation looks like migration, though, when it walks like it and sounds like it. This kind of emulation ducky takes non-3000 software (Linux, Windows, even Unix) and plants it in place of MPE/iX. The programs will slip across to the new host after revisions and rewrites, work that's usually delivered by the line of code. There are substitutions for surrounding tools (like MPEX, or a job scheduler) that demand retraining. It probably looks different to the users, too, so there's that adjustment.

Migration still has real benefits. It walks and sounds a lot different than a software engine that takes 3000 programs and runs them on Intel hardware. Emulation has no other changes except to learn how to replace the oil in the engine and learn how to start it up. Charon, really. Everything else is migration. If you'll be headed to migration, it's a straighter path acknowledge you'll migrate and find an agent to apply that change. The 3000's had years of camouflage offered as emulation. In place of a real emulator, it was the best way forward.

Real migration doesn't pretend to be emulation. Migration of legacy systems assumes there are better tech solutions that have been established since the 2001 design of MPE/iX and PA-RISC. Genuine migration retains business logic, line by line, with whatever service expertise is needed. You get what you pay for because you need more. It's not the best solution if all you need is non-HP iron.

You get more from real migration than from emulation. More changes, to be sure, so the benefits revolve around extended connectivity (to other software, non-HP) and a broader future (tools not controlled by a system vendor). A bigger ecosystem then beckons.

Emulation, by now, needs to be virtualization. The level of complexity in emulating software has been demonstrated over the last 20 years. MPUX was a part of the ViaNova/3000 solution back at the start of this century. It was a sub-system enabling 3000 sites to run and maintain MPE/iX applications hosted on non-MPE/iX servers. It was not emulation. MPUX gave system administrators the 3000’s command set, as well as supporting MPE/iX intrinsics, on non-3000 environments. The software doesn't isolate applications or users in an emulation environment, but instead provides Unix, Linux or Windows services to the MPE/iX applications.

A migration and an emulation are two different things, a distinction that's important to acknowledge. Emulation gives standard and supportable hardware to MPE/iX with a minimum of change. Migration changes the development of surround code, can involve re-training users, strives to modernize apps, and must deliver adaptability to link with new software.

Migration also gives new, fresher hardware, just like emulation does. It's just about the only benefit the two solutions have in common by 2018. Ask for migration by name. And for emulation, do the same.

08:52 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 02, 2018

Simplifying MPE/iX Patch Management

NewsWire Classic

By John Burke

Patching-machineEven though Patch/iX and Stage/iX were introduced with MPE/iX in 1996, these HP tools are poorly understood and generally under-used. Both are tremendous productivity tools when compared with previous techniques for applying patches to MPE/iX. Prior to the introduction of Patch/iX and Stage/iX, system managers did their patching with AUTOPAT, and you had to allow for at least a half-day of downtime. Plus, in relying on tape, you were relying on a notoriously flaky medium where all sorts of things could go wrong and create “the weekend in Hell.”

Patch/iX moves prep time out of downtime, cutting downtime in half because you create the CSLT (or staging area) during production time. Stage/iX reduces downtime to as little as 15-20 minutes by eliminating tape altogether and, furthermore, makes recovery from a bad patches as simple as a reboot.

This article is based upon the Patch Management sessions I have presented at Solutions Symposia. The complete set of 142 slides (over 100 screen shots) and 20 pages of handouts are downloadable in a file from www.burke-consulting.com. The complete presentation takes you step-by-step through the application of a PowerPatch using Patch/iX with a CSLT and the application of a downloaded reactive patch using Patch/iX and Stage/iX. Included is an example of using Stage/iX to recover from a bad patch.

Why should you care about Patch Management? Studies and surveys suggest that 50-80 percent of all HP 3000s will still be running by 2006-2009 – even HP now agrees. Keeping a system running smoothly includes knowing how to efficiently and successfully apply patches to the system. HP has committed to supplying bug fix patches to MPE/iX and its subsystems through 2006, including two PowerPatches per year. [Ed. note: The process continued through 2008.] There may also be new functionality added, either to support new devices or in response to the System Improvement Ballot (SIB).

Patch/iX is a tool for managing patches. It can be used to apply reactive patches, a PowerPatch, or an add-on SUBSYS tape with a PowerPatch. Patch/iX is actually a bundle including the PATCHIX program and a number of auxiliary files that are OS release dependent. Patch/iX allows you to:

• Qualify all patches in a set of patches;

• Install reactive patches at the same time as a PowerPatch;

• Selectively apply patches from a PowerPatch tape; and,

• Create the CSLT (or staging area for Stage/iX) while users are still on the system; i.e., when it is convenient for you without incurring downtime.

Stage/iX is an OS facility for applying and managing the application of patches. Stage/iX reduces system downtime for applying patches to the length of time required for a reboot and provides an easy and reliable method for backing out patches. Stage/iX includes an interface to Patch/iX that creates the “staging area” and two utilities:

• STAGEMAN, which allows you to manage all aspects of patch staging, including which version of the OS will be used for the next update; and,

• STAGEISL, an ISL utility available from the ISL prompt whenever the system is down. It contains a subset of STAGEMAN functionality that allows you to recover from most problems.

Steps in staging

The set of all operating system files, for example NL.PUB.SYS, etc., are considered the current Base OS. Stage/iX creates and manages staging areas, which are HFS directories that hold versions of files that are different from the Base. More than one staging area can exist at a time. Each staging area contains the difference, or delta, between the Base OS and a patched version of the OS.

When a staging area is activated on the next boot, the files in the staging area are moved into their natural locations while the Base versions of the files are saved in a Stage/iX archive HFS directory. To back out a patch, the reverse takes place and the system is restored to its original state.

Once you are satisfied with the new and patched OS, you can COMMIT the staging area to the Base, deleting the staging area directory and all archived Base files. Note that Stage/iX and Patch/iX allow new patches to be staged and applied in a cumulative fashion. In other words, if you create a new staging area while another staging area is active, the new staging area will contain all the changes between the Base and the active staging area plus all the new changes.

Whether or not you use Patch/iX and Stage/iX, the key to successful OS patching is preparation. Information is the key to preparation. The System Software Maintenance Manual (S2M2) for your particular release of MPE/iX is the bible for all patch management activities. It contains a checklist for each possible update and patch activity along with detailed sections corresponding to checklist items. A hardcopy version and a PDF version on CD usually ship with each major OS release.

A PowerPatch usually comes with some patch-specific documentation – make sure you have it available before you start.

Finally, before you ever sit down at the keyboard, create a Patch Book for the specific patch activity you will be attempting. You can do it with the hardcopy manual and a copy machine, but I prefer to use the PDF version, printing out the two-page checklist and each section that makes up the checklist to create my Patch Book.

How to apply patches

Before proceeding too far, check HPSWINFO.PUB.SYS to ensure the patch has not already been applied. [Note that Patch/iX will tell you if a patch, or even a superceding patch, has already been applied, but it only takes a moment to check HPSWINFO and it could save you some time.] Each patch has an eight character ID. For example, consider TIXMXC3B. The first three characters indicate the subsystem; in this case TIX stands for TurboIMAGE. The next four characters are internal to HP’s patch management mechanism. The final character is the version identifier; in this case “B” indicates the second version of this patch.

First off, identify the proper checklist, in this case Checklist B, and create your Patch Book. Next, review the information about the patches at the ITRC; in particular, look for any patch dependencies.

You need to make sure you have the latest version of Patch/iX installed on your target system. This is critical to your success. All sorts of bad things can happen if you use an old or incomplete version of the Patch/iX bundle. To check the version of Patch/iX, sign on as “MANAGER.SYS,INSTALL” and type in PATCHIX VERSION, The program will respond with something like: Patch/iX Version B.01.09

Once you have the current Patch/iX and your patches, you are ready to run Patch/iX and create your staging area. There are four steps in any run of Patch/iX:

• “Select Activities,” where you define what type of patching activity you want to perform. You have the choice of adding a PowerPatch, adding reactive patches from tape, adding reactive patches from download or adding SUBSYS products.

• “View Patches” (optional): You can actually view information about all the patches that have been applied previously to your system. Note that this can easily number in the hundreds for a system that is kept reasonably up to date.

• “Qualify Patches,” where Patch/iX does a lot of work to determine which patches of the set you supply it with can and/or should be applied.

• Create the stage, the tape, or both that will be used to actually change the OS.

This is all done while normal production continues and places a minimal load on your system. Once you have created your stage with Patch/iX, you run STAGEMAN to activate your staging area with the SET command. The next time you boot your system (and this can be done remotely from your home at 3 AM Sunday morning if you like), your changes will take effect. Total downtime is the time it takes to do a SHUTDOWN followed by a START NORECOVERY.

What if something goes wrong? If you have problems after successfully rebooting your system and you want to back out your patches, simply run STAGEMAN and use the SET command to make the Base the active stage, reboot your system and you are right back where you started. Suppose you cannot even boot the system successfully after setting the stage? Simply boot to the ISL prompt and use STAGEISL (see Fig. 3 below) to set the active stage to BASE, reboot and, again, you are back to where you started.

Figure 3: Using STAGEISL to recover from a SYSTEM ABORT due to a bad patch

Once you are satisfied with your changes after reasonable testing you can again run STAGEMAN and this time use the COMMIT command to make the active stage the Base and free up the disk space occupied by the old Base.

10:41 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)