September 17, 2018

Planning to migrate has been the easy mile

Postman3000 owners have made plans for many years to leave the platform. The strategies do take a considerable while to evolve into tactics, though. The planning stage is easy to get stopped at, like an elevator jammed up at a floor. 

For example, take a company like the one in the deep South, using HP 3000s and manufacturing copper wire and cable. The manager would rather not name his employer and so we won't, but we can say the 3000 is dug in and has been difficult to mothball.

In fact, the only immediate replacement at this corporation might be its storage devices. The datacenter employs a VA7410 array.

We do have to replace a drive now and then, but there hasn't been any problem getting used replacements, and we haven't suffered any data loss. I think if we were planning to stay with MPE for the long term, we might look for something newer, but we are planning to migrate. In fact we planned to be on a new platform by now, but you know how that goes.

More companies than you'd imagine know how that goes in 2018. We're nearing the end of the second decade of what we once called the Transition Era. The final mile of that journey can be the slowest, like the path of the postman who must carry the mail on foot through urban neighborthoods.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:25 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

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September 14, 2018

Use Command Interpreter to program fast

NewsWire Classic

By Ken Robertson

An overworked, understaffed data processing department is all too common in today’s ever belt-tightening, down-sizing and de-staffing companies.

Running-shoesAn ad-hoc request may come to the harried data processing manager. She may throw her hands up in despair and say, “It can’t be done. Not within the time frame that you need it in.” Of course, every computer-literate person knows deep down in his heart that every programming request can be fulfilled, if the programmer has enough hours to code, debug, test, document and implement the new program. The informed DP manager knows that programming the Command Interpreter (CI) can sometimes reduce that time, changing the “impossible deadline” into something more achievable.

Getting Data Into and Out of Files

So you want to keep some data around for a while? Use a file! Well, you knew that already, I’ll bet. What you probably didn’t know is that you can get data into and out of files fairly easily, using IO re-direction and the print command. IO re-direction allows input or output to be directed to a file instead of to your terminal. IO re-direction uses the symbols ">", ">>" and "<". Use ">" to re-direct output to a temporary file. (You can make the file permanent if you use a file command.) Use ">>" to append output to the file. Finally, use "<" to re-direct input from a file:

echo Value 96 > myfile
echo This is the second line >> myfile
input my_var < myfile
setvar mynum_var str("!my_var",7,2)
setvar mynum_var_2 !mynum_var - (6 * 9 )
echo The answer to the meaning of life, the universe
echo and everything is !mynum_var_2.

After executing the above command file, the file Myfile will contain two lines, “Value 42” and “This is the second line.” (Without quotes, of course.) The Input command uses IO re-direction to read the first record of the file, and assigns the value to the variable my_var. The first Setvar extracts the number from the middle of the string, and proceeds to use the value in an important calculation in the next line.

How can you assign the data in the second and consequent lines of a file to variables? You use the Print command to select the record that you want from the file, sending the output to a new file:

print myfile;start=2;end=2 > myfile2

You can then use the Input command to extract the string from the second file.

Rolling Your Own System Variables

It’s easy enough to create a static file of Setvar commands that gets invoked at logon time, and it’s not difficult to modify the file programmatically. For example, let’s say that you would like to remember a particular variable from session to session, such as the name of your favorite printer. You can name the file that contains the Setvars, Mygvars. It will contain the line: setvar my_printer “biglaser”

The value of this variable may change during your session, but you may want to keep it for the next time that you log on. To do this, you must replace your normal logoff procedure (the Bye or Exit command) with a command file that saves the variable in a file, and then logs you off.

byebye
purge mygvars > $null
file mygvars;save
echo setvar my_printer "!my_printer" > *mygvars
bye

Whenever you type byebye, the setvar command is written to Mygvars and you are then logged off. The default close disposition of an IO re-direction file is TEMP, which is why you have to specify a file equation. Because you are never certain that this file exists beforehand, doing a Purge ensures that it does not.

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

September 10, 2018

Durable 3000s seek, sometimes find, homes

Computer Museum 918Earlier this month a notice on the 3000-L mailing list tried to match an old HP 3000 with a new home. Joshua Johnson said he's got a Series 918 LX (the absolute bottom on the 9x8 lineup) that's got to go. It's a good bet this server hasn't been running any part of a business since HP left the support arena.

I have a 918LX that's been sitting around for a while that I'd like to get rid of. It worked when it was last shutdown. I think I still have a bunch of ram for it in a box somewhere. Anyone interested?

Then there was a question about where his HP hardware was sitting. "I’m in Providence RI. It sat in a shed for 10 years. When it was shut down it worked fine. I think I have several memory sticks for it as well."

This was a give-away 3000, the kind that goes for sale on the used market at about $700 in the best case. The Series 918 LX weighs enough that the shipping is going to be the biggest part of that free transaction. The 918 was at the bottom of HP's relative performance ratings, 10.0 on a scale where a Series 37 was a 1.0.

Last week we talked with a 3000 developer who witnessed the shutdown of seven N-Class systems. "They were going to throw them away," he said, because the health care provider had followed its app and moved to Unix. He got the rights to an N-Class and talked the broker who took the rest of the orphaned N-Class systems to trade one for an A-Class server. "The power situation was just too great for me to use the N-Class," he said— referring to the hardware's electrical needs, not the horsepower.

Old 3000s seeking new homes is still news in your community. Sometimes the adoptions feel like they're foster homes, though.

HP's 3000 iron was built to extraordinary standards, or there wouldn't be a Series 918 available to give away in Rhode Island. That's a server built while Clinton was President. In an odd piece of comparison, the N-Class system is 60 times more powerful than the Series 918, but at the end of the line, it had just as much value.

The N-Class and A-Class boxes are newer, of course, and that decision to send them to the scrap-heap might have been wasteful. The durable value of these computers isn't in the hardware whose components age every day. It's in MPE and the applications. 

Holding on to old hardware could be one way to prove that MPE/iX has an evaporating value. Being able to move the apps and the OS onto a newer box puts the brakes on that decline. To be fair, lots of elderly 3000s are able to reboot after a long winter's nap. Our developer who got that A-Class also has a Series 967 in his garage. It was powered down for more than two years before it switched on. 

 

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

September 07, 2018

Queue up those 3000 jobs with MPE tools

NewsWire Classic

By Shawn Gordon

A powerful feature of MPE is the concept of user-defined job queues. You can use these JOBQ commands to exert granular job control that is tightly coupled with MPE/iX. HP first introduced the commands in the 6.0 release.

For example, you only want one datacomm job to log on at a time, but there are 100 that need to run. At the same time you need to let users run their reports, and you want to allow only two compile jobs to run at a time. Normally you would set your job limit down to 1, then manually shuffle job priorities around and let jobs go. In the new multiple job queue controlled environment, you can define a DATACOMM job queue whose limit was 1, an ENDUSER job queue whose limit was 6 (for example), and a COMPILE job queue whose limit was 2. You could also set a total job limit of 20 to accommodate your other jobs that may need to run.

Three commands accommodate the job queue feature:

NEWJOBQ qname [;limit=n]
PURGEJOBQ qname
LISTJOBQ

The commands LIMIT, ALTJOB, JOB and STREAM all include the parameter ;JOBQ=.

As an example, I am going to create a new job queue called SHOWTIME that has a job limit of 1. You will notice the job card of the sample job has a JOBQ parameter at the end to specify what queue it is to execute in.

Alternatively I could have said STREAM SHOWTIME.JCL;JOBQ=SHOWTIME to put it into my job queue. Here’s the coding to do this:

NEWJOBQ SHOWTIME;LIMIT=1

!JOB SHOWTIME,MANAGER.SYS,PUB;
!JOBQ=SHOWTIME !
!SETVAR HPAUTOCONT TRUE
!
!SHOWTIME
!
!SHOWCLOCK
!
!SHOWME
!
!SHOWVAR [email protected]
!SHOWVAR [email protected]
!
!ECHO !HPDATEF
!ECHO !HPTIMEF
!
!PAUSE 300
!
!EOJ

I just streamed five copies of the job, and using the LISTJOBQ command I am able to see the default system defined job queue HPSYSJQ. I haven’t been able to find out why it indicates a limit of 3500, since my current job limit was 30. [Editor’s Note: Gavin Scott reports that “All job queues have a LIMIT that is separate from the one true system LIMIT. This includes the default HPSYSJQ. The 3500 default is a number large enough that you should never run into the case where the existence of this second, un-obvious, limit on normal jobs affects you.”]

You can see my SHOWTIME job queue with a limit of 1, with one executing and five total jobs, so four are currently in a wait state. This is obvious in the SHOWJOB command below.

listjobq

JOBQ      LIMIT     EXEC  TOTAL

HPSYSJQ   3500      12    12
SHOWTIME  1         1     5

SHOWJOB [email protected]

JOBNUM  STATE IPRI JIN  JLIST    INTRODUCED  JOB NAME

#J2     EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  NP92JOB,MGR.MINISOFT
#J3     EXEC        10R LP       TUE  7:09A  BACKG,MANAGER.VESOFT
#J4     EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  WTRSH,MGR.WTRSH
#J5     EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  MSJOB,MGR.MINISOFT
#J6     EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  MASTEROP,MANAGER.SYS
#J7     EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  VCSSERV,MGR.DIAMOND
#J8     EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  VCSCHED,MGR.DIAMOND
#J9     EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  JINETD,MANAGER.SYS
#J10    EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:09A  JWHSERVR,MANAGER.SYS
#J12    EXEC        10S LP       TUE  7:25A  GUI3000J,MANAGER.SYS
#J19    EXEC        10S LP       TUE  8:08A  BROLMSGJ,JOBS.REVIEW
#J130   EXEC        10S LP       TUE  1:06P  SHOWTIME,MANAGER.SYS
#J131   WAIT:1   8  10S LP       TUE  1:06P  SHOWTIME,MANAGER.SYS
#J132   WAIT:2   8  10S LP       TUE  1:06P  SHOWTIME,MANAGER.SYS
#J133   WAIT:3   8  10S LP       TUE  1:06P  SHOWTIME,MANAGER.SYS
#J134   WAIT:4   8  10S LP       TUE  1:06P  SHOWTIME,MANAGER.SYS

16 JOBS (DISPLAYED):
   0 INTRO
                4 WAIT; INCL 0 DEFERRED
                12 EXEC; INCL 0 SESSIONS
                0 SUSP
JOBFENCE= 6; JLIMIT= 30; SLIMIT= 60

Now if I want to increase the job limit for my SHOWTIME job queue, I can use the following command

limit +1;jobq=showtime
altjob #j131;jobq=hpsysjq

You will probably notice that there are a number of nice enhancements to ALTJOB and LIMIT in support of the job queues, having uses outside of the job queues. For example, LIMIT now allows you to use a plus or minus value to increase or decrease the number, so you don’t have to use an absolute value. It is common to up the limit by one to allow another job to execute, but previously you had to check the current job limit, change it, then change it back. At least now you can just do +1 to let the job launch.

On the ALTJOB command, you can now specify HIPRI to cause a job to start up immediately and not have to play with limits to let it go. You can also alter the output device of the job. I did find during my tests that altering a job to a queue that had open slots didn’t seem to allow the job to release if you sent it to the system default HPSYSJQ. However, if you sent it to a user-defined job queue that had room left in it for another job to execute, then it would launch immediately.

There is another side benefit of job queues, and that is ensuring that never more than one version of a job logs on. For example, if you have some background job running and you cannot have a second copy running, but there is nothing that prevents it, you could create a job queue for it with a limit of 1 that would keep any extra copies from launching.

This is just one example of an extended use of the feature. If you try to purge a job queue that is currently in use, you will receive this message:

Cannot purge job queue as there are jobs
running/waiting in that queue. (CIERR 12251)

If you try to stream a job into a queue that does not exist you will receive the message

JOBQ parameter expected. (CIERR 12255)
Spooler internal error occurred. (CIERR 4522)

The job will be streamed regardless — however, it won’t start executing, because there is no queue for it to execute in. The major problem is that the job will stream into a WAIT state because there is no queue available for it. At this point you can’t abort it, you can’t create the queue it was intended for and have it work, you can’t alter it into the system job queue because of whatever the problem is that we described earlier. Finally you can try to create a new queue and alter it into it. The LISTJOBQ will show it as a job for that queue, but it will never start executing. The only way to get rid of the job is to shut down the system and do a START NORECOVERY.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:49 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 05, 2018

Where's the lure to launch into the cloud?

Cloud_computing
We’ve talked about it here before. Is there any genuine interest from 3000 owners and managers for  getting their servers migrated into the cloud? In the most common scenario today, an adequately powered Amazon or Rackspace server, or even something like a Google host, or something from Oracle, becomes the IT datacenter floor. Amazon will even sell a cloud server that only spins up when accessed. It's all billed by the hour, the day, or the amount of time connected.

For MPE/iX systems, this is only possible using a Charon install for MPE. Stromasys, which sells Charon and mentioned the possibilities for using the cloud. A notice this week announced the company is exhibiting Charon at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition next month in Dubai. The GITEX news noted that Charon has a cloud option, saying the software is available in the cloud or on premise.

Most important for these virtual 3000s are the servers' horsepower. Doug Smith of Stromasys checked in with some upcoming Charon 3000 news and noted that 4 GHz is the CPU low bar for running Charon as fast as HP's native PA-RISC hardware.

By 2018 there's now very little hardware tuning that cannot be done if the host is up in the cloud. 3000 expertise of today works from a laptop far removed from the manufacturing or distribution floor. So what's the lure to launch an MPE server into the cloud? I think cloud’s big edge has got to be low cap-ex and assured hardware evolution.

For example, if you buy a $19,000 Intel server in a rack, attach it to fast storage, and it runs Charon, well, you’re set. Somewhere in the future, of course, you might need more throughput and CPU. That $19K server has to be farmed out to another task if you can't upgrade it. If the host itself were cloud-based, more horsepower is one reconfiguration order away.

It's in this scenario that a company which uses a virtual partition for a Charon Linux host might have a chance at containing long term hardware costs. Virtualized Linux could induce some drag on performance. That's why Stromasys only sells servers that are configured by Smith. Many 3000 software vendors have customers using the emulator.

So far, nobody's raised their hand to say they're putting a 3000 into the cloud like this.

When you think about it, “Cloud-based 3000” sounds a lot like the timesharing of the 1980s, doesn’t it? The uptime service guarantee is “It’s somebody else’s concern to keep my MPE hardware backed up and running without MPE errors.” 

The first place I ever worked while reporting on HP 3000s was Wilson Publications in Austin. We used a subscriber database hosted on a Series 42 hosted down at a printing company. We dialed up using PC 2622 software from Walker, Richter and Quinn. I guess we were working on 3000s in the cloud in 1984. That might be one lure to launching into the cloud for MPE: It's been done before.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:04 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 03, 2018

The Labors of 3000 Love

Union-laborHere in the US we celebrate Labor Day today, a tribute to the wages and benefits that workers first guaranteed during the labor movement of the 20th Century. It's a holiday with most offices closed, but much labor in the shops and boutiques across towns like our Austin and elsewhere.

Homesteading 3000 customers face labors, and they often seem to struggle for respect from the departed members of the 3000 computer community. Homesteading work is no less crucial than the heavy lifting of migration, although there's far less of that latter movement going on by now. Homesteading is just as necessary, too.

If you were lucky enough to have a holiday today, thank your precursors in the labor unions. Those organizations are becoming as derided now as 3000 customers who stick with the platform and polish MPE skills. Unions protected the middle class, though. A lot like a 3000 protected a company from the cheap Windows PCs expensive server churn, or the steep outlay for mainframes. For a good look at what labors a homesteader should work on, see Paul Edwards' homesteading primer.

Homesteading tasks are little changed by now, although the hardware from HP and the media needs a closer watch. That's a DIY task a homesteader might not prepare for. Many customers have moved the labor of their 3000 support to third parties.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:08 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 31, 2018

SFTP and the points where transfers may fail

RFC-transfer-card-coverEarlier in August a 3000 manager who relies on the Stromasys virtualized 3000 was searching for failures. Well, he was asking about the causes for failures. He wanted to know more about failures of SFTP transfers on his MPE/iX system. (We'd call it a 3000 but there's no more HP iron there at Ray Legault's shop). He gave the rundown on the problems with MPE/iX.

We send about 40 files each day most of these in the early morning. Sometimes we would have zero to fives connection failures each morning. I noticed that these failures seem to occur when two SFTP jobs ran at the same minute. I then added a "JOBQ=FINLOG" to the job card of every SFTP job I had and set the job limit to 1. This was two weeks ago and we have not had a failure yet.

Brian Edminster, who still hosts open source software for MPE/iX, checked in to offer an answer to why those SFTP jobs were failing.

I'd be willing to bet that Ray's issue at Boeing with SFTP connect failures is due to the Entropy Generator running dry. Connections take lots of entropy data — and the one that comes 'out of the box' with the SFTP client doesn't generate very much without some modifications.

If you need to make more than one connection a minute (job limit 1), this modification will likely become necessary. Let me know if you'd like some pointers on how to do this. It will require some revisions to the SFTP software. The Entropy Gathering Daemon which Mark Klein's SFTP port uses is written in Perl. It is not terribly difficult to modify to include new data sources to "stir into the pool" that is drawn from by the SFTP client.

Edminster's MPE-Opensource.org website has an SFTP quickstart bundle of all packages required to install OpenSSH on MPE/iX including SFTP, scp, and keygen.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:28 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 29, 2018

Hear tips for MPE iron to protect and serve

Podcast: Ending the Reruns

Podcasts have become more popular than ever. We started recording and sharing stories about 3000s back in 2005 when blogs were just taking off along with the audio content that people think of as free. It's free to listeners, and the good companies sponsoring the NewsWire take care of the expenses. Thanks to the backing of firms like Pivital Solutions (support service) and Stromasys (emulation) and Hillary Software (file sharing software that's 3000-savvy) we can bring audio about MPE to you.

DDStapeI call it MPE Audio because it's told by voices, my own and those from experts in the field. Some of them gathered at this summer's 3000 Reunion. A chalk talk out there in the Bay Area, across the street from the former HP campus, examined what homesteaders need to succeed. In this case success is overcoming the age of HP's 3000 iron. And storage. And so on.

There's a new wrinkle in the watch-out category. Not that the old disks have started running more reliably. It's just that other media is a failure point too. DDS has gotten older, along with managers who know MPE. Companies are treasuring the latter. The former is turning into trash.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:12 PM in Homesteading, Podcasts, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 24, 2018

Kept Promises for Open Source on MPE/iX

OpensourceOpen source software developed a reputation for keeping HP 3000s online and productive, even in the face of industry requirement changes and new government regulations. Applied Technologies founder Brian Edminster has shared reports of a 3000 installation processing Point of Sale transactions, a customer which faced new PCI compliance demands. He was tasked with finding a solution to the new credit card compliance rules late in one December — with a January deadline.

“What we were struggling with was not that uncommon,” he explained. “The solution of choice was a version of the package OpenSSH, an open source implementation of a secure shell.”

OpenSSH offers publicly exchanged authentication, encrypted communication for secure file transfers, a secure shell command line, port forwarding. “It’s amazing how much you get," Edminster said, "and it’s available for many operating systems.” He's got a website devoted to the open source tools for the 3000.

At first, none of those operating system implementations included MPE/iX. OpenSSH requires a shell for the MPE/iX version; it doesn’t run at the MPE command line. But it’s been ported using OpenSSL for the HP 3000 and Perl/iX, both available from Edminster's MPE open source website.  Perl, another open source tool, “was designed for portability across platforms, and it works nicely,” he said.

OpenSSH protects from “man in the middle” security attacks by using DNS resolution, another open source utility wired into MPE/iX. Edminster recommended “the definitive guide to OpenSSH, commonly known as ‘the snail book’ from O’Reilly Press, Second Edition.”

That 3000 site where Edminster was working on POS security requirements had enabled DNS resolution across its enterprise — so Edminster was able to use a handy MPE/iX script called DNSCHECK. It’s a beautiful piece of scripting that checks, step by step, all the things necessary for name resolution to work on an HP 3000.

OpenSSH uses cryptological software to pad out blocks of data which are being transferred. The HP 3000’s random number generation routines are “not so good” for this, Edminster explained. Random number routines must have a much longer cycle length of repeats than MPE/iX provides. MPE has no random number generation built into its kernel, unlike other operating environments.

The solution is “the Entropy Gathering Daemon, which is already packaged up by Ken Hirsh with his port of OpenSSH,” Edminster reported.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:14 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 22, 2018

Wayback: 3000s boot mainframes out of HP

Heart Story 1996
In the summer months of 1996, HP was plugging 3000s in where mainframes were serving. Jim Murphy, program manager for the mainframe replacement project, told the 3000 community that IBM mainframes from 30 years earlier were getting the boot because HP was building servers better than the Big Blue iron.

The company was finally using 3000s to do the work they were built to do. An order fulfillment system called Heart was driving every sales fulfillment. Payroll for HP in North America was also performed using MPE/iX.

1996 was a hard year for the 3000 in some places. The spots where HP's reps felt that only a Unix solution — mistakenly called an open system — would win a sale were no-3000 zones. As a separate division, GSY's 9000 group never wanted to give any ground to HP's commercial computer line. At times, 3000 sites would be encouraged to get a open computer from HP. Plenty of the mainframe replacement in HP involved HP-UX systems.

By the time the August 1996 conference gathered in Anaheim, California, Murphy had a paper in the Interex '96 proceedings. HP IT Program to Eliminate Mainframes explained to a conference full of 3000 owners and managers that it was all HP systems inside the corporate data center by May 17, 1996. The 3000 was a key element in HP's modernization.

The role of the HP 3000 in HP's mainframe elimination process is important from two perspectives. First, as the number of data centers within HP rose, the reliance on IBM-style mainframes did not: the HP 3000s carried a fair amount of the increasing processing loads. Second, as IT began rewriting IBM-based COBOL applications for the 3000 platform, many of the re-writes included moving to client/server architectures. This meant HP IT was becoming familiar with client/server as early as the late 1980s.

The paper is archived at the OpenMPE website.

The Anaheim conference was notable for another big announcement. The World's Largest Poster was unfurled in the winds of a nearby high school's football field. "MPE Kicks Butt" was the slogan on those acres of paper. Inside the HP IT datacenter, the 3000 had kicked sand into the face of some of the company's most critical mainframe systems.

PosterProject

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:18 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 20, 2018

Following Job Lines in Emulated 3000 Life

Queueing
The Stromasys Charon software is a fact of life in the homesteading community by this year, after almost six years of field service. Lately the emulator users have been offering insights on how they're using their servers.

It's a lot like any HP 3000 has been used for the last 44 years, in some ways. Transferring files. Queueing up jobs. A few of the emulators shared their advisories not long ago.

Ray Legault at Boeing talked about his experiences with file transfers, especially an SFTP client and the SFTP "Connection refused" errors. As the Charon developers like to say, if the MPE/iX software behaves the same on the emulator as it does on 3000 hardware, even if MPE registers an error, then Charon is doing its faithful emulation job.

"We are running on a Stromasys Charon A500-200 and a A500-100 virtual machine which executes on a HP ProLiant DL 380 Gen8 3.59 GHZ CPU, with 6 cores and 64 gig of memory," Legault said.

We send about 40 files each day most of these in the early morning. Sometimes we would have zero to fives connection failures each morning. I noticed that these failures seem to occur when two SFTP jobs ran at the same minute. I then added a "JOBQ=FINLOG" to the job card of every SFTP job I had and set the job limit to 1. This was two weeks ago and we have not had a failure yet.

Another emulator user, Tony Summers of Smith & Williamson in the UK, shared queueing advice and a massive job checker (HOWMANY) that's working well for him.

"Even though we've migrated to an MPE emulator," Summers said, "we use job queues all the time so that jobs that need to run 24/7 don't bed-block the system job queue."
The alternative we've also used to create a UDC or command file that limits the number of instances of any job - example below (which partly uses a link to Posix /Unix using the SH command)

If you are looking at the sFTP failures, have you checked that the FTP server is configured to allow multiple connections?

USER DEFINED COMMAND FILE: HOWMANY.CMD
parm OK_NUMBER_of_JOBS=""

# HOWMANY
#
# HOWMANY is a command file to determine how many Jobs or Sessions are
# running with the same logon attributes as the calling Job or Session.
#
# An optional parameter can be passed to set the allowed number of running
# Jobs or Sessions with the same logon attributes.
#
# Example 1: Passing the number of 'allowed' Jobs / Sessions.
#
#    :HOWMANY 1
#
# If a job logs on and issues the HOWMANY command above, HOWMANY will check
# how many Jobs are running with the same logon attributes. The '1' tells
# HOWMANY that only '1' job should be running. Therefore, if HOWMANY
# determines that more than '1' is running, it will cause the calling Job
# to log off.
#
# Example 2:
#
#    :HOWMANY
#
# On it's own, HOWMANY will return a variable to the calling Job or Session
# called HOWMANY_THIS_USER that will be set to the number of EXECuting
# Jobs or Sessions with the same logon attributes.
#
# Example 3:
#
# If you want to see how many Jobs or Sessions are running for another
# User Id (not the calling Job or Session), then you can pass this as a
# parameter...
#
#    :HOWMANY T990
# Or
#    :HOWMANY "T990,ALL.SWIMS"    <--Quotes required
#
# You cannot log another Job or Session off with this command

setvar HOWMANY_USER  "!HPJOBNAME,!HPUSER.!HPACCOUNT"
setvar HOWMANY_USER2 "!HPJOBNAME,!HPUSER.!HPACCOUNT"

setvar HOWMANY_INPUT "!OK_NUMBER_of_JOBS"

if HOWMANY_INPUT <> "" then
  if HOWMANY_INPUT > "A" then
     setvar HOWMANY_USER ups("!HOWMANY_INPUT")
     if pos(",","!HOWMANY_USER") = 0 then
        setvar HOWMANY_USER2 "!HOWMANY_USER,@[email protected]"
     else
        setvar HOWMANY_USER2 "!HOWMANY_USER"
     endif
     setvar HOWMANY_ALLOWED 9999
  else
     setvar HOWMANY_ALLOWED !HOWMANY_INPUT
  endif
else
  # Set to unlimited
  setvar HOWMANY_ALLOWED 9999
endif

continue
purge [email protected],temp;noconfirm >$null
build HWMNFILE;REC=-1,,B,ASCII;temp
file  HWMNFILE,oldtemp;dev=disc

showjob job=!HOWMANY_USER2;EXEC >HWMNFILE
#  next line links to the unix / posix shell
SH grep '!HOWMANY_USER' $MPE/_$MPE_JOBNUM/tmp/HWMNFILE.!HPGROUP.!HPACCOUNT >HWMN
FLE2

setvar HOWMANY_THIS_USER ![finfo("HWMNFLE2","EOF")]

if HPJOBTYPE = "S" then
  if HOWMANY_THIS_USER = 1 then
     setvar HM_IS_ARE "is"
     setvar HM_TYPE "SESSION"
  else
     setvar HM_IS_ARE "are"
     setvar HM_TYPE "SESSIONS"
  endif
else
  if HOWMANY_THIS_USER = 1 then
     setvar HM_IS_ARE "is"
     setvar HM_TYPE "JOB"
  else
     setvar HM_IS_ARE "are"
     setvar HM_TYPE "JOBS"
  endif
endif

echo There !HM_IS_ARE !HOWMANY_THIS_USER !HM_TYPE running for UserId: !HOWMANY_U
SER2

if OK_NUMBER_of_JOBS <> "" then
  if HOWMANY_THIS_USER > HOWMANY_ALLOWED then
     echo *****************************************************************
     echo Too many !HM_TYPE with this User Id running. Will now log you off
     echo *****************************************************************
     tellop HOWMANY is logging !HOWMANY_THIS_USER off
     if HPJOBTYPE = "S" then
        echo Will now log your Session off
        EOJ
     else
        echo This Job will now log off
        UDCEOJ
        EOJ
     endif
  endif
endif

purge [email protected],temp;noconfirm > $null
deletevar HM_TYPE, HM_IS_ARE, HOWMANY_ALLOWED

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:17 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 17, 2018

Nike Arrays 101

Hard-DriveJust a few weeks ago, a 3000 manager using an A-Class server checked in on how he might connect the SC-10 arrays from Hewlett-Packard to his A500. As a West Coast service provider carried the manager toward that hardware (it can be done) it seems like a good time to review the use of storage arrays with MPE/iX systems.

Our founding net.digest editor John Burke covered this ground in the years after HP announced it was cutting off its 3000 operations. While the HP label is still anathema to some, the hardware prices are sometimes too compelling. Here's Nike Arrays 101, advice still worthy on the day you're moving around arrays connected to a 3000.

By John Burke
Newswire Classic

Many 3000 homesteaders are picking up used HP Nike Model 20 disk arrays. The interest comes from the fact that there is a glut of these devices on the market — meaning they are inexpensive — and they work with older models of HP 3000s. However, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about how and when to use them. For example, one company posted the following to 3000-L:

We’re upgrading from a Model 10 to a Model 20 Nike array. I’m in the middle of deciding whether to keep it in hardware RAID configuration or to switch to MPE/iX mirroring, since I can now do it on the system volume set. It wasn’t in place when the system was first bought, so we stayed with the Nike hardware RAID. We’re considering the performance issue of keeping it Nike hardware RAID versus the safety of MPE Mirroring. You can use the 2nd Fast-Wide card on the array when using MPE mirroring, but you can’t when using Model 20 hardware RAID.

So, with hardware RAID, you have to consider the single point of failure of the controller card. If we ‘split the bus’ on the array mechanism into two separate groups of drives, and then connect a separate controller to the other half of the bus, you can’t have the hardware mirrored drive on the other controller. It must be on the same path as the ‘master’ drive because MPE sees them as a single device.

Using software mirroring you can do this because both drives are independently configured in MPE. Software mirroring adds overhead to the CPU, but it’s a tradeoff you have to decide to make. We are evaluating the options, looking for the best (in our situation) combination of efficiency, performance, fault tolerance and cost.

First of all, as a number of people pointed out, Mirrored Disk/iX does not support mirroring of the System Volume Set – never did and never will. Secondly, you most certainly can use a second FWSCSI card with a Model 20 attached to an HP 3000

Bob J. elaborated on the second controller. 

All of the drives are accessible from either controller but of course via different addresses. Your installer should set the DEFAULT ownership of drives to each controller. To improve throughput, each controller should share the load. Only one controller is necessary to address all of the drives, but where MPE falls short is not having a mechanism for auto failover of a failing controller.

In other words, sysgen reconfiguration would be necessary to run on a single controller after SP failure in a dual SP configuration. You could have alternate configurations stored on your system to cover both cases of a single failing controller but the best solution is to get it fixed when it breaks. The best news is that SP failures are not very common.

There is a mechanism in MPE for ‘failover’ called HAFO - High Availability FailOver. Unfortunately for the original poster it is only supported with XP and VA arrays and not on Nike’s or AutoRAIDs (because it does not work with those).

Andrew Popay provided some personal experience.

We have seven Nike SP20 arrays, totaling 140 discs spread across all the arrays, using a combination of RAID 1 (for performance) and RAID 5 (for capacity). We use both SP’s on all arrays, with six arrays used over three systems (two per system). One of our systems has two arrays daisy-chained. The only failures we have suffered on any of the arrays have been due to a disc mechanism failing.

We never find any issues with the hardware raiding; in fact, as a lot of people have mentioned, hardware raiding is much more preferred to software raiding. Software raiding has several issues, system volume, performance, ease of use, etc. Hardware raiding is far more resilient.

As for anyone concerned about single points of failure, I would not worry too much about the Nike arrays, I would say they are almost bullet proof. For those who require a 24x7 system and can’t afford any downtime what so ever, maybe they should consider upgrading to an N-Class, with a VA or XP. Bottom line is SP20’s are sound arrays on the HP 3000s, easy to configure, setup and maintain.

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

August 15, 2018

3000 users linking up, 10 years later

Harland Clarke DMS network
Ten years ago this month the LinkedIn group for HP 3000 users opened for communications. In a posting from August of 2008 we took note of 30 members in a new group devoted to a server that hadn't shipped a new unit in five years.

There's no more new servers today. But by now those 30 members have turned into 669 and growing. It's been a pleasure to curate the group (admit new members) over this decade and spark some conversations, too. A few weeks ago I asked what people were still doing with their HP 3000s. Some of the newer members are old hands at the server. Edwin Clements, who just became a group member this week, worked at Harland Clarke back in 2012 as a COBOL specialist.There's new resources in the group, too. Matt Barker, the CMO of Stromasys, is a group member. 

HP 3000s remain on duty in surprising places. That's the Harland Clarke disaster recovery design up there at the top of this post. A pair of HP 3000s were working in the direct marketing end of one of the world's largest check manufacturers.

The membership of the group is something special, since it's hand-tooled. Anyone can request a spot, but only the clear 3000 users and experienced vendors have a place there. A LinkedIn group is often overrun with careerists whose skills don't match the discussions. Almost 80 pending members are on the outside looking in. If your resume doesn't include MPE, you're probably not a member.

Lately the LinkedIn group has been identifying itself with stories of durability. Some members are continuing to work with the server. Others have experience waiting if the opportunity surfaces to use it. It's a good place to look for someone you might've lost touch with.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:58 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 13, 2018

Licensed MPE source solves OS mysteries

Rathbone-holmesIn early 2028 I’ll be 70, and some MPE/iX apps could be 40 years old. I can hope retirement is in my rangefinder by then, but at the moment it looks like I’ll be writing until I can’t make sentences anymore. (Gotta remember, first noun, then verb.)

Well before that year, though, the roadblock of 3000-MPE date handling will be cleared. The companies most likely to have a comprehensive workaround are the ones which have licensed MPE/iX source. Or, the companies which are allied with the source licensees. Fixing the use of the CALENDAR intrinsic doesn't need to be a source-level repair. Having source access, though, only makes the fix more robust.

The 3000 owners and managers are all about robust. That's why they're still making use of a computer the vendor hasn't sold since 2003. Many of the companies who don't self-maintain are relying on support services now working more than seven years since HP left that support business, too.

The established independent support companies will be glad to collect money for building a 2028 solution, customer-by-customer. They should be paid. There are some IT managers out there in the 3000 world who see leaving their existing systems in a future-proof state, software-wise, as part of their job whenever they get to retire. Those are the real Boy Scouts, I’d say. On the other hand, you will hear arguments they’re not doing their jobs by leaving their companies running MPE/iX, even today.

The heart wants what it wants, though. If a company hasn't got heart for a migration right now, then the adminstrative work to be done is preparing for a forever journey for MPE/iX. Or at least until I'm 80, when the Unix 2038 roadblock appears.

Nobody should be building a 2028 fix unless they’re going to be paid. This issue is important to the Stromasys customer base. Not all: some Charon 3000 emulator installations are holding a place for a migration that's underway.

The community's elders care about the future. So long as the old managers can get a new expenditure approved, the game's afoot, as Sherlock Holmes would say.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:13 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 10, 2018

HPCALENDAR joins 3000 intrinsics hits

Newswire Classic

Greatest-HitsTwenty years ago HP took steps forward, into the realm beyond 2028, when it released a set of COBOL-related MPE/iX intrinsics. The community is now looking into the next decade and seeing a possibility of hurdling the Dec. 31, 2027 date handling roadblock. In this Inside COBOL column from the late 1990s, Shawn Gordon took readers on a quick tour of the new intrinsics — new to 1998, at least — that would make the 3000 easier to program for the future. He even wrote a sample program employing the improved data handling.

In 2018 the information might seem more history lesson than operational instruction guide. But when a long-running mission critical app needs repairs, knowing the full set of date capabilities might help. Gordon even mentions that using the official intrinsics will help maintain programs written 20 years earlier. Enough time has passed by now that any new programs at the time of the article would be 20 years old.

3000 managers have always had a sharp focus on coding for long life of applications. 

By Shawn Gordon

Since Year 2000 is rapidly approaching, I'll review the date intrinsics that HP gave us in MPE/iX 5.5 starting with PowerPatch 4.

As I've done a lot of Y2K consulting it seems everyone has written their own date routines. Most I have seen will break by Y2K. My goal in my consulting was to implement an HP-supplied solution, making it easier to support YYMMDD as well as YYYYMMDD date functions during the conversion process.

My only negative comment about these intrinsics is that I wish they had been created with the introduction of the Spectrum series of HP 3000s (PA-RISC systems). I could have used them then, too.

Six new intrinsics are available. All of the parameters for all new intrinsics are now 32-bit. This means they will work for as long as anyone reading this will ever care. I feel it’s important to standardize on these new HP-supplied intrinsics. They will make it a lot safer than trying to maintain some piece of code that was probably written 20 years ago. With code that old, it’s likely that nobody remembers how it works.

Here’s the lineup of intrinsics:

1. HPDATECONVERT: converts dates from one supported format to another 
2. HPDATEFORMAT: converts a date into a display type (I usually use this instead of HPDATECONVERT)
3. HPDATEDIFF: returns the number of days between to given dates 
4. HPDATEOFFSET: returns a date that is plus or minus the number of days from the source date
5. HPDATEVALIDATE: verifies that the date conforms to a supported date format
6. A new 32-bit HPCALENDAR format (HPCALENDAR, HPFMTCALENDAR).

There are a couple of things you should be sure to do correctly when using these intrinsics. HP’s documentation shows that some parameters on some intrinsics need to be passed by value (see my examples in Figure 1 with DATE-CODE, DAYS-DIFF and DATE-CUTOFF). You do this by putting the \ backward slashes around the variable name.

The other thing that can be confusing is the DATE-CUTOFF. This defines a “split” year. If anything is below this value, it will be translated to the next century. In other words, if the value of DATE-CUTOFF is 50, and you are using a 2 digit year of 00..49, then it will be resolved as 2000..2049, and those in the range of 50..99 will be 1950..1999.

If you use a value of -1, then the intrinsic will pick up the value of the predefined system variable HPSPLITYEAR. This method lets you control the value outside of your program, so I use a DATE-CUTOFF of -1 to stay modular.

The other thing to note is DATE-CODE, which indicates the style of the date that you are working with. I am using 15 because it works with both YYMMDD and YYYYMMDD format.

I’m including some code examples below for the variable declarations, as well as results of running the program MYDATE which uses the functions. 

01 DATE-CODE            PIC S9(9)  COMP VALUE 15.
01 DATE-RESULT          PIC S9(9)  COMP VALUE 0.
01 DATE-STATUS.
  03 S-INFO            PIC S9(4)  COMP VALUE 0.
  03 S-SUBSYS          PIC S9(4)  COMP VALUE 0.
01 DATE-CUTOFF          PIC S9(9)  COMP VALUE -1.
01 FORMAT-LEN           PIC S9(9)  COMP VALUE 20.
01 FROM-DATE            PIC 9(8)   COMP.
01 THRU-DATE            PIC 9(8)   COMP.
01 DAYS-DIFF            PIC S9(9)  COMP.
01 FORMAT-TYPE          PIC X(20).

   CALL INTRINSIC "HPDATEFORMAT" USING \DATE-CODE\,
                                       FROM-DATE,
                                       HOLD-FORMAT,
                                       FORMAT-DATE,
                                       FORMAT-LEN,
                                       DATE-STATUS,
                                       \DATE-CUTOFF\.
      IF S-INFO <> 0
         DISPLAY "Error in HPDATEFORMAT".

      CALL INTRINSIC "HPDATEDIFF" USING \DATE-CODE\,
                                        FROM-DATE,
                                        THRU-DATE,
                                        DUMMY-VAL,
                                        DATE-STATUS,
                                        \DATE-CUTOFF\.
      IF S-INFO <> 0
        DISPLAY "Error in HPDATEDIFF".

       CALL INTRINSIC "HPDATEOFFSET" USING \DATE-CODE\,
                                            FROM-DATE,
                                           \DAYS-DIFF\,
                                           THRU-DATE,
                                           DATE-STATUS,
                                           \DATE-CUTOFF\.
      IF S-INFO <> 0
        DISPLAY "Error in HPDATEOFFSET".

        CALL INTRINSIC "HPDATEVALIDATE" USING \DATE-CODE\,
                                              FROM-DATE,
                                              \DATE-CUTOFF\
                                       GIVING DATE-RESULT.
      IF S-INFO <> 0
        DISPLAY "Error in HPDATEVALIDATE".


RUN MYDATE

Enter date in YYMMDD or YYYYMMDD format: 19980317
Enter date format string: MM/DD/YY
Formatted date is 03/17/98
Julian date is 01998076

Enter From date: 19980101
Enter Thru date: 19980501
Number of days = +000000120

Enter start date: 19980801
Enter day offset: -31
New date is 19980701

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:35 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 08, 2018

Wayback: Linux re-enters the 3000's world

Penguin-shorelineThe Newswire's articles can sometimes be evergreen, even in the hottest months of the year. This week we got an email about a 2001 article that introduced Linux to our readers. A companion to the article from 17 years ago, A Beginners Guide to Linux, includes one outdated link, along with timeless advice.

Linux was already a juggernaut on corporate IT whiteboards and it had a strong following in the field, too. Shawn Gordon wrote a pair of columns about Linux as a 101 course for 3000 experts. The first article was published in the first weeks after HP's exit announcement about the 3000 business. Gordon, who founded a software company built around Linux applications, connected the dots.

To be honest, you can go another seven years quite easily with your existing 3000 system, which is a long time for a system these days. But if you were looking for a change anyway, now is the time. So what does this all have to do with Linux?

Linux seems to be the great equalizer. It runs on watches, set-top boxes, PDAs, Intel chips, PowerPC chips in Macs and IBM systems, Itanium chips, IBM mainframes — the list goes on and on. IBM and HP both are moving their customers towards it, and IBM has done some fantastic work helping Linux on scalability.

In our HP 3000 space we mostly know the players and we are comfortable where we are. Jumping over to Linux required that I learn a lot about things I never cared about before — like the GPL, GNU, Linux, RMS, ESR, and other things that I will explain in a bit. One of the bits that has been floating around a lot on the various 3000 discussion lists is Linux.

The update for the two-part article comes from a company that has a free Linux education website. Alex Nordeen, Editor of Guru99.com, hopes to get your web visits.

The tutorial is for an "absolute beginner's guide to Linux. You don't even have to buy a new PC to learn Linux. You can run Linux, right within your existing Windows or Mac OS systems! (Detailed steps are given in tutorials)."

Nordeen says of the second part of the article series, "In one article, you mentioned and linked to www.tuxedo.org/~esr. However, that site has been pulled out. And it's unclear that the page is going to be available again."

We recently created tutorials on Linux that took 190+ hours to create with beautifully annotated screenshots and videos. They are very comprehensive.

The tutorials are created by a Google veteran and I have personally edited them. The course covers

• Linux Basics like Introduction, Linux Distributions and Installation, Commands, and File Permissions.
• Redirection, Regular Expressions, Commands, and Communication in Linux.
• We also touch on advanced topics like Environment Variables, Managing Processes, VI Editor, Shell Scripting, Virtual Terminal, and Linux Administration.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:05 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 06, 2018

E-commerce keeps making sales on 3000s

E-commerceDespite having both hardware and application vendor deserting them, companies who chose the Ecometry e-commerce software to run on HP 3000s keep making sales. Fluent Edge Technologies has served Ecometry sites for more than 20 years. Cliff Looyenga checked in on the LinkedIn HP 3000 group to mention that five or six companies in his client list continue to use MPE/iX for Ecometry.

"Ecometry is currently owned by JDA," Looyenga said. "They no longer provide any support for the HP 3000 version. They don't even advertise the current Windows version. In my opinion, Ecometry is dying a slow death."

"On the positive side," he added, "they are still enhancing and collecting support revenues for the Windows version. For users of the HP 3000 version, support comes from ourselves, Snapshot Design, Hire Experience, and Odin Technologies."

Here's the best part of the report. "We have continued to see support demand decrease," he said, "as more clients are moving off Ecometry altogether and going with other vendor solutions."

The fate of the 3000-using companies has had many seasons since 2001. Losing the vendor's support for hardware, for MPE/iX, for applications: these are events that trigger opportunities for replacement expertise. There are four suppliers of Ecometry support today, more than 16 years after HP declared the 3000's ecosystem doomed.

"I still have clients running on the HP 3000," Looyenga said. "One of them is running the Charon emulation software. None are planning to get off anytime soon."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:10 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 03, 2018

2028 calendar changes to hit MPE, not 3000

Calendar-page
The coming change for HP 3000 date-keeping is a product of the computer's operating system. The hardware will run as it always has, no matter how far ahead calendars and dates reach into the future. Even into the year 2028 and beyond. For some users, they're heard about this as the "2027 problem."

The CALENDAR problem is in the OS, not the hardware. The old intrinsic was only built to record accurate dates until the end of 2027. Any resolution will involve work within applications' use of intrinsics, among other software revisions. Replacing CALENDAR with HPCALENDAR is part of the solution. Charon sites will have to prepare for it too, because they are running faithful virtualizations of the PA-RISC hardware — and use MPE/iX

Hardware vs. software in 2028 is a common misunderstanding in the 3000 community. Everyone figures the Hewlett-Packard 3000 hardware, pushing 20-25 years in service in most places even today, won't be able to keep up. It's not the PA-RISC chips that will make a mistake identifying the correct year, though. It's MPE/iX.

There's a way around this aging software intrinsic: replacement. HP built a perfectly serviceable improvement of calendar intrinsics, HPCALENDAR, when it became obvious the 3000 community was going to go well past the Year 2000. HPCALENDAR isn't wired into the OS's roots, though. SHOWTIME, for example, is always going to report an incorrect year starting the first day of 2028.

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

Source code revision will be the most direct solution in some cases. Support companies are assembling certification services for Year 2028 operations. It's a place the 3000 community has worked through before now. We all remember how Y2K didn't halt 3000s. Developers, vendors, and support experts all say that 2028 is nothing as serious as Y2K was — so long as customers are aware of it and prepare.

We put together an FAQ about 2028 last year after vendors and users starting talking about the CALENDAR impact. It's worth a look and perhaps a forward to your support team if their answers are "that's a 3000 thing with HP's hardware" or they don't know how the year 2027 will end for MPE/iX. In December of that year, dates that are supposed to be reported at 2028 will say 1900. There's a strategy to repair that.

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

August 01, 2018

Charon carries Boeing in new 3000 orbit

Pluto and its moons
Illustration by Melanie Demmer

A few years ago the world's astronomers kicked Pluto out of the list of planets. 3000 owners and managers might know how that feels. Pluto was a perfectly acceptable planet for 80 years, like the 3000 was a small yet notable server in HP's enterprise solar system.

Like the 3000, Pluto didn't change to trigger its exile from the list of nine planets. Astronomers started to revise their specs for being a planet. Pluto wasn't big enough and was too far away from the sun to get the dispensation Mercury gets. But this celestial object is still in orbit around that sun. It's a little like the MPE/iX apps that are running at Boeing. 

Pluto and CharonCharon is the largest moon of Pluto's, so big it shares a gravitational field with the planet. (No, wait, it's a dwarf planet, Pluto is.) Charon is so big, compared to Pluto's size, that the two objects face one another with the same aspect constantly. Charon is in tidal lock, as one scientist explains it. That moon reminds me of the Charon software that powers those apps at Boeing today. Its emulation of the 3000 keeps it in lock with the PA-RISC chips that continued the orbit of MPE/iX at the world's largest aircraft maker.

The fate of Pluto and its moons graces the pages of a new children's book, A Place for Pluto. The book is illustrated by Melanie Demmer and written by Stef Wade, both making their debut in kids lit. Pluto does find a place by the end of the book, but I won't give it away. I have a grandson and a granddaughter who will enjoy the book soon.

Those kids are close enough that I don't need any time spent sitting in a Boeing product to see them. While I pawed through recent messages from 3000 users and fans, though, I thought of being exiled and how there's a place for everybody if they keep working and looking.

"Boeing is going as virtual as possible," system administrator Ray Legault of Boeing wrote, "using X86 hosts with .net and Java coded applications where possible. The applications' owners are responsible for funding the re-writing or retiring or migrating of applications, not IT. They are looking into Pivotal Cloud foundry, which requires .net or java coded applications.

Legault said the virtual HP 3000, powered by Charon "will be gone within two years when the Finance organization migrates all Finance applications to 1SAP." That's the moment when the MPE/iX moon will fade from the horizon at Boeing. By that time, it will have been carried through the skies by Charon for more than five years. That's a longer MPE orbit than HP imagined. By 2020 and that last Finance transaction at Boeing, it will be 19 years since HP announced the end of its 3000 business.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:36 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 30, 2018

Ways to make SFTP serve to a 3000 system

Waiter-serviceEarlier this month a seasoned veteran of 3000 development asked how he could get SFTP service supported for his system. He's been managing a 3000 that's been ordered to employ file transfers that are more secure than FTP.

Secure FTP works well enough outbound, thanks to the OpenSSL software ported to the 3000 in WebWise. But incoming SFTP is tougher. Some say it's not possible, but that answer doesn't include any potential for a proxy server. Or a virtualized 3000.

Versions of OpenSSL that were ported to run on native MPE probably won’t satisfy an audit, nor do they have some of the current crypto capabilities that would satisfy things like PCI requirements. There are no developers signed up to continue the OpenSSL port project.

That leaves the proxy solution.

In this solution, a manager would set up a Linux SFTP server with two NICs. NIC 1 goes to the outside world. NIC 2 is a crossover to the HP 3000. From the HP 3000, SFTP to the Linux server via NIC 2.
 
In another scenario, you can FTP between the HP 3000 and a Linux virtual machine. One developer said that on the Linux VM "we have a small application that talks to the HP 3000 via FTP and forwards to and from other machines via SFTP or SSH." He added that the app on the Linux system is written in Java.
 
Migration often includes this kind of expertise. Charles Finley, a veteran of HP 3000 matters since the 1980s, recently raised his hand to offer notes on using an SSH tunnel. "It does not involve coding, the use of libraries and—although you can do it with Linux—does not necessarily involve Linux." He drew a link to an example employing a Windows host, adding that "we use Linux or Windows for this type of thing. Here's a description of how connect to an FTP/SFTP server which can be accessed via another server only, using PuTTY, "something we make use of a lot," Finley said.
 
There's also a simple way to use SFTP by employing Stromasys Charon. Other servers can SFTP to a Linux partition. Charon is hosted under Linux as it emulates the 3000 hardware. This hosted MPE server can then pick the files up internally.
Mark Klein, who bootstrapped the original GNU library for the 3000 that made all of its open source tools possible, says a requirement for the security of encryption could be satisfied with a secure link, rather than secure protocol.
See if you can negotiate with the auditors for an encrypted link instead of an encrypted protocol (tell them that the protocols on the 3000 itself can’t do what they are asking and suggest the alternative). Tell them that the SSL on the 3000 is older than 1.0.x and still won’t pass audit, even if you could make SFTP work.
 
These days, everything less than TLS1.1 is unacceptable.  The OpenSSL on the 3K can’t support that. I’m afraid you might get the SFTP requirement resolved only to then fail on the lack of TLS or the newer ciphers.  

It would be easier to leave the existing processes in place (they work) rather than exchange them for something that is unknown and then wrap that with accepted encryption. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:28 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 25, 2018

P9500 storage comes to N-Class 3000s

XP P9500 InteriorHP's storage for the 3000 was always a step later to arrive than on the Unix side of the business line. Sometimes a storage protocol like an SCSI bus was rated at half the speed of the HP-UX version, even though the technology was identical on the storage device. MPE/iX needed more stringent testing, the customers figured, to assure the world that the legendary 3000 reliability was intact.

Sometimes the delays in tech covered years, until at one point HP stopped all of its MPE/iX testing. That didn't mean the community quit innovating and integrating storage. Now the XP P9500 storage arrays have been proven to support N-Class servers, according to the reseller ThomasTech.

"It was a success," said global services director Chad Lester. "Our engineers have the HP3000 N-Class booting from the P9500."

The P9500 has a standards-based architecture, using X64 processor-based controllers, and a user-centric design plus application-level quality of service controls. HP claims the P9500 doubles power efficiency and holds the same amount of data as the XP24000 in half the floor space.

It's a new storage technology to the 3000 world, even if the basic design was first rolled out almost eight years ago. The tests at ThomasTech show that MPE/iX can be installed on the first LUN, according to engineer Larry Kaufman. The next steps are to be able to boot a system from that P9500.

Storage solutions have held the greatest promise for extending the life of HP-branded MPE/iX hardware. The XP24000 arrays, for example, have been a source of massive storage capacity that can be shared across a wide range of server environments. The XP support has marched onward for years. The P9500 can scale from five disk drives in a single cabinet to 2,048 drives in six industry standard, 19-inch racks. The P9500 tops out at less than half of the XP24000's theoretical limit of 2.26 petabytes, though. SSD and moving media are both supported.

And there's that word, petabytes, being associated with a server HP stopped building 15 years ago. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:59 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 23, 2018

Users' HELLOs echo back on 3000-L

Hello Screen

Just a bit more than a week ago the airwaves were quiet around the 3000-L mailing list. It had been more than a month without a message. 3000-L used to have thousands of messages a month. Those were the days when the 3000 Renaissance was mounting and a mailing list was a very special vehicle.

The numbers have fallen since the late 1990s, but this week it's not "too quiet, Sarge" in the cybersphere. (Is it a sign of age that I still use a word like cybersphere?) Right away after our "Hello out there" message, more than a few readers and resources from the L checked in, saying their HELLO back. Some shared news.

To be sure, one of the messages was about an impending retirement. Jim Gerber is leaving the 3000 behind on Tuesday of next week. "It's been a great ride from the Model III to the N-series," wrote the software engineer at Quest Diagnostics. There's a billing system at Quest, a corporation traded on the NYSE that had $7.7 billion in revenues last year. Rising sales, too.

TE Connectivity's Terry Simpkins checked in to say the 3000s were still running at the operation with manufacturing sites all over China. The future of MANMAN there is far from certain. Simpkins said he felt like "the countdown is running" since the acquisition of Measurement Specialties by TE awhile ago.

There was also a message from Ray Legault at Boeing. The world's biggest aircraft manufacturer still has MPE/iX software at work, since Legault's signature is still "EWH ESX Middleware Hosting HP3000 & AIX backup Support." Legault said he's doing well.

Then there were the messages from the people we're all certain are never leaving the 3000. Alfredo Rego raised his hand to be counted.

"The members of the Adager Support Team actively monitor HP3000-L," Rego said. "We directly support many Adager customers worldwide and, in addition, we are always pleased to hear from HP 3000 users, whether Adager customers or not."

That was the moment for the only wisecrack, when Denys Beauchemin asked how anybody could actively support something that is dormant. Maybe not so dormant, Denys, in the places where there's aircraft being built, medical tests administered around the world, or sensors manufactured in facilities around the world.

Does the 3000-L get quiet because nobody's around, or because everybody is in listening mode, waiting to help? Back in those thousands of messages months, the L was full of noise about elections, guns, and other germs of life. It's got none of that noise now. We're still reading it, just like we've done since the 1990s. The NewsWire owes a lot to the wisdom shared by 3000-L users.

 

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:55 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2018

July's IA-64 news, delivered by the Sandman

IA-64 Sequel t-shirt copy
Twenty years ago this month the 3000 community got its biggest assurance of a long future. The system's lab manager said that the IA-64 architecture would be fully supported in future 3000 models. New compilers would be built for a new MPE/iX. Channel partners and resellers got the news from the labs two months earlier at a swell retreat.

The man delivering the news for that July article is a familiar name with 3000 customers. He was Winston Prather, head of R&D at the time—and three years later, the person who decided the 3000 community didn't need the computer. A weak ecosystem was supposedly the reason Prather could be the Sandman and help put HP's MPE/iX business to sleep.

Three summers earlier, all the news we could report in the NewsWire was good. 

"The 3000 customers who experienced the move from Classic to MPE/XL know exactly what they’ll be looking at as they move forward,” Prather said. “One thing that makes me feel good about it is that it’s something we’ve done before. I think we pulled it off pretty successfully, and we learned quite a bit. We’ll use some of the same learning and techniques as we move to the new architecture."

Prather said that by early in the 2000s, 3000 customers would be able to buy and use an operating system to run with both PA-RISC and IA-64 processors,  "Customers who need the additional performance of IA-64 will then be able to buy IA-64 processor boards to plug into HP 3000 processor slots on the new systems." It was an audacious design. HP bragged of the bold move.

“Prior to the IA-64 boards or chips," Prather said, "there will be complete new boxes available at the high end and the midrange, and then potentially at the low end.” The new 3000s would use new IO systems, giving customers a way to step into new hardware technology incrementally. The IO arrived, late out of those labs, in the form of new PCI bus architecture. IA-64 on MPE was put to sleep.

Watching the whiplash as HP first promised a future, pre-Y2K, then took away the hope of 3000 site, in 2001, baffled a lot of us. The system deserved a big tech investment. Then it didn't.

The 1998 IA-64 report sounded very real, much more so than the announcement from Prather's 3000 leadership in late 2001. HP's MPE futures were going dark. In 1998 there was even an admission that some "forking" of the operating system — a la MPE V and MPE XL — would have to take place.

Although CSY is working to delay it, a time will come in the next decade when there will be two versions of MPE/iX, one for the PA-RISC systems and one for the IA-64 boxes. Customers work in such an environment today if they support Classic (CISC) HP 3000s running MPE V alongside MPE/iX.

HP has already been working on bringing 64-bit features such as large memory space and large files to MPE/iX long before IA-64 is ready for the 3000. The technical discussions taking place over the last year inside CSY include methods to keep from dividing MPE/iX into two camps.

“We don’t want to fork the operating system,” Prather said. “We have had internal debates about how we could provide all of this new functionality, the 64-bitness, and in the future avoid forking the operating system. We have a strong desire to avoid that. I’m not sure we’ll be able to avoid it forever.”

The departure of HP from MPE/iX futures is a fact that changed thousands of careers. Now the future demanded costly migrations for many firms. Everyone could be forgiven for being flummoxed by the leadership flame out, considering how certain the 3000 lab leader sounded in 1998 about building for the future.

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

July 16, 2018

3000 mailing list now quiet for a month

1725A Oscilloscope
The last recorded message on the 3000-L mailing list and newsgroup was posted on June 12. The five weeks of radio silence is the longest this information asset has weathered. The quiet isn't due to technical difficulties. A test message passed through the receiver and was broadcast to members earlier today.

The L, as it's been called informally by the community for more than two decades, has become a lean vehicle for technical expertise. It was once so full of chaff the community insisted on Off Topic handles, but an [OT] message has been virtually eliminated. The archives of tech wisdom — a big reason I believed the NewsWire had a chance at first — are still online, for now.

Some of the latest questions have been sharply on point for the HP 3000. Charles Johnson of Surety Systems asked last month how to program "a handheld PSC 6000 Plus bar code scanner installed as a wedge between a HP 700/92 terminal and a keyboard, all hosted on a Series 969SX."

In less than 10 minutes, Stan Sieler pointed Johnson at a programming manual for the device. Within the hour, another 3000 guru, Michael Anderson of J3K Solutions replied back. That's Johnson to Sieler to Anderson, if you're scoring at home, all within 45 minutes of posting the question. 

There's no problem with the concept of posting a question to a mailing list and waiting for a reply when the list is as well vetted as 3000-L. In the case of the scanner issue, of course, all three posters are already working as third party experts in MPE/iX systems: Surety to Allegro to J3K. There have been tech exchanges this spring where information flowed from one IT manager to another. That kind of list discourse is becoming more rare.

Sieler, who's done some pinch hitting for listserver administration in the years since list founder Jeff Kell died, has been in contact with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The UTC campus hosts the server that holds this longest and deepest chunk of HP 3000 history, and Sieler has the contents archived.

Without Kell at the helm of the listservs at UTC, 3000-L is on autopilot. There's no one there to take non-automated requests. The community is at least aware that its greatest historical resource has an undetermined future. "It may only be a matter of time," said Tracy Johnson a few weeks ago, "before some before someone in IT management at UTC does an upgrade, migrates, or pulls the plug, and we're left in the dark."  

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:31 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 13, 2018

Fine-Tune: Resetting your LDEV 21 Console

I have a 959 system at my site and there are times when I can't get the remote console port on LDEV 21 to work. How do I troubleshoot this problem and reset the console port? 

1. Is the port configured and available?

a) Check to be sure the system recognizes the port

:showdev 21

LDEV     AVAIL
     21     AVAIL

b) Is the SYSGEN configuration okay? 

:sysgen  sysgen>io
io> ld 21

LDEV:21  DEVNAME:  OUTDEV:21  MODE:  JAID
**ID: A1703-60003-CONSOLE-TERMINAL 
RSIZE:        40   DEVTYPE: TERM
**PATH: 56/56.1   MPETYPE: 16   MPESUBTYPE:  0
CLASS: TERM

c) Is the User Port configured in NMMGR?

:nmmgr
then ...

OPEN CONF, DTS, USER PORT

Logical Device [21  ]  (1 - 1800)
Line Speed [2400  ]  (300, 1200, 9600, or 19200 bps)
Modem Type [1] (0-NONE, 1-US, 2-European, 3 - V22.bis)
Parity [NONE] (None, Even, Odd, 0's, or 1's)

2. Is the access port enabled, configured correctly and unlocked? On the local console type in CTRL-B to get the CM> prompt. The REMOTE settings are displayed at the bottom of the console screen.

a) Check/Change the configuration

cm> CA
Bit rate:               2400 bits/sec
Protocol:               Bell
System identification:

b) Enable Remote

cm> ER

c) Unlock Remote and raise the DTR signal on the modem

cm> U

d) Go back to command mode (:).

cm> CO

3. If you still cannot dial into the remote console, there are two utilities in sysdiag you can try.  Modmutil will do a self test on the modem, and consolan will reset the port.

a) To test the modem:

:sysdiag
dui> modmutil
mu> diag
diag> autotest
diag> exit
mu> exit

b) To reset the modem

:sysdiag
dui> CONSOLAN pdev=nn/nn section=2(23)

Continue? YES
Reset local/remote?  REMOTE

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:08 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 11, 2018

Holding on to 3000 data: this might work

Tape
As much as companies want to step away from legacy data systems, some are forced to make historical vaults of financials, customer profiles, inventory and much more. The HP 3000's current populace is full of this kind of work — knowing the answers to "what happened back then?" or maybe "how much credit did we extend to that company?"

Those questions sometimes mean that a computer that hasn't seen a new model since 2001, and an operating system that got its last update a decade ago, remains in charge of crucial data. Companies trying to hold onto the data face a few problems. They fall into two categories, hardware and software. (I know, that's almost everything, unless you consider networks to be another aspect.)

On the hardware side, getting elderly magnetic media to respond reliably will be a bigger problem with every passing day that a tape needs to slide across a drive head. It's not so much the tape itself, said Stan Sieler. It's the drives. Fewer and fewer people know how to repair the ones out there, too.

Tape was used as a backup for so long it's not natural to imagine disc playing a better role. But it does today. Your HP 3000 might need a System Load Tape one day for recovery purposes. When the SLT you've carefully preserved cannot be read by any tape drive, that mean be a hard stop for your historic HP 3000. Sieler suggested that an image of a 3000's startup volume, captured and stored on another disk, could do the same thing as an SLT reload. The 3000 would have to be fully quiesced to get the best image. But if it was not, the disc image could still work; it would just require an immediate reboot of the 3000. 

Those are circumstances that a historic records 3000 could withstand. A transaction processing system is harder to quiesce. The world still has 3000s processing transactions today, and for a long time to come.

Query Google about how to capture a disk image of a 3000's startup volume. Better yet, reach out to the 3000 support company for your datacenter. If you don't have one, here's an opportunity to correct that oversight. Reach out and get the assurance you need that your 3000's ability to report history will remain strong and clear. Do it before you're forced to find out the old tape drives won't read what you need to keep that server on duty.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:53 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 09, 2018

Local advice guided bets for 3000 users

Interex Playing CardAt this summer's 3000 Reunion, close to two dozen friends and colleagues broke bread, watched video, asked questions and listened to advice. There was a local flavor to the visitor's register. There was also experience shared about what bets to avoid if you're homesteading.

Steve Cooper and Stan Sieler of Allegro were on hand, sharing advice and 1987 Interex playing cards (that was Stan, still a magician after many years, passing out a pack as he ducked into the meeting). Vicky Shoemaker of Taurus Software came in from Palo Alto, and Orly Larson drove five minutes from his Sunnyvale home. Tom McNeal was also local to the event, and Linda Roatch (managing newspaper servers at the San Jose Mercury News) was part of the contingent on the Orly Larson pre-conference night.

Everyone else at the meeting and the tour of the Apple Park HQ next door was an out of towner. Some were way out of town, from England or Toronto. Traveling used to be a part of the 3000 community experience, in the era before FaceTime, Skype, and texting. We once needed to be near one another to learn something or to share a joke.

Local storage, though, was discouraged in advice during that afternoon. In this case nothing could be more local than internal devices. Under the topic of Eliminating Single Points of Failure, users were advised to get rid of the single points of failure of internal peripherals for their HP 3000s. Be redundant. DDS tape drives and disk drives are better off outside of the 3000's cabinets. To be honest, tape media of any kind "is the bane of my existence," said Ralph Bagen of the MPE Support Group.

If you're using storage that was built in the last century, the advice went, you need to move to devices at least built in 2001 or later. You'll still need a tape to create an SLT, but just about anything on magnetic media is a problem waiting to happen. All hail cloud backup, or better yet, backups to Intel-based servers. Those might be servers hosting a virtual HP 3000 by employing Stromasys Charon. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:16 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 02, 2018

Measuring the Miles to Homesteading's End

Up-road-map-distance-south-african-distances
In Cupertino at this summer's 3000 Reunion, the attendees who flocked to the flocked-wallpaper pub room on a Saturday read a roadmap to continued use of MPE/iX. The advice was wrapped around hardware because Ralph Bagen delivered the goods. He runs the MPE Support Group and talked about backups and redundancy and more.

The issues in that talk covered about 12 slides and twice as many minutes. Toward the end, the talk turned to comments about the hardware alternative to HP Virtual Arrays, PA-RISC hardware and the like. Charon came up. Hands went up in the room from the vendors and experts who had the Stromasys product among their customer bases. Vicky Shoemaker at Taurus Software, Steve Cooper at Allegro, plus Bagen and a few more. Not bad for a meeting of less than two dozen 3000 fans.

HP-labeled hardware is always going to have its terminus, because they're not building 3000s anymore. The peripherals will see their finale, too. It could well turn out that the Charon solution will be the only route that runs into the end of the 2020s, and maybe beyond. They keep making faster Intel hardware.

We learned that the remaining MPE/iX customers show up in places where change has been slow to invisible. At least it's invisible to the customers of ecommerce and mail order providers running the Ecometry software. The 3000's OS is durable, more so than its hardware. Those who remain have sometimes surprising budgets to maintain a proven system.

Issues are on the horizon for server performance. That's to say that an MPE/iX platform which needs to keep up with growth is going to need better horsepower to drive a virtualized 3000. HP keeps introducing ProLiant systems each faster and a better value than the last. Throw enough hardware at performance and, as always, the time to process the data goes down. 

Charon works, and it's a good product, Bagen said. So long as a customer can push enough hardware at a virtualized solution (see above) the range of suitability is broad. That makes the number of miles of homesteading different for the sites not locked into HP's hardware. The PA-RISC servers will never get faster, especially if a site is already at the top of the N-Class line.

The mileage will get better, even for companies with a lot of data to move down the road, in many virtualized worlds.

We're taking July 4 off here to celebrate our nation's independence. In a smaller way we're celebrating our own, and for those who use MPE/iX, their independence deserves a shout, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:21 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 27, 2018

Tiki hut tales run toward success, survival

Tiki-HutOn the night before this summer's HP 3000 reunion, a handful of grey experts shared stories over a bar in Orly Larson's tiki hut. The Hewlett-Packard veteran and IMAGE expert built the hut in his backyard just beyond the ping pong table and overlooking a swell swimming pool. The hut showed off a different era, just like the IT experience at the bar. 

There was a comforting feel at that bar. Every story seemed to prompt another, all interwoven with details about the life achieved after intense 3000 and IT work. Only a few of us still encountered 3000s in our everyday life. It was a thrill to be able to tell some of those stories again.

This time through, the storytelling had the benefit of more context. The things that seemed crucial at the time, like a flaw in the system's microcode, turned out to have little impact on the fate of the HP hardware. Important at the time, but nothing to chase off a customer. In the final tally, the number of the customers turned out to be a significant factor in the 3000's fate.

People in the tiki hut had opinions about HP's demise as an MPE/iX solution supplier. One theme was to compare to other servers of the same age. Only IBM's Series i, formerly the AS/400, has had a continuous path from the 1980s onward supported by its creator. All others are gone to moved to third party care. Even VMS has a third party lab, carrying it into the future. Its great numbers were able to shoulder the 3000 out of HP's picture, but even the Digital platform because a dish outside of the vendor's tastes

The meeting went long into the night. That was a little surprise considering nobody at the bar was under 60. Many of us were going to regroup the next day. We still lingered, something like the MPE/iX customers who know they're someplace special.

Surviving the future takes many routes. One long-time consultant, Linda Roatch, moved into the Bay Area from her life in Minnesota serving the Minneapolis Pioneer Press. She's at the Mercury News in San Jose now. It's another newspaper — an industry allegedly on the run as much as on-premise servers like the 3000. But there she was, standing outside the tiki hut and looking forward at Linux, and back with warm regard at the colleagues and the stories shared at the bar.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:44 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 25, 2018

Meet shows veterans never too old to learn

2018 3000 Reunion

The number of people in the pub was not noteworthy. The weekend's HP 3000 Reunion added up to something more than a body count, though, a remarkable and lively turnout for a computer whose vendor declared it dead more than seven years ago.

IMG_3840The veterans of MPE and the 3000 showed a spark of curiosity during the afternoon-to-evening gathering at the Duke of Edinburgh pub and Apple Park in Cupertino. In the late afternoon they held iPads to see a virtual reality view at Apple's Visitor Center, peering at the insides of the Apple HQ building. Earlier, a support talk about the care and feeding of the 3000 sites with aging hardware prompted questions and opinions about homesteading. That strategy was the only one that remained for the men and women crowding a cozy pub room flocked with red and gold paper.

The gold matched the sponsorship banner from CAMUS International. The group sent $200 to cover bar and lunch expenses, showing that manufacturing interest still surrounds companies using a 3000. Terri Lanza, who arranged the banner and the contribution, wished she could attend. Like dozens more, she has to rely on her colleagues who made the trip.

IMG_3841
They came from as far away as England and Toronto, and some from five minutes' drive away. Orly Larson tooled over from his house on a quiet Cupertino street. Dave Wiseman came from England and Gilles Schipper crossed the continent from Toronto.

Tom McNeal, one of the engineers who helped create the memory manager in MPE/XL, attended to represent the Hewlett-Packard 3000 lab. He left HP after Y2K to join a Linux startup. While that was fun, he said, the energy didn't outlast the funding. He came to reconnect and even to see a lineup of hardware for MPE XL that prompted him to observe where multiprocessing came into the product line.

IMG_3832

Vicky Shoemaker, Dave Wiseman, Gilles Schipper, Stan Sieler and Harry Sterling giggle at a video of George Stachnik's 12 Days of Christmas parody. The video from an HP party hailed from the late 1980s, when the struggles of building an MPE for PA-RISC were finally overcome.

People learned at the meeting, more about one another and their 3000 afterlife than something to use in 2018. McNeal was joined by ex-HP stalwarts Harry Sterling, the final GM of the division, and Larson. They made up almost 20 percent of attendees. There was hearty laughter coming from them and the rest of the crowd while everyone watched a video from another 3000 notable. George Stachnik was singing a 12 Days of Christmas parody on a recording from the middle 1980s, when Sterling was running the 3000 labs.

When Stachnik's parody came to the five golden rings line, he'd changed it to Rich Sevcik giving him "every engineer." Sterling chuckled. "It was just about that many," he said.

The room was rich with a sense of that kind of sweet survival across the day. Many of those in the room and later at the tour of the Apple Park headquarters -- the site of the former 3000 division's offices -- counted the server as just a memory. There was some everyday experience still in the room, though, more than 40 years after HP introduced the 3000. Vicky Shoemaker of Taurus Software still counts 3000 customers among her base at the company she founded with Dave Elward. Ralph Bagen still sees 3000s for support, as do Stan Sieler and Steve Cooper. 

The same goes for Gilles Schipper, counting on a California 3000 site to help him leverage the trip from Canada. With the exception of an editor from a blog who was on hand, all others were remembering past efforts and survivals, and celebrating their thriving on the current day. "How many grandkids now?" or "What college did you send them to?" and "How long have you been retired?" were common questions.

The Hewlett-Packard that was represented was the benevolent HP Way company. Sterling has built a thriving real estate practice in Palm Springs. McNeal hailed from the 3000 labs that built MPE to exploit the then-new PA-RISC. Larson taught IMAGE and spread the word at customer events and site visits, sending the message that the 3000's database was better than most. An intimate pre-party at his house in Cupertino included stories traded back in his tiki hut bar.

The dinner table at the pub had two of the three most famous beards from the 3000 community, too. Larson's and Bob Karlin's were wrapped around smiles over the likes of scotch eggs, Cornish pasty and Newcastle Ale. Bruce Hobbs, the other bearded veteran, wanted to come. Dozens more wanted to come, some so urgently their RSVP'ed name tags were already printed up but unclaimed. Deep into the night the talk turned to religion and politics, because everyone knew one another well enough to remain friends through those subjects.

Wiseman counted on that friendship as he brought together people who hadn't seen each other in decades but fell into conversations as if it were only yesterday when they last spoke. It takes a social computer system to open hearts to a reunion after more than 40 years. Nearly everyone at the Duke could count that much experience with the 3000.

"When you're back in town, drop by," Shoemaker and Cooper said to me as they left. They were not counting the numbers in the room. They were counting on our return in the years to come. After the afternoon ended, that hope for a return seemed to add up.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:50 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 22, 2018

We're raising a glass in your honor

Lifted-beer-glassesIn a few hours I'll be back home. Well, one of my homes. There's the one in Texas. The one I visited this month in Toledo where I grew up, and the one in my heart for my bride and my boy and my grandkids. Later today I'll be home in Silicon Valley, along Wolfe Road next to the place where the HP 3000 was born. 

Before I unload my Livestrong Foundation backpack (no checked luggage this time)  I'm going to Orly Larson's house in Cupertino. The man who taught developers and software engineers about IMAGE, and then fronted his own small roadshow to spark Hewlett-Packard's customers with songs and talks, is partying with some of us. He's putting out a spread and some smiles like anybody in their 70s would, doing it because he remembers when we were all young.

You probably remember too. It was an era from the Seventies when a lot of you started working with a computer designed to let people work together. It's not gone, although the people who know it well aren't working together with it much by now. But we remember, our community does, and this weekend I believe many of you want to be remembered.

We're raising a glass at a pub across from the old Hewlett-Packard campus. We're raising it to the people who wanted to be here but couldn't make it. Raising it for those who are only an afternoon's drive away, people who live in Silicon Valley but are absent. It'll be a Saturday, though, and the weekends can be full of family, or that perfect summer afternoon for golf or skiing, or just that World Cup thingy.

There will be a lot of looking back tomorrow and lot of looking away, too. The looking back is easiest. We'll amble back down a path of stories and career stops, seeing people for the first time in years. We'll tell stories about giveaways on show floors and inflated alligators and the thick rows of blue binders of 3000 manuals. We'll look away at what's become of the heartbeat of innovation by now, because remembering what faded away reminds us we're aging and change is everywhere.

One thing hasn't changed, though. We still like to meet in person, even after a long separation. That was the raw glory of the Interex conferences, shaking hands for the first time in a year, each year. The 3000 customer base has always been a social one. I saw the distinction once I started editing other magazines early in the Nineties. Meeting in person, enjoying groups of users, didn't feel as commonplace. Unless you're talking about Digital VAX users, or the IBM AS/400 folks. For a generation of computer people, being together makes it all more real.

We're men and women of a certain age. It's something we can see with our own eyes when we meet this weekend. The winkles are laugh lines. We're all smiling for you, because like us, you've survived the changes and enjoy looking forward to life—whether it's got an MPE computer in it or not. If you're not here, just know that you're in our hearts. I'll lift a glass in your honor once I get home.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:36 AM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 13, 2018

New DL325 serves fresh emulation muscle

DL385-Whiteboard
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise has reintroduced its ProLiant workhorse, talking up the server in connection with next week's HP Discover conference in Las Vegas. The DL325, when it ships in July, will be a newer and more powerful model of the DL380 server — one suitable for powering a virtualized HP 3000 driven by the Stromasys Charon HPA system. The DL325 is a single socket system, a design that's disrupting the server marketplace.

HP has posted one of its whiteboard walk-throughs on YouTube to cover some of the DL325 advantages. There's also a performance comparison for the system, ranked against a Lenovo alternative as well as an energy efficiency measure against a server from Dell. 3000s never got such industry benchmarks for performance.

But HP 3000s once got this kind of spec treatment from Hewlett-Packard. The 3000 division's product manager Dave Snow gave such product talks, holding a microphone with a long cord that he would coil and uncoil as he spoke. With his pleasant Texas drawl, Snow sounded like he was corralling the future of the hardware. He spoke in that era when "feeds and speeds" sometimes could lure an audience "into the weeds." Breakdowns like the one below once lauded the new PCI-based 3000 hardware.

DL385-Chassis-Overview
The ProLiant line has long had the capability to put Linux into the datacenter. Linux is the cradle that holds the Charon software to put MPE/iX into hardware like the 325. The DL325 (click above for a larger view) is a single-processor model in the company's Gen10 line, adding horsepower for an application that's always hungry for more CPU: virtualization. The DL325 gets its zip from the EPYC chip, AMD's processor built to the x86 standards. EPYC designs mean the chip only needs to run at 2.3 GHz, because the system's got 32 cores per processor.

"This server should deliver great price performance for virtualized infrastructure while driving down costs," wrote analyst Matt Kimball in Forbes.

Even way back in 2014, the DL380 ProLiant server was driving virtualized 3000 systems, fired by a 3.44 GHz chip. That was plenty fast enough to handle the combo of Linux, VMWare and the Stromasys Charon 3000 emulator. The DL385 was 17 inches x 29 by 3.5, just 2U in size. HPE's shrunk the power down to a 1U chassis for the DL325.

During the era when the DL380 was first being matched to virtualization work, Stromasys tech experts said that CPUs of more than 3 GHz were the best fit for VMWare and Charon. Putting MPE/iX onto such a compact AMD EPYC-based machine is a long way from the earliest year of the OS. In 1974, MPE would only fit on a 12,000 BTU server, the HP3000 System CX

The newest Generation 10 box retails for one-tenth of the cost of that CX server. The plodding CX was all that ASK Computer Systems had to work with 44 years ago when it built MANMAN. HP needed to assist ASK just to bring MPE into reliable service on the CX. "It didn’t work worth shit, it’s true," said Marty Browne of ASK at a software symposium in 2008. "But we got free HP computer time."

In the current IT architecture, the feeds and speeds of individual systems are usually in the weeds. A vendor like Stromasys though, working as it does to implement Charon in every customer site, cares about the speeds.

Employing hardware that's newer, like the DL325, brings support to block cutting-edge attacks on the datacenter. HP said this server is not exposed to this year's Masterkey CPU vulnerability, because it uses the HPE Silicon Root of Trust functionality. Root of Trust, HPE says, is "a unique link between the HPE Integrated Light Out (iLO) silicon and the iLO firmware to ensure servers do not execute compromised firmware code. The Root of Trust is connected to the AMD Secure Processor in AMD's EPYC System on a Chip so that the AMD Secure Processor can validate the HPE firmware before the server is allowed to boot."

With exploits like Masterkey on the march this year, HPE has released a patch to update the system ROM with a patch for Linux anyway to mitigate the vulnerability. Current hardware gets that kind of attention from a vendor.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:13 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 11, 2018

Making a 3000 Reunion a Personal Affair

With the Duke of Edinburgh pub set aside for June 23d's 3000 reunion, this year's event has now become even more personal. Orly Larson, the affable creator of Hewlett-Packard songs about the 3000, is holding a garden party at his home near the old HP campus on Friday the 22d.

HP 50th Anniversary Song

Lyrics to Orly's 50th Anniversary HP song

Reunion kingpin Dave Wiseman sent out a notice to the community, asking "can you join us the previous day, Friday, June 22nd for a visit to Valhalla for a social get together late afternoon/evening?"

For those of you who don’t know, Valhalla in Norse mythology is a majestic, enormous hall where Viking heroes slain in battle are received (also known as Viking Heaven). Located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin, and is used for partying. Or, to put it another way, Orly Larson’s back yard.

Complete with swimming pool, hot tub, dart boards, table tennis, bean bag toss and a sound stage (not really). This yard is the same place Orly had a pre-San Francisco INTEREX ’89 Conference dinner party for some of the 75-plus HP 3000 users who helped him sing HP and Interex songs together at local, regional and international conferences.

The plan is to chip in for some beers and pizza and chill out.

Orly at Reunion
Orly Larson

Pizza and beers, chilling out in an colleague's backyard and catching up on what's happened to everyone since we last worked together. It's a very personal aspect to a reunion that may seem like a memorial to some. To register an RSVP and a pizza preference, contact Wiseman at [email protected].

To RSVP for the afternoon at the Duke, head over to the webpage of the event's Jot signup form. You might have chip in for the pizza, but the drinks at the Duke are on CAMUS, the MANMAN user group, for at least the first few rounds.

By the late 1989, when the songs were being crooned by customers at user group meetings, the greatest champion of that edgy IMAGE database was Larson, who wrote and led the music a cappella. An SQL interface had been added to IMAGE. Paul Edwards reports that "that we, employees and customers who called ourselves The Sequals, used the HP song book all over the world to sing with Orly." Singing about the HP 3000 became a tradition. HP marketeer George Stachnik extended the singing with a guitar and eventually a band at user group events. Larson led his choruses a capella—complete with ensemble kicks at the close of the song New Wave.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:09 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 08, 2018

Fine-Tune: Making the 3000's ports report

I have a port in an HP 3000 and I want to know the application that is currently using that port. Is there any command that can show me the applications accessing a particular port?

Kevin Miller replied:

:sockinfo.net.sys

Enter ‘c’ for ‘call sockets.’ Listeners are shown in port order.

The port for telnet on our 3000 is set to a different value then 23, but it is set to 23 on our HP Unix server. When I try to telnet from the 3000 to HP-UX I get the following message: Trying... telnet: Unable to connect to remote host. If I switch the port for telnet to 23 on the 3000, it works great.

My question is: Can I run telnet on two different ports on either box so that I can maintain my non-standard port on the 3000, but still allow telnet to run between the two boxes? If not, is there another way to make this work?

Jeff Kell replied:

Just ‘telnet your.3000.name nnn’ where ‘nnn’ is your ‘nonstandard’ port.

How do I point network printer configurations to specific ports on (external) multi-port JetDirect (or equivalent) boxes?

Gilles Schipper replied:

You need to add the tcp_port_number option, in NPCONFIG, as follows:

(network_address = 128.250.232.40 tcp_port_number = 9100) # for port 1
(network_address = 128.250.232.40 tcp_port_number = 9101) # for port 2
(network_address = 128.250.232.40 tcp_port_number = 9102) # for port 3

(Please note that everything on each line after and including the “#” represents a comment.)

My HP 3000 is set up for full access to the Internet. The telnet connection works fine, but I also see that VT-MGR also works. I know that inetdsec is used for restricting access for ip, http, ftp and so on. Is there something in NMMGR to restrict VT-MGR access, or do you use inetdsec for that also?

Chris Bartram replied:

Just an option logon UDC that checks the CIVars set for the IP address and hostname of the originator.

We’ve got a DLT4000 tape drive I’d like to connect to a Series 957 and use them for database, incremental, and full backups. Can I simply hook a DLT4000 drive to the SE-SCSI port on the MFIO card, set its SCSI address, and add the device as an HPC1521B?

Gilles Schipper replied:

It should be no problem at all. The DLT4000 SE SCSI device can also be utilized as a boot device on the 957. You should use the device ID of DLT4000 and not HPC1521B. You should consider using the device ID of HPC1521B as a workaround to any restore problem. It would be best to use device ID DLT4000 and test to ensure good restore performance, and only resort to device ID HPC1521B if the restore speed is NOT satisfactory.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:52 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 06, 2018

Wayback: HP's 3000 Conference Sign-off

HP's June months have been populated by nationwide conferences for more than a decade. Ten years ago in June marked the last known appearance of Hewlett-Packard's 3000 experts at the HP Technology Forum show in Las Vegas. It was an era marked by the soaring expectations from CEO Mark Hurd and the soon-to-plummet economy crashing around the American lending and banking markets. HP was emptying its tech wallet at a show that would soon be called HP Discover instead of a Technology Forum.

HP had a meeting for 3000 customers at that 2008 show, the final expression of support for the owners who launched HP's enterprise business computing prowess. Jennie Hou was in the final year of managing the 3000 group at HP. The vendor had a history of awarding one community member — people like Alfredo Rego, or Stan Sieler — with a Contributor of the Year Award. The 2008 award was renamed a Certificate of Appreciation and given to the full 3000 community. Being thanked, as HP retired the customers, was a sign of HP's final sign-off.

Appreciation certificate
The 2008 edition was the last public event where HP presented news about the platform. It was the last year when the server owners could employ the services of HP's labs. HP's Alvina Nishimoto, who'd been leading the information parade for third party tools and migration success stories, gave an outstanding contributor award of sorts at an e3000 roadmap meeting. The award shown in the slide above had a commemorative tone about it, like a fond farewell to the days when something new was part of the HP message to 3000 attendees.

In that June, the new Right to Use licenses were proving more popular than HP first imagined. The licensing product placed on the price list for 2007 let customers upgrade their license level on used systems. Of course, it only applied to the 3000s designed before 2001. It says something when servers almost a decade old could be a popular upgrade item in datacenter.

Just two HP speakers addressed the 3000 at the conference — Nishimoto and Jim Hawkins, the latter of whom spoke for five minutes at the end of the OpenMPE update. The Tech Forum had become a great place to learn about technology that HP would never put into a 3000.

I asked Hou about HP's participation in the conference and what I should expect in the years to come. The vendor would only discuss migration by 2008, after completing the final PowerPatch and delivering some whitepapers to the community.

HP was saying so long, and thanks for the fish.

The e3000 community has always been and will continue to be an interesting place.  It truly is one of a kind. This year, at Alvina's talk, HP will thank every e3000 partner and customer. HP recognizes that the e3000 community wouldn't be what it is without so many people's ongoing involvement and contributions. This also includes all your dedication in bringing the e3000 news to the user community over the past decades.

Hou was gracious in acknowledging the role we'd played up to that point a decade ago. Neither one of us knew the Newswire would still be tracking the fate and future of MPE/iX, ten years later.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:49 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 04, 2018

Being first is about serving customer needs

During the 1990s the 3000 managers at HP started an enterprise revolution. Instead of creating computing systems built upon marketing research and technical breakthroughs, the division devoted to MPE/iX started a movement it called Customer First. It meant that to develop something for a 3000 owner, management had to be listening to the customer first, instead deferring to the business development mavens at the vendor.

HP got in close enough touch with its customers that it sent employees from the factory, as it called its system development labs, out to customer sites to interview the customers. HP's Unix division took note and started to follow suit.

Customer First doesn't sound that revolutionary today, but it put the 3000 leadership in the spotlight at HP's enterprise operations. In the 1990s HP was more of a computing company than anything else. Printers were important but computing was still earning the highest profits and paying for everything else. HP understood that while proprietary computer environments differ, they've got one thing in common: the customers who know what they need better than the vendors themselves.

Stromasys is picking up the concept with every quarter it sells products to support legacy environments like MPE/iX and VMS. Sustaining legacy investments makes sense when the system delivers what's needed. Customers needs come first.

Sue_Skonetski"I do think that customers know what they want and need," said Stromasys' Sue Skonetski, "and no one else knows their mind as well. One of the things I am looking forward to at Stromasys is working with customers from so many different areas. Hopefully I will be able to help when questions come up, as well as post information as I see it."

Harry-sterling-realtorHarry Sterling, who was the general manager at the 3000 group in those revolutionary time, passed praise on to Skonetski. "Taking care of customers based on their needs, and not the sole ideals of engineers, is key—and from your remarks, I know you believe that." Key concepts can get a revival just as surely as a good Broadway play gets another production after enough time has passed.

Customer First got its first mission in 1991. After 3000 customers expressed their displeasure at HP's waning emphasis on IMAGE, CSY had to respond with improvements. Jim Sartain of the R&D lab was directly responsible for HP’s offering of an SQL interface for IMAGE, the first advance to signal the division's commitment to a Customer First strategy. Sartain worked with a revived IMAGE special-interest group to revitalize the database.

Gathering voices from differing platform bases was once important to HP. The vendor embraced the idea so much it published a Customer First Times, a PDF document that carried information about HP 3000s, along with HP 9000, OpenVMS and Itanium-based market products. It was the first assembly of the legacy ecosystem of HP.

In 2004 HP closed up Customer First Times. That was the first full year HP didn't sell a new HP 3000. The OpenVMS community was by then fully assimilated into HP's product plans, receiving the technology shift it needed to get the OS onto the Itanium computers.

Customer First was a mantra that the CSY division promoted to the rest of HP's server businesses. The legacy systems of VMS, MPE/iX, and even Sun are still in production mode at companies that know what they need. Assembling them to hear their voices is what Customer First is all about—as well as posting information about what they all need.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:56 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 30, 2018

HP is doing better without some customers

HP Q2 Revenues 2018
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise released an earnings report last week. The release covered the first full quarter since Antonio Neri took over as CEO, assuming command from retiring Meg Whitman. The numbers looked good to investors. The customers HPE's achieved are helping to lift the ship, even while some of you left the HP fold long ago.

It's easy to ignore HP now, if you're homesteading on 3000 iron either virtual or physical. The vendor wasn't able to deliver patches to support companies like Allegro at the start of this year, so the last remaining deliverable for MPE/iX has dropped off the product offerings. The patches were free, unlike enterprise patches for HP's Unix, NonStop, and VMS systems. Failing to deliver HP 3000 products long ago ceased to impact HP's quarterly revenues and earnings.

We care, however, about how Hewlett-Packard Enterprise fares — for the sake of the readers who still use HP's other enterprise gear. The IT managers who run multi-platform shops care about things like HP Next, or at least HPE hopes so. HP Next is "our company-wide initiative to re-architect HPE to deliver on our strategy and drive a new wave of shareholder value," Neri said when the numbers appeared in the evening of May 22. "It is all about simplification, execution and innovation."

Many things have changed about enterprise computing since HP last sold a 3000 in 2003. One big change is the dissapearance of hardware and operating system bedrock. In the 3000's heyday, things were defined by OS and iron. It's all too virtual to see those markers now. HP seems to be doing better without some of you because you didn't want to buy what's sold as enterprise computing. 

Better? Revenue of $7.5 billion in Q2, up 10 percent from the same quarter of 2017. Earnings were better, 34 cents a share in a market "beat," above the outlook range of 29-33 cents a share. The company calls its computing business Hybrid IT now, and the business was up 6 percent over the same quarter of 2017.

Not so many years ago, when HP wasn't doing this well, you could drill into its presentations for the quarters and find server sales. Not anymore. Now the news is about Cape Networks and buying Cape "to expand AI-powered networking capabilities with a sensor-based network assurance solution that improves network performance, reduces disruptions and significantly simplifies IT management for our customers." That out of a CEO's statement about new business, so it's supposed to be opaque.

Hearing things like "composable infrastructure offerings" might make a 300 homesteader roll their eyes, not to mention the experts who still support a 3000. My spell checker thinks composable isn't even a word, let alone a product attribute.

But like we said earlier, there's a reason to care about HPE's fate. The company's success props up the idea that a vendor that builds physical products and software continues to matter in 2018. Years ago, the concept of a datacenter that was fully virtual was like the paperless office. It seemed like science fiction, but companies still hungered for it.

HP's still in the futures business, trying to catch up with cloud offerings from Cloud Technology Partners. Neri said that HP did well with an acquisition of RedPixie. "RedPixie is a UK-based cloud consulting company, with deep Microsoft Azure expertise, which perfectly complements CTP’s strong AWS relationship." That's a relationship designed to move applications off classic servers like HP-UX or VMS and into Amazon Web Services cloud computing. Those particular moves are a lot like the effect a 3000 company gets from placing an MPE/iX virtual machine into a cloud provider.

Amazon's potential to host HP-UX apps provides some future for that platform that never did receive a port to Intel architectures. There are levels of abstraction there to probe for a homesteader who's still got an MPE/iX application to carry away from HP's machines. That might be far away from your position today. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is counting on your interest in the years to come, though. You might be able to help them do better once you leave the OS bedrock behind. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:13 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 25, 2018

Fine-Tune: Locking databases into lookups

Editor's Note: Monday is a holiday to commemorate Memorial Day, so we're celebrating here with time away from the keyboard. We'll be back with a new report May 30.

Lock files databaseWe’re migrating from our 3000 legacy applications to an ERP system hosted on another environment. Management has decreed the HP 3000 apps must still be available for lookups, but nobody should be able to enter new data or modify existing data. Should I do the simplest thing and change all of the databases so that the write class list is empty?

Doug Werth replies:

One way to do this is to write a program in the language of your choice that does a DBOPEN followed by a DBLOCK of each database (this will require MR capability). Then the program goes into an infinite loop calling the PAUSE intrinsic. Any program that tries to update the database will fail to achieve a lock, rendering the databases read-only. Programs that call conditional locks will come back immediately with a failed lock. Unconditional locks will hang.

This has been a very successful solution I have used on systems where a duplicate copy of the databases is kept for reporting and/or shadowing using IMAGE log files.

Steve Dirickson agrees with the poster of the question:

Since very few developers write their apps to check the subsystem write flag that you can set with DBUTIL, changing the classes is your best bet. Make sure you do so by changing the current M/W classes to R/R so the existing passwords will still work for DBOPEN, and only actual put/update/delete operations will fail.

The Big Picture: If protection is required for the database, that protection should reside in the database if at all possible. As mentioned, this is easy with IMAGE.

I am putting a new disk drive into my 3000 configuration, one that doesn't have an HP label on it. It's 500GB and a great value. What patches should I be sure to have installed on MPE/iX 7.5?

MPEMXT1
Large Disk: FSCHECK SYNCACCOUNTING fix for HFS files

MPEMXT3
Large Disk: limit maximum SCSI disk size to a half-terabyte

MPEMXT4
Large Disk: SSM changes for disk space allocation and accounting

MPEMXT7
Large Disk: Discfree changes to correct sector counts

MPEMXU3
Large Disk: REPORT "FORMAT=LONG" enhancement. MPEMXU3 includes patch MPEMXT2 which is another Large Disk/Files patch. MPEMXT2 provides changes to the ALTACCT, NEWACCT, ALTGROUP, NEWGROUP commands.

MPEMXU6
Large Disk: CATALOG.PUB.SYS changes for CIERR messages

MPEMXU7
Large Disk: CICAT and CICATERR.PUB.SYS changes

The critical one is MPEMXT3, which protects from other problems.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:09 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 16, 2018

Wayback Wed: Charon's coming out, at a pub

Tied House 2013Springtime in the Bay Area is a good time to gather in support of MPE/iX. Five years ago this week Stromasys hosted a social mixer at the Tied House pub, a Mountain View venue just 10 minutes away from next month's 3000 reunion at The Duke of Edinburgh pub. There's something about good beer in cold glasses that seems to go along with the veterans who still have 3000 know-how.

In that week of 2013, a meeting room also bubbled at the Computer History Museum, a place where Stromasys spooled out more than six hours of technical briefing as well as the product strategy and futures for Charon HPA. The market needed an emulator to carry on from the end-game of HP's MPE/iX hardware, a need that began as early as 2003. HP stopped building new servers that year. The clock started running on HP's hardware aging. By ten years later the wraps were completely off Charon HPA.

By the time the emulator sparked those pours at Tied House, an HP licensing mechanism was in place for MPE/iX to operate under the Charon emulator. Then, as today, you needed to know how to ask HP for the required license.

Charon's HPA product manager uncorked the phrase that permits a customer to switch their MPE/iX from HP iron to Intel hardware,"an intra-company license transfer." If you don't ask for it by name, the standard HP transfer forms won't pass muster. Most Software License Transfers happen between two companies. HP might've wondered, who sell themselves their own hardware?

HP's SLT mechanism began to license emulated 3000s in 2012. The development of an emulator, slowed by HP's balky cooperation, cut off an emulator-only MPE/iX license at the end of 2010. The License needed an emulator for sale before a customer could buy a new MPE/iX license.

In that May of five years ago, the process to earn an HP 3000-to-Charon license was not well known yet—which was one of the reasons Stromasys held its training and social event.

Perhaps HP's lawyers insisted on the "existing emulator" clause in that stillborn license. The license was supposed to cost $500, but a customer could never pay that money without a working emulator for a 3000 for sale on the market. Then HP stopped issuing MPE/iX licenses, because its Right To Use program ran out at the end of 2008. With no RTU, and no emulator license, 2009 was the moment when the 3000s in the world were limited to whatever HP iron (and attached licenses) were on hand.

The never-sold Emulator License for MPE/iX was not the first time the vendor allowed an emulator maker to license new servers. By the time OpenMPE wore HP down and spearheaded that Emulator License, the Stromasys product line was running hundreds of instances of VAX and PDP emulated systems, all using VMS. Digital, even after it became part of HP, didn't care if you were emulating its "end-of-lifed" PDP and VAX systems. What Digital-HP cared about was ongoing support revenue to keep older systems running. In some places, they were still the best solution.

HP's ending for the 3000 was nothing as generous as the ending for VAX system licenses. HP intended to cut off all 3000 business by 2006. Er, 2008. Well, certainly by 2010, even though some 3000 owners still would call on HP for MPE and hardware support during 2011. Customers are the ones who determine the life of a computer environment, and software never dies.

At that Stromasys training event in the History Museum, the general manager Bill Driest said the natural end state for every computer is virtualization -- what a 3000 customer would call emulation.

"We're here to help preserve the software investments that you've all made," he said. "We've always believed that the value of the system is in the uniqueness of the application. For 14 years we've had this tagline that keeps coming back: preserving the investments we've all made across these hardware generations."

Even today, you contact HP's Software License Transfer department. You tell them you want to do an intra-company transfer. And instead of the $500 that HP said a new MPE/iX emulator license would cost, it's $400 -- the same fee HP collects on any MPE/iX system transfer. You just need to have a 3000 license to begin with.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:13 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 14, 2018

Pub salvation in UK not needed at The Duke

Yesterday CBS News aired a Sunday Morning story about the fate of pubs in the UK. Pubs grew up in the country from the 17th Century. In recent years, though, their numbers are in decline. You can't smoke in a pub anymore in the UK, and the real estate has gotten pricey for watering holes. The downward trend means about one pub in seven has closed over the last decade. While that still leaves 50,000 UK pubs operating, it's become a little tougher to find a pint and fish and chips in Britain.

The Duke signThat trend might inspire a visit to the site of this year's 3000 reunion, the Duke of Edinburgh pub in Cupertino. The restaurant and drinkery opened for business in 1983, when MPE had moved from version IV to V, RISC computing was still three years away from HP's product lineup, and Apple hadn't sold its first Macintosh. The link between those two companies passes through the Duke. When the pub was once busy with HP 3000 experts, some were destined to make their way from HP to Apple. Mae Grigsby, who's arranged the reunion's tour of the Apple Park Visitor Center, shared a connection between the vendors' past and future.

Grigsby, part of the Apple Executive Briefing Program, said that some bits of HP's past are still on the site that's right next to the Duke.

Apple Park has a great history starting with your group. Some of the material of the HP buildings is actually still at the Park. Those were times. I started at Apple in June, 1986. One of my colleagues here at the briefing program started, right out of college, to work at HP in 1983 — at which time HP was THE company in Silicon Valley. 18 years later she joined Apple. Memories abound.

Other memories from HP are likely to be in the air at the Duke, which is in no danger of closing. Two of the RSVPs which reunion organizers have in hand are from high-profile 3000 alumni. Harry Sterling, former general manager of the 3000 division, has said he plans to attend. Orly Larson, the technical and community celebrity whose 3000 years include a sheaf of 3000-themed songs he wrote, has also joined the guest book. By my reckoning off of local maps, The Duke is the closest watering hole to Apple's spaceship HQ, just as it was the closest stop for those 1983-era alumni like Orly and Harry who worked at the 3000's HQ.

If you're inclined to join the group on that Saturday, you can register your RSVP (to help them plan) in a simple JotForm signup, at no charge or obligation.

As the Duke is a pub, perhaps a song will fill the air that afternoon of June 23, said organizer Dave Wiseman.

"I’ve asked if he’ll write a song," Wiseman said when he had Orly's reply in hand. Larson's baritone was a part of many 3000 meetings in those days when HP nurtured and sold MPE V and then XL and then iX.

As the event stands today, the cost of attending is limited to your own tab at the bar -- and even that will be covered for a while. CAMUS, the Computer Aided Manufacturing Users Society, is sponsoring a round or three at the Duke. Attendees can tour the Computer History Museum, opening at 10 that Saturday, with admission at their own expense.

The tour of Apple's vantage point, arranged by Wiseman, is free and starts at 4:30. The Duke is so close to the Visitor Center that a 20-minute walk from the Duke's side of the former HP campus to the other side will get you there. Apple says the Visitor Center is as close as anybody gets to the spaceship campus, unless you're working with Apple.

The reunion alumni of the 3000, though, has got an earnest invitation for their own tour. Grigsby said, "Our visitor center team, upon hearing of your desire to see the place on whose ground you and your colleagues labored to build the HP 3000 minicomputer, would be delighted to host a guided visit for such a special group of people."

The tour takes about 30 minutes, and another 30 minutes for people to browse on their own, visit the observation deck, or view a large model of the spaceship campus more closely, or buy Apple paraphernalia that you can only buy at this store and nowhere else. HP once sold such paraphernalia, as recently as the HP Technology Forum of 2006.

Anticipating that many people will be interested in getting a closer look at this incredible campus, Apple has built the Apple Park Visitor Center. Via an iPad with AR (augmented reality) you can view how the offices and conference rooms are organized. The APVC also features a retail store, a cafe, and an observation desk on the second floor from where you can get a glimpse of the Apple Park ring.

The Apple Park building is only accessible to Apple badged employees. It is a truly collaborative space where employees come and go and meet anywhere unhindered, though some areas are more secured (special access) than others. Because of high security and confidentiality issues in such a working environment visiting guests are not permitted unless they have been invited for special business purposes.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:12 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 09, 2018

SSD devices continue to serve 3000s

SSD DriveThe LinkedIn Group for the HP 3000 Community carried news of solid state storage this week. Tracy Johnson reported that his XP12000 disk array has been replaced by a two-unit SSD array.

Four years ago, Johnson said he was moving in that XP12000 to replace an HP VA7100 disk array. There was a time when the VAs (Virtual Arrays) were the new technology adapting to the world of MPE/iX.

SSDs were once only a dream and a wish for 3000 users. In the late 1980s a RAM-based disc was on offer from Imperial Computing, a whopping 50 MB whose compatibility was never tested in the field by a 3000 customer. By the start of the 3000's Transition Era (the mid-2000s) developers and administrators were experimenting with solid state devices being offered for other platforms.

In 2015, Beechglen launched a service that employs SSD devices for storage. Johnson said this is the solution he's now employed to replace that XP12000. "It's slicker than snot on a doorknob," he said when the used XP model started to serve his 3000 back in 2014. He hasn't come up with slickness comparison for today's SSD solution yet.

The XP12000 is faster than the VA array, but Chad Lester at ThomasTech said the more modern XPs might be a better investment. Upgrading storage is one of the best ways to improve performance and lock down 3000 reliability. "The XP12000 is light years from the VA AutoRaid family," he says. "I would have recommended an XP24000 or 20000, though, due to some very pricy XP12000 parts that are globally out of stock."

The Beechglen offering is available as an ongoing data service ($325 a month for 6 TB mirrored) or a $4,900 outright purchase with a year of support included. The company leveraged an MPE/iX source code license to build the SAN.

Having the source code to MPE/iX allowed us to provide an interface to our in-house developed FiberChannel targets that run on HP DL360s. This allows up to 6TB of RAID 1 storage in 1U of rack space, and provides advanced functionality, like replication and high availability.

Mike Hornsby of Beechglen says there are IO performance improvements in this solution, starting at twice as fast up to 100X, depending on what's being replaced. The company recommends an upgrade to an A-Class or N-Class to take advantage of native Fiber Channel. The SCSI-to-Fiber devices tend to develop amnesia, he explained, and the resultant reconfiguring for MPE is a point of downtime. "Those were never built for MPE anyway," he said of SCSI-to-Fiber devices.

People without vision see putting SSDs in 3000s like giving a McLaren racing engine in an SUV. A more useful solution is out there, and working: using SSDs to support a virtualized 3000 running on an Intel-based PC. "You could house your 3000 in a Stromasys emulator running on a Linux box with VMware," said Gilles Schipper, "employing as many SATA SSD disks as you want on your host."

Allegro's Stan Sieler was testing SSDs of 2009 with the 3000, wired directly to the 3000's bus. "I'm thinking about SSD and SATA/SCSI adapters to speed up the 'obsolete- but still world's-best business computer, the HP 3000," Sieler said nine years ago. Some dreams just take awhile to become true.

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

May 07, 2018

June's 3000 Reunion destination: Building D

DukeSnugThis week I made my reservations for a date that's become rare in our community. On June 23, the 3000's experts, vendors, and consultants are gathering for another 3000 Reunion. That's the name that Apple is using for the group, since the gathering will include a visit to the frontier of Apple's world HQ. The event also includes a morning's visit to the Computer History Museum, the site of the 2011 Reunion where more than 150 members gathered.
Apple Park Rooftop

The highest point of the day won't be the elevated observation deck at the Apple Park Visitor Center, overlooking the company's spaceship campus that replaced HP's legendary 3000 hub. The pinnacle seems to be the afternoon hours enjoyed in a cozy snug at the The Duke of Edinburgh pub. Lunch, beverages, and war stories will be on the bill of fare starting at 1. People who know and remember the 3000 will gather in a pub popular enough with the MPE crowd that it's still known as Building D by some community members.

The Duke is on Wolfe Road, just to the west of where the 3000 grew up. Space has been reserved for a group that's making its way beyond 20 attendees. If you join us, I will be delighted to see you and hear your stories there, as well as any update on your interests and work of today.

The close-up nature of the venue doesn't mean it's without an agenda. As of today there's informal talks about migration, Stromasys emulation, the HP Enterprise of today and homesteading in our current era. The group is eager to include a member who's running MPE/iX today, either in virtual mode using the Charon HPA software or native on HP's venerable and as-yet durable HP hardware.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 6.43.07 PMThe Duke was the site of a 2016 meeting of 3000 alums. In-person meetings for the 3000 community happen in bars and pubs by now. This event has been sparked by Dave Wiseman, who organized what he calls a SIG-BAR meeting in London in 2014. The vendor and semi-retired software maven has a history that includes a software project called Millware for 3000s as well as tales about a Series III he installed in 1978. Wiseman calls these events SIG-BAR because hotel bars during the Interex conference era always included informal wisdom, swapped after hours over a glass or bottle of something refreshing.

There's something about English pubs that can attract the 3000 crowd. Some of us who are flying in for the event are staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Cupertino. (At the moment, Saturday evening rooms are under $150, which is a value at Bay Area rates.) The Inn is close enough to the Duke that no matter how much happiness is served, it's a one-block walk back from pub. There will be an evening session at the Duke after the Apple tour, too.

The Duke sits within walking distance of a now-lost mecca of the 3000 world, the HP Cupertino campus. Building 48 has been replaced by the concrete, glass and steel of the new Apple world headquarters building. Apple's organized a tour of the Visitor Center for this year's 3000 attendees. The Centre's rooftop is as close as you'll get to the HQ spaceship without a contract with Apple, or a job at the world's Number 1 market cap company.

In 1976, HP fed Apple with engineering talent, a fellow named Steve Wozniak. Legend has it that Woz was working on HP's business computer designs at the time when he left to become VP of Apple R&D. In a way, that Apple HQ has always had innovation on its acres, even before there was a company first called Apple Computer.

The land of what's now called just Apple covers the path where a walk through an HP parking lot and across a cozy margin of poplars brought you to the Duke. "It's right across the street from where MPE lived," Stan Sieler of Allegro said at the 2016 meeting. On June 23, MPE's heart will be among the taps and the chips at The Duke.

In London in 2014, Robelle's Bob Green said this about the in-person meeting at that London pub:

We exchanged notes on the current state of the machine—especially the new emulator—- and discovered what each of us was doing. An amazing number of people are still doing the same thing: helping customers with their IT concerns. But in reality, most of the time was spent swapping war stories from the past, which was great fun.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:41 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 04, 2018

How Details and Masters Get the Job Done

Masters and DetailsA Hidden Value question was posed about how manual and automatic masters work in TurboIMAGE. Roy Brown gave a fine tutorial on how these features do their jobs for MPE and the 3000 -- as well as how a detail dataset might have zero key fields.

Manual masters can contain data which you define, like Detail sets can, along with a single Key field. Automatic masters contain only the Key field. In both cases, there can be only one record for a given key value in a Master dataset.

A Detail dataset contains data fields plus zero, one, or many key fields. There can be as many records as you like for a given key value, and these form a chain accessible from the Master record key value. This chain may be sorted, or it may just be in chronological order of adding the records.

Brown explained that "where there are keys, referential integrity demands that there are no Detail record entries with a key field that is not found in either a Manual or Automatic master, both Key name and Key value. So a Detail data set with Key fields that are not present in a Master record would be a sign of a seriously corrupted database."

However, I doubt this is the case, and when you do a QUERY FORM command, you will see which fields in Detail datasets are Keys, which fields are used to establish Sort orders, and which fields are data pure and simple.

From the Key name, you can determine which Master set links the keys.

As I said above, it is possible to have a Detail dataset with no keys, but these usually contain only a very few records, since direct access to them without keys is cumbersome, and you would otherwise have to trawl right through one to find any given entry.

So a Detail dataset with thousands of unconnected entries would be very unlikely.

The FORM output will allow you to check how the Detail dataset that you think might have unconnected entries is actually linked in.

Brown's explanation flowed from the following question and answer in that Hidden Value article.

I want to generate a listing of data sets, data item names, and their relationships from my TurboIMAGE database (master, One detail data set has thousands of entries which do not appear to be connected to any master. I cannot remember the difference between manual and automatic masters.

Francois Desrochers replied to use Query's FORM command.

RUN QUERY.PUB.SYS
B=dbname
PASSWORD = >> password
MODE = >> 5
FORM

Manual masters: programs have to explicitly add entries before you can add related entries in detail sets. Programs have to explicitly delete entries when there are no related detail entries left. In other words, you have to do master dataset maintenance.

Automatic masters: entries are automatically created when a related detail set entry is created. Entries in the master are automatically removed when the last related detail entry is deleted. IMAGE takes care of the maintenance.

Consultant Ron Horner added, "The difference between a manual master and auto master is the following:

1. You have to add records to the manual master that contain the key data for any detail datasets that are linked to the master.

2. When working with automatic masters, you don't have to write data to them at all. IMAGE takes care of populating the master.

Krikor Gullekian also noted that "With QUERY you can check the databases as long as you know the password." [Ed. note: This password advice is true, except when you're the database owner. No password is required then, only a semicolon.]

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:40 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 02, 2018

May meant an IMAGE defense against Codd

During a May of 33 years ago, the award-winning database at the 3000's heart got a hearty defense. HP had customers in 1985 who wanted relational indexes for their 3000 data — and a speedy Omnidex utility for IMAGE was not going to sell those customers. It didn't have the HP brand on it. 

Alfredo RegoThose middle 1980s were days of debate about database structures. Adager's Alfredo Rego spoke at a 1985 Southern California Regional User Group conference about the advantages in performance that IMAGE enjoyed over SQL architectures. Rego took what were known as the Codd Rules (from computer scientist Ted Codd) and said that IMAGE could outwork them all. The SCRUG meetings were close to the apex of technical wisdom and debate for MPE in that era. The 3000 was still run by MPE V in that year, when the PA-RISC systems were still more than two years away.

In 1985, though, Oracle and its relational design was riding a wave of success in companies that had retooled from vendor-designed databases like IMAGE. At the time of the defense of IMAGE, the database was beginning to feel some age. The performance limits were more likely induced by the age of HP's CISC computer architecture. The Series 70 systems were still underpowered for large customers, the same companies who had become Oracle's relational database targets.

Ted CoddHP overhauled IMAGE enough to rename the product TurboIMAGE later in the year, a shift in design that put some utilities under the gun to use the full feature set of the database. Even into 1986, the debate continued over the merits of IMAGE versus relational databases as defined by Codd. "What are "relational databases" anyway?" asked VEsoft's Eugene Volokh. "Are they more powerful than IMAGE? Less powerful? Faster? Slower? Slogans abound, but facts are hard to come by."

Owing to its first place ranking in a 1976 database comparison in Datamation, IMAGE was a natural point of comparison to relational. "It's very, akin to a relational database from Codd," Rego said of IMAGE in an oral history interview at the Computer History Museum more than three decades later. "It has certain infrastructure to access the entries, or records, or rows if you will."

What Rego promoted in the face of Oracle's 1985 claims remained true for many years to come. Relational databases had more advanced search programming possibilities. But nothing was beating IMAGE for transaction performance during that year. Years later at the History Museum, the message remained clear.

IMAGE has two types of tables -- datasets if you will. One is called a detail table and the other one is called a master table ... Basically you have two ways to access those tables. One is through a doubly linked list, using detail datasets; and one is through hashing, using master datasets. It’s basically value addressing. It calculates, hashes and it says what should be here in position number whatever. And it allows for synonym collisions and distributes them very nicely. That’s called the master dataset structure, and from that master you can link to a chain of detail entries that can be anywhere and can be accessed very quickly. So IMAGE is very, very good for transaction processing.

Burt Grad, who interviewed Rego, understood what an opportunity HP was missing with IMAGE for decades. "If someone had implemented IMAGE on other platforms," he said, "it could have been a competitive product in the computing world."

As it was, the database ruled the 3000 world and its advantages turned away all competitors. Oracle took years to be convinced an MPE port of its database had any prospects, given the dominance of IMAGE on the OS. Later HP took up the mantle of SQL, the language that flowed from the query abilities in relational databases. 

HP released a relational database system of its own during the era, a product called Allbase/SQL. Within a few years HP turned IMAGE into IMAGE/SQL because they put an SQL shell in front of it. Allbase had no better luck than Oracle at catching on among MPE users.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:00 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 30, 2018

3000 fans explore a mystery of history

HP suitcase

A mysterious photo on a 3000 group website has started to spark guesses this week. Brett Forsyth has tacked a photo onto the LinkedIn Group that serves the HP 3000 Community. He's invited guesses on how a suitcase, or some sort of case, can be traced to Hewlett-Packard history.

Brett ForsythMost of the guesses so far concern the size of the case. Forsyth has been replying to the efforts, as if he's a game show host moving the contest along by eliminating wrong answers. If you're interested in playing, the group page provides a comment string. You can also supply guesses in our comments here, but for now we're just as much in the dark about the mystery as anyone but Forsyth. Just a few days ago he released another clue.

This game is one way a website can engage visitors. There's always been a lot of passive readership on the Web -- nearly all of it, in truth, compared to how many people visit a site. We run a comments string to the right of our webpages, but our visitor count is a large multiple of those connections, even here in 2018. Contests are old-school, but so are HP 3000 customers and experts. It's always surprising how a $25 Amazon card still motivates us as a giveaway.

Last week one of the organizers of the upcoming HP 3000 party in the Bay Area suggested a fine finale for the mystery. Dave Wiseman would like to see it solved in person at a June 23 meeting in Cupertino. The gathering is a reunion for some and a retirement party for others. Wiseman's invited Forsyth to bring the case along to the meeting on that Saturday afternoon. The meeting location is being worked out, but it won't be as much of a mystery as the case itself.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:36 AM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 27, 2018

Fine-Tune Friday: DDS diagnosis and tips

Series 928-LXWe have a tape device that is not responding; that is, we put the tape in, but it is not coming online. I also see that a user is logged into the system using the LDEV assigned to the tape drive. SHOWDEV TAPE also does not list the device.

Gilles Schipper replies:

I’ve seen this before for DDS drives, Probably during your most recent reboot, there was a (possibly temporary) malfunction with your tape drive’s power supply such that its existence was not recognized during the boot up process. That would normally result in a “device unavailable” condition and the subsequent disabling of that logical device number.

I have noticed instances where that LDEV number is actually made available to the logon device number pool (for subsequent assignment for logon session device numbers). Long story short, the solution appears to be a power cycle, START NORECOVERY reboot.

After shutting down and powering off the CPU and all devices, run ODE to ensure all devices are recognized before START NORECOVERY. Failure to recognize the device at that point should lead to further investigation of the power supply, SCSI device number setting, or other hardware malfunction. If this situation happens frequently, I would first suspect a problem with the power supply of that device.

Get rid of that internal DDS tape drive

By John Burke

People complain of problems with internal DDS tape drives in systems located in remote areas with little onsite expertise, problems that lead to frequent drive replacements and downtime. It reminds me of the old vaudeville joke where the patient comes to the doctor with a complaint, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” The doctor replies, “Then don’t do that.”

HP 3000 gurus have cautioned for years that people should not use internal tape or disk drives in 9x7, 9x8 or 9x9 production systems. The most likely failure is a tape drive and the next most likely failure is a disk drive. Everything else in the system cabinet could easily run for a decade without needing service or replacing. [Editor's note: John's advice came in 2004, so a decade-plus is definitely bonus time.] When an internal tape or disk drive fails you are looking at serious downtime while the case is opened and the drive is replaced. A common urban legend says that the primary boot device (LDEV 1) and the secondary boot device (usually LDEV 7) must be internal. Not true.

Bite the bullet now. Remove, or at least disconnect (both power and data cables) all internal drives. At the least, replace the internal DDS drive with an external DDS3 or DDS4 drive. In the case of the DDS drive, you will not even need to make any configuration changes if you set the SCSI ID to 0 on the external drive.

Usually, the internal DDS drive is at SCSI ID 0 (for a 9x7, this is 52.0.0; for a 9x8, this is 56/52.0.0; and, for a 9x9, it is something like 10/4/20.0.0). If you do not want to open the case even to disconnect the drives, you can probably set the SCSI ID on the external DDS drive to 1 since this is usually not used. On 9x9s, SCSI ID 2 is used for the CD-ROM. Disk drive addresses will vary with the system, but even if you replace the internal disk drives with external JBOD, you are still ahead of the game. Remember, if you have to change SCSI IDs, you will have to change your SYSGEN configuration and your boot device paths.

Someone also asked whether if you changed the boot path you should immediately create a new SLT. Technically, the answer is “No” since the SLT contains no information about boot paths. However, if you have not created an SLT since the device was added (and why not?), then by all means create a new SLT. It should also be noted that DDS drives are notorious for not being able to read tapes created on other DDS drives.

So, if you do not think you have time to create a new SLT, at least use CHECKSLT to verify you can read your existing SLT on your new drive. If you cannot read your existing SLT, then make time to create a new SLT. Your standard procedures should include regularly creating and SLT and checking it.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:26 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 25, 2018

What emulation might include one day

The provider of the only HP 3000 emulation solution, Stromasys, has announced a new product for its Digital VMS customer base. The Charon VAX platform got a launch of OpenVMS Operating System support on both the original VAX hardware and emulated platforms.

Software Support KeyboardThis new initiative complements the virtualized Charon VAX platform. Stromasys touts it as "a seamless service solution that guarantees the legacy hardware clients an outstanding ongoing service experience. The primary role of this additional support offering is to assist this passionate community of software professionals in keeping their mission-critical applications and systems running smoothly around the clock."

In a nutshell, this is the Stromasys entry into the VMS support arena. VMS has been cut loose from its futures by HP Enterprise, and an independent lab, VMS Software, Inc., is carrying on. A one-stop call for software as well as platform needs (think the HP CE and SE model, computers and software) evokes yet another take on the top-shelf vendor days of the 1990s and earlier years.

Support providers see themselves through many lenses. Some arrive with hardware to spruce up, adding the OS needs as required. Others open the door with specifics on MPE/iX that are hard to find anywhere else. They support what their customers use, and in some cases that's Stromasys Charon HPA for the 3000 site. Now there is another take, where the emulator becomes the linchpin because it represents the hardware. The VAX-VMS deal extends to companies that don't use an emulator yet.

There's no offer today of MPE/iX support from Stromasys like the VAX-VMS product announcement. But John Prot, CEO of Stromasys, says the company approached the VMS offering as a way to support a thriving software community. "We welcome all OpenVMS OS customers to the Stromasys family," he says, "and are excited to provide support to those customers still utilizing VAX physical or emulated hardware to run mission-critical applications."

Such support needs to come from a deep bench of expertise in the OS. "By providing ongoing support to classic systems, organizations can keep moving forward with their company’s key business initiatives," Prot says. The 3000 community has always enjoyed a lively give and take between its support providers, even to this very day. Legacy markets are supposed to lose their ecosystems. What sprouts up instead might look a lot like an old-growth organism.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:13 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 23, 2018

When A Better Future Comes from Bad News

ElvisMy first thought for this article was to ask, "Are you lonesome tonight?" Of course it's the lyric to the famous Elvis song. The tale of that tune suggests that being separated from something you love will help you back to it. It's easier to do if you can hear the crooning in the King's voice.

Newsletter with husbandOne belief about bad news is that it can only lead to a worse future. Cancer and disease would seem to prove this, but the world is full of survivors who have better lives because their adversity made them refocus. What happened in our market more than 16 years ago had immediate as well as eventual impact on many lives. At one point I heard a story from a 3000 pro who was driving two hours on a commute to keep working on MPE/iX. His family saw him on most weekends.

A Better FutureEventually the tech pros in our community find a way to keep contributing to their households and to the world through their work. Some go into restaurant management and others teach. In my household, the HP cutoff of the 3000 futures set us onto deeper and broader paths. The NewsWire continued at a much lower rate of revenue and Abby started a yoga teaching career that's won national notice. This week Women's Health ran a 90-second story to sum it all up and included a note about what drove the better future coming out of bad news. Our revenues didn't fall off as fast as they reported, but the rest of the tale is true.

Querycalc 3K migrationExperts like John Burke, our founding technical editor, might have preferred to keep their lives intact in that world where their skills weren't legacy assets. They didn't have a choice and kept working. He's a professor now. Others moved into new fields. Christian Lheureux "was doing MPE/3000 stuff for almost three decades, 1981-2010. Now I've not touched a 3000 since Jan. 2010. I no longer even work in IT. I've now started my own company in the travel industry, Passion USA." Some continue to work in MPE today, surviving in a legacy market. Some are bound to be lonesome with nobody to share their work with. That's what user groups were once for, and today what the Web can deliver. We got separated from our comforts in 2001, sent onto a road that was sometimes lonely in an epic way. A poster from the first years showed the challenges well.

Interaction over the Web, though, is harder than delivering news, skills, and analysis. Twitter might be a scourge, but for people who know how to use it well, it's as polished as any comments forum. There's a need for a way to connect as legacy computer managers. There was also a need for body-positive yoga when HP culled the 3000 out of its futures. Abby rose to that need and built HeavyWeight Yoga. Perhaps skidding into a lonely space can drive us to a better future. That future would be a life where we're better connected.

Migration is a hard path to be forced onto, and it also provides benefits once the tough climbing has ended. Migration takes us out of legacy skill sets but it does not affect core business logic, so the customer's systems and existing programming staff can quickly retake ownership of the converted code and continue maintaining it with very little retraining.

We began to take on stories and ad sponsors for migration as soon as HP "discontinued" its HP e3000. We also knew it would be many years, maybe several decades, before everyone was done. This year will mark the 17th anniversary of discontinuance. We both developed skills when that revenue drop loomed, much like people like Burke and others put their talents to new uses. I write and edit the NewsWire, and also edit and write books at the Writer's Workshop.

We've continued to provide a place to hear one another, the comments reflected in the sidebar to the right on this website. Not so many as before, of course. We're retraining ourselves to grow more than older, but to grow better, too. If there's a way to share that journey -- both the staying in homesteading, and the hard going of migration — I'm glad to take any extra step that can help.

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

April 20, 2018

What Does HP's Disc Brand Mean?

By John Burke

HP emblemAfter reading Jim Hawkins’ reply to my SCSI is SCSI article, I was reminded about HP’s 4Gb disk drive fiasco. These branded drives had a nasty habit of failing after being powered off after they’d been running for a while. The problems were not limited to the HP 3000 versions, either.

At one point we got so frustrated we just replaced all 4Gb drives with the much more reliable 9Gb drives. I never blamed HP for these failures, or the failures of the 4Gb drives on my HP 3000 — even though all were purchased from HP, and had HP stamped all over them. The failures were the fault of the manufacturer, and no amount of certification testing would likely have shown the problem. But the failures made me wonder: What does HP certification and HP branding mean?

In Hawkins’ reply, he puts great emphasis on the statement that “In the SCSI peripheral market, Industry Standard is really defined as ‘works on a PC.’ Unfortunately, the requirements for single-user PCs are not always in alignment with those of multi-user servers.” Maybe inside HP the desktops look different, but I have never seen a company use SCSI peripherals as a standard for desktop Wintel systems.

At my last employer, we had approximately 1,200 desktops, and not a single one had a SCSI disk drive. SCSI disks are used primarily in the multi-user server market, not the desktop market. While Hawkins says some interesting things in the rest of his article, these two sentences tend to prejudice the reader against everything else he says.

Unfortunately, Hawkins’ best argument came out in private correspondence: “Putting newer disks inside a 9x7, 9x8 or 9x9 may overtax the power supply and/or ‘cook’ your CPU or memory.” However, most of us outside HP have been advising against using internal drives in production machines for many years because of the obvious maintenance headaches. It still amazes me how many people believe you have to have at least one internal drive in an HP 3000.

The debate seems like it highlights at least four things going on.

1. Does HP certification of a disk drive have value? And, if so, how much? The work that HP does to certify disk drives for the HP 3000 clearly has value. It is up to the customer to decide the worth and he will decide with his checkbook. This certification is an area where HP has historically done a poor job in communicating value to its customers. Hawkins’ information should have been made more public years ago.

2. Does the listing of a drive in IODFAULT.PUB.SYS imply its certification by HP? I think it is reasonable for a customer to look at IODFAULT, pick out a “supported” drive, and think he can buy it from whoever will give him the combination of price and service that meets his needs. For anything but the newer systems, you only need two generic drives listed in IODFAULT (one SE and one FWD). So what is a customer to make of the drives listed in IODFAULT.PUB.SYS?

3. Does HP branding imply HP-specific firmware? So why then do the HP drives almost always report the original manufacturer’s model number instead of HP’s? Again, this leads to the customer assuming he can buy a STxxxxxx and it is the same as the drive he buys from HP.

4. Are all HP-branded drives equal? I had an HP-branded drive that I pulled from a server that I got happily spinning in my 9x7 at one time. And, yes, of course the duty cycle in this 3000 was extremely light. But I am also relatively sure the HP part number (as opposed to drive, whose reported model number is in IODFAULT) was never sold as compatible with the HP 3000. It sounds like this HP-branded drive is just as risky as any non-HP branded drive.

It was never my intention in the original article to bash HP, or the fine people who continue to be associated with the 3000 division. Perhaps I should have reworded the title to read, “If you feel abandoned by your vendor, then take comfort in the fact that in most cases, SCSI is SCSI.” But that doesn’t exactly roll off the old tongue. Yet, in reality, this is what most of HP’s argument has been about: those few cases when “SCSI is SCSI” is not true. It should also be noted that my original article was aimed at those HP 3000 sites planning to homestead for some period of time.

After considering Hawkins’ response to my original article and numerous private messages, my position can now be stated like this: With the exception of the “hot” drive issue, any name-brand manufacturer SCSI drive you can electrically connect to your HP 3000 will likely work. If it survives your own testing (mount it as a separate user volume, and bang on it for awhile before moving it into production) then you should have little to worry about.

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

April 18, 2018

Wayback Wed: one website to serve them all

HP suitcaseIn late April of 1999, first steps were being taken for the largest website ever devoted to the 3000 community. The site was not from the 3000 NewsWire, although we'd been publishing 40-plus stories a month for almost four years in paper, on the Web, and through Online Extra emails. The newest entry in 1999 was 3k World, a site launched by Client Systems, North America's largest HP 3000 distributor.

At the time the HP 3000 was in full renaissance. HP had remade the server as the HP e3000 to stress the computer's Internet readiness. The system was at its sales peak for the 1990s, capturing e-commerce business by drawing well-known clients like M&M Mars. Client Systems was reaching for a way to connect the thousands of 3000 owners as well as the market's vendors. A big website with community message boards and a repository of tech manuals and bulletins seemed to be a great draw.

3k World needed steady content, though, the kind that messages and tech papers from HP couldn't provide. Client Systems reached out to us. Sure we had content, contributed and written by experts and veterans of the MPE/iX world. We had news as well, plus some commentary and opinion. Client Systems licensed everything we produced for use on 3k World, while we retained the rights to use it on our own website.

For several years 3k World built its readership and its content, even though the membership was not posting a lot of discussion. Then HP pulled the plug on its 3000 business and Client Systems watched revenues decline. The NewsWire's content — articles, reviews, and tech papers — stopped appearing on 3k World when that site's budget sank.

3k World might have had a chance of connecting customers across many miles, but the content was all-English language, and so the French and Spanish users were taking a small leap to use the content. Within a few years the site became static and this blog was born in the summer of 2005.

Community is always the driver on these kinds of missions: attracting it, growing it, and making its discussions useful and worthy of a visit. LOLs and "you betcha" in comments do not engage readers. Prowl the comments sections of many tech websites and you'll find that experience. It takes a village to build a community, and that village needs to share what it knows and ask for what it needs.

The concept of a community is pretty well handled on LinkedIn, at least as far as the tools available. The Groups service (which is free to join and use) includes a comments and discussion board, a jobs board, a way to publish articles and more. The HP 3000 has a group for people with experience and contact with the server, the 669 members of the HP 3000 Community.

Easy to search browsing of content and archives are what's missing from the LinkedIn Group. I started it 10 years ago as it became obvious the MPE/iX lab was closing at Hewlett-Packard. It's a curated membership; requests to join pass through me and I approve anyone who's got bona-fide 3000 experience or a connection to the community. The recruiters may be in the shadows, but I try to keep the group focused on help. A jobs board is available. Jobs are a better LinkedIn product when you pay the $29 monthly for a Premium membership.

One feature that's not obvious about that Premium status: these members get full access to the training classes offered at Lynda.com. That's worth the extra all by itself; Lynda.com used to charge $25 monthly.

Just this week, a HP 3000 Community group member—who once resold and supported HP 3000s—posted a contest to identify how an object in a photo might be a part of HP's history. There's still time to comment and become re-engaged with the community. Join the group if you haven't yet, or log in and head to your Groups page on LinkedIn to play.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:54 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)