June 21, 2017

What must be waiting when a 3000 moves

File-typesTransfers have been in 3000 futures for many years. Until 2012, all of the transfers were to other environments. Unix, Windows, Linux. SAP, Oracle and its apps, Salesforce. All very different from the world of MPE/iX and IMAGE/SQL.

Then Charon arrived and companies could preserve their legacy environments inside new hardware. No more PA-RISC HP iron in this infrastructure. When a site decides to use the Stromasys software, though, the door comes open for new capabilities. Charon provides the MPE/iX bedrock, riding on top of a Linux base that's hosted on an Intel server. What else do you need?

There are other platforms to support and integrate into your IMAGE/SQL databases. These platforms run on many environments, crossing servers of all kinds, even those in the cloud. PDF files, Excel and Word documents. They're the specific carriers of information that started on the HP 3000. A well-known and up-to-date software package delivers those platforms to IMAGE/SQL data as well as reports.

Hillary Software's byRequest, as well as its other products, does this job. As it has for more than 20 years. The software runs under MPE/iX for maximum integration. Linux, Windows, the other operating environments that run on that Charon Intel server. A 3000 manager wanted to give his MPE/iX apps the power to appear as PDF providers.

Ray Shahan mentioned such a project on the 3000 newsgroup. 

We’re looking at storing all of our printable historical transaction docs on the HP 3000 as PDF docs in a SQL Server database. We’ve looked at winpcl2pdf that uses GhostPCL, but had some issues using it due to the CCTL from the 3000.

The 3000-friendly solution in plain sight handles both the PDF creation -- plus the movement onto the SQL Server database. Hillary supplies these utilities.

Shahan makes a good point about the value of freeware, which can be worth what you pay for it. The 3000's got those CCTL nuances, and then there's the font issues. Hillary describes onHand as a "virtual file cabinet."

onHand is a virtual file cabinet -- an integrated content management system.  Classify, index, organize and store thousands of documents, reports, forms and data in their native file formats like PDF, Excel, HTML, Word and more.

Eliminate the clutter and clumsiness of Windows and FTP folder storage methods. E-file directly from byREQUEST into onHand.  Control document security and document retention timeframes as you publish.  Use the power of an SQL relational database with onHand for both short and long term archives.

Archiving is a mission in steep growth for HP 3000s, since the servers carry so much company history in their databases. Buying the most skilled tool can be a worthwhile investment. There are few out there that handle all reporting -- and know the world of MPE/iX and the 3000 -- as well as the Hillary products. PDF is one of the byRequest specialties.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:08 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

Follow the 3000 NewsWire on Twitter
for immediate feeds of our latest news
and more twitter.com/3000newswire.

June 19, 2017

3000 consulting returns not so costly

Work-and-retirementLast week a reader sent a request for resources to help him re-enter the HP 3000 marketplace. We'll just let his question speak for itself to explain why returning to MPE is an option.

I spent 26 years on HP 3000 systems and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, I have not touched one in the last six years. When the Charon emulator came out I never downloaded a copy for personal use; and now they don't offer that option. I am going to retire soon, and I am thinking about picking up some 3000 consulting work and get back to what I love. I was wondering if there is any type of online 3000 emulator that I could use to brush up with.

While the answer might seem to be no, HP 3000s can be much more available for a seasoned pro like this one who's taking on a retirement career. (That's a job that pays less than your life's work, but one you'd wait a lifetime to start again.) HP 3000s are in copious supply, if you're seeking HP's hardware, and they don't cost much anymore — if for personal training purposes, you're not particular about an MPE/iX license transfer. Earlier this month we saw notice of $500 Series 918 systems. Built in the 1990s, of course. But good enough for consulting refreshment.

Charon has a newer pedigree of hardware, but indeed, it's got no freeware personal-use download any longer. Professional and experienced installation of the PA-RISC emulator from Stromasys guarantees a stable replacement for HP's aging hardware.

OpenMPE set up a community HP 3000 that's become a managed asset operated by Tracy Johnson. One part of Johnson's server runs the classic HP 3000 game Empire, for example. The nature of 3000 consulting runs from operational to development. OpenMPE's server is open for $99 yearly accounts, including all HP SUBSYS programs.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:39 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 16, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Cleaning Up Correctly

Classic 3000 Advice
By John Burke

Good intentions about maintenance sometimes stumble in their implementation. As an example, here’s a request for help on cleaning up.

Cleanup-tools“We have a 989/650 system. Every weekend we identify about 70,000 files to delete off the system. I build a jobstream that basically executes a file that has about 70 thousand lines. Each line says ‘PURGE file.group.account’. This job has become a real hog. It launches at 6 AM on Sunday morning, but by 7 PM on Sunday night it has only purged about 20,000 files. While this job is running, logons take upwards of 30 seconds. What can I do?”

This reminds me of the old joke where the guy goes to the doctor and complains “Gee, doc, my arm hurts like hell when I move it like this. What can I do?” The doctor looks at him and says “Stop moving it like that.” But seriously, the user above is lucky the files are not all in the same group or he would be experiencing system failures like the poor user two years ago who was only trying to purge 40,000 files.

In either case, the advice is the same; purge the files in reverse alphabetic order. This will avoid a system failure if you already have too many files in a group or HFS directory, and it will dramatically improve system performance in all cases. However, several people on the 3000-L list have pointed out that if you find you need to purge 70,000 files per week, you should consider altering your procedures to use temporary files. Or if that will not work, purge the files as soon as you no longer need them rather than wait until it becomes a huge task.

If all the files are in one group and you want to purge only a subset of the files in the group, you have to purge the files in reverse alphabetical order to avoid the System Abort (probably SA2200). PURGEGROUP and PURGEACCT will be successful, but at the expense of having to recreate the accounting structure and restoring the files you want to keep. Note that if you log onto the group and then do PURGEGROUP you will not have to recreate the group.

Craig Fairchild, MPE/iX File System Architect explained what is going on. “Your system abort [or performance issues] stem from the fact that the system is trying desperately to make sure that all the changes to your directory are permanently recorded. To do this, MPE uses its Transaction Management (XM) facility on all directory operations.

“To make sure that the directories are not corrupted, XM takes a beginning image of the area of the directory being changed, and after the directory operation is complete, it takes an after image. In this way, should the system ever crash in the middle of a directory operation, XM can always recover the directory to a consistent state - either before or after the operation, but not in a corrupted in-between state.

“On MPE, directories are actually just special files with records for each other file or directory that is contained in them. They are stored in sorted alphabetical order, with the disk address of the file label for that file. Because we must keep this list of files in alphabetical order, if you add or delete a file, the remaining contents of the file need to be “shifted” to make room, or to compact the directory. So if you purge the first file alphabetically, XM must record the entire contents of the directory file as the before image, and the entire remaining file as the after image.

“So purging from the top of the directory causes us to log data equal to twice the size of the directory. Purging from the bottom of directory causes XM to log much less data, since most of the records stay in the same place and their contents don’t change. The system abort comes from the fact that more data is being logged to XM than it can reliably record. When its logs fill completely and it can no longer provide protection for the transactions that have been initiated, XM will crash the system to ensure data integrity.”

Goetz Neumann added, “PURGEGROUP (and PURGEACCT) do not cause a SA2200 risk, since they actually traverse the directory in reverse alphabetical order internally. This is useful to know for performance reasons. Since these commands cause much smaller XM transactions, it is faster to empty a group by logging into it and then PURGEGROUP it, instead of using PURGE @.

“There is a little-known tool to help prevent you from running into these situations in the first place: DIRLIMIT.MPEXL.TELESUP. A suggested (soft) limit for directory files would be 2MB. This would limit MPE to not have more than 50,000 files in one group, and (very much depending on the filenames) much less than 50,000 files per HFS directory. (These are XM protected just as well, and tens of thousands of files in an HFS directory is not a good idea from a performance standpoint, either.)

“Another way to reduce the risk of SA2200 in these situations would be to increase the size of the XM system log file (on the volume set that holds the group with the large number of files), which is available in a VOLUTIL command.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:59 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017

Wayback Wed: Blog takes aim at 3000 news

SearchlightTwelve years ago this week we opened the 3000 NewsWire's blog, starting with coverage of a departed 3000 icon, a migration tool built by a 3000 vendor to assist database developers, as well as a split up of HP's two largest operations. The pages of this blog were devoted to these major areas: updates from the 3000 homesteading community, insights on how to move off the 3000, and the latest News Outta HP, as we continue to call it today. After 2,978 articles, we move into the 13th year of online 3000 news.

Bruce Toback died in the week we launched. He was a lively and witty developer who'd created the Formation utility software for managing 3000 forms printing. A heart attack felled him before age 50, one of those jolts that reminded me that we can't be certain how much time we're given to create. Bruce expanded the knowledge of the community with wit and flair.

Quest Software rolled out its first version of Toad, software that migrating 3000 sites could employ to simplify SQL queries. The initial version was all about accessing Oracle database, but the current release is aimed at open source SQL databases. Open source SQL was in its earliest days in 2005, part of what the world was calling LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and Python-PHP-Perl. Quest was also selling Bridgeware in a partnership with Taurus Software in 2005. That product continues to bridge data between 3000s and migration targets like Oracle.

HP was dividing its non-enterprise business to conquer the PC world in our first blog week. The company separated its Printer and PC-Imaging units, a return to the product-focused organization of HP's roots. Infamous CEO Carly Fiorina was gone and replacement Mark Hurd was still in his honeymoon days. Todd Bradley, who HP had hired away from mobile system maker Palm, got the PC unit reins and ran wild. Before he was cut loose in 2013, the PC business swelled to $13 billion a year and HP was Number 1. HP missed the mobile computing wave, a surprise considering Bradley came from Palm. You can't win them all.

That HP success in PCs, all driven by Windows, reflected the OS platform leader and wire-to-wire winner of migration choices for 3000 owners.

During that June we polled 3000 managers about their migration destinations for 2005. Windows had an early lead that it exploded in the years to come, but in the third year of what we called the Transition Era, HP-UX still accounted for almost one-third of migration targets. The raw totals were

Windows: 31 customers
HP-UX: 23 customers
Other Unixes, including Linux, Sun Solaris and IBM AIX: 15 customers

The IBM iSeries got mentioned twice, and one HP 3000 company has moved to Apple's Unix, which most of us know as OS X.

With 71 companies reporting their migration plans or accomplishments, HP-UX managed to poke above the 30 percent mark. Unix overall accounts for more than half of the targets.

The main information source at the time we launched the blog was the NewsWire's printed edition. During the summer of 2005 that would shift, so by the end of 2005 the print appeared quarterly and the blog articles flowed on workdays. In the print issue of that first blog month, the migration news read like this.

Larger 3000 sites make up the majority of early migration adopters, many of whom choose HP-UX to replace MPE/iX. Now the smaller sites are turning to a migration challenge they hope to meet on a familiar platform: Microsoft’s Windows.

While HP-UX has notched its victories among MPE/iX sites, the typical small-to-midsize 3000 customer is choosing a more popular platform.

“We have never learned Unix or Linux, only MPE and Windows, and it is a lot easier to hire and train Windows people,” said Dennis Boruck of CMC Software, makers of the Blackstone judicial application. Blackstone’s success in the Clark County, Nevada courts led HP to highlight the Blackstone MPE/iX application in a success story.

Some customers express a reluctance to put mission-critical computing onto Windows platforms. But Windows’ familiarity has won it many converts. “We are moving to a Windows 2003 Server environment because it is the easiest to manage compared to Unix or Linux,” said programmer supervisor E. Martin Gilliam of the Wise County, Va. data processing department.

Carter-Pertaine, makers of K-12 software, said Speedware’s migration path to HP-UX is guiding the first phase of its customer migration strategy. But Quintessential School Systems, which is the C-P parent, is working on a Linux option.

By now Linux is an establishment choice for on-premise datacenters and the bedrock of Amazon Web Services where most computing clouds gather. The platforms of 2017 have evolved to consider databases and infrastructures as their keystones, rather than operating systems. Bridgeware, jointly developed by Quest and Taurus Software, still moves data between 3000s and the rest of the database world. Today's Bridgeware datasheet language acknowledges there's still 3000 IMAGE data at work in the world.

BridgeWare Change Detection permits delta change captures in IMAGE, KSAM and other MPE data structures.

For years, IT managers have been faced with the difficult task of making data from IMAGE and other MPE-based files available. With the retirement of the HP 3000, this has become an even greater need. Taurus’ BridgeWare ETL software solution greatly simplifies the task of moving data between databases and files on MPE, Windows, UNIX and Linux systems, allowing you to easily migrate, or replicate your data to extend the life or phase out your HP 3000.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:47 AM in History, Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 12, 2017

Emulation proposes to fix 3000 antiquation

Antique serversA few weeks back, an ardent reader of the Newswire asked about our HP 3000 Memoirs Project. I shared a link to the History section of the Newswire, a subject we never featured in our printed editions. I figured I was chatting with a fan of the server until I asked, "What are you doing with your HP 3000 these days?"

"Dying, that's what. I cannot believe that my place of business still uses this antiquated platform as their system of record."

There's no reason to take this personally if you disagree. Webster's tells us that antiquated means "outmoded or discredited by reason of age; old and no longer useful, popular, or accepted." Some of this is true of the computing we still call HP 3000. (Some just call the server "the HP," which I take as a sign of less-ardent interest.)

However, the antiquated object in management cross-hairs begins with the 3000 hardware. HP's gear is a growing liability, unless you're smart enough to have independent support for the Hewlett-Packard systems. If not, there's a way to eliminate antiquated from the capital equipment list of problems.

Stromasys has made its mark on the IT industry with an emulation mantra. It brings MPE/iX onto new hardware. Not long ago the company wrote a whitepaper on the five reasons businesses wait to emulate legacy systems.
  1. Nothing is broken
  2. It's not a priority
  3. Sounds expensive
  4. It's a temporary fix
  5. What's emulation?

The whitepaper does a fine job of illuminating each of these reasons' shortcomings. The No. 1 reason for waiting to emulate fits neatly with my reader's opinion of their HP 3000.

"I do believe the 3000 has a place in history," she said. "But I do mean history. Not a current system that cannot even be cross-walked to anything current."

For the record, the hardware that drives MPE/iX can be cross-walked to current servers, networks, software infrastructure, and storage. That's what the Stromasys emulator does: brings the hardware up to date. Of late, there's an outreach to put MPE/iX servers into the cloud. The Stromasys Charon HPA technology is in place to make that a reality.

MPE/iX itself could be considered antiquated. The OS was last updated by its maker in 2008. Only the laws of logic, though, and not those of physics will wear down this 3000-computing component. Drives, processor boards, fans, batteries — they'll all fail someday because physics remain predictable. Parts wear down, burn out, become unpredictable.

Logic, though, remains as constant as its makers intended. The thing that wears out first is always the hardware. Software advances eventually cripple original hardware. iPhone owners learned last week that the iOS 11 release will not run on iPhones from 5C and earlier. MPE/iX has left lots of hardware behind: the systems that failed to start one day, or run as slowly as an iPhone 5C. You can hunker down on old software with an iPhone, but it works poorly in just a little time. Not a decade and counting, like MPE/iX.

And speaking of 5s, if Reason No. 5 is standing in the way, then you can resolve that emulation ignorance with a search of this blog for emulation.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:30 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 07, 2017

CSL image shimmers today on open website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:49 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 05, 2017

Where to Take Receipt of Mail for the 3000

Return to SenderSome HP 3000 sites have little remaining budget for purchasing software for their systems. This state of affairs can change quickly. Company management can discover a hard-working and little-known application, one that will work even harder with a bit of software tied into it. (Minisoft's ODBC middleware comes to mind, as it did when it rose up at See's Candies just a year ago.)

Email, though, is harder. That application hosted from a 3000 never had a strong hold on corporate computing unless companies were good at looking at the future (3k Associates' NetMail saw the future and led MPE/iX shops to it) or deeply rooted in the past. HP Deskmanager was from a past where it ran Hewlett-Packard for more than a decade. HP Desk came into the world in the 3000's heyday of the 1980s. Tim O'Neill's 3000 shops held onto it through the Unix version of HP Desk. By his account, they came away from Deskmanager muttering.

There are bona fide motivations for making the 3000's data accessible to email transport, though. Mission critical information still needs to bolt from person to person as fast as lightning. ByRequest from Hillary Software sends 3000 reports around a company using email. The mail engine itself is nearly always running on a non-3000 server.

The most classic integration is to have a mail server on the 3000 itself. This was the wheelhouse for NetMail, which remains a current, supported choice for the site that can invest in mission-critical updates to their 3000s. Mail isn't often in that category for spending on MPE/iX. The community has managers who want to install nothing but shareware and open source and Contributed Software Library tools. So manager John Sommer reached out the 3000-L mailing list to find a CSL mail program. Everybody learned a lot, as is often the case. One of the most interesting revelations was the location of a CSL release that can be downloaded.

The short answer is a link from Frank McConnell at Facebook's HP 3000 Appreciation Society. "It's a copy of the CSL tape," reported Ian Warner on the list. "It’s not exactly straightforward, but for now there is a CSL ISO image on the Web."

At that Web address, a raft of contributed software containing the string "MAIL" resides inside the disk image. Tracy Johnson, keeper of CSL tape indexes at his Empire web server, located the names of 65 CSL programs either containing MAIL in the program names or with "mail" in their descriptions. Johnson's list was printed from a 1995 CSL release. During that year, Compuserve ruled the emailing world, along with a Unix shareware program elm.

The 3000 had its shareware, too. Sendmail was on the rise and remains the latest open-source ported mailing tool for the 3000. Mark Bixby did the Sendmail port, along with Syslog/iX, which Sendmail requires. NetMail/3000 was out, growing its feature set, making commercial email a reality. There was also MAILNM (the last two letters signify Native Mode, a clue about how old that code is). Time-machine riders can get the final version of MAILNM from 3k Ranger, who's also hosting that Sendmail version.

One freeware mail program first written at Whitman College is called MAIL. This MAIL seems to be what John Sommer was seeking. It's a part of the CSL disk image. Sommer's search for MAIL turned up the downloadable CSL image. Nobody can be sure of the legal status of CSL software today, but if you're downloading 15-year-old software for production use, legal issues probably are not your biggest concern.

One wag quipped that finding and using the CSL software required "getting the Delorean up to 88 MPH." (Back to the Future fans know this reference.) Managers of today don't need a wayback engine to get supported 3000 email running on MPE/iX. NetMail is there for that and its creator Chris Bartram still knows his way around MPE and mail protocols better than anyone else I know.

Patrick Santucci, who supported 3000s at Cornerstone Brands until that corporation, took everybody down memory lane with a HP Deskmanager recap.

I remember HPDesk. Kind of had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved the hierarchical way it was organized and the excellent use of the function keys. But I hated that pretty much anything and everything in HPDesk was only accessible from HPDesk. It did not play well with Novell or Lotus Notes, which is what I believe we used at the time. I think we finally did get it integrated, though it was just a PITA. But yes, I have fond memories of writing daily updates in HPDesk!

We're looking into why Sommer wants 1990s shareware on his 3000, although he said he loaded HPMAIL up on a 3000 in the past. Some have described HPMAIL as the precursor to HP Desk. Finding that requires a very fast DeLorean.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:04 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 02, 2017

Sendmail fine-tunes, if you still need delivery

By Andreas Schmidt,
with Mark Bixby, and Jens von Bülow

Relying on the HP 3000, you may want to use this box for incoming and outgoing e-mails as well. This is possible using a collection of software bundled with the HP 3000, or available in the public domain:

• Sendmail/iX, the mail transport agent well known on HP-UX that was ported to MPE/iX;

• Syslog/iX, the event logging subsystem required by Sendmail/iX;

• MAILX.HPBIN.SYS, the mail reader, and;

• Qpopper, the POP3 protocol for downloading.

Sendmail/iX and Syslog/iX have been ported to MPE. MAILX.HPBIN.SYS is part of the Posix shell part of each MPE/iX release since 4.5. The combination of all four of these utilities will enable your HP 3000 to receive Internet e-mails sent to you@host.domain and send Internet e-mails into intranets.

Syslog/iX

Syslog is the standard event logging subsystem for Unix. It consists of a server daemon, a client function library, and a client command line utility. It is possible to log to files, terminal devices logged on users, or forward to other syslog systems. Syslog can accept data from the local system via an AF_UNIX socket, or from any system on the network via an AIF_INET UDP socket on port 514. The sendmail mail transport package is one of the Internet tools which log to syslog. Syslog/iX is bundled with MPE/iX in the SYSLOG account. If somebody was a little too aggressive about cleaning up unused FOS files, you can restore the SYSLOG account from the backup of your OS. Otherwise, you can locate your FOS tape and manually extract and install the SYSLOG account.

Sendmail/iX

Sendmail is a mail transport that accepts fully formatted e-mail messages from local host system users, queues the messages, and then delivers the messages to local or remote users. It listens on TCP port 25 for incoming SMTP messages from remote systems, and delivers these messages to local host system users by appending the message text to the user’s mailbox file.

Sendmail is not a mail user agent. It does not have the ability to compose or to read e-mail. To cover this functionality, HP bundled the program /SYS/HPBIN/MAILX into the shell utilities. Sendmail is also not a POP3 server that will enable network clients to access Sendmail/iX mailboxes.

MAILX.HPBIN.SYS

This program helps read and send electronic mail messages. It has no built-in facilities for sending messages to other systems. But combined with other programs (a mail routing agent and a transport agent like Sendmail/iX) it can send messages to other systems. MAILX only offers limited support for various message headers (i.e. Subject:, From:, To:, Cc:, etc). If you need to do anything fancy, like MIME headers, you’ll need to call SENDMAIL.PUB.SENDMAIL directly and pass it a fully formatted message containing all headers and body text.

To read messages from your mailbox in /usr/mail/ type :MAILX.HPBIN.SYS

To send messages use :MAILX.HPBIN.SYS [options] user1 user2 ... An :EOD finishes the message text.

The files in /usr/mail/ are named USER.ACCOUNT and are accessible only for this user.

Qpopper

Qpopper is a server that supports the POP3 protocol for downloading Internet e-mail from software clients. Qpopper does not include a message transfer agent or SMTP support but normally works with standard Unix mail transfer agents such as sendmail. On MPE/iX it works therefore perfectly with Sendmail/iX.

The installation procedure basics are:

• The link /usr/local/bin/popper must point to /SYS/ARPA/POPPER.

• In SERVICES.NET.SYS, port 110/tcp must be reserved for pop3 service.

• INETDCNF.NET.SYS must start this service via pop3 stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS /SYS/ARPA/POPPER popper.

• For relaying via Sendmail/iX, a file /etc/mail/relay-domains must exit in mode 644 (-rw-r—r—) owned by MGR.SENDMAIL.

Having successfully installed this, you may now change your Internet browser so that your HP 3000 is the incoming POP3 server. You may do as we did: we created a new account POP3 with plain vanilla users per mailbox. The PC e-mail client needs to be configured in the following way:

Server Name: your POP3-enabled HP 3000

Server Type: POP3 Server, User Name: USER1.POP3 (e.g., SCHMIDA.POP3)

You may want to remember to set a password and an adequate check time for new e-mail. It’s up to you whether you want to download the new messages to the PC and not to keep on the host or not.

A nice feature is the aliasing in Sendmail/iX. Your HP 3000 acts as a POP3 and SMTP server for all Internet e-mail software agents.

Is there a proper way to shut down sendmail?

• Use the Posix kill signal from SERVER.SENDMAIL or any user with SM capability. (The following can be easily turned into a job.)

kill $(head -n 1 /etc/mail/sendmail.pid)

• Only use :ABORTJOB as a last resort! (This is true for all of the Posix things that got ported to MPE)

If you don't need to run a mail server (e.g. sendmail) on your 3000, you shouldn't. In most cases, using a mail client will be "just the ticket." Point the client at your in-house (SMTP) mail server and enjoy.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:29 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 31, 2017

Laser ruling a draft for 3000 owners' rights

LaserJet 33440ALaserJets are wired into the history of the HP 3000. Hewlett-Packard never would have developed the printer that changed HP without a 3000 line in place. The business printer was designed to give minicomputer users a way to print without tractor-feed paper, fan-fold greenbar or dot-matrix daisywheels. That was more than 30 years ago. A Supreme Court decision on laser printing this week has a chance at affecting the future of HP's 3000 iron.

The ruling handed down this week was focused on a lawsuit between an HP rival, Lexmark, and a company that builds and sells Lexmark replacement toner cartridges. Lexmark tried to assert that its patent protection for laser toner cartridges extends to the buyers of the cartridges. Nobody could refill that Lexmark-built cartridge but Lexmark, the print giant said.

The upstart Impression Products has been buying used cartridges from the customers and refilling them. If this sounds like healthy commerce to you, then you agree with the decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts this week. Even though a company can protect a patent as it sells the product, the patent doesn't hold if the product is resold, or modified and resold. An article at WashingtonPost.com — where 3000 legend Eugene Volokh leads a popular law blog — has all the details.

HP is not in the story except for a line at the bottom, which notes how seminal the LaserJet remains in the story of printing. An earlier edition, the correction notes, used the word laserjet instead of laser printer. The 3000's future ownership might ride on how courts determine the Supreme's decision. You can resell a car that you've modified and break no law. HP has long maintained the HP iron called a 3000 is no vehicle, though, even while it carries the magic rider called MPE.

FBI BadgeIn 1999 the 3000 market saw a swarm of resellers who hawked MPE iron at below-average prices. These computers were HP 3000s when they booted up, but their pedigree was often stolen with a support software product. People went to jail, HP created a sorta-enforcement team that operated alongside real officers. At the worst of it, Client Systems' Phoenix 3000 official resellers claimed the FBI might come and take away a 3000 with sketchy papers.

As a result of the disputes over ownership, HP said that its 3000 iron doesn't exist, and cannot be owned, without a license for MPE/iX. The ownership chain flowed from the license, the vendor said. It was like a car in the sense that you didn't have a vehicle fit for the road if you didn't have plates. HP owned the plates (the software) and only licensed those bits. MPE/iX has never been sold, they said. Only licensed.

The new court ruling states that a manufacturer's rights to a product that's been sold stop once the maker (or a reseller for the vendor) sell the product. That old Volkswagen Beetle you bought and tricked out for dune buggy status? VW has no hold on how you attach mufflers, or even if the teenagers down the block pay you for the modified Bug.

Tying a physical product to a digital controlling component (HP's 3000 hardware to MPE/iX) was a strategy the community wanted to battle. Wirt Atmar, founder of AICS Research and indefatigable MPE advocate, looked into untying HP's MPE-3000 bundle. His pursuit got as far as a Chicago legal office, where well-paid lawyers said that winning such a suit would involve battling more well-paid lawyers. Atmar had to park the community's pursuit vehicle.

The Post article said the next step in the evolution of US law will be to determine if digital products can be sold with an ownership that protects the maker's rights forever. Since the matter in the Supreme Court covered digital parts for a computer peripheral, the writer must mean digital products which don't have a physical form. Software comes to mind.

Every vendor except one in the 3000 ecosystem shouldn't worry. No one but the system maker who builds an OS has ever tied software to physical hardware to make the former the guardian of the latter. Software companies which offer virtualizations of systems utilitize the best available licenses to make emulators legal. Now the rules about ownership status and rights are changing, thanks to a Court that's not always been on the side of the little guy.

The little guys who own HP's 3000 iron have been told they need an HP license of MPE/iX to boot their systems. It's also true for virtualized systems. If those products sold to customers — HP's iron, the virtualization software — are untied from HP Enterprise concerns, pricing might change. Even more importantly for the future, modifications might flow into the key components of a 3000's software, if a court rules that modding up your software doesn't break patent protections.

Source code is inside the community that would make that modding possible, but it's been tied to a license that prohibits using the source for anything but support of customers. That's why any changes to CALENDAR needed at the end of 2027 must be applied customer-by-customer. Releasing an MPE/iX 8.0 isn't permitted under today's law. If those HP licenses were ruled illegal, it could change the future of owning a 3000—perhaps because for the first time, a customer could truly own the box, instead of paying a fee to license the software essential to making a 3000 compute.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:11 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 26, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Tape to Disk, Posix time fix

C1539 tape driveEditor's Note: Monday is the Memorial Day holiday here in the Newswire's office. We'll be back with a new article on May 31. With every day that passes, HP's original hardware gets older and more likely to fail. Virtualization of hardware brings newer hardware into service with 3000s and helps with this problem, a risk that's greatest on the 3000's moving components. Especially tape drives like the C1539 above; even HP's discs are less likely to fail. Enjoy this advice on how to put stored data from tape into a store-to-disk file, as well as keeping dates accurate in MPE/iX's Posix name space.

I have some information on a tape. How do I create a store to disc file with it?

There are a few solutions. The first and easiest is to simply restore the info to a system (RESTORE *T;/;SHOW;CREATE;ACCOUNT=WORKSTOR) where WORKSTOR is an account you create to pull the data in.  Then a simple FILE D=REGSFILE;DEV=DISC and STORE /WORKSTOR/;*D;whatever else should create the disc store.

The second is to use FCOPY. The STORE format is FILE TAPEIN;DEV=TAPE;REC=8192,,U,BINARY.

John Pitman adds, "If you mean copy it off tape to disk store file, I’m not sure if that can be done. In my experience with tapes, there is a file mark between files, and EOT is signified by multiple file marks in a row. But it may be possible. If you do a file equate and FCOPY as shown below, you should be able to look at the raw data, and it should show separate files, after a file list at the front.

FILE TX;DEV=TAPE;REC=32767
FCOPY
FROM=*TX;TO=;CHAR;FILES=ALL

Here is our current store command, and the message it provokes. MAXTAPEBUF speeds it up somewhat

STORE  !INSTOREX.NEW.STOCK2K;*DDS777;
FILES=100000;DIRECTORY;MAXTAPEBUF

Why is the date/time in the Posix shell way off from the time on MPE, and what can be done to fix it? It’s over three weeks off.

Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper replies:

First, check to ensure your timezone offset is correct and there are no pending time clock changes.

:showclock

SYSTEM TIME: TUE, OCT 19, 2010,  5:46:38 PM
CURRENT TIME CORRECTION: 0 SECONDS
TIME ZONE:  4 HOURS  0 MINUTES WESTERN HEMISPHERE

If the incorrext timezone and/or time correction is non-zero, you can fix both with the :SETCLOCK command.

Next, ensure that the TZ variable is appropriately set. This can be done with a system logon UDC that executes the following:

comment the following is for Eastern Time
SETVAR TZ "EST5EDT"
comment use the following for california
comment SETVAR TZ "PST8PDT"

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:11 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 24, 2017

2028 roadblock might be evaded site by site

Road Closed SignAfter sizing up the lifespan prospect for MPE/iX apps, the forthcoming failure of date handling looms large. CALENDAR, which is intrinsic to identifying the correct date of a transaction, stops working at the end of 2027. HP chose a 57-year lifespan for MPE when it fell back to making a 16-bit 3000, way back at the start of the 1970s.  Loose talk about fixing this problem has bumped around the community for years. 

Now there's someone who believes there's a way to make MPE/iX a 2028 resource and beyond. It's got to be done site by site, though.

"At the moment, I suspect changes to handle 2027 problems are likely to be site-specific," said Stan Sieler of Allegro, "depending upon their applications."

"A range of possible options exist," he adds. "They're complicated by the likelihood that some software has roll-your-own build a CALENDAR format date code." Erasing this roadblock could make specialized in-house apps immortal. The software doesn't need to rely on HP's hardware anymore. Stromasys and its Charon emulator have enabled that.

Allegro owns an MPE/iX site code license, as does Pivital Solutions and a few other companies. Allegro's Sieler and Steve Cooper also have experience developing MPE internals for HP. The algorithm isn't that complex, but installing such a software fix will be done customer by customer.

I suspect in many cases," Sieler said, "the most effective approach would be to roll back the system date by some multiple of 14 years, and then intercept some input, and some output, changing data as needed. For example, if a user wants to enter 10/15/2030, that might get changed to be 10/15/1974 (using a 56 year offset), and output of the form 1/2/1995 would be changed to 1/2/2031, and output of the form 1/2/95 to 1/2/31).

Sieler said the company is ready to help customers with the problem, even though it won't stop anything until 2027's last day.

"We pioneered Y2K testing and remediation for both HP, (on MPE and HP-UX), and our customers," he added, "and we pioneered checking (not enforcing) computer security (our EnGarde preceded VEAudit)." VEAudit is a Vesoft product. That company's founder Vladimir Volokh has weighed in on 2028 in years past. Like many MPE advocates, he's been hopeful.

In an era where Amiga games can be played on iPhones -- and companies now earn money for such a creation -- it's easy to say we don't know who will break this 2028 barrier. Anyone with MPE/iX source code and customer initiative and a full-service approach is a candidate to provide a route around the roadblock.

The best news is that I'll only be 70 when this happens, so I'll be around to watch the magic.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:39 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 17, 2017

Beyond emulations might lie migrations

Crm-data-migration-steps-cloudAs another webinar demo unspooled today for HP 3000 data migration products, the strategy of hold on or move onward demoed another facet. A 3000 might be a candidate for de-commissioning simply because the system has been too successful in the past. The next server will be different, but there's no guarantee the replacement will be better in significant aspects. Waiting for something better is not as easy as moving to something different.

Take COBOL compilers, for example. At the investment firm Fayez Sarofim, the HP 3000 was being evaluated for replacement. One element of the eval was finding a COBOL compiler compatible with the code running on the 3000. The company had to choose a way forward that was mostly different. Better was another phase.

"We chose AcuCOBOL over Micro Focus at the time of our migration because AcuCOBOL better handled the packed HP Floating Point without losing significant decimals," said George Willis. "It also had a more powerful set of debugging tools that were easy to use." Protecting decimal data was the priority. Getting a superior debugger was the improvement.

Time moved onward for the Sarofim strategy though, shifting away from apps and toward software services (SaaS). HP's Unix systems—an HP-UX 4466 Rx using AMXW, Cognos, Micro Focus COBOL, Suprtool and Warehouse—eventually got the boot, just like a 3000 did. The shift to services erased a department at the company. There's no emulation that can oppose that kind of sea change in strategy: "We don't even need our own servers, we'll access an app instead."

While making its move to HP's Unix, Willis said "We did not want to go through another riskier migration until we were stabilized. We are certainly stable now, but the firm has decided to move a different direction." So onward it went to SaaS. Emulation never got a fighting chance.

There are other places where emulation gets its shot. Once in awhile it comes up short, even after yeoman work to fit the performance needs. Veritiv Corp. runs four of the largest HP 3000s, N-Class servers loaded with RAM and HP's fastest PA-RISC processors. This profile of user needs to believe that emulation is a good long-term goal. Hardware for this top-end N-Class level emulation must be specified with an eye to a long-term play. Value for money gets amplified when you're replacing HP's 3000 hardware for a long run on an emulator.  "We don't need to ignore the issue of hardware," said Randy Stanfield this week, while investigating migration partners. "We need to put together a better long term plan than staying on the HP 3000 for more than 10 years."

That's searching for something different, that talk of needing to be off the system before MPE/iX stops date-keeping in 2028. Ten-plus years is a long time, enough to enable the magic of making CALENDAR work in 2028 a reality, perhaps. It's not impossible, although someone has to do the work to salvage MPE's date capability for 2028 use.

The silver lining for the 3000 community in any migration story is that the business often goes to a vendor who's been in the market a long time. MB Foster is one player like that, demonstrating its roots with a demo like today's of UDACentral. MB Foster celebrated its 40th anniversary in the 3000 market this week. 'The HP3000 market is our home market," Birket Foster said in an email today, "and we are grateful for the support, suggestions and collaboration with us."

Stanfield is looking for customer stories about migrating with Fresche Legacy, which earned its 3000 reputation as Speedware.

He had specific questions and would appreciate an email in reply.

1. What system did you convert to (Unix/Windows/Linux)?
2. What system did you convert from(HP3000 A-class/N-class?) and how busy was the system? Number of users?
3. Are you still running that system?
4. Did you convert to using the Eloquence DB?
5. Performance after conversion: good or bad?
6. Any Do's or Don't's?
7. Primary Code base (Speedware/Powerhouse/Cobol/Fortran)? Amount of code converted?

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:45 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 15, 2017

3000 Cloud Doings: Are, Might, and Never

Flight-simulator-cloudsThe latest news about cloud computing for HP 3000s came from Stromasys. The company selling the Charon virtualizer (many think of it as an emulator) announced a new bundled offer as well as announcing that any public cloud can run Charon. Sites that employ the Oracle Cloud to host their virtualization systems get un-metered cloud services as part of that deal with Stromasys. Oracle Cloud is one of the newer players in the cloud market. There's no place to go but up in market share for Oracle Cloud, carving out its business among providers dominated by Amazon's Web Services.

Emulating HP 3000 servers, however, is a job that's not often suited for a shared Intel-based server. There are exceptions, like light-duty 3000s or those in archival mode. Those are the best profiles for 3000s in the cloud running Charon, according to the Stromasys HP Product Manager Doug Smith. 3000 A-Class systems — Stromasys calls this Charon model the A520 — can be run from the cloud.

Many of the cloud's typical servers make memory and CPUs available on an as-needed basis, swapping processor power and RAM in and out. This is in contrast to dedicating a highly-threaded CPU and all available memory to a task like emulation. "Charon requires dedicated resources," Smith said. "If I say I need a 3.5 GHz CPU response, then I need that 3.5 GHz in the host itself, not being shared among other virtual machines."

It's safe to say there are 3000s in our community that are good candidates for a cloud profile. A-Class systems running the one last MPE application, some app still critical to a datacenter, for example. Better to have this sort of foolproof hardware service chain using virtualization, instead of stocking redundant 3000 memory sticks. (The better option to stay with the 3000 hardware from HP is an independent support company.)

The cloud — a term that doesn't have much traction for classic 3000 pros like Smith — might evolve to the point where dedicated CPU performance at any level could become affordable. Not even Hewlett-Packard knew how to price and sell its HP Cloud so its Unix customers could host datacenters in the cloud. Integrity chips were the next generation of PA-RISC, so emulating any chipset with that pedigree is no small matter. Smith, like any other analyst in IT, considers dedicated performance from a public cloud as cost-prohibitive.

Never-say-neverAny company can arrange to use an offsite, networked host for MPE/iX apps. This seems more like timesharing to the 3000 pros than Infrastructure as a Service. Cloud computing is supposed to reduce costs, and it does so by sharing resources. Sharing is not a great match for emulation at multiple levels. When you use a VMware host to create the Linux cradle on one level, which then virtualizes PA-RISC with Charon, that's a more intense CPU requirement than public clouds can handle. Pull out the VMware and you're fine for a smaller datacenter.

Cloud computing users definitely are shifting their expenditures from capital expenses to operating expenses. OpEx can be easier to place in a budget than CapEx, especially for legacy systems like the 3000. We'll never see a day when there's no more CapEx spending in datacenters like those in the 3000 world. OpEx is on the rise, but like the Paperless Office of the 1980s strategies, CapEx will always have some benefits. One is the constantly dropping cost of HP's hardware, if you can arrange for enough backup components and parts.

OpEx, however, gives vendors and customers a way to tune up a services agreement. At Stromasys, for example, the Oracle Cloud already has advantages for some Charon users. "There is definitely, for example, an added benefit for [Sun Sparc] SSP users," said Marketing Director Sarah Hoysa. "By emulating their SPARC instances on Oracle Cloud, they have an additional way of continuing their close relationship with Oracle."

"The big thing is that customers now have a lot of choice," Hoysa added. "We know people are moving to a wide range of public clouds. We're making our solution on all of those public clouds." Dave Clements of Stromasys said the company's got an insurance firm running Charon in the Microsoft's Azure cloud, for example. It's not a 3000 site. The cloud is all potential for 3000s today.

There are all the software and license arrangements needed to put a 3000 onto any of those public clouds using Charon. Stromasys went to a software-based licensing arrangement two years ago, so the need for a USB stick with HPSUSAN data has been swept aside. The 3000 customers using N-Class systems might have an interest in cloud computing in the future. For now, however, Smith said the security, control, and command of on-premise hardware is preferred by larger manufacturers. The interest has been from smaller manufacturing companies.

It's safe to say—given the competition for customers among a growing rank of cloud companies, we will never see a future with zero HP 3000 cloud computers. It's coming, and companies like Oracle will drive down pricing in ways we've never imagined. The 3000 datacenters will hang on long enough to see that day, because you can never say never when it comes to failures of hardware that's 14 years old and aging.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:06 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 12, 2017

How to Step Through a CSLT Reinstall

Stepping-stonesAssume you've seen your Series 918 crash to its bones. You replace the 3000 and need to reinstall from CSLT. Many a 3000 site hasn't done this in a long time. This is when you're getting in touch with your independent support company for advice and walking the steps to recovery.

Oh. You don't have a support company to call. One more thing that's been dropped from the budget. You could ask on the 3000 newsgroup for help, so long as your downtime isn't serious. This support strategy is one way to go, and James Byrne got lucky this week. One expert walked him through the critical steps.

"I am working my way through the check-lists for reinstalling from a CSLT," Byrne said, "and I have come to the conclusion this stuff was written more to obscure than to illuminate." The HP documentation advised him to boot from disk, something he couldn't do. "Fortunately this is a backup 3000, and nothing too bad can happen yet."

Gilles Schipper, our esteemed homesteading contributor, provided the answers. The problem lay in a bad boot drive, but how do you discover that's true? We'll get to that in a bit. First, the CSLT reinstall.

"Assuming you have no user volume sets:

1. Mount CSLT in appropriate drive and boot from alternate path
2. From prompt, type INSTALL
3. At completion, boot from primary path and START NORECOVERY (this is your second "boot".)
4. Mount whichever tape contains your directory (could be the CSLT or your latest full backup - if directory on both, use whichever is more current)
5. Log on as MANAGER.SYS and restore directory (:file t;dev=?;restore *t;;directory - note 2 consecutive;)
6. Use VOLUTIL to add additional discs to MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET.
7. Mount backup tape and:
:restore *t;/;keep;create;olddate;partdb

Reboot with START NORECOVERY

Ah, but what to do if you have user volume sets?

"So," Schipper said, "with user volume sets:

Modify step 6 to read as follows:
6. Use VOLUTIL to add additional discs to MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET, as well as any additional user volumesets that you have.
The approprite VOLUTIL commands you will need are:
1. NEWVOL command to add additional volumes to the existing MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET
2. NEWSET command to add first (master) volume of user-volumeset1, say
3. NEWVOL command to add additional volumes to user-volumeset1
4. repeat 2 and 3 for each additional user volumeset

Then, prior to step 7, add step 6A, which is the repeat of step 5, which is to AGAIN restore the directories from the tape containing the directories so that they are restored to the master volumes of their respective user volumesets.

And then step 7 remains as before.

The bad LDEV1 discovery? You can always swap out a known good drive. Byrne did this and noted he had to restock his cache of backup drives. "Only three left," he said. "Time to order more, perhaps." Advice on checking for bad drives before a boot:

"Instead of INSTALL, type ODE," Schipper said. "Then run Mapper. That should show you all of your devices including hard drives. Although that may even show drives that cannot be INSTALL'ed to. Also, check all of your SCSI terminators."

Stan Sieler added this to the remedies for a bad disk. "Try doing:

  start norecovery message

"That 'message' option will cause 'start' to generate a **LOT** of output. Hopefully, the last few dozen lines might provide a clue to the problem."

Do all the backup that you need when protecting that HP 3000. The success of its backups falls in the lap of the system's managers. (Running CHECKSLT from the TELESUP account will verify if a CSLT is still good enough to boot your system. You'll want to check that CSLT to ensure it'll run on any tape drive, not just the one it usually runs on. Alignment issues kick DDS drives out of service regularly.) Don't forget about keeping your CSLT healthy.

 

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:53 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 08, 2017

Turnkey cloud services mirror 3000 roots

Tree rootsRe-hosting HP 3000 applications keeps getting less complex. Managers who homestead once had to locate an HP 3000 which had similar specs, one that could preserve their application license levels. Because it was an HP box, their auditors wanted them to execute an MPE license transfer with HP. More paperwork, like finding a 20-year-old bill of sale.

When Stromasys virtualization showed up, the mandate for specialized MPE Hewlett-Packard servers fell out of the equation. Configuration was still required, though, sometimes because the Intel servers in the strategy were already otherwise engaged in a customer’s datacenter.

In each of those formulas, companies continue their local management of hardware, storage and networking. It’s an On Premises choice, called On Prem in some planning sessions. Cloud computing is the opposite of On Prem. It is changing the need for hardware in the datacenter. The strategy now has an official role in virtualized 3000 practices.

Stromasys recently introduced Oracle’s cloud services as an option for Charon HPA, the emulator that transforms an Intel server into a PA-RISC system. The company also issued a notice that Charon works with all other cloud computing options.

Charon has been ready for the cloud for several years. The new element is a packaged set of software, support services, and provisioned cloud computing without a meter for usage. Director of HP 3000 Business Development Doug Smith at Stromasys said the cloud equation best fits archival installations and smaller, A-Class-grade production shops.

Extending offsite strategies

Stromasys completed testing for its cloud-based Charon in November of 2014. During the next year the company took an agnostic approach to cloud hosting. Whatever service a customer preferred was worked into Charon installations. Stromasys would also recommend a provider.

The newest formula is an end-to-end bundle that includes unlimited cloud capacity, making it more like a turnkey, locally-provisioned MPE/iX host. HP 3000 customers liked turnkey datacenters. Find a customer from the 1980s and the 1990s and you’ll uncover a manager who wanted more homogenous computing. Virtualization in the cloud is a way to release On Prem operations to trusted third parties.

The unmetered option for Charon on the cloud comes in the Oracle Cloud offering. The more dug-in suppliers of cloud Infrastructure as a Service require customers to manage separate billing, usage rate metering and support. A company looking to migrate off HP’s 3000 hardware might have existing relationships with Amazon Web Services, or Azure or Datapipe or Rackspace. All of these will work with Charon HPA.

The novelty of Oracle Cloud plus Charon is its turnkey nature. Turnkey has a resonance with the 3000 customer, especially those who found that heterogeneous IT had downsides. The required amount of management increased as IT got more heterogeneous.

Most 3000 sites have lean management resources. Getting a single-call arrangement for legacy apps and hosting, while being able to leave On Prem behind, should interest some sites. Especially those who might be finding that even a DR-status 3000, powered down for many years while it keeps the MPE apps available, is a strategy with measurable risks.
 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:18 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 05, 2017

Newer 3000s come at low cost vs. downtime

A-Class vs. Series 900 performanceEarlier this week a 3000 site worked through a system halt by replacing Series 918 memory sticks. Ultimately the problem was resolved with newer memory, but a full replacement of the server might have been just as easily obtained. The relative performance of 3000s sold across the years becomes a factor in this sort of support equation. A manager might find themselves poring over a chart like the one at left (click for details of the A-Class comparisons to older 3000s.)

HP was never much motivated to benchmark its 3000 line against the rest of the world's business servers. However, customers about to upgrade were able to define the relationship between the boxes in the lineup. HP used a 1.3 HP 3000 Performance Unit rating for its Series 42 HP 3000 classics, the pre-RISC range of models before MPE/XL. Most customers consider a Series 917 to be the bottom of the PA-RISC line, and that server earns a Performance Unit score of 10.

The tables and rating sheets were printed by HP until 2004. For example, here's one of the last, a page from the HP e3000 Business Servers Configuration Guide. The ultimate generation A-Class servers start at a 17 and make their way up to an 84. The N-Class computers start at 100 and build up to 768. In general, an A-Class with a 200 at its model tail end will be faster than what is being replaced from anything that's not an A- or N-Class.

Even in 2017, these numbers can matter. A Series 918 will be approaching age 23 by now, first manufactured in 1994. An A-Class server is at most 15 years old. Replacing  9x8s with A-Class servers can be a way to delay replacing HP's 3000 gear altogether. Rejuvenation like this is not a long-term solution, but a manager might be in between the rock of aging iron and the hard place of frozen software licenses.

Used A-Class or N-Class servers can add reliability for customers who must homestead. Even the ones selling for $2,000 are a lower cost to avoid downtime than a search for 25-year-old memory components.

The numbers in HP's Relative Performance Chart are more than just a reflection of the model numbers. A Series 928, for example, is less powerful than a Series 918. HP explained the methodology. "Performance Relative to HP e3000 Performance Unit" is a general guideline for OLTP performance, since the factors influencing an application's performance vary widely."

AICS Research, the software company that developed the QueryCalc 3000 app and the QCTerm freeware terminal emulator, created the most direct comparison tool back in the middle of the 2000s. Even though AICS has closed its website, the data lives on across the 3000 universe's webpages. 3k Ranger owner Keven Miller posted a link to his copy of the AICS data.

What HP's 3000 performance rating means can be debated. At HP World in 2002, HP announced the final new 3000 systems, all based upon the PA-8700 processors. At the high end HP announced a new N-Class system based upon the 750 MHz PA-8700 processor. The new N4000-400-750 was the first HP e3000 to achieve an MPE/iX Relative Performance Units (MRPU) rating of 100; the Series 918 has an MRPU of 1.

HP contends that the MRPU is the only valid way to measure the relative performance of MPE systems. In particular, they maintain that the MHz rating is not a valid measure of relative performance, though they continued to use virtual MHz numbers for systems with software-crippled processors. For example, there are no 380 MHz or 500 MHz PA-RISC processors. Unfortunately, the MRPU does not allow for the comparison of the HP e3000 with other HP systems, even the HP 9000s and Integrity servers.

HP has changed the way it rates systems three times over the life of the HP 3000. During the middle years, the Series 918 was the standard with a rating of 1. In 1998, HP devised a new measurement standard for the systems it was introducing that no longer had the Series 918 at 1. It is under this new system that the N4000-400-750 is rated at 100. Applying a correction factor, AICS Research has rated the N4000-400-750 at 76.8 relative to the Series 918’s rating of 1.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:57 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 03, 2017

More than ever, old sticks trigger backups

Memory-cageRegular and frequent backups still hold their spot as keystones in a stable HP 3000 datacenter. The backups are even more essential this year. 2017 is the 14th year and counting since any HP 3000 components have been manufactured. Excepting some third party disk solutions, the average age of Hewlett-Packard's MPE/iX servers has more than doubled since HP stopped building the boxes in 2003.

In 2003 a manager might be daring enough to run a shop with a server built in 1991, the first year the 9x7 servers were manufactured. Systems in the first wave of PA-RISC design were still in service, but a Series 950 was a rare box by the time HP stopped building them. That oldest 3000 server at the time was still only 15 years old. That made the average age of a 3000 about 8-10 years.

Add 14 years to that lifespan and it's easy to locate a 3000 and its components which are more than 16 years old. The Series 9x8 systems turn 25 this year. The numbers came up in a recent emergency repair discussion out in public. A Series 918 at Harte & Lyne ground to a halt with a bad memory component, and even a pair of replacement sticks were duds on this 23-year-old system. The 918-928 servers are still among the most frequently used servers in the community.

The manager at Harte & Lyne keeps this hardware high-wire act going because of Powerhouse licensing problems. The repairs of his 918 coincided with very recent backups, but it could have been up to 30 days behind. Loss of company data was well within reach at this logistics company. The backups prevented the calamity that's now started to hit spare parts, too.

Two failed memory sticks, plus two replacement failures, triggered the system halt. The problem was a defective card.

"I am doing a full backup just in case," said James Byrne, "but as it happens we did our monthly CSLT and SYSINFO jobs yesterday. Once the new backup is complete I will add two more sticks and see if they work, and repeat until we encounter the problem of getting the memory cage filled."

Byrne has access to independent support for his 918, but used the 3000-L to diagnose the problem at first. "One of the two replacement cards I initially used was also defective," he reported after he got the 3000 back online. "It took some time for our support people from Commerx and myself to finally realize what was going on, as we pulled cards and swapped locations trying to get a full bank of memory reinstalled."

Fortunately I still have about six two-card sets kept in a vault as spares, together with sundry other spare parts. No doubt there are other duds lurking therein but now I am alive to the possibility. Thanks for all the help.

And yes, the reason for all this dancing around to keep a 23 year-old piece of hardware running is Powerhouse and the intransigent present owners of the 'Intellectual Property Rights' thereto. To describe these people and their representatives as unethical grants them too much dignity for what they are. And what they are I shall leave unsaid.

These aging 3000 servers sometimes have been retired out of production duty, serving out their remaining days in archival mode. But even archives must be updated from time to time. Production data demands a more serious backup regimen, one getting more serious every year.

Solutions to avoid this risk run a wide gamut. Migration onto other environments reduces the age of replacement parts. A stout support contract for MPE/iX hardware ensures component replacement. Good backups are still crucial there. Beyond these remedies, there's one way to get newer hardware without migrating. PA-RISC virtualization software doesn't make backups an optional task. It can make them less likely to be needed, though.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:41 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 01, 2017

No obit for your OS, but not so for hardware

ObitThere's a new documentary in theaters about writing obituaries. The film Obit covers the work of obituary writers at the New York Times. No matter how you feel about mainstream media, the Times is one of just a handful of media outlets still telling stories about the lives of people who've just died. Obits were part of my reporting tasks when I broke into journalism, but I never wrote anything about someone famous while I worked at the Williamson County Sun. My very next job was Editor of the HP Chronicle, where people were famous within a modest community. I didn't write an obit at the Chronicle. I was eight years into the work at the Newswire when Danny Compton, a co-founder of ROC Software, died so very young at 40.

Compton and his wife Wendy were fun and important to reviving the Maestro user community. Why care about them now, you might ask, or even a legend like Fred White, whose life story I wrote up when he died in 2014? An obit is written for a death of something material, a person with a body, or an object which can be scrapped or destroyed. Something of value which made a mark on the world. The years continue to pull out HP's 3000's hardware from service. No one's making new gear with PA-RISC chips. Someday nearly everything that's an HP 3000 will go to dust.

The same cannot be said about MPE/iX. An obituary of the OS might be hard to prepare. The demise of HP's hardware could be written in advance. Advance obits, sitting up on the cloud by now, are a practice of those obit journalists. Obit writing tells about a life, not a death. Even as a celebrity continues to celebrate birthdays, their clock is ticking. Maybe that MPE/iX demise is in 2028. It's easier to see an obit arriving earlier for HP's hardware, though. It might read HP 3000, durable business server, dies at 51.

Hewlett-Packard's HP 3000, the first minicomputer which included a database wired into a file system, passed away on November 14, 2023 when the last CPU board failed to boot the server's operating system. The hardware, whose design was revised from the heyday of mainframes through the boom of the Web economy, carried commerce and data among entities as varied as aerospace makers and police departments. It is survived by the software written for the MPE/iX operating system as well as the database IMAGE/SQL.

HP's 3000 gear grew from a system that demanded raised flooring and specialized cooling to systems that could be carried under an arm. The hardware once read data from paper tapes and gained its ultimate IO abilities processing Internet data from standardized networks.

The obit for MPE/iX will be harder to write in advance. The OS is still going places.

The inability to know what day it is won't keep a painter from rendering visions, for example. In the same way a calendar will help that artist, some unforeseen code can give the OS a life that could outlast our own. The reason anyone would want to cut and test such code is virtualization.

Plenty of the surviving HP 3000 shops are in archival mode now. The low-processing needs of archival fit the glove of cloud computing. MPE/iX is a vessel to carry the ideas of application software. Like a ship's hull that can be cared for across generations, your OS has been a vessel that's gained a second generation with virtualization. Putting that virtualized hardware into the cloud lets the light-duty of archiving stay on course.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:26 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 28, 2017

Friday Fine-tune: directories and tombstones

ByetombstoneA 3000 manager wanted to know about adjusting privileges on their server. When the community's veterans started to respond, extra information rose up. Some of was about the management of files in MPE/iX, the kind of legacy recorded on what's known as a tombstone.

Tombstones are data used to solve 3000 problems and establish file access. HP says in its manual for programming in MPE/iX that "It's frequently necessary to obtain status information on a file to determine the cause of an error." A File Information Display is frequently called a tombstone, providing:

  • Actual physical and operational file characteristics.
  • Current file information, pertaining to end of file, record pointer, and logical and physical transfer count. Information on the last error for the file and the last HPFOPEN or FOPEN error.
  • When a file is opened, the final characteristics may be different from those originally requested because of defaults, overrides, :FILE commands, and the file label.

You can use the PRINTFILEINFO intrinsic to print a tombstone. It requires that you specify the file number returned when the file is opened by HPFOPEN or FOPEN. The tombstone can display either a full or short format.  If the file is open, it provides a full display. Otherwise, it provides a short display. Calling this intrinsic does not automatically abort the program.

You can call the PRINTFILEINFO intrinsic from programs written in COBOL II/XL and HP FORTRAN 77/iX. When calling from COBOL II/XL, use the FD filename. You can call the name PRINTFILEINFO directly from HP FORTRAN 77/iX programs. You can obtain the required file number by using the FNUM intrinsic.

Tombstones came up after one list member resurrected an answer about privileges from a 11-year-old post. Ray Shahan, still managing archival systems for Republic Title of Texas, heard his name in discussion about TD and RD privileges and how to control them. He quipped about not being heard from in ages.

"I have been asked by our security group to remove TD and RD privileges from our HP 3000," Reggie Monroe wrote this week. "These are for Reading and Traversing Directories. Does anyone know what the impact of this would be, if any?"

Tracy Johnson replied that "Unless your users have access to Posix files, you can categorically state you don't have any to remove."

There is an old comp.sys.hp.mpe posting where Ray Shahan wants to add TD and RD privileges. Just do the opposite, though that may be a bad thing if applied to MPE groups and accounts treated as directories.

The original TD and RD posting

The advice from the 2005 discussion included using Posix to enable "execute" permissions on all directories needed to get to the directory you want. So the opposite would be to disable those permissions. The ALTSEC command does this.The process will also include adding ACDs to the directory.

Once considered a new feature of MPE/iX, Access Control Definitions are pseudo bits of information on the HP 3000.

ACDs are ordered lists of pairs.The pairs are made up of access permissions and user specifications that control access to objects. Objects are passive entities that contain or receive information, such as files, directories, and devices. Each entry in the ACD specifies object access permissions granted to a specific user or group of users. In addition to being granted access to an object protected by an ACD, users can also be granted access to read the ACD itself.

ACDs can be applied to any MPE/iX files using the ALTSEC command. This command was enhanced to support directories. If a file has an ACD, this method of specifying access to the file takes precedence over other security features, such as lockwords and the file access matrix. ACDs cannot be placed on root, account, group, or directories.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:37 AM in Hidden Value, History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 26, 2017

Wayback Wed: Doing the Beta patch Samba

Samba dancerIn April of HP's 2006, the company was exhorting its customers to use the 3000 improvements built by the vendor. Near the top of that list was the latest Samba, the printer and file sharing open source software that made it easy for 3000s to connect to Windows servers and resources. The latest version was 3.0.22, delivered to the world in the same year as the Samba community began to use it. The snag for a 3000 user: the official patch was only available to customers that year with an HP support contract.

The issue remained a troubling one that HP settled by the end of its 3000 business. Beta patches with improvements like SCSI Pass Thru and Samba eventually got unfettered distribution, even through they never passed the tests needed for General Release status. Today, the best way to get any HP 3000 patch is to use the guidance of an independent support company. We never tire of reminding readers that Pivital Solutions is an all-3000 provider, an official reseller of 3000s until HP closed that business, and one of seven holders of an MPE/iX source code license. It's a unique combination.

HP improved the 3000 and repaired bugs with a patch process that included alpha and beta testing before going into general release to customers. General Release status was important, because until HP's code was GR'd no one could get it but HP support customers. That was a wide gap in coverage. By 2006 the majority of the 3000 world was getting support from the independent companies which serve the community today. Alpha testing happened inside HP, and beta happened in the customer shops where a test machine was available. As the 3000's futures dwindled inside HP, though, the beta testers became harder to recruit. Customers usually took on patches in a PowerPatch collection. One was being prepared for the ultimate MPE/iX 7.5 release during April, 2006.

The announcement of a PowerPatch deadline was a routine message from HP's 3000 lab. The messages asked customers to pick up what they'd ordered though the Systems Improvement Ballot. "There are more than 30 beta-test patches still not qualified to be included in the PowerPatch. Tests of PowerPatches must be completed by customers on HP support. The 7.5 patches can only be tested on a subset of the 3000 installed base: any server released before the 9x8 systems won't be able to test anything created for 7.5."

HP lab liaison Jeff Vance told the user community, "If you voted for one of the many SIB items which are stuck in beta-test, waiting to become GR patches, and have not requested any of these patches, please do so ASAP. It really doesn’t do the user community much good to have a bunch of MPE enhancements stuck in beta-test, maybe never to see the light of day."

Customers' devotion to stability kept the beta test improvements in the dark. Changes to a 3000 became harder to justify on a stable, version-frozen server. Samba 3.0.22 was ported by HP for all three supported OS versions of that year, from 6.5 through 7.5. It was the final Samba version developed through HP's labs, a significant one since Samba gained the ability to join Active Directory as a member, though not as a domain controller. Samba was one of the first advances for 3000s resulting from Posix standards for MPE -- developments that earned the OS its /iX name.

As HP closed down the MPE/iX labs, concerns rose about beta-test enhancements like a current Samba disappearing for customer use. A beta patch that never made it to General Release might be unavailable once HP's support contracts ended. The vendor came through with a plan to make the beta patches available to the world: ask HP support for what you'd like by name. Samba 3.0.22 was dubbed SMBMXY6F, for example.

The patched MPE/iX code itself remains inside HP Enterprise, but HP 3000 customers enjoy a unique place in HP's support world. A current HP support contract isn't required to get the code. It's a dance, to be sure, that a customer must do with HP support—but at least now that HP's been divided into Enterprise and Printer companies, the 3000 questions don't get confused with HP printers using the same number.

Samba is still being enhanced and secured today, 20 years after it was first launched by Australian developers who linked servers to Windows machines. Samba is included with most Linux distros and enjoys one of the widest deployments among open source solutions. Getting the 3000 onto a secure, up to date Samba in 2006 was a sign that HP's lab was still at work in a year the 3000 was supposed to be hitting its end of life.

Samba 3.0.22 fell off of open source community support in 2009 when the whole 3.x.x family of Samba was retired. A significant security bug showed up by 3.6.3 that allowed anonymous users to gain root access to a system from an anonymous connection, through the exploitation of an error in Samba's remote procedure call. The HP 3000 often was immune to such exploits since it didn't have an OS structure like that of Unix.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:09 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 24, 2017

On the Surprises Of Six Decades

.Kaypro Man

I never expected to be doing this on the day that I turned 60. That's today. I joined the world of the HP 3000 when I was 27. I worked out my earliest articles about MPE (there was no iX) on a Kaypro II like the one depicted at right. Yes, that phone there was state of the art, too. I came hungry to write about PCs and Macs and figured the minicomputer beat would be a starting spot. This has become the destination, the world we love together.

In my late 20s I gave little thought to what my job would be by the time I got old enough to buy Senior tickets at the movies. I'm a journalist, so I think about the future more than some fellows, though. I had no vision about reporting about a minicomputer when I turned 60. Like you, I never believed I'd be doing this for so long. More than half my life, I've typed the letters MPE together. My life has been blessed, both with the rich array of people whose stories I get to tell, as well as the sponsors who support this life's work. I am thankful for both.

But here we all are, faithful to work that is rich and comforting, steeped in the knowledge that the 3000 is nearly 45 years old. Just at midlife, perhaps, at least in the measurement of a man. I'm entering my third act, I like to say. Friends are close at hand in my life and I continue to  create with words and ideas. My dreams are realized and something I'll never retire from. Perhaps that's true for you as well. The 3000 was supposed to be rubbish by now. Instead, people still want to buy HP's software for it

I'm here for the surprises like that. Survival is success earned across years and through uncertainty and crisis. Your support of that survival is a point of pride. We all earned our latest act. Enjoy the role you are playing, making way for the future.

On Saturday my bride and publisher Abby cooked up a party for me, a total surprise. It was the first surprise party of my life. Sometimes the universe gives us surprises. When we're lucky, the surprises are enduring and continue to reward our faith and hope. The love, ah, that flows on its own, propelled by our lives together.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:27 AM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 19, 2017

Where will HP even take 3000 money today?

CashboxCompanies want to do the right thing, even while they're keeping their budgets in order. When a customer of the 3000-only support shop Pivital Solutions needed to add Netbase/iX to their server, it was time to find the correct way of doing that. The customer didn't have a license for the HP software needed to power Netbase.

HP once sold such a thing. More accurately, HP's distributors sold licenses for this subsystem software. The most common purchase was TurboStore, but items like a COBOL II compiler and odd ducks like Business Report Writer and Allbase 4GL were on HP's price list. Now it looks like there's no longer a list, and scarcely anyone left to take a check.

Pivital's Steve Suraci was resolute about serving his customer with integrity. It might've been a lot easier for a 3000 vendor to just load a subsystem onto a server that HP stopped supporting more than six years ago. Some customers need to satisfy license requirements on everything, though. Getting a license meant finding a reseller or someplace inside HP Enterprise to send the check. Media for subsystem software on the 3000 doesn't ship from HPE by now. This would be a license-only transaction. But where was the cash box?

After Suraci reached out to me, I touched base with people in the 3000 world who might still need a contact to purchase MPE/iX software from HPE. The first wave of requests came back stumped to identify who'd be running the 3000 store anymore. A trip to the website for Client Systems, the final 3000 distributor in North America, draws a couple of parking pages for domains. The OpenMPE advocates planned for many things in the eight years they worked with HP. A missing HP pay station was not among those plans.

"We don't know the answer to this one," said Terry Floyd of The Support Group. "We didn't think HP sold software for the HP 3000 anymore." He reached for some tongue in cheek humor. "Maybe install it and see if they sue — then you'll know who to pay? I'm glad I don't have this problem."

Donna Hofmeister, a director on OpenMPE through most of its existence, was surprised as well.

"Wow. OpenMPE never thought of this particular wrinkle -- what to do if the authorized reseller goes out of business," she said. "I'm not sure if there's anyone (like [former business manager] Jennie Hou) still with HPE who could help. It might be that the best thing to do is to buy a system that the add-on software is already licensed for."

That might be a good strategy in some simple cases, but a transfer of that license to another 3000's hardware might be missing software that was on the target machine already. You'd need a clone license. Even though there are oodles of 3000s out there, finding a clone -- or even a basic FOS lineup, plus one subsystem -- could be tough.

We checked in with Ray Legault at Boeing, and the manager of the MPE operations there said if the 3000 were at Boeing, he'd "have to let the Computer Science Corp. SAs perform the work." Software upgrades are not usually within the reach of hardware support companies, through. For example, the 3000 service at Blueline doesn't include hardware sales "for quite some time," said Bill Towe. "Our only involvement in the HP 3000 is supporting existing hardware and the OS."

Faced with a shrunken HP ecosystem and a vendor whose only operations look like they're limited to taking the $500 to transfer a license, Suraci took a chance on a phone number in his email files. Like a few of us, he's got archives that go back to the glory days when Client Systems was a going concern, full of fire to host the 3KWorld website and sell used hardware. Suraci found a phone number for Casey Crellin, one of the last people left when the doors were wide open at Client Systems.

A phone call off an old email turned up Crellin, who gave Suraci an email address to continue the conversation. It's uncertain where license money collected for 3000 subsystem products would end up. At one point not so long ago — okay, it was eight years — OpenMPE wanted to help HP take money on such sales.

It's not a surprise Suraci needed to do the right thing. His company was one of the last that gained official HP reseller status before Hewlett-Packard clamped off the futures for the 3000. It's a testament to Pivital's persistence that the place to do the correct thing was under the rocks Suraci kept turning over. Due diligence and integrity are behind finding someone to accept 3000 subsystem license money in 2017. Companies that need t's crossed and i's dotted know where to go.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:10 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 17, 2017

3000 Community Meets Up on LinkedIn

LinkedIn 3000 CommunityMore than 660 HP 3000 veterans, pros, and wizards emeritus are members of the only 3000 group on LinkedIn. Last week a message from 3000 vendor and group organizer Dave Wiseman invited them all to meet in the Bay Area in the first week of June.

Wiseman organized a couple of well-run meetings in the UK over the last few years. The latest one he's working to mount is a users group meeting without the work, as he said in a brief LinkedIn discussion message. The message provides a chance to point out one of the best-vetted gatherings of 3000 talent and management, the HP 3000 Community.

I created the 3000 group nine years ago and have screened every applicant for membership. You need to have HP 3000 work history in your resume to capture a spot in this group. As the years have worn down the mailing list for 3000 users on 3000-L, this LinkedIn group now has a greater membership in numbers.

LinkedIn is now a part of the Microsoft empire, a $26 billion acquisition. That's good news for Microsoft customers whether you use Windows or something as explicit as the lightweight ECTL tool for SQL Server, SSIS. The latter is being used by The Support Group on a migration of a MANMAN site to the new Kenandy ERP package.

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn who ran a social networking site while Mark Zuckerberg was still in middle school, is now on the LinkedIn board of directors. The pedigree of LinkedIn flows toward services as well. The highly regarded training site Lynda.com is now a part of LinkedIn. There's a Premium membership to LinkedIn, priced as low at $29.99 a month, that includes access to every course on Lynda. You'll be staggered to see how much business, design, development, and technical training is available through the same network that hosts the only HP 3000 online community.

Job searches are complex and a trying experience for many HP 3000 tech pros. LinkedIn makes it easier. If nothing else, a good-looking resume complete with video, audio and work portfolio examples is part of being a LinkedIn member. Applying for a job is easier in many places by pointing to your LinkedIn resume.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:28 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 14, 2017

The way to San Jose offers 6-figure 3000 job

Developer posts in the HP 3000 world don't come up often, but companies and organizations need talent. On GovernmentJobs.com, a position is open that has a starting salary of $108,802. For the right professional, the pay could go as high as $132,254.

Seeking a COBOL/HP3000 developer who will be responsible for maintaining the AIMS application which runs on a HP3000 system and support the HP3000 system administration work with other team members. The AIMS application is the main appraisal and assessment application for the Assessor's Office. In addition, the selected candidate will help in the AIMS replacement project, which entails rewriting the legacy AIMS application to run in modern platform.

AIM3000The software is probably the venerable AIM/3000, a financials package that was shiny and new in 1983. The job is at the County of Santa Clara, a shop where just two years ago the organization was looking for help to rewrite AIMS into an application "running on a modern platform." The listing for this year's job reiterates that movement off MPE/iX systems. This time out, the position is being listed as Information Systems Manager I.

The successful candidate should have experience with program development work in COBOL on HP3000 as well as HP3000 system administration experience. The candidate must have the knowledge and experience performing duties listed below.

  • Maintaining the software application running on HP 3000 system.
  • Supporting the HP 3000 system administration work with other team members
  • Program development work in COBOL on HP 3000
  • HP 3000 system administration work such as batch job scheduling, system backup and restore, printer and output management among other system management tasks.

The 2015 listing was seeking an Information Systems Analyst II at a lower pay scale. The new job could well be the manager for the 2015 staffer. The position closes in two weeks, on April 27.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:22 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 12, 2017

Oracle serves a profitable slice of cloud

IaaS revenue sharesAmazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure receive the established reputation for cloud resources. Oracle is the new player in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) game. Within a month after Oracle announced sustained profitability on its cloud operations, Stromasys rolled out its plans for offering HP 3000 virtualization through Oracle Cloud.

Oracle's spring numbers showed the third straight quarter of increasing revenues overall, even while its business in application software declined throughout those months starting in mid-2016. Cloud growth, primarily in platform and software services, is making up the difference at Oracle. Oracle means to get its slice of the cloud's pie. Oracle is not on the chart from 2016. But neither is Salesforce, a company with 4 million subscribers. Revenues are not the only meaningful measure of the clout in cloud computing.

Rodney Nelson, an analyst at Morningstar, said the results show "new cloud revenues are more than offsetting the declines in software license sales." Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison said that Oracle Cloud will eventually be the vendor's largest business, outpacing revenues from the application suites that built the $40 billion a year giant.

The coincidence of a new platform for HP 3000s arriving on the cloud hosts of HP's most ardent competitor is profound. Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise business has cast off the futures of MPE/iX and OpenVMS, exiting markets that were still growing, albeit at low rates. The trends away from legacy infrastructures like proprietary OS on vendor-built hardware are mirrored in Oracle's shifts.

New software licenses, a measure tied to Oracle’s on-premise software business, declined in the latest quarter by 16 percent. The decline was smaller than the drop of 20 percent posted in Oracle's fiscal second quarter. This is the pattern HP's own Mission Critical Business operations followed. Ultimately, trends like that led to dividing HP into two companies. When profitable business shrinks, the computing model must be changed. Those changes track with the concept of eliminating the need for on-premise hardware to host MPE/iX operations.

Oracle's Cloud business includes the traditional Platform as a Service and Software as a Service divisions. It also contains the Infrastructure as a Service offering, the spot where the competition is sharpest for new business. In addition to Amazon and Microsoft, the IaaS pie has existing slices of Google, IBM, and Rackspace, among the major players. Oracle is still making its way to the table while it announces increasing revenues and profitability. There has been doubt about the future of IaaS at Oracle, but the latest numbers dispel some of that uncertainty.

IaaS provides what Stromays needs to host 3000s in the cloud. An IaaS vendor hosts hardware, software, servers, storage and other infrastructure components on behalf of its users. Some IaaS providers also host users' applications and handle tasks including system maintenance, backup and resiliency planning. Those are all tasks the MPE/iX community handled with on-premise staff and systems. Clouds such as Salesforce.com, the heartland of the ERP system Kenandy, hope to eliminate all hardware needs for client companies, except for the laptops, desktops and mobile devices that access the infrastructure.

IaaS environments like Oracle cloud will include of administrative tasks, dynamic scaling, virtualization and policy-based services. While that last item is more of a mainframe-grade artifact, admin and scaling are genuine needs for any company continuing with MPE/iX. IaaS customers pay on a per-use basis. The Stromasys-Oracle bundle includes one year of IaaS service. Some providers charge customers based on the amount of virtual machine space they use. This has not been mentioned in the Stromasys rollout of Charon on the cloud.

 

is further divided into three sub-segments:

  • Cloud (SaaS + PaaS) + On-Premise Software
  • IaaS
  • Maintenance and support

where SaaS = Software as a Service, PaaS = Platform as a Service, and IaaS = Infrastructure as a Service.

Note: This article assumes the reader understands the differences between the three major cloud business categories above (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS).

Strong SaaS plus PaaS Growth, But IaaS Is a Different Story

After publicly attacking the idea of cloud computing for some time, Larry Ellison and Oracle launched the Oracle Public Cloud service in late 2011, and since that time, the company has touted double-digit growth year over year for its cloud-based business. In the company's recent Q2 FY 2017 press release, Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz notes:

"(For) four consecutive quarters, our Cloud SaaS and PaaS revenue growth rate has increased. As we get bigger in the cloud, we grow faster in the cloud."

Another quote from Founder and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison in the same releases states:

"We expect our...IaaS business will grow even faster than our skyrocketing SaaS business."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:19 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 10, 2017

3000 backup strategy for closing Sundays

ClosedOnSundayEaster Sunday is on this week's horizon. While it's a rare day of closure at our local HEB grocery chain, Sundays are another sort of closure for 3000 managers. Nearly all of them want their partial backups of the weekdays to wrap up before the backup begins that will serve the work week. If you do full backups every night and want to make the new strategy to do partials during the week and a full on Sunday, there's a way to make that work. Donna Hofmeister, one of the former OpenMPE directors, explained the strategy in a message to 3000 managers.

First you need to decide what kind of partial you want to do.  On Tuesday, do you want to backup all files changed since Sunday's full backup or do you want to backup all files changed since Monday's backup?  (and so on....)

There are some things to think about here. If your "line in the sand" is always Sunday, then you have to deal with knowing that by Friday/Saturday your "partial" backup is likely going to be sizeable and will take longer to run. On the other hand, if you ever have to do a big restore, your restore plan is plan is pretty simple -- you'll need your last partial and your last full backup.

If your "line in the sand" is always yesterday, then your "partial" backups will be relatively small and quick. The flip-side is your big restore could be very complicated, since you'll need every partial backup through Monday plus your full backup. I think most people set the backup date as "Sunday" and do partials from there. But there's a technical bit that's also important.

The bit concerns the command restore ....;date>=!my_lastfull. Donna went on to explain.

"!my_lastfull" is a CI variable that contains a date in "mm/dd/[yy]yy" format.  This is a value that your *full backup job* needs to establish.  So your full backup job should do something like:

         file lastfull,old
         echo !hpmonth/!hpday/!hpyear>*lastful

Your partial job will need to do something like this:

         file lastfull,old
         input my_lastfull < *lastfull

There's plenty of logic that needs to be added to the above examples. (You'll note that there is NO error checking/what-if handling, etc.) This should be enough to get you started.

On incremental vs. differential backups — the former is a backup of changed files since the last full OR partial. The latter is a backup of changed files since the last full.

HP's wisdom about date management for the built-in STORE facility for HP 3000s is in several places. 3K Ranger's Keven Miller volunteered his, and Neil Armstrong's TeamNA Consulting has a downloadable one on file as well.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:40 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 07, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Creating the perfect CSLT

Editor's note: A classic technique, detailed here by the NewsWire's Hidden Value editor emeritus John Burke.

PerfectTapeA question about creating a CSLT for a Disaster Recovery test turned into a general discussion about what the perfect CSLT should look like. A system manager wanted to use the STORE option on the SYSGEN TAPE command to store additional files onto the CSLT he was creating for his DR test but was running into trouble trying to specify STORE options as part of the SYSGEN TAPE command. In particular, he wanted to simply add ;SHOW to get a listing of all files stored.

The answer to his original question is to use an indirect file, as in

sysgen>TAPE MODE=VERBOSE DEST=OFFLINE STORE=
^CSLT.INDIRECT.SYS

where the indirect file contains whatever STORE directives you want in addition to the file list.

One contributor recommended robust efforts to get a listing: “A backup tape is of limited value without a listing. For Disaster Recovery purposes it is also a good idea to have the original HP tapes and patches with you as it is possible to create an SLT that does not install or work on a different HP 3000 system.” This same contributor also suggested creating a disk file with a listing of all the stored files.

However, several people questioned whether this list of files which the thread originator had proposed storing was sufficient. Stan Sieler probably said it best:

“I’d put much more in the STORE section, at the minimum:

/SYS - /SYS/MPEXL/DUMPAREA - /SYS/PUB/NL - /SYS/PUB/SL -/SYS/PUB/XL

(To explain, NL, SL, XL are dumped in the CSLT portion, so no need to dump them in the STORE section; DUMPAREA is a 32Mb file created at INSTALL time and there’s absolutely no need to dump it to a tape.)

/TELESUP - /TELESUP/DUMPS
(or wherever you put your dumps.)

/ALLEGRO, /LPSTOOLS, /REGO, /ROBELLE, /VESOFT
(It’s surprising how much you might want tools at an early stage.)

“If most of your user data is in one or two accounts, other than SYS, TELESUP, and the rest of the system might fit well onto one DDS/DLT, you might find it more useful to do:

/ - /USERS - /SALES

(where USERS, SALES are the ‘user’ accounts)

“Why? It guarantees you’ll get everything you’re likely to need in a recovery/install situation (except, of course, for the major portion of the user’s data). I’d also specify:

;show;directory=MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET,…etc.; progress;partialdb

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:14 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 05, 2017

Stromasys Charon lifts off with Oracle Cloud

Charon on CloudThe makers of the only emulator for HP's 3000 hardware have announced a new service to deliver the Charon virtualized MPE/iX systems over the cloud. Stromasys eliminated the need for HP-branded hardware when it released Charon for HP 3000 users in 2012. The latest development eliminates the need for any local hosting resources by moving processing to Oracle Cloud.

“We are thrilled to offer a robust cloud solution to our customers by collaborating with Oracle,” said John Prot, Stromasys CEO in a press release. Oracle VP for ISV, OEM and Java Business Development David Hicks added, “The cloud represents a huge opportunity for our partner community."

The release notes that the Oracle Cloud is "the industry’s broadest and most integrated public cloud, offering a complete range of services across SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. It supports new cloud environments, existing ones, and hybrid, and all workloads, developers, and data."

Cloud-based HP 3000 and MPE/iX computing is a solution Stromasys brings to the 3000 community for the first time. While remote-based HP 3000s have been an IT staple for decades, a system hosted without the need to integrate and install any host systems is a breakthrough offering.

Charon for HPA relies on a Linux-based host, making the cloud-provisioned services from Oracle a minimal transition from local-hosted Intel servers. Charon on Oracle Cloud includes a license for the Charon virtualization software along with unmetered Oracle Cloud services and support for the combined solution.

Oracle says its cloud offering is more complete than those from Amazon Web Services. “AWS is an incomplete cloud," said Vice President of Cloud Platform Ashish Mohindroo. "The main AWS  focus is IaaS, compute, and storage. If you want to store files in the cloud [or] spin out a new server, you’re good. But most customers want to run applications, and with AWS most of those capabilities come from third parties. So when it comes to integration, you’re on your own.”

The total virtualization of an MPE/iX server, including the need for hardware, has been in development for some time at Stromasys. In 2015, Alexandre Cruz, Stromasys Sales Engineer said software-based HPSUSAN licensing was underway, eliminating the need for dongles attached to local hardware.

"This will prevent any licensing problems that might occur while using a cloud provider," he said. "We will create a machine for licensing purposes which has exactly the same structure as a USB dongle. We still require the HPSUSAN and the HPCPUNAME.”

HP 3000 customers were being encouraged two years ago to use the cloud instead of a physical server. The Oracle Cloud solution integrates hosting and provisioning with the virtualization of MPE/iX resources.

Subscriptions are being sold for Charon HPA on a yearly basis, in either single-year or three-year periods. Licenses would be paid in advance with renewals every year. “This means that every 12 months they have the possibility to stop everything without losing what they have invested in the hardware,” Cruz said.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:39 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 01, 2017

History processor heralds new Wayback/iX

A reconfiguration of HPCALENDAR intrinsic capabilities is opening the door for date revisions, one of the last remaining roadblocks to an everlasting MPE/iX lifespan. The design and development of the project has been underway in a Sourceforge repository since 2013, with a handful of volunteers working to deliver the new intrinsic WAYBACK.

BillandDaveworkingVolunteers cited the work of the Stromasys Charon HPA system for providing the ongoing inspiration to keep the work alive. One developer, who requested anonymity for fear of having his report labeled fake news, said that the everlasting platform for MPE/iX software triggered the stealth project. "This is no fool's errand," he said. "We'll bring these apps into a future HP never dreamed about. That's the value of the HP Way, retaining value and profitability."

When successfully tested, WAYBACK will bypass the 2028 roadblock to date processing. The Sourceforge team, which calls itself the League of Joy, believes that an additional processor will have to be added for HP 3000 hardware manufactured by Hewlett-Packard. Emulated and virtualized HP 3000s are expected to need no such separate CPU, although a high number of cores will make date manipulation seamless.

The end of accurate date processing — a state that the League calls Fake Dates — was never a concern when MPE was first developed. "This is not a bug, really," said Vladimir Volokh, who is not a part of the League development team. "It's a limitation. This 'end of 2027' date was as far away as infinity when MPE was created." Adding a Wayback/iX to the package of Fundamental Operating System components is the next step in the work to add pages to the 3000's calendar.

HPCALENDAR, rolled out by Hewlett-Packard engineers in the late 1990s for the 6.0 release of MPE/iX, has been a newer tool to solve the old Fake Date problem. Since HPCALENDAR is fresher than CALENDAR, it's only callable in the 3000's Native Mode. WAYBACK intercepts the calls to CALENDAR and pipes them though HPCALENDAR, or so it's hoped once this history processor makes its way through beta testing.

In the meantime, one of the developers in the League of Joy suggested that IT pros who want their MPE/iX apps to run beyond 2028 should bone up on using intrinsics. Suggesting the Using Intrinsics whitepaper on the 3K Associates website, D. D. Browne predicted a swift end to the Fake Date roadblock.

"We've all been keeping the 3000's applications alive for longer than NPR has been broadcasting real news," Browne said. "It's going to carry us all beyond retirement," he said of any system running with WAYBACK. "Back in the days the 3000 was built, TV and radio stations once signed off the air. This operating environment is never going off the air."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:30 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 30, 2017

Puts, Gets, and Serving Up Transfers Faster

Server TrayHP 3000s are exchanging files with other servers, a process that's included the FTP protocol for more than 15 years. This capability was once so magic that the arrival of Samba file exchange on MPE/iX was lauded as a breakthrough. FTP is quite a ways off the most current of transfer protocols. One manager's started a discussion about how to improve transfer speeds to and from the 3000, though. He's using DSCOPY as well, but prefers the PUTs and GETs of FTP.

The advice that's current about FTP/iX says that hard-coding the 3000's ports (100mb full duplex, or 10mb half) is one way to speed things up. Ensuring your traffic is not running through a proxy (called "being proxied) is another idea. Measuring the speed of a PUT against a GET is one step in discovering why the 3000's FTP might seem slow.

In 2008, MPE/iX gained a secure version of FTP—at least part of one. This SFTP functionality arrived at the end of the Hewlett-Packard lab era for 3000s, a period when new tools were not being placed into wide use. Sites were locking down their 3000 scope of operations to ensure stability. The port of this then-current functionality fell short of complete: only an FTP secured client got created. PUTs could be secured, as well as GETs. But only from Windows, Unix, or Linux hosts to the 3000. The 3000 wasn't going to dish out files using secured FTP. There are notes in place to carry the work forward, though.

MPE/iX tools and components are also out there to complete this securing of file transfers. OpenSSH is the best-known protocol. A quick-start bundle can be downloaded from the MPE-OpenSource website run by Applied Technologies. There are SFTP installation instructions at Applied, too. Someone who's got a need for securing FTP transfers will need to do the server side of the porting, which was completed on the client side by Ken Hirsh, Mark Bixby, and Mark Klein. Requests to speed up FTP are a sign this porting would be more than just an open source hobby project.

Brian Edminster, the senior consultant at Applied Technologies, explained that "with a bit of work, you could get OpenSSH v 3.7.1p2 working. The issue is that 'select' is busted under MPE/iX, and that's what's required for ssh to work correctly."

The fact remains: ssh cannot connect to a remote system and execute commands that produce any output. Ken Hirsch did the original port, but he only really needed the SFTP client -- so the issue with ssh wasn't addressed.   

Ken also posted on the 3000-L newsgroup in 2008, asking if there was any interest in getting an ssh and sshd/sftp-server working (server daemon) -- so the 3000 could do port forwarding, act as a SFTP server, receive inbound ssh connections, and so on. Apparently he didn't get enough response to carry forward.

Back in 2005, Hirsch posted his goal. 

I could get an interactive ssh client to work on MPE/iX.  I don't know how, but I know it's possible! It would not be possible to get an ssh server working in such as way that an ssh client could run any program. But it would be possible to get enough of the server running so that you could use the server to do port forwarding.

In 2008, he added the note which Edminster referenced. "If anybody knows a way to actually write to a terminal while there is a read pending," Hirsch said, "I could use OpenSSH as a server on the HP 3000. Apparently there are undocumented MPE/iX sendio() and rendezvousio() calls, of which I know nothing. There are also tread()/twrite() routines in libbsd.a that I think are intended for this, but there's no documentation for these, either."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:11 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 27, 2017

HP's storage devices trigger extra 3000 care

TractionWhere can an IT professional ask a question about bringing a 3000 peripheral back to life? The best place to ask is a support company, one that can even supply a replacement device if the aging 3000 iron has gone offlline. The next best place is the 3000 newsgroup and mailing list. The free advice has covered warnings as well as solutions on how to rescue the process of recovery.

The 3000 console shows an ABORTIO detected on device 9. A backup stops at Wesleyan Assurance Society and Jill Turner asks what causes the abort. "The backup logs off. No one has typed a command to do that. What would cause that message to appear?"

Tracy Johnson manages 3000s at TE Connectivity. "Sometimes an error with the mechanism shows up as an abortio. It doesn't have to be a typed command. Hitting the eject button in the middle of an operation would do it.  I have forced the issue myself sometimes: 'Damn, wrong tape! Press eject.' It then shows up as abortio detected."

Hmmm, mechanism error. That amounts to a troubled piece of hardware. Al Nizzardini suggests that the troublesome tape drive get a thorough cleaning, "and have a spare on hand to do a replacement." Good advice, although a manager has to ensure the backup tapes written by one elderly HP drive can be read by another. It's not automatic.

Disk drives have 3000 managers on watch, too. Companies have options beyond device replacement here in 2017.

Lance Mortensen of Beechglen left a message for the 3000 newsgroup readers that summed up the prospects for HP-supplied storage.

The disk drives that  HP 3000s and HP 9000s use are in some cases more than 10 years past the manufacturer's designed lifetime. Most failures are detected during a full backup or at month-end processing, because that is the only time that most or all of the data on the disk is accessed.

He didn't mention quarter-end processing, which will start for a lot of companies this Friday evening. This week would be a good time to check your HP device support coverage.

Beechglen has a disk backup device that it offers for 3000s which includes cloud computing. "You are actually lucky if the drive simply dies," Mortensen said about the failures. "The two worst cases are when no errors are reported by the disk or system, but data is corrupted slowly over time (and now multiple backups are no good); and after a power outage, when multiple drives fail to spin up and two of them are mirrored pairs (think Mirror/iX, VA arrays, and Model 20s)."

Focused support companies that are all-3000 vendors like Pivital Solutions take the guesswork out of backstopping the backup strategies of servers that were built at the start of this century, or even earlier. Even with the adoption of cloud computing as an IT architecture, on-site servers are still a requirement for many enterprises. A hybrid of cloud and onsite is what Terry Floyd of The Support Group recommends.

When a manager cannot recover an MPE/iX server—when first the disk fails, and then the tape drive aborts—the next step could be replacing the entire 3000. Full system replacement won't bring in any 3000 iron built after 2003, though, just different units. The care strategy has different goals for virtualized HP 3000 systems. Managing change is the tradeoff between new-gen iron like the SSD-driven Intel server systems and replacing and cleaning HP's gear.

An MPE/iX system that's in set-and-forget mode can get away with relying on HP's devices. The extra care is something everyone will have to pay for, of course. Nobody's going to forget the day a failed server could not be restored.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:12 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 24, 2017

A Few Stops on the 3000 Maintenance Line

ToolkitAfter inviting our readership to share their HP hardware service providers, we're got some early entries to share. The list of 3000 support teams is not the same as the companies who continue to service hardware. Much of the time these are different companies. While a manager can find some help on MPE/iX administration from a hardware outlet, this account-level support is more thorough and fine-tuned coming from a company like Pivital Solutions, or from The Support Group for MANMAN and ERP-focused engineering.

Even HP recognized this when the company was the primary support vendor for 3000 sites. A Customer Engineer was the equivalent of that hardware guru, working in the days before what Hewlett-Packard called Phone In Consulting Service. Close to 30 years later, onsite hardware maintenance is still the linchpin of keeping HP's aging hardware alive. Customers don't perform much of this while working with a vendor. "There's a liability issue when you have the customer do the component replacements," said one rep who's been working 3000 accounts for several decades.

A Software Engineeer was something very different than an HP CE. Not only did they know IMAGE at a depth that could outpace a CE, they often knew a customer's applications. Not just the HP-branded apps, either. In time, the top-tier utility vendors offered a kind of SE service. Adager was well-known for saving a site from calamity that wasn't yet a customer.

Without further preface, here's a few notes on some hardware resources who've volunteered information or been verified by their customers.

Saratoga Computers: "We are a group of ex-HP CE's," says Jim Maher. "All of us are experts servicing HP3000, 9000 and yes even 1000's. our average experience working on HP equipment is over 30 years." Hardware support providers usually branch out to other systems, such as Dell and HP's ProLiant systems. even Cisco switches, workstations and printers. Maher says that's the case at Saratoga.

Blueline Services: Bill Towe founded this provider that backs up the internal needs at The Support Group, among many other 3000 customers. In some cases the best way to bring up a downed 3000 is to ship a replacement system; that's what happened once, according to the Support Group's Terry Floyd. Component-level service is available as well.

In Europe, ScreenJet's Alan Yeo recommends Newcorp. Yeo's software tool and consultancy practice also has worked with Nike Computing and Prestige Datacentre Solutions.

Allegro's Steve Cooper said he's got a select group of companies for his MPE/iX customers using HP's 3000 hardware.

Our top-tier partners, that I can recommend without reservations are:

Ideal Computer Services (serving Northern California, Southern California, Maryland); Black River Computers (working in Ohio) and Abtech (based in San Diego)

We also do work with a number of other hardware maintenance companies, and even act as an escalation center for some hardware/software maintenance companies. But for one reason or another, those companies have not made it to the above list. Most of our customers still come through a third-party hardware company, but many contract with us directly.  Some of those are self-maintainers, some rely on their applications vendor for hardware support, and some are just rolling the dice. We try to be flexible, meeting our customers' needs. As a result, we see a bit of everything.

Pivital's practices utilize third party hardware-centric companies. But CEO Steve Suraci says his company uses its own technicians, too. The company's in an elite position, since it's got a license for the MPE/iX source code, one of just a handful of firms with such technical access.

We continue to support both MPE and the underlying HP 3000 hardware as one of the select few remaining support companies with access to HP's original source code. We maintain 7x24x365 phone support for those requiring that SLA. In New England, we support our own hardware agreements with our own local technicians. Outside of New England, we support our customers through a network of contracted technicians that have agreed in writing with us to support our customers SLA. In many cases, we will maintain parts on site to help facilitate quicker times to recovery.

One other way to resolve hardware issues can bypass the HP components completely. That's the strategy that works for the MPE/iX sites using the Stromasys Charon HPA virtualized 3000s. No HP hardware is required to keep MPE/iX apps and services available, because the entire configuration is powered by Intel-based servers (ProLiants are popular, but Dells reign, too) and non-HP peripherals.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:28 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2017

3000 job fills at mainframe's speed

Ursinus_College_sealPublic listings of HP 3000 positions can be tricky to track. A Web search I run with Google tagged an opening in Pennsylvania last week. Google will track a search term and email results to you. Although "HP3000" returns a lot of pages about 3000-horsepower motors, it sometimes unearths news.

The position looked like a classic one and didn't seem to be related to migration work, although it's hard to verify the latter. The immediate opportunity, posted by David Mortham of staffing firm The Fountain Group was for an "HP 3000 Mainframe Engineer."

We are seeking a HP 3000 Mainframe Engineer for a prominent client of ours. This position is located in Collegeville, PA. Details for the position are as follows:

  • Good knowledge in HP3K Mainframe.
  • Good Experience with COBOL, Suprtool, Cognos Quiz, QTP and MPEX.
  • Able to work on enhancements as per the business requirements.
  • Able to troubleshoot issues within HP Mainframe Environment.
  • Able to handle the technical production support issues
  • Prepare technical documentation for various processes flow applications.
  • Able to manage business requirements, writing business requirement documents / technical design documents.
  • Excellent design and technical query writing skills.

It's all there: Powerhouse 4GL, aided by top tools MPEX and Suprtool, with the applications in COBOL. It wasn't available less than a week after the March 6 posting. 3000s can not only be as fast as any mainframe, the remaining openings in 2017 move off the market at similar speeds.

There's not much of a clue about where this 3000 job, a full time one at that, was open. But the listing floated up on the Higher Education job board. Ursinus College, an institution nearly 150 years old, is in Collegeville. Universities earn higher regard when they're older. Some business computer systems do as well.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:22 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 13, 2017

3000 friends: Meet in the Valley, or seaside?

Dream InnAn HP 3000 user group meeting has become so rare by 2017 as to be legend. After Interex closed up shop suddenly in 2005, Alan Yeo organized a late-binding gathering in 2005, then another in 2007 and another in 2009, all in Silicon Valley. By 2011, Yeo was working along with me and Marxmeier Software's Michael Marxmeier to put on the HP3000 Reunion at the Computer History Museum. The Reunion provided the debut spot for the only HP 3000 emulator, the Charon HPA from Stromasys.

Then the meetings began to evolve to reconnect us without needing a formal program. The most enjoyable part of the formal meets, after all, was the SIG-BAR gatherings in the hotel lounges. Gossip and speculation were always a key part of SIG-BAR. Lately the meetings have moved exclusively to this Special Interest Group. Last year there was a lunch meeting at the Duke of Edinburgh pub, set up by Birket Foster.

There's something about these leaders that can rouse people to return. The Bay Area in summertime has drawn a rich collective of 3000 veterans and experts. In 2008 the Computer History Museum hosted a seminar on 3000 software history. Another fellow with user group meeting experience is leading this year's charge to the Valley.

Dave Wiseman notified us about a 2017 gathering he's setting up for the Bay Area.

So we used to all be good friends in the community and its about time we met up again for a beer or three. We had a couple of very pleasant meetings in the UK and I am in California early June so I thought that I might organize one in the valley around June 5/6/7th. I am happy to organize a meeting while I'm in San Francisco. Could you tell me if you would be interested in coming? We’d love to see all of our old friends again

Dates: Any preference for Monday June 5th, or Tuesday June 6th?
Location: San Francisco/ SFO airport hotel/ Cupertino, or Santa Cruz (I’d see if we could book the Dream Inn for a Santa Cruz location)
Time: Lunch, afternoon or evening

Please email me, davebwiseman@googlemail.com, so we can see if there are enough people interested to make it worth everyone's while.

I'd put a vote up for the Dream Inn (above, seaside) since it was a stop on my cross-California 20th wedding anniversary trip with Abby. They're even got a Dream Floor at the top.

Stan Sieler has already said he's available for the meeting, even before it's got a firm date and time and location. Stan has to make room for a magic class he teaches on Monday nights. With enough interest, users could make a meeting appear this summer.

Unlike the full-on group meetings of old, today's gatherings feature no Powerpoint slides and plenty of memories—plus updates on what everyone is doing these days that's different.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:18 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 10, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Going Beyond JBOD

By Gilles Schipper

Mod 20sOne of the most cost-effective ways of advancing the reliability of your legacy system may be to replace your existing “JBOD” disk system with a much more reliable disk system. MOD20 units, still a better deal than individual disks, can provide a good starting point to implement RAID. JBOD is an acronym meaning “just a bunch of disks” — which would characterize the majority of HP 3000 systems as they were initially sold. JBOD disk systems comprise a set of independent — typically SCSI-connected — disks, which are each seen by the HP 3000 as a single logical device number or LDEV. Each disk LDEV is associated with a “volume set” and the failure of a single disk renders the “volume set” to which it belongs inoperable and un-accessible.

Traditionally, most 3000 systems have comprised a single volume set (specifically, the required SYSTEM volume set, with the brevity-challenged label “MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET”).

Systems comprising a large number of “JBOD” LDEVs increased the likelihood of system downtime, since the failure of a single, old disk effectively resulted in a “down” system — requiring a time-consuming disk replacement and system reload before the system could properly function once again.

To mitigate such delicate exposure to a single disk failure, many installations implemented the “User Volume Set” feature built in to MPE/iX, then constructed multiple volume sets so that the failure of a single disk affected only the volume set to which it belonged.

For practical purposes, the only real benefit to this approach was to reduce the amount of time required to replace the disk and reload only the data residing on the affected volume set. (In reality, it was usually quite unusual for a system to continue normal, or even minimal operation with even a single unavailable volume set).

To further improve system reliability and minimize downtime an optional, additional-cost software  product was available in the form of software mirroring — aka “MPE/iX mirroring.”

This enabled the system administrator to configure non-system volume set disk drives to be associated with  identical corresponding “mirror” disks. The software was responsible for dynamically duplicating the contents of  both disk drive “mirrors” such the failure of one of the two mirror drives could be tolerated without affecting the continuous operation of the system. The damaged disk could then be replaced and the dynamic disk duplication would resume.

Only if both mirror pairs failed would there be a corresponding system outage and data loss. However, software mirroring was still far from ideal. Since it was unavailable for the MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET, the failure of a system disk, unprotected by mirroring software, would result in certain system down time.

Further, software mirroring exacted a price in terms of CPU and I/O overhead that could otherwise be utilized for actual “useful” processing. 

And, as a wise person once said, given a choice, a feature is almost always better implemented in hardware than software. This certainly applies to disk mirroring and nicely aligns with the the Nike MOD20 RAID disk system, which is (one of the) HP 3000’s solutions to the compromises associated with software mirroring.

The MOD20 features dual controllers, duplicated (even triplicated) power supplies, and up to 20 disk drives housed in a single frame/enclosure that provides significant improvements over the MPE/iX software mirroring functionality.

Each MOD20 provides for a maximum of 8 logical units (LUN’s) to be configured — each of which appears as a single logical device no. (LDEV no.) to the HP 3000. A maximally and optimally configured MOD20 will include 20 disk drives and be configured as follows:

14 disks to be defined as type RAID1, using up 7 LUNS—since each LUN comprises two separate mirrored disks. RAID level 1 is equivalent to simple mirroring whereby one disk is dynamically maintained as a duplicated mirror image on its mirrored twin disk, which must of identical size and model.

If one disk of the mirrored pair fails, the other disk can take over the responsibility of presenting the requisite data IO to and from the host system with no perceived performance degradation. The remaining 6 disks can be configured as a single LUN comprising 4 RAID 1/0 disks and 2 hot spares.

A RAID 1/0 configuration takes an even number of disks and duplicates the contents of half of them (as a group) onto the other half.

The hot spares would act as dynamic replacements for any disk in the MOD20 that fails, such that even the  failure of one or two disks would not prevent the entire disk subsystem from maintaining its fail-safe mirroring capability. Without the hot-spare feature, failure of a single disk would allow normal system activity to continue but without further fail-safe capability for the failing LUN only.

Chances of both disks in the same LUN failing are extremely remote. That is why I advise you to forgo the hot spare capability. Utilize a 6-disk RAID 1/0 LUN instead of a 4-disk RAID 1/0 LUN, giving you additional usable disk space overall.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:04 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 03, 2017

When and how to back up 3000 directories

Editor's Note: Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper weighs in on  using the 3000's store directory option, rather than invoking the buldacct program, to make clean backups.

By Gilles Schipper
Homesteading Editor 

CityDirectoriesIt's common to see confusion surrounding the use of the ;directory store option versus the buldacct directory creation program. In order to benefit from the store ;directory option, one has to utilize the option almost perfectly in both the store and the restore following a system INSTALL. Consequently, it becomes much easier to fall back on the buldjob options to re-create the directory -- although that option is inferior.

In order to be able to effectively utilize the directory option, the first thing that must be done properly is to ensure that the appropriate ;onvs= option is also used in the case where user volumesets are utilized. Otherwise, the non-system volumeset directories do not get restored after the INSTALL since they are not on the tape.

But even if the store part is done correctly, the other opportunity to go wrong presents itself during the reload process.

The proper procedure during reload is as follows:

1. perform INSTALL
2. restore ;directory from tape
3. re-create disk and volumeset environment via VOLUTIL

Then -- and this where many go wrong,

4. Again restore ;directory from tape (this re-creates the volumset directory environment on the master volumes for all user volumesets for those utilizing it)
and then
5. restore files
6. reboot with start norecovery (to enable network functionality)

Of course, for those that do not utilize user volumesets, the directory option becomes much less error-prone. And, for those that utilize third-party backup utilities, the ;directory option -- as utilized in the MPE store command -- is generally replaced with a similar option in the various backup utilities.

The bottom line: for those that utilize the MPE store command to perform their backups, the properly-used ;DIRECTORY (and, if appropriate) corresponding ;ONVS= options) -- together with correct restore procedures as indicated above -- will get the desired result 100 percent of the time. Notwithstanding, of course, any tape issues occurring, which would be problematic no matter which directory re-creation option is used.

The bottom line is that the proper way to perform a full backup if you're using the MPE backup facility:

:file t;dev=tape
:store /;*t;partdb;directory;onvs=mpexl_system_volume_set,big;
maxtapebuf[;progress=5;show;online[=xxxx]]

Of course, upon further reflection, and better than the store command: use sysgen to create a backup tape that not only contains all files, but also the SLT -- so that this one tape alone can be used to INSTALL and RELOAD your system. The use of sysgen for such purpose will require use of an indirect file.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:12 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 01, 2017

Wayback Wed: Customers' Proposition 3000

Computerworld April 22


During the month of March 21 years ago, the 3000 community tried to raise a ruckus. The object of Proposition 3000 was to prod HP into making the 3000 a full citizen of the future of business computing. After only a couple of years of introduction, the new processor HP was developing with Intel looked like it would pass by the world of MPE/iX. HP and Intel dubbed the IA-64 technology the future of computing. HP had backed away from plans to make the 3000's OS run on the new chip it was calling "Tahoe."

"The company appears to be making a fundamental but flawed assumption that MPE migrations will be channeled directly into HP-UX or NT-on-HP hardware." This was enough of a crisis that application vendors were standing up at an Interex Programmer's Forum to report HP asked them to rewrite their apps for HP-UX. We launched the NewsWire with a fanfare of it promoting the HP 3000 Renaissance. Not so fast, HP's top management was saying. We set down the challenge to HP and its customers in our FlashPaper (which you can read here to recall the outrage of the moment.) In this era, NT was the name of what would become Windows Server.

Customers want these systems, and vendors believe in their superiority. But those kinds of business blessings apparently clash with HP's profit motives; that's the only reason we can fathom for threatening to force an entire installed base to migrate to HP-UX or NT. You can decide for yourself how that kind of a productivity hit will impact your company's profits.

FlashPaper headline Mar 1996This was the canary in the mine shaft, the HP debate about whether to include MPE/iX in the future of business computing systems. In 1996 the IT world was allowing HP and Intel to call Tahoe the future, because the joint project was only a couple of years old. Tahoe had not yet become Merced, and then Itanium, all the while slipping release dates and getting lapped Intel's own by x86 generation enhancements. In 1996 the future looked to be slipping away. The most alarming development was HP asking vendors to rewrite for Unix. Soon enough, a few of them did, most notably the software company that put the 3000 into the world of the Web: Ecometry.

At the meeting we learned the problem wasn't really profit at HP. At the time of the Proposition, HP was earning $600 million a year in profit on sales of $1.2 billion. The 3000 division needed more engineering hands to move MPE/iX forward, resources the company would not provide.

The protest was staged at a Bay Area Interex meeting, a setting similar to the ruckus 3000 users raised in Boston at an Interex show six years earlier. But IPROF was not the annual show attended by thousands. The Proposition 3000 name and the movement were so-named because it was the new era of California's state propositions. HP's Tony Engberg replied that he would work to get the 3000 advocates an audience with top HP officials. The hearing felt desperately needed after Ecometry's Alan Gardner laid out the future HP presented him.

“I’ve got two visions of the HP 3000,” Gardner said. “One’s a nightmare, and the other is a fantasy. The nightmare is that the 3000 is going away, while the fantasy is that HP will begin to promote the HP 3000 as the operating system choice of the world."

The March movement arose in the face of HP's slow pace of advancing the 3000. At the time the servers were on an older release of the PA-RISC designs HP first rolled out in the late 1980s. The HP 9000 was farther ahead. 3000 General Manager Harry Sterling, still new to his job, explained that rolling forward MPE/iX was taking longer than expected.

“We do not have a firm commitment yet that we can talk about in terms of an implementation on the new [Tahoe] architecture,” Sterling said. “Last year I was hoping we would, but our roll-forward has become even more complex than it was at that time. We have the current focus of getting to the PA-8000. The next thing after that is what we might do to take advantage of 64-bit architecture on that chip. Beyond that would be the use of the new Intel architecture.”

The next year HP assured 3000 customers that the architecture, being called IA-64, was on the 3000's distant horizon. Computer Systems chief Dick Watts, computer chief Rick Belluzzo and CEO Lew Platt moved out of HP's computer orbit within a few years. The items within the Proposition became a list of desires HP would not fulfill.

  • 64-bit chip commitment for the HP 3000. We heard last night they would look into it,” Kell said. “Last year we heard that they would do it.”
  • Available platforms for MPE. “One new precedent that was somewhat disturbing was when the D-class servers were introduced, they said MPE wouldn’t available for it. This is the first time a PA-RISC platform has not been available across both systems.”
  • Lead time on critical products for MPE/iX. “We’re still waiting on 32-bit ODBC drivers, and we’ve waited a long time for telnet server. DCE is still in an intermediate stage, but largely it’s still lagging behind.”
  • MPE and HP-UX cooperation. “It’s what we’re really missing. They co-exist; that was the buzzword a couple of years ago. Dogs and cats can co-exist given enough management supervision, but they won’t necessarily co-operate.”
  • Common hardware across both HP 3000s and HP 9000s, from an Open Systems Division, with MPE/iX or HP-UX as an option, both servers with robust APIs to make ISV porting of applications to MPE/iX “as trivial as any other Unix platform.”
  •  Stressing the strengths of MPE/iX, “and not its weaknesses. We don’t have to be told anymore what the 3000 can’t do, because a lot of the things we were told it can’t do it now can.

HP plans of 1997 had to be reset by a Hewlett-Packard that was acquiring Digital during 2001. Product overlap meant the larger of the two systems — VMS instead of MPE/iX — would get its road cleared to Itanium. Things had changed enough in HP's management to make the displeasure of vendors and programmers a lesser concern than product consolidation needs. Computerworld's Jai Vijayan called the Proposition "rumbling in the ranks of the old faithful." The majority of the customers didn't want to look at a proposition of no 3000s in HP's future.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:15 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 24, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Opening Up MPE's Shell

Way back in the middle 1990s HP added the Posix shell to the HP 3000. The improvement meant customers who had Unix and MPE running in the same shop could train operators and managers with a single set of commands. Posix was a plus, making the 3000 appear more Unix-like (which seemed important at the time).

Over the years, however, Posix has been a feature waiting be discovered for most 3000 managers and operators. The computer's operating system was renamed from MPE/XL to MPE/iX just for this added Posix feature. But enough history; Posix is still on the 3000 and remains a powerful interface tool, an alternative to the CI interface that HP created for the system. You can even call Posix commands from the CI, a nifty piece of engineering when it can be done.

That's not always possible, though. A customer wanted to know how to "expand wildcard shells" using Posix. He tried from the CI and had this story to relate.

:LL /BACKUPS/HARTLYNE/S*
ls: File or directory is not found

So how do I do this? I need to be able to tell tar to archive all of the reels of a STD STORE set via a regexp. It does not work in tar, and it apparently does not in ls—so I speculate that there is something special about the innovation of Posix utilities from the CI that I am not aware of. What is it?

Jeff Vance, the 3000 CI guru at while at HP, replied "Wildcards on most (all) Unix systems, including Posix implementations, are done by the shell, not the individual programs or in-lined shell commands, like ls in your example. A solution is to run the shell and execute ll from within.

The magic Posix shell command to do the expansion:

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 11.22.22 PMAn interesting footnote if you've read this far: The Posix shell for the 3000 is one part of the operating system that was not built by HP. The shell was licensed by HP from MKS, and Hewlett-Packard paid royalties to MKS so Posix could work inside of MPE/iX. That was an issue that posed a potential snag for source code licensing from HP. But the outside license issues never ended up blocking emulation or source-license arrangements. Managers have used Posix on the 3000 as a way to get familiar with commands in Unix systems. In the great majority of instances, these commands are the same.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:10 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 22, 2017

Simulator knows what day it is, or was

Feb22The SIMH project has created a software release that mimics the HP 3000 Classic CISC hardware. The software makes it possible to emulate HP 3000 servers that go back to the 1970s—the same systems HP mothballed in the middle 1980s even before the PA-RISC products of the past two decades.

So while SIMH won't give anyone an emulated HP 3000 that can run MPE/iX, the package somehow seems to know its way around the calendar. Even after MPE V has long since gone obsolete, the SIMH combo using MPE V from trailing-edge.com adjusts the year to match the current layout. As it turns out, the year 1989 has the same days of the week falling on the same calendar dates as 2017. It offers some hope of getting MPE/iX rewired so its CALENDAR intrinsic works beyond the end of 2027.

An emulator that virtualizes the ultimate generation HP 3000s is the domain of Stromays Charon HPA. SIMH is more of a hobbyist's dreamland, or as one serious veteran called it, "my version of toy trains."

Glen Cole fired up SIMH and reported that "the only user input below was 'hp3000 mpe-auto' ... Neat how it auto-magically knew that 1989 had the same calendar layout as 2017." He did a SHOWTIME to verify the date.

$ hp3000 mpe-auto

HP 3000 simulator V4.0-0 Beta        git commit id: f9cfae0c
Logging to file "mpe-auto.log"
Listening on port 1054
LP: creating new file

Cold load complete, P: 177664 (PSHR Q)
Press <CR> to start MPE.

HP32002E.01.00
WHICH OPTION <WARMSTART/COOLSTART>? COOLSTART
ANY CHANGES? NO

DATE (M/D/Y)?02/20/89
TIME (H:M)?22:35
MON, FEB 20, 1989, 10:35 PM? (Y/N)Y
LOG FILE NUMBER 5 ON
*WELCOME*
:HELLO OPERATOR.SYS;HIPRI

Another longtime 3000 pro, Gavin Scott, summed up how to get these 30-year-old instances of HP 3000s up and running.

I just successfully created a database and an associated Basic/V program with SIMH/HP3000. If you want to play with your own
Series III get the SIMH 4.0 beta and the MPE V/R software kit.

Extract the MPE V/R zip file into a directory along with the HP3000.exe out of the beta, then drag mpe-auto.sim onto HP3000.

COBOL, COBOLII, BASIC, RPG, SPL, FORTRAN are included along with FOS. You can have Reflection connect via telnet on port 1054 to get an actual HP terminal session going that can run FORMSPEC etc.

 

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:48 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 20, 2017

Harris School Solutions buys K-12 ISV QSS

HSS LogoHarris School Solutions (HSS) has announced its acquisition of Quintessential School Systems (QSS). The latter is an HP 3000 vendor whose products have been running California K-12 schools since 1990. The purchase for an undisclosed amount includes a transfer of QSS Chief Operating Officer Duane Percox to the post of Product Owner. The company's QSS/OASIS is capable of going beyond single school districts; it supports multi-district agencies, such as County Offices of Education, and also community colleges.

Scott Schollenberger, EVP of HSS' Financial Solutions unit said of QSS/OASIS, "We see this product as a way to bolster what we offer now, while opening even more doors for HSS in the future.”

Similarly, QSS expressed its excitement over joining with HSS. “Harris School Solutions is an outstanding organization," Percox said in a press release, "not just because of its products and services, but also because of the people who offer them. The people within the company are the real deal, so I’m thrilled to be working with them. Together, we’re going to offer our same great products and services, but to many, many more schools across North America.”

A company press release  says QSS OASIS will now be available more widely. QSS has always had a very large share of its customers in California school systems. Selling into a school system in California demands a familiarity of some very unique requirements. Harris brings the QSS software into the rest of the US.

The QSS saga includes a long-term migration campaign on behalf of its HP3000 users. When HP cut its 3000 plans short in 2001, finding a replacement platform with no such trap door was paramount to QSS. Well before the solution was established as a commercial choice, QSS was sent 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.

QSS launched the Linux version of its application suite at Lodi Unified School District in 2008, accessing MS SQL. According to the QSS website, various other customers are scheduled to make the transition from the HP 3000 to Linux during 2017.

Calendar year 2016 saw the highest number of conversions of school districts (SD) and County Offices of Education (COE), Eleven organizations cut over to Linux hosts and either SQL Server of PostgreSQL for a database. Those migrated this year include La Habra SD, Mariposa COE, Nevada COE, San Luis Obispo COE and Stanislaus COE, Amador COE, Kern COE, Mendocino COE, Orange USD, Visalia USD, Novato USD

During 2015, five more, schools migrated: Glenn COE, Colusa COE, Modesto City SD, Marin COE, and Santa Clara COE made the switch to version L.
Reports for 2014 covered seven migrations, including the first QSS site making the move from MPE to Linux. Corona-Norco USD was the first QSS customer to make the transition from Version H to Version L in January, 2014. Their HP 3000 was replaced by a Linux application server accessing data from MS SQL databases.

El Dorado COE migrated from Version H to Version L in November 2014 over the Thanksgiving break.  EDCOE is running a monolithic system with the Linux application server and PostgreSQL server on the same virtual machine. EDCOE originally planned to use SQL Server as its database server, but opted to use PostgreSQL based on the results of their evaluations. Sac COE replaced their 3000  with a Linux application server using PostgreSQL as the database. San Benito COE switched over the Labor Day 2014 weekend, accessing data from MS SQL. San Ramon Valley USD made the leap over a 4th of July weekend replacing their  3000 system with a Linux and MS SQL combination. Folsom Cordova USD replaced their HP 3000 system with a Linux application server accessing data from MS SQL databases. Merced County Office of Education made the transition to Version L with PostgreSQL as the choice of database.

QSS/OASIS is a suite made up of modules Base Financial (GL, AP, AR, Budget, PO's), Purchasing, Budget Development, Stores Inventory, Fixed Assets, Base Personnel, Position Control, and Payroll, plus a Financial Companion for interfacing to the School/3000 software. School/3000 is an integrated admin system for HP 3000s distributed by QSS that includes GL, AP, AR, payroll, retirement, position control, human resources, stores warehousing, and fixed asset inventory.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:58 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 15, 2017

Wayback Wed: An Emulator's Partners Enter

Javelin-004Four years ago this month, the software that will continue to propel MPE/iX into the next decade earned its first partner. The support for the Stromasys Charon emulator first showed up from Minisoft, the vendor who announced an iPad-ready version of Javelin when Apple's tablet empire was new. Charon got a version of Javelin while the Stromasys product was just making its way into production status.

The promise of an emulator slowed down migrations in 2012. Freeware was showing up during that year that was tuned to Charon's HPA model. Keven Miller created a free utility to transfer Store to Disk files to the virtualized 3000 in the HPA. Minisoft broke the commercial software company ice with a product license created especially for the emulator. For $49, managers could now buy a Javelin to work inside the freeware version's 1-2 user license.

It was a small and initial development to show a marketplace was emerging for the sustaining aspect of the 3000. Freeware Charon (the A-202) was replaced by professional installation and proof of concept within a year. That change elevated the success rate for deployments. Software licensing became the only serious issue to resolve for a Charon site. For nearly all vendors, even though they didn't rework software itself, the licensing became an easy transfer. Software from one 4GL vendor remains an exception, but that company has vexed 3000 sites throughout three different ownerships.

For decades now, Minisoft has been selling a terminal emulator as well as ODBC middleware to link 3000 databases. Years ago, the MS92 terminal emulator became Javelin, rewritten to use Java. Javelin got its Charon groove on in 2013.

"We have a special Javelin 2-user HP700/92 Terminal Emulator that is customized to work with the Stromasys CHARON MPE Emulator," said the company's Danny Greenup. A press release announced the first license to be crafted for an emulator since's HP announced its MPE/iX licensing strategy for the likes of Charon in 2004.

Minisoft has enhanced its Javelin HP700/92 Terminal Emulator to work in concert with the Stromasys CHARON MPE Emulator by adding support for raw connections to the TELNET type and support for SSH tunneling. With the communications set to TELNET(raw)+SSH, the console ports are accessible from outside the Fedora (Linux) system to a user with SSH logon privileges.

The cost of this special 2-user version of Javelin is $49. In addition to HP 700/92 terminal emulation, Javelin support access to legacy host computers requiring IBM 3270, IBM 5250, and DIGITAL VT320/420 terminal emulation. All Minisoft Terminal Emulators include scripting, SSH/SSL connectivity and network file transfer.

As of this year, we've seen 15 years of migration and decommissioning 3000s, all of them projects that sparked engines of IT spending and vendor revenues. Some sparks have been as small as $49. It's been an amazing example of dexterity, faith, and hope as your community has pivoted its business and operational practices. 2013 was not the first year companies sold software and services to spark a model of 3000 sustenance. But four years ago, one vendor saw that emulation was going to provide growth in the 3000's ecosystem, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:30 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 13, 2017

ODBC treasure might be in your system

Treasure ChestSolving HP 3000 challenges can sometimes be as simple as tracking the tools in your hand. Tim O'Neill, a 3000 manager never shy about asking for help, checked in on the 3000 mailing list needing help for his databases.

We would like to export all the data in a format that could be imported by Microsoft Access.  Data relationships would be redefined after import.  It would be nice to export, with relationships defined, that would run on Windows.

Minisoft's Doug Greenup peered over O'Neill's shoulder, as it were, sitting at his console. 

Actually you own our ODBC driver which could be used for the requirement you outline. You were on support until 2009, so you have a version that handles this.The website  support.minisoft.com has extensive documentation on our ODBC tool. You could also renew your support and get the most current ODBC version, along with access to our technical team to assist you.

The HP 3000 community is full of databases that need access to the world of Windows. Sometimes those 3000 servers have lightly-used tools to make the connections. As is customary for a budget-sensitive group, O'Neill's collegues on the mailing list had ideas on how to do that export without buying anything.

Lars Appel, helping out from a perspective of supporting the Eloquence database (an IMAGE workalike) said a migration tool from the Marxmeier labs might do the job.

If ODBC is not an option, you might also try the DBEXPORT program that is available for migrations to Eloquence. By default, it writes output to "comma separated" text files (unless you use binary mode), which will likely work for importing to MS Access. The link page includes a link to the download location, including source code (so customizations would be possible).

However, using ODBC is likely better for transferring structure info.

Appel's sum-up takes note of the advantages of buying tools and maintaining support for them. Paid solutions do more, do it faster, and include access to support pros to explain how the hidden treasure can solve problems. Minisoft is still selling its ODBC solution, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:22 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 10, 2017

3000 support branches into multiple types

Tree-branchHardware support for HP 3000 sites comes in differing levels this year. At the top is the system administration and MPE support that production machines demand. It's crucial, but many 3000 sites try to self-maintain their MPE/iX. The next level down comes in application and utility support. One step below is support of the hardware hosting the system. Finally there's peripheral support for anything that's not inside HP's servers.

Comprehensive support is a collaborative effort in many cases. Physical hardware support is often a regional affair. For example, Essential.com is located in Pennsylvania. Its website says "We’re central to several major East Coast cities including Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City." That seems like a clue that the middle or western parts of the US aren't covered as completely. Whether that's true depends on what you need. Peripheral support for larger storage devices is available at more providers.

For example, Ray Legault at Boeing says his organization on the West Coast has used Essential. "They were okay," he said. "They mainly replaced DLT8000 and SCSI drives for our HVD10." There are no more HP hardware hosts for MPE/iX at Legault's branch of Boeing. The Stromasys Charon emulator drives the production computing at Boeing. It uses standard Intel hardware, boxes with ubiquitous options for support.

Legault employs a different support provider for its software and MPE administration. This is a common combo in the 2017 world of 3000 management. For example, the Pivital Solutions arrangement to care for 3000s combines long-term software experience -- they've been providing support since 1995 -- with hardware partners. A manager needs a provider who vets partners and keeps up with expertise.

"A reliable network is an everyday battle," said Pivital's Steve Suraci. "It used to be one primary and one secondary company to cover the entire continental US and they did it well. Not so much anymore. Almost every contract takes an effort to vet out a reliable resource and a backup." If a 3000 manager's plans don't include a backup to their hardware support providers, that can be a problem during a downtime crisis.

Another experienced software company connects with clients from hardware support referrals. "Most of our customers still come through a third party hardware company," Allegro's Steve Cooper said, "but many contract with us directly. Some of those are self-maintainers, some rely on their applications vendor for hardware support, and some are just rolling the dice. We try to be flexible, meeting our customers' needs. As a result, we see a bit of everything."

In some cases a hardware support provider will service those peripherals and offer support for the Series 9xx servers, as well as A-Class and N-Class boxes. Checking out the pedigree and track record on the HP iron can be problematic. Every company has reference accounts, but the references should include some detail on what kind of hardware support issues got resolved. Some companies are stronger in peripheral hardware support than deep knowledge of HP 3000s.

As the community moves into a mature phase with only installed base sites, outside companies new to HP 3000s are thinking of entering this space. Savvy software background is one of the best ways to vet a potential provider of hardware support.

 

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:27 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 08, 2017

3000 hardware support resources requested

Computer-hardware-supportWe're developing a listing of companies and consultants who do HP 3000 hardware support here in 2017. Recently some customers have been searching for resources to help keep HP's 3000 hardware lively and healthy. It's sometimes surprising to learn where HP's 3000s remain active and productive. Archival systems are at one level, and production boxes at another. Everything that's a working machine needs an expert to call upon.

Self-maintainers are abundant in the market by now, but spots like the Ecometry web and catalog shops and manufacturers the world over still need HP's iron to boot up and run as expected. Even if you self-maintain you need a resource for parts. It won't impress your top management to learn your parts resource is eBay.

Obviously the hardware support arm of Pivital Solutions is our first recommendation for North American HP 3000s. Steve Suraci says that hardware service in 2017 demands a network of providers, coordinated and managed by a go-to, first-call company.

"We continue to support both MPE and the underlying HP 3000 hardware as one of the select few remaining support companies with access to HP's original MPE/iX source code," Suraci said. "We maintain 7x24x365 phone support for those requiring a total Service Level Agreement. In New England, we support our hardware agreements with our own local technicians.  Outside of New England, we support our customers through a network of contracted technicians that have agreed in writing with us to support our customers SLA.  In many cases, we will maintain parts on site to help facilitate quicker times to recovery."

That network of technicians covers regional areas. A physical visit is often essential to getting a hardware problem resolved. There are YouTube video services that might be used, or even a FaceTime call or Skype connection that might be a how-to experience. That's a rare solution in your market. The problem with offsite hardware support is liability. Once anybody other than a technician contracted — in writing — troubleshoots and replaces components, the liability lies with the person handling the physical hardware.

We want to build a thorough list of resources, even while the Stromasys Charon emulator continues to replace HP's iron for MPE/iX. Vendors, send an email to us if you've got current clients. Be sure to provide an email and web address, plus a phone number, so we can contact you to follow up. Customers, if you use a hardware support company, tell us who it is. We'd all be happy to hear how it's worked out for you, too. To be fair to everybody, we'll want to use your company name in any references. Share your wealth.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:10 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 06, 2017

German A-Class sells for $162 per CPU

HP-3000-A400-and-A500Yesterday afternoon the seller of the A-Class twin-processor model A500 closed his auction of the server. After seven days the bidding rose from an opening bid of $1.07 to $323.59, not including shipping. Some lucky bidder who's been using eBay for stocking up on computers, terminals and servers now owns a system that sold for $37,000 new: A greater than 99 percent discount.

One way to sum this up is to watch nearly all of the hardware value of an A-Class—a device that represented the ultimate line of HP's MPE/iX hardware design—evaporate over 15 years. However, the computer sells in today's US market for at least $1,300. That preserves almost 4 percent of original pricing.

However, another way to calculate this turn of events relies on return on investment. These servers are clearly in their 15th year of service. Dividing that original price by its incredible term of service gives you a cost of about $200 a month for hardware which will run a business and doesn't require replacement. The enduring benefit of MPE/iX was its astounding value. This discouraged hardware replacements, a problem HP could not solve.

Half-empty or half-full? HP's 3000 iron keeps dropping in cost. The components are aging, of course. Finding a handful of systems to part-out for spares could keep such a 15-year-old server running. Intel hardware, of much newer vintage, provides an unlimited lifespan if you're using the PA-RISC emulator from Stromasys.

eBay can be a resource for HP's MPE/iX hardware, but my, a manager must be cautious. A hardware resource that's a company rather than an individual seller—or better yet, a coordinated hardware-software support enterprise partnership—is more prudent. At $162 per processor, eBay might be worth a gamble. But getting money for a server returned may not be as simple as for a disappointing collection of sports cards: one of the other purchases the new owner of the German A-Class made last week.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:36 PM in Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 03, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: Care and feeding of UDCs

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 1.53.00 PMMercury Insurance is a long-time HP 3000 shop still running a server in production. Last week Reggie Monroe reached out for a refresher on administration of HP 3000 User Defined Commands (UDCs). These are the HP3000's equivalent of scripting in Unix environments. UDCs are a better version of Command Files, according to Jon Diercks and his MPE/iX System Administration Handbook. UDCs are catalogued, Diercks says, so they can be loaded for individual user accounts.

UDC definition
Click for details

There's a superior PowerPoint slide deck online at the 3K Associates website that covers how to create and use UDCs. But the Diercks book (no longer in print, but available online) is more concise on the use of UDCs. It's also only available as an $80 book today on the used market; put yours in a safe place. Monroe's question asked about "a command to list all users, and the logon UDC associated with them, if one is set."

The initial answer was the command HELP SHOWCATALOG,ALL. This brings an administrator to

SHOWCATALOG [listfile][;USER=username[.accountname]]

But Alan Yeo pointed out that the MPE/iX command only locates system-level UDCs. 

You don't actually get what you think you asked for, so whilst :showcatalog ;user=@.@ sounds very hopeful, in fact it only shows the system level UDCs not account ones. As far as I'm aware the only place you can find them all is in the BULDJOB2 file in PUB.SYS. You do have a BULDJOB2 file don't you? And it's up to date?

And here's where Vesoft's utility does a job the 3000's OS cannot. VEAUDIT LISTUDC @.@ finds UDCs of all kinds.

We have chronicled much of MPEX during the 21 years of the NewsWire's publication. The utility was even the sole subject of the Inside Vesoft column back in the era when HP was starting to lock down 3000 futures. In 2002 Steve Hammond illustrated the distinction of UDC administration under VEAUDIT. It becomes important because security on a 3000 includes management of the UDC catalogs. And yes, there's a tool for the security, too.

VEsoft’s Vladimir Volokh told me he had been asked to find out if any users on a system had the VEsoft utility GOD in one of their UDCs and if it had the lockword embedded in the UDC. He gave me a series of two commands that did the trick and they had some added value to boot. Once I saw the commands, I was impressed with the simple elegance, but like a good programmer, I had to deconstruct it, break it down and reassemble the whole thing. If you’d like to play along, you need: MPEX, VEAUDIT (both available from, who else, VEsoft) and a healthy programmer’s curiosity (you’re going to have to provide that yourself).

The details of the exercise show "GOD.PUB.VESOFT’ [is found using VEAUDIT] and we have accomplished our mission. But wait. What are those CIERR907 files? Those are files in the list that don’t exist! But they are UDCs that have been set! Looks like you can do some housecleaning and those UDCs can be un-set. How about that — you got some value added, you killed two birds with one stone, (insert your favorite cliche here). Time to play system manager again."

When you add a third party tool to your administrator's box, you can make a purge of such files foolproof. MPE/iX cannot select to show a complete set files by attributes such as program capability. Or for that matter, by last accessed time, or file size, or file security. It's a long list of things that MPE makes an administrator do on their own. Missing something might be the path to looking foolish.

VEAudit and MPEX will root out UDCs and do a foolproof purge, including file names. VEAudit will list all of the UDCs on a server, regardless of user -- not just the ones associated with the user who's logged in and looking for UDCs. The list VEAudit creates can be inverted so the filename is the first item on each line. Then MPEX will go to work to do a PURGE. Not MPE's, but a user-defined purge that looks for attributes, then warns you about which ones you want to delete, or would rather not.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:49 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 30, 2017

German A-Class for sale at $1.07 + shipping

Snow with A-ClassManagers running MPE/iX in Europe can get a backup HP 3000 server today on auction at $1.07 plus shipping costs. Considering this is a two-CPU server which you can essentially tuck under your arm, (as HP product manager Dave Snow does at left, when the server was unveiled in 2001) the shipping costs might permit even North American 3000 managers to bid.

Dennis Grevenstein posted his notice of the sale last night on the HP3000 mailing list. The eBay auction starts at a minimum of 1 Euro, or about $1.07 at today's exchange rate. As of this evening there were no starting bids posted. The listing starts in German, but not too far down the page Grevenstein has English translations on the details.

Other than servers which have been given away for the cost of shipping, this is the lowest price we've ever seen for an HP 3000—especially for a model that's nearly portable and was built after 2001. Many 9x7-9x9 servers have been offered for outrageous discounts, especially considering their original pricing. This is an ultimate-generation HP 3000. Earlier this month, a single-processor A500 was being offered for $1,200 in North America.

The description notes that the German server is an rp2740 "with a slightly different firmware. It will also run HP-UX or Linux without problems. There is one hard disk with MPE/iX 7.5 on it and a spare disk." The note reminded one 3000 veteran about the performance drag HP that saddled the RISC processor with as a result of that firmware. The eBay listing is straightforward about how much the HP of 15 years ago hobbled the A-Class.

The A500-200 server "naturally runs MPE/iX. It has two 650MHz PA8700 CPUs (clocked at 200MHz when running MPE/iX)."

Even though those CPUs are now selling for about 54 cents apiece, with two disks and 3GB of memory included, the down-clocking of the processors still bugs Patrick Santucci. "I'm still irked at HP for underclocking and crippling the 3000 like this," he said on the mailing list discussion.

Grevenstein said in this email offer, "I need to free up some space. International shipping is possible. Please ask for shipping costs." A-Class servers continue to run production-grade IT datacenters around the world.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:53 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 27, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Memory and disk behavior

By Jeff Kubler
Kubler Consulting

Hard-disk-headAlong with the relationship between your CPU measurements and overall performance, memory and disk make up the other two components of your HP 3000 performance picture. Main memory is the scratch pad for all the work that the CPU performs. Every item of data that the CPU needs to perform calculations on or updating to must be brought into main memory.

The CPU must manage memory. It must cycle through the memory pages, marking some as Overlay Candidates (this means that new data from disk may be placed here), noting that some are in continued use, and swapping others out to virtual or what is called transient storage. Swapping to disk occurs when data is in continued use but a higher priority process needs room for its data.

To accommodate this higher priority process and its need for memory space, the Memory Manager will swap the memory for the lower priority process out to disk. The more activity the Memory Manager performs, the more CPU it takes to do this. Therefore it is the percentage of CPU used to manage memory that we use as a measurement.

Page Faults per Second

A Page Fault occurs each time a memory object is not found in memory. The threshold for the number of Page Faults per second that can be incurred before a memory problem is indicated varies with the size and the power of the CPU. Larger machines can handle more Page Faults per second while a smaller box will encounter problems with far fewer. We have found that the number of Page Faults per second a system can endure without problem rises with the relative performance rating of the machine.

An exceptional number of Page Faults should never be used as the sole indicator of memory problems but when observed should be tested with the memory manager percentage. If both agree, you have a memory shortage. There are some strange things that I have observed with Page Faults, so it does not stand alone as an indicator of memory shortage.

The number of Page Faults per second and the amount of CPU needed to manage Memory are always evaluated in conjunction with each other. That is to say the high Page Fault Rate will not be considered a problem if the Memory Manager Percentage is not above 4 percent.

Disk Environment

The Disk Environment is referred to as Secondary Storage. This is where all the data needed for system use is stored. Since Main Memory is not large enough to store all of the data that will be needed by all the processes, there must be a location for this larger pool of data. Even though the Disk Environment does not have the significance it once had, this area can still be a bottleneck. As the CPU speeds increase, bottlenecks become more significant.

Several different factors can affect the Disk Environment. One of these is data locality. Data locality pertains to two different types. There is data locality within Image datasets and data locality across the disk itself.

Data locality across disk: This refers to the location of separate pieces of files (called extents). When files are placed on the disk, they can be placed in contiguous sectors or sections of files, or they can be placed in non-contiguous locations or even on many different disks. When files are not in contiguous locations they are said to be fragmented. The advantage of contiguous location is that greater efficiencies are allowed in retrieving data. When files need to be read, the head movement of the disk drive is minimal if files are in contiguous locations. The head moves to the location and the retrieval begins.

As the disk fills up the system cannot find one contiguous location to build any new file. Therefore, the system breaks the file up into extents and places the file wherever it can. A system reload will put files back into contiguous location (usually back on the location of the files file label) or products such as Lund Performance Solutions De-Frag/X can be used to put the files back into contiguous location.

Operating systems allocate disk space in chunks as they create and expand files and transient disk space (swap areas, etc.). When files are purged, these chunks are released for reuse. Over time the disc space may end up fragmented into many small pieces, which can slow the performance and the reliability of the system.

To observe and correct MPE fragmentation, you can use the De-Frag/X product from Lund Performance Software or use the Contigvol command of MPE/iX's Volutil program. The latter creates contiguous free disk space on a volume. Contigvol work about as well as VINIT CONDense did -- that is, it's stable and reliable, but requires multiple passes to get the best results.

Data locality within IMAGE datasets is the other area of major concern. There there are two different types of datasets to be concerned with, detail datasets and automatic or master sets.

The Detail Datasets

This type of set holds the day to day data input. Detail sets begin with nothing in them. When records are added 1 is added to something called the high-water-mark, a number that tells how many records have been in the set, and the record is placed in the set.

The problem is that IMAGE automatically reuses space that is given up when a record is deleted. This space is often called the delete chain. New records are placed in the most recent location available on the "delete chain." This means that new records are not in the same physical locality as the rest of the records and may be far removed from the other records.

The ideal state for a detail database is one where the detail entries are sorted by the key field. This allows the data to be retrieved in the smallest amount of IOs making efficient use of the MPE systems pre-fetching of data. When this is not the case we can measure the dataset lack of efficiency with something called the Elongation factor. This is simply a measure of how many more IOs the user must perform to retrieve desired data.

The Master Datasets

These have unique identifiers (field names). There are two types of master sets, a manual master and an automatic master set. Manual masters have user-entered master entries while automatic masters have automatic entries placed in them to accommodate access to detail records. The issue of importance to performance here is something called the hashing algorithm. This is the method used by the database to calculate the location of the next record placed in the database. The intent is to cause the master set to be as equally distributed as possible.

The hashing algorithm uses the size of the set in its calculation. A poor size or a size that is not large enough will result in an unequally distributed database. A poor size is most easily described as one that does not consist of a prime number. This means that when the hashing algorithm calculates a location there is a higher potential that a record will already exist in that location. When this happens a secondary position must be calculated. When secondaries are placed in another block within the database, another IO must occur to retrieve needed data. Since IO to disk is the slowest type of access, we want to avoid this at all costs.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:14 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 25, 2017

Migrate, emulate: Wednesday show's for you

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.40.52 AMThursday, at 2 PM EST (11 PST, 8 PM CET) there's an MB Foster webinar show covering emulation options. For the 3000 owner and manager who hasn't yet moved off HP's 3000 iron, no what matter where you're headed, there's something in this 60 minutes for you.

Last summer's version of the webinar walked its viewers through Foster's eZ-MPE, Ordat's TI2/SQL, Marxmeier's Eloquence database suite, and the Stromasys 3000 hardware emulator Charon. Only the last product delivers no changes to software and frees you from HP's aging boxes. But the other three offer ways to mimic parts of the 3000's heart and soul.

eZ-MPE is the newest of the emulate-to-migrate products. Introduced in 2013, it's a suite of software to accommodate the data infrastructure and scripting needs of today's HP 3000 sites. The Thursday show includes a demonstration of the MB Foster product.

TI2/SQL gives TurboIMAGE users (pretty much everybody who's still running a 3000) an avenue into SQL databases like SQLServer. And Eloquence replaces the IMAGE database wholesale, using an SQL-based data platform with deep work-alikes for IMAGE intrinsics and features.

It should be an interesting show. The distinctions between the first three products and Charon will be obvious by the end of the presentation, so stick around to the finale. That wrap-up is also the portion of the webinar for free-form questions. It's getting rare to have a place to ask those in a semi-public setting. I hope to hear from you during the webinar. MB Foster's got a means to listen and watch these shows after their airing. But the Q&A part is live-only.

Knowing the computing processes of HP 3000 managers for more than 35 years gives MB Foster the insight to build a complete ecosystem eZ-MPE, said the company’s sales and marketing chief Chris Whitehead. 

“What we’re really doing here is we’re mimicking the environment that everybody’s accustomed to using,” Whitehead said. “To get all those nuances, you must have all the specific capabilities already there. With all HP 3000 sites they have some similarities. They have UDCs, file systems, KSAM that’s involved with MPE files. They all have an IMAGE database.”

Whitehead says the biggest nuance of eZ-MPE is its focus on custom code and surround code, “to transition to a supportable platform with the least amount of risk. The value of MBF eZ-MPE is its collective ability to mimic the HP 3000 environment — but aiming the customer at the advantages of the Windows environment."

On the subject of those other solutions in MB Foster's perspective, some well-established migration products have received a new label. This is an emulation-to-migration path that lands a 3000 customer in the world of Windows. Eloquence, the database that doesn't run under MPE/iX but has a TurboIMAGE Compatibility Mode, handles data. The Marxmeier product has always been sold as a migration tool. For years the ads on this blog called it "Image migration at its best." Users have testified to the strong value of Eloquence.

Another third party tool, resold and supported by MB Foster, got a mention in last summer's webinar and earned a label as an emulation solution. Ti2SQL, software that moves IMAGE data to SQL databases, was released by Ordat in the early years of the migration era. In 2003, Expeditors International included ORDAT’s Ti2SQL in Expeditors' rollout away from the 3000 because the software emulates IMAGE inside a relational database. The end result produced CLI calls native to a Unix-based database.

"Ti2SQL uses CLI," said MB Foster's Chris Whitehead. "Think of it as going to a complete native environment, while leveraging/using all of the business logic developed on/for the HP. Additionally, Ti2SQL allows someone to go to an off-path server and database, such as AIX and DB2."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:07 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 23, 2017

SD cards take a hand in 3000 storage

One of the most unpredictable hardware devices in HP's 3000 iron is its SCSI drives. Out in the user community one enterprising manager is trying to link the server to microSD cards. John Zoltak checked in with other users last week about the project.

SCSI2SDZoltak was simply trying to copy one 917LX disk to a new disk on the server's SCSI bus. A 4GB drive is standard on a 917, so just about any microSD card would match that storage. A bit of open source wizardry props up SCSI2SD, a combination of hardware and software. You can purchase an SCSI2SD card on eBay and in other Web outposts.

Zoltak didn't begin there, however. He was searching for an offline diagnostic tool to do the disk copying. "I want to copy the system volume sets, so using VOLUTIL is not an option. And at this point just how does anyone get the diagnostics passwords? My other choice is to attach the 3000 disks to a PC and copy there."

That other choice leads the way to SCSI2SD. Using PC-based disks, of course, is one of the serious advantages to using a Stromasys Charon emulator for 3000 work. The 9x7s are so old they don't have a Charon equivalent, but the strategy is the same. 

As for ODE, once you locate a diagnostics password (an exercise left to the 3000 customers who have a support provider) you must be prepared to wait on DISCCOPY. "There is a DISCCOPY in the ODE," Craig Lalley reports. "Hook up both drives and you should be able to copy the drive if it is copyable. I must warn you, it is slow, like all night all day sort of slow. But it is free."

Stan Sieler of Allegro took a hand in this quest to more reliable disc via cloning. 

My recollection of using ODE is that portions of it might not allow reading/writing to non-HP disk drives. I know that's true for some diagnostics, just can't remember which ones. If you use ODE, try to somehow check that it copied the entire disk. At some point, these HP diagnostics didn't handle large disks.I don't recall what "large" meant, but I recall bugging HP about it for some time until they released a (perhaps final?) version of the diagnostics that did support larger disks.

A few days later, Zoltak announced he was working on getting his 3000 to boot off an SD device. 

I'm attempting to install to a device called SCSI2SD V6 and run the 3000 off of an SD card. So far, a few glitches. I'm in discussion with the developer and working through issues. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Sieler said he'd tried out SCSI2SD a while ago. "I found that it worked, but that it was much slower than it should have been. I worked with the developer, but with no real success."

Things have gotten better with the device, perhaps, according to Zoltak.

I'm using the V6 version which should be faster. It supports sync transfers up to 20MB/sec. I can't yet get MPE to install on it. It hangs when I try.

So far I've hit a few repeatable problems using an Adaptec 2940 simple setup on a PC and have been emailing [developer] Michael McMaster.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:22 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)