August 18, 2017

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

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

Stan Sieler replies:

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

Keven Miller adds:

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

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

Steve Dirickson offers this primer:

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Emerson responded:

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

Denys Beauchemin added:

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

Tom Emerson reminisced:

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

Finally, Wayne Boyer said"

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

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

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:47 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

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August 16, 2017

How Free Lunch Can Cost You The Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:34 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2017

Increasing Challenges of 3000 DIY Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:49 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 11, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: A Diagnostics Tour

Newswire Classic
From Stan Sieler

There are two kinds of diagnostics: online and offline.

The online come in two flavors:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISL> clkutil
no password

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(ODE) Modules on this boot media are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UTILINFO - Shows information on COPYUTIL including quick start info.

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

DISPMAP - Displays the devices found.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ODE> dfdutil2

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

Didn't seem to want a password.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(No password requested up to that point.)

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

(from a friend:)


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

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

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

no password required

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

no password required

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:00 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2017

Parts become hair triggers for some sites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:52 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2017

Support firms vet, curate online 3000 advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:58 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 04, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: HP 3000 DLT vs. DDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:53 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 02, 2017

Long-term value rests in short-life servers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:47 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 31, 2017

Where 2028 fits in the homestead calendar

Calendar pagesTactical planning for the HP 3000's future is a current practice at shops like MagicAire. The company that manufactures mobile cooling units has a Series 939 that continues to run MANMAN and carefully-crafted applications. Ed Stein there has a need to think about something more pressing than getting his apps and utilities licensed for emulator use. He's thinking strategic.

Stein chooses to think about the end of the 3000's calendar days. He's interested in getting someone to fix the date issue that will arise at midnight on Dec. 31, 2027. The foresight is the first customer readiness we've seen that examines what can be done before that day arrives.

Developers and vendors have been talking about 2028, but not yet in explicit design language. Stein is the first customer who's doing the talking.

I am more concerned right now with the Year 2027 MPE issue. Not that we plan to be on MPE in that year—but if a fix is to be had, that fix needs to be done sooner than later, given the age and availability of the required expertise to develop a fix. There may be no one around in 2026 who knows how to fix it, in the event that in the worst case we are still on an HP 3000.

My company would look at paying for a fix now as insurance.

It's 10 years and five months away, but the end of 2027 is the deadline for regular date handing to stop working. It makes the challenge a Year 2027 issue if you consider Y2K to have been a Year 1999 issue. The most intense work always happens ahead of a deadline. If you're savvy, it's many years before a deadline.

There are likely partners on the horizon for the 3000 community's efforts to leap into 2028 (a Leap Year, by the way, but that calendar event won't be of any help.) Looking out into a world of 10 years from now, virtualization and emulation will still be operating at companies. Stromasys has the most to gain from keeping MPE/iX moving forward into 2028.

There are the customers who will rely on the work, too. Now there's at least one who's putting near-term licensing in its appropriate rank: secondary to making sure there's a platform that can carry on. Keeping the dates working is like keeping the GPS satellites in orbit. We'd say keeping the street signs on the corners, but that's not the way we'll find our way in 2028. In lots of places, we won't need those signs in 2018.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:35 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 26, 2017

Wayback Wed: User groups, past and future

Connect logo partialTwelve years ago this week, the Interex user group became fully retired. Most of the community called the shutdown of the 31-year-old HP users group a bankruptcy, since millions of dollars of invoices went unpaid, while hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits and membership fees vanished. In its own way, though, Interex was stepping aside for user groups better built for IT of the 21st Century. The groups that have taken over during those years are better focused, streamlined, and understand their constituents better.

One of those groups is seeking directors this week. Connect, the latest generation of a group that was called Encompass on the day Interex retired, is searching for nominees to serve in three seats on its board. Members of a user group board have important duties, even while they're working for no pay. They oversee fiscal decisions, like the group on the Interex board was charged with doing at its demise. Directors propose advocacy, like the dozens of volunteers who served on the OpenMPE group in its eight years of existence. A board at its best looks forward toward how its organization should evolve. The ecosystem for IT is always changing.

That International Group for Hewlett-Packard Computer Users became Interex in 1984 and had mixed missions right from its beginnings. Built in an era without Internet or fax machines, Interex had to serve the needs of HP 3000, HP 9000, and even HP 1000 community members. The latter often didn't know they owned a 1000, since it was embedded deep in other devices. When I began covering HP in 1984, the HP 1000 group still was holding its own annual conference, even as it operated under the Interex banner.

Things got more complicated when PCs moved into datacenters and offices for good. By the time Interex locked its doors on Borregas Avenue in Sunnyvale, Calif., the HP 9000 members had overtaken the mission of the 3000, riding that pre-Internet wave of Unix passions. HP had announced its exit scheme for MPE/iX. Windows became the dominant environment for IT computing, a community too diverse for a vendor-centric group to impact.

The last executive director who left his job with the group still intact, Chuck Piercey asked repeatedly in the years before the bankruptcy what a user group built around one vendor might do in a homogenous landscape. Interex was built when the silos of vendors could stand distinct, and managers could run an all-HP shop and remain competitive within their industries.

Encompass was built upon the same model, but the group evolved to maintain a foothold and became Connect. Since 2016 the membership has been free. Interex membership added a free level in the years before the group folded, a facet that made the group's rolls swell but added little to the value proposition for membership.

At the end, HP said in 2004 it had enough of the strident Interex activists who fought for customers. It was a matter of tone, HP said, not so much content that sent HP out to establish its own conference. In just a few years the Technology Forum, which had a heavy HP corporate attendance, became HP Discover. A new breed of conference was born, something not steered by a user group.

In 2005, Encompass reached out to the stranded Interex members as Interex founder Doug Mecham said the group hadn't died off — it simply retired.

Rather than any negative or derogatory term used to describe the situation, perhaps we should just refer to the “change” as “retirement” of Interex, just as we would an old friend. This situation does open up possibilities – opportunities for new lives in different directions, each person taking the spirit and success knowledge elsewhere in the world.  Interex will not long be forgotten, for it represented an organization of professionals that made a mark in the computer world, second to none.

The bedrock of Connect, Encompass, saw its president Kristi Browder say the departure of Interex was no barometer of the user group concept.

As a former partner and colleague of Encompass in serving HP technology users, Interex has shared similar goals, passions and dedication to the HP user base. I want you as an Encompass community member to know this is no indication of the downturn in the value of Encompass or user groups in general.

The HP world was left with technical papers in 2005 that were undelivered, because the conference they were written for was cancelled. Later in the year HP mounted the first HP Technology Forum and Expo with significant help from Encompass and the Tandem users group, planning content. HP handled the expo duties as Interex had while running shows.

Browder could be excused for seeing the sunny side of the street where user groups lived. Few groups ever had such a bellwether conference like the Interex show. At the finish of the Interex run, the user group was riding on reserves all year that were banked off the commerce from its show floor booths. When the user group died, it left its shadow of red ink, because mid-summer was no time to feel cheery about the Interex balance sheet.

The 3000 community never duplicated networking which made such conference travel worthwhile. I still miss the face-to-face contact guaranteed each year by going to HP World and Interex before that conference. I was lucky to have 20 years of shows to attend. 3000 veterans, cut adrift from their annual meeting, put together a lunch of around 30 members who had nonrefundable tickets to San Francisco, and later there were reunions in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:17 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 24, 2017

Catch up tech can save legacy 3000s

Keep-calm-catch-upAbout a month ago we celebrated the 12-year anniversary of this blog. We scooped up three of the stories from that summer week of 2005, including notice of Taurus Software's Bridgeware. Quest Software was selling Bridgeware in a partnership with Taurus in 2005. Then we added that Bridgeware product continues to bridge data between 3000s and migration targets like Oracle.

This was catchup news to one HP 3000 manager among our readers. "I wish I had known about Taurus BridgeWare before my A500 crashed," he said. "Now I cannot get the data out of it."

This can be a fate that a site in deep-static mode can't escape. If spending has stopped, but the 3000's data carries on in a now-frozen app, that's an imbalance waiting to become something more serious. Good backup strategies can mitigate that kind of failure. Last week we chronicled the failover capabilities of Nike disk arrays. However, the best failover plan is the one that loses little to nothing because it's all being mirrored all the time.

Manufacturing sites have taken to sharing their data across multiple platforms for many years. The Support Group keeps up with information on the best-preserved tools to move data between manufacturing 3000s and SQL Server databases in real time. Playing catch up with tech is a better choice than wishing you knew about things like Bridgeware. We covered that bridging tech in detail you can find here on this blog. Here's a recap.

Bridgeware replicates IMAGE files in real time, as well as MPE files, Eloquence database and the usual suspects in the relational roster: Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, My SQL, or any ODBC database.

A good share of the Bridgeware work has been supporting customers who want to stay on the server. "We’ve been building a lot of operational data stores lately for customers who want to stay on the 3000," said Cailean Sherman. "These people want to have their production data available real time in a relational environment for reporting and analysis. The data can be ported to open systems once a migration is over, to replicate data between databases and files on open systems."

There have been other ways to capture HP 3000 data for mirroring in real time for a lower price point. Many, however, haven't survived into the current decade. The challenge in the homesteading community is keeping up with what's been acquired or pulled into the stable of a larger company (the fate of Powerhouse comes to mind in the latter category).

The best way a manager can get customized advice about this is to invest in consulting support from a company specializing in HP 3000 issues. We refer our readers to Pivital Solutions for this holistic support. It's a company that grew up in manufacturing application services.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:07 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 19, 2017

Pumped up pro, app teams serve 3000 shops

Inflatated-BalloonsThree years ago, the company that once called itself Speedware had 120 employees. A couple of years earlier, the provider of 3000 software and professional services renamed itself Fresche Legacy, taking a new tack into the winds of the IBM Series i business. The IBM successor to the AS400, Series i had much in common with the architecture of the 3000. Turnkey solutions, a consistent database offering, a wide array of independent software vendors. There was still 3000 business to be conducted at Fresche, though. In the past three years, Fresche has grown to 355 employees. Three times as many 3000 pros work on MPE support and services as did in 2015.

Fresche rebranded again this year, changing the Legacy part of its name to Solutions. Fresche Legacy calls what it does modernization more often than migration. That's a tactic that aims to win business from customers who don't consider their IT architecture a legacy.

Eric Mintz said the full Application Services division accounts for 69 employees. App services encompasses IBM i as well as HP skillsets, among others. It's known as HP skillsets, rather than 3000, because this is a company supporting HP-UX, too. One of the first migration success stories HP pushed was a Speedware-to-Speedware project, 3000 to 9000. The app services are separate from the Fresche Professional Services division. "They also have a variety of skills, associated to defined projects," Mintz said. "Although applications and professional employees are separate, resources can move between departments, depending on project or service needs."

Mintz said the company is always looking for 3000 experience. "Ninety percent of the project work is done remotely," he added. "That works out great for consultants who don't want to travel much."

Mintz has been with the firm for 17 years, and he adds that the company likes to say its client list is 100 percent referenceable—meaning a prospect might talk to any one of the clients to get a report on how things went. That doesn't go for publications, since that level of candor usually needs to be vetted at the clients' PR and legal level. But we'll have a report on a classic 3000 customer soon, one who has been moving away from HP 3000s since the earliest days of migrations.

One element that's key to modernization is Speedweb, first set in motion more than a decade ago to add browser-style connectivity to apps that sometimes look more like DOS. Speedweb is among the family of software products for 3000s, HP-UX, and Windows systems. Mintz said that since 2004 there have been 119 updates, revisions or fixes to Speedweb, 57 of which were enhancements. "Enhancements are primarily related to the addition of GUI controls," he said, "such as radio buttons, combo boxes, check boxes, textboxes and so on."

Back in 2004 we reported on a Speedweb success at Flint Industries, one of several Speedware customers that implemented Speedweb. The company was using it extensively until Flint was purchased by Aberici in 2013, a change that began to move the application slowly  into maintenance mode. Speedweb was a way of modernizing the Speedware V7 app, a service the Fresche continues to provide today. An Aberici app replaced the modernized Speedware, but that's a decade extra that he original HP 3000 code got to do its work.

An old rival to the Speedware 4GL is providing significant business for the services group. Powerhouse migrations flow through the Fresche shops. The hard spot that Powerhouse 3000 users find themselves in, facing a hungry new ownership intent on continuing legacy-era licensing, can be eased by moving off the former Cognos 4GL. It's never been simple task, but a 4GL company that wants to do the work might have a unique perspective on how to succeed at it.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:27 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2017

Does 3000 migration mean modernization?

Powerlifting"Sooner or later, you'll need to do something," says the HP 3000 services manager at Fresche Legacy. 3000 owners probably know the company better as Speedware, but one thing hasn't changed at the Montreal software and services provider. The number of 3000 experts and consultants continues to grow there. Eric Mintz said the resources bench is three times bigger for MPE/iX apps than it was just a year a half ago. There's heavy lifting going on, even in 2017, to bring 3000 shops into compliance. Parts matter, too.

Mintz also considers this a good question: Do 3000 owners today look for help by searching for migration, or for modernization? A simple search for HP3000 modernization brings up one set of results, while "HP3000 migration" yields different ones. I was happy to see that we hit nearly at the top of "HP 3000 migration" searches. (Only an antique PDF from HP tops us.) It matters where a searcher puts the HP and "3000". Fresche has purchased a Google ad for "hp3000 migrations." Try several searches if you're seeking help via Google.

But what's the difference between a modernization and a migration anyway? It depends on your scope for "more modern."

If your idea is "get away from old HP iron, and onto something more modern, Stromasys can cover that without changes to anything else. Using Charon adds an extra layer of software to make modern hardware drive MPE/iX. Buying HP, from that point onward, will never be a requirement again, though. Some 3000 shops have vowed to keep HP Enterprise off their POs forever.

Modernization also can be performed for any application without making the serious changes migration requires. Access to modern databases like SQL Server and Oracle comes by way of Minisoft's ODBC. Hillary Software's byRequest delivers modern file formats like Excel and PDF to MPE/iX apps. However, if leaving your OS platform for something else is the primary goal, it's better to migrate first, and modernize later. Speedware and others always promoted this lift-and-shift strategy. In that scheme, you lift by migrating, then shift by modernizing.

We've written up lift and shift several times already, even capturing some video from eight years ago. but the years keep rolling by for sites relying on MPE/iX. We heard about one shop today that just finished a migration of a handful of key applications. The first MPE/iX apps at the shop were migrated in 2002. This latest set moved out in 2017. Customers migrate when they need to and sometimes when outside requirement force this migration.

The modernization can happen while apps remain in place. Speedware/Fresche have been doing MPE/iX app support for more than a decade. This service is one of the reasons the company needs a deep 3000 bench. The service also makes Fresche one of the place where a 3000 pro can inquire about working on MPE/iX. There are few of those positions in play here in 2017 — probably fewer than the number of 3000 apps that need to migrated. Modernizing with software is a larger field of prospects.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:57 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 12, 2017

Adminstrator to Architect, Aided by 3000s

Architect-bookLinkedIn reminded me today that Randy Stanfield has moved up in the IT management at Vertiv Corporation. The company in Carrolton, Texas is a Fortune 500 firm with 8,700 employees, $8.3 billion in revenue, a leading provider of packaging, print and paper, publishing, facility solutions and logistics. Stanfield has been there for 20 years, working with HP 3000s and going beyond the MPE/iX engines to broader fields.

Prior to that you can read in his LinkedIn profile other 3000 shop experience. Amfac, Wilson Business Products, places where MPE/iX and its resources made companies much smaller than Veritiv run smooth.

Managing HP 3000s can build a special kind of bedrock for a career. When you read the rest of the company description for Veritiv it sounds like the 3000's missions for the last 20 years. "To serve customers across virtually every industry – including more than half of our fellow Fortune 500 companies. We don’t just encourage an entrepreneurial spirit, we embody it."

The company also has an eye out for the future. Back in May, Stanfield said the company needed a plan that reached out farther than 2027. It's the kind of mission an architect takes on, a move away from the four high-end N-Class servers working at Veritiv. Ensuring value for money gets amplified while replacing HP's 3000 hardware for a long run. "We don't need to ignore the issue of hardware," Stanfield said 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."

The decade to come might be the final one for the MPE/iX, although it's pretty certain some companies will keep 3000s in service beyond 2028. The issue isn't a CALENDAR workaround; we're pretty sure the market will see that emerge in 2027, or maybe sooner. The requirement that can move any company, no matter how devoted they're been to 3000-style computing, is application savvy. Whoever will be supporting MANMAN in 2028 is likely to have that market to themselves. By some accounts, MANMAN only has a handful of working experts left in the market.

Architects like Stanfield, who come from 3000 bedrock, will understand that moving away from such MPE/iX apps takes patience and detailed study. They'll benefit from application expertise while they migrate, too. Stanfield had a list of questions for the 3000 community architects who've already migrated, to help in re-architecting Veritiv's IT.

In May 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?

The issue might look like needing to be off the system before MPE/iX stops date-keeping in 2028. But as another savvy veteran of application services said to me this week, "The experts will fix the date issue, but it will be too late—because the app always drives the ecosystem, not the hardware or OS."

One takeaway from that prediction is a homespun app suite stands a greater chance of remaining in service by 2028. The IT manager has long been told that applications can be peeled off into production like aces off a deck of cards. As much as software's commodity future has been promised, though, there's always been customization. Some IT pro must stay available to IT to tend to those modifications of commodity software. Those kind of mods are not the same kind of problem the MANMAN user faces, where source code mods will kick some systems offline on the day all of the MANMAN experts finally retire.

However, future-proofing IT goes beyond choosing a commodity solution. Most companies will want to be "shaping our systems and processes to support a successful and sustainable future," like Veritiv says in its mission statement. Systems and processes were at the heart of the 3000's initial business success. The experience is good bedrock to build a future upon.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:55 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 07, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: opening disk, adding HASS

I need contiguous file space for my XM log file. How do I get this?

Many operations on the HP 3000 require contiguous disk space. Other files also require contiguous space; for example, consider the contiguous disk space on LDEV 1 required for an OS update. If you do not have one of the several third-party products that will create contiguous disk space on a drive, you may still be able to get enough free space by using CONTIGVOL.

However, occasionally, CONTIGVOL will stop with a message of “*Warning: Contigvol - Inverse Extent Table Full, Internal resource limit.” What can you do? Run it again. HP’s Goetz Neumann reported the message "is a warning that an internal table has filled up. It appears CONTIGVOL only handles looking at 40,000 extents at a time. You can run CONTIGVOL multiple times if the first run does not condense the free space enough because of this limitation.

I am adding two drives to a HASS (Jamaica) enclosure that already has several drives. How do I do this?

Gilles Schipper, Lars Appel and Chris Bartram reply:

First, a note of caution. If you dynamically add disk drives to, say, your MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET, you could find yourself in a pickle if you subsequently perform a START RECOVERY by accident or design. So while you can add drives dynamically as a convenience, it is a good idea to schedule a SHUTDOWN, START NORECOVERY as soon as possible to “fix” the new drives in your base configuration.

You do not even have to take down the system to add the drives to an HASS enclosure. The following steps will do the job.

• Set proper SCSI IDs. Make sure the SCSI addresses of the HASS enclosures are what you believe them to be. Do not make any assumptions. You need to set the SCSI address dip switches properly and ensure they are unique for the controller they are attached to. You will probably need a little flashlight to check the settings.

• Plug in the new drives.

• Use IOCONFIG to add the appropriate paths and device IDs. Note that the ldevs cannot be in use by, for example, vt or telnet sessions. So, you may still need to do this “off hours.”

• Use VOLUTIL to NEWVOL or NEWSET. For example, 

:volutil
>newvol mpexl_system_volume_set:member99 99 100 100 

(This example is for LDEV 99 — the “99” in member99 does not need to correspond to the LDEV number, it only needs to be unique for that volume set.)

It might be a good idea to first run the drives in a NEWSET for a while, exercising them a little. You could also use that extra volume set to exercise seldom used VOLUTIL commands or NEWACCT options like ONVS/HOMEVS. Finally, SCRATCHVOL them and add them to the desired volume set.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:55 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 05, 2017

Heritage HP Jazz notes, preserved for all

Jazz-software-saxIt was a wistful July 4 here at the Newswire. For about a day it seemed that a piece of the 3000's legacy disappeared, knowledge hard-earned and sometimes proven useful. The address for HP's Jazz webserver archived content wasn't delivering. It seemed like a new 3000 icon had gone missing when a manager on the 3000-L newsgroup went looking for Jazz notes and programs.

HP called the web server Jazz when it began to stock the HP 3000 with utilities, whitepapers, tech reports, and useful scripts. It was named Jazz after Jeri Ann Smith, the lab expert from the 3000 division who was instrumental at getting a website rolling for 3000 managers. JAS became Jazz, and the server sounded off flashy opening notes.

This is the sort of resource the community has been gathering in multiple places. One example is 3k Ranger, where Keven Miller is "attempting to gather HP 3000 web content, much of it from the Wayback Machine. From the "links" page, under the Archive sites, there are lots of things that have been< disappearing." Miller's now got an HP manual set in HTML

What might have been lost, if Speedware (now Fresche Legacy) had not preserved the software and wisdom of Jazz during its website renovation early last month? Too much. HP licensed the Jazz papers and programs to Client Systems, its North American distributor at the time, as well as Speedware. Much has changed since 2009, though.

Client Systems is no longer on the web at all. The Jazz content is safe in the hands of Fresche, which licensed the material from HP. It was only the URL that changed, evolving at the same time Fresche shifted its domain address to freschesolutions.com. The Jazz material was once at hpmigrations.com. Now you must add an explicit page address, hpmigrations.com/HPe3000_resources, where you'll find white papers include these Jazz gems, like the following papers.

Securing FTP/iX explores methods to increase FTP/iX security based on FTP/iX enhancements. Options for Managing a DTC Remotely covers issues and potential solutions for managing DTCs in networks. There's manual for HP's UPS Monitor Utility and configuring a CI script executed after a power failure; A report on using disk space beyond the first 4GB on LDEV 1; A feasibility paper about making TurboIMAGE thread-aware, as well as supporting the fork() call when a database is open.

But HP also wrote about using Java Servlets on the 3000, as well as showing how to employ CGI examples in C, Pascal and Perl to access data via a 3000 web server. There's Web Enabling Your HP 3000, a paper "describing various ways to webify your 3000 applications and includes descriptions of many third party tools."

Agreed, the white papers might've been lost without as much dismay. The programs from Jazz would've been more of a loss. All that follow include the working links available as of this week. Every access requires an "agree" to the user license for the freeware.

  • ABORTJ script - powerful and flexible script to abort multiple jobs and session. Can select by user account, job state, IP address, job queue, etc.

  • CATCHLOG - IMAGE log file formatter (store-to-disk format), tar version, and Readme file.

  • CDCOPY - CDROM copy utility (tar archive) and Readme file. Provided by Holger Wiemann, updated by Lars Appel.

  • CHRTRAN - file contents translation utility (tar format) and Readme file.

  • CIVARS - A zipped tarball containing two COBOL programs. One sets the variable MYSECOND to the number of seconds in the current time. The other sets a variable named YYYYMMDDHHMMSS. Thanks to Glenn Koster and Lars Appel. Note: in 6.0 it is easy to get current date and time using the HPDATETIME and the HPHHMMSSMMM predefined variables.

  • Command Files - and UDCs.

  • CRYPT - tarball containing the POSIX crypt utility. Usage: $crypt KEY <file1 >file2.

  • DBUTIL.PUB.SYS store-to-disk archive or tar archive - New version of DBUTIL to fix security related defect. Please read this security notice for more information.

  • dnscheck - a shell script to check your e3000's DNS configuration. Run this script, correct any problems that it detects, and then re-run until no more problems are found.

  • FWSCSI - NM program displays the revisons of the firmware for all NIO Fast/Wide SCSI interfaces in the system and avoids the need to use the xt diagnostic tool for each card on the system. Note that these interfaces may only be present in 900 series e3000 systems, not A/N-class systems. Recommended firmware 3728 or 3944.

  • HP-IB device checker - script that runs on early 5.0 and later, and reports all HP-IB and FL devices on your system.

  • NETTIME - time synchronization utility (compressed tar) and Readme file.

  • NEWACCT and NEWGROUP UDCs - UDCs and scripts make it easier to keep groups and files on user volumes. Readme file for Volume Management UDCs.
  • Porting Scanner - toolkit to analyze application before porting.

  • Porting Wrappers - additional functions and commands, both POSIX and UNIX, useful in porting applications.

  • PURGEACCT and PURGEGROUP UDCs - UDCs and scripts make it easier to keep groups and files on user volumes. Readme file for Volume Management UDCs.

  • Random name generator - script that produces a pseudo random name from "minlen" up to "maxlen" characters long.

  • Scripts - Command Files and UDCs.

  • SETDATE - A program to alter the date in the current session. Readme file.

  • Showconn & Abortcon Utilities - Utilities to show network sockets/connections on a system and abort TCP connections.

  • SHOWJOB script - powerful matching capabilities to select just the jobs/session you are interested in.

  • SIU migration/system mgmt tool - Utility to analyze various files on your system.

  • Socksified FTP - for MPE/iX 6.0 and 5.5

  • STREAM UDC - 6.0 version of STREAM UDC for User Defined job queues. A simple config file maps user.accounts to specific job queues. No need to add the ";JOBQ=" parameter to existing jobs or STREAM commands. Readme file describes features of the STREAM UDC.

  • TCPY - media copy utility (tar format) and Readme file.

  • UNPACKP - the latest UNPACKP script.

  • Toolset/iX migration program - utility that converts TSAM source to flat files. The tar file contains the NMPRG program file and the COBOL source code. Thanks to Sally Blackwell.

  • VERSION - tar archive of the VERSION.pub.sys program which supports up to 500 SOMs.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:15 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 26, 2017

How to give Quiz good answers for email

HP 3000 manager John Sommers needs help with his Quiz reports. They used to work through the mails, but now they're not being delivered.

Greenbar-paper"I used to have Quiz send its output to users directly from the HP 3000," he said in a message to me. "I'm not sure how else to attach files to an electronic message in an automated fashion and distribute them. It might not have been pretty and fancy, but it was 110 percent functional and reliable."

Email and the HP 3000 don't have a close relationship by 2017. A few weeks ago we traced the options for emailing on the HP 3000 and saw that Netmail 3000 from 3k Associates is still supported and working in some datacenters. That's as good as HP 3000 email will get today. There's also Sendmail inside of the HP 3000 OS (plenty of configuration needed there) and a few other free options. Sommers' request is different, though. He didn't need his 3000 to distribute the mail. He needs email to distribute 3000 data -- in specific, Quiz reports.

Our newest sponsor Hillary Software has offered software for a long time that will do this. Well seasoned, byRequest is, and it works with enterprise servers across the Unix, Linux, and Windows worlds, as well as MPE/iX. Forms are another area where the 3000's data goes out to work, and Hillary's got forms software. Minisoft also has a forms solution it has customized and tailored for individual applications like QAD, SAP, Oracle, as well as strong links to the HP 3000 and application suites like MANMAN.

EFormz labeleFormz is in its 11th major release by now. A 3-minute YouTube video leads you through the reasons for revamping your ideas about using forms with data from enterprise servers like the HP 3000. You can market to the customer using a form that doubles as a shipping label, for example.

The HP 3000 will always have some link to the rest of the IT world, so long as it carries enterprise-grade data. Gateway programs like byRequest and eFormz make that data work. Quiz might seem like it's not pretty or fancy, but the reporting software was scattered across the 3000 world like apple seeds when ERP was called MRP and MANMAN was new. It has that 110 percent functional advantage, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:18 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 23, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: A 3000's Intrinsic Savvy

Homer-at-blackboardAs the clock counts down to the 10-year deadline for calendar services changes, our thoughts turn to HPCALENDAR. That's the intrinsic HP wrote for the 6.0 and 7.x releases of the 3000 OS, a new tool to solve an old problem. Alas, HPCALENDAR is fresher than the bedrock CALENDAR, but it's only callable in the 3000's Native Mode.

But poking into the online resources for MPE Intrinsics, I learned that once more HP's re-shelved its 3000 docs. Things have gotten better: everything now lives on the much-better-focused HP Enterprise website. You can, for the moment, locate the guidelines to intrinsics for MPE/iX at hpe.com.

The Intrinsics Manual for MPE/iX 7.x is also a PDF file at Team NA Consulting. Independents like Neil Armstrong help the community that's using HP's resources for 3000s these days. It used to be much simpler. In the 1990s, the Interex user group ran a collection of well-written white papers by George Stachnik. We're lucky enough to have them with us today, cut loose from ownership and firewalls. One is devoted to the system's intrinsics.

By the time The HP 3000--for Complete Novices, Part 17: Using Intrinsics was posted on the 3K Associates website, Stachnik was working in technical training in HP's Network Server Division. He'd first written these papers for Interact, the technical journal devoted to 3000 savvy for more than two decades. Even though Interact is long out of print, Stachnik's savvy is preserved in multiple web outposts.

Stachnik explains why intrinsics tap the inherent advantage of using an HP 3000.

When an application program calls an MPE/iX intrinsic, the intrinsic places itself in MPE/iX's "privileged mode." The concept of privileged mode is one of the key reasons for the HP 3000's legendary reputation for reliability. Experienced IT managers have learned to be very wary of application programs that access system internal data structures directly. They demand that MPE/iX place restrictions on HP 3000 applications, to prevent them from doing anything that could foul up the system. This is what led to the development of the intrinsics. Application programs running in user mode can interact with the operating system only by invoking intrinsics.

Even if your company has a migration in mind, or doesn't have an unlimited lifespan for the 3000, knowing how intrinsics work is an intrinsic part of learning 3000 fine-tuning that might be inside classic applications. Tools can help to hunt down intrinsics, but it helps to know what they do and what they're called. You can fine-tune your 3000 knowledge using Stachnik's papers and HP's Intrinsic documentation.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:34 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

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 to the 3000-L mailing list to find a CSL email 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!

Quiz is at the heart of why Sommer wants 1990s shareware on his 3000. He said he loaded HPMAIL up on a 3000 in the past. Some have described HPMAIL as the precursor to HP Desk. Finding HPMAIL 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)