March 10, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Going Beyond JBOD

By Gilles Schipper

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Going Beyond JBOD" in full

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

Pivital Solutions: Your complete
HP 3000 resource

March 08, 2017

ERP ecosystems now being fed by analysis

EcosystemThere's a rule that Sue Kiezel of the Support Group follows for her ERP clientele. Try not to let the IT department establish architecture for a replacement system. Consultants who have experience with business rules and structure are the best choice to arrange the parts and plan the new flow.

"IT is for infrastructure, and for development," she said while leading me on a tour of the new denizens inside the Kenandy ERP ecosystem. "Put your business experts on the team. You'll find someone to code it inside IT."

The issue to face while relying on the current generation of IT pros is that they no longer have broad views of how companies organize business processes. In the era when the 3000 was growing, the most dynamic beasts of the ecosystem were programmer analysts. The PAs were usually people who knew the business first and learned to program as a way to solve business problems. These days the development skills seem to wag the dog.

The IT department is essential to the success of any ERP ecosystem because that's the source of support. An ecosystem was the aspect of 3000 ownership in the biggest trouble. However, that diagnosis came from the days when outside vendors who sold apps and databases were considered the ecosystem. In some ways, the new ERP that the Support Group implements delivers a new generation of ecosystem: Kenandy's tools and modules, built with the Salesforce software that underpins it all. One surprise is that even the database has become a built-in, specialized choice. Dare we say it, proprietary, even.

Read "ERP ecosystems now being fed by analysis" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:39 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 06, 2017

Add-on applications pour down from clouds

Acrylic-finish-paint-250x250Forecasting software has been a $2 million addition to enterprise resource planning systems. The P in ERP signifies a mission to search for a view of the future. Add-ons like McConnell Chase's FD7, purchased for an additional $2-$4 million on top of software investments in monolithic apps like MANMAN, generate a strong business for vendors. In-house systems are a good match for that kind of app. Today's IT options can bring this kind of forecasting power onto the pallettes of many more companies.

The analyst and software experts at The Support Group have been implementing the Kenandy ERP solution at an HP 3000 MANMAN site. Kenandy runs on the internal architecture of Salesforce, the cloud IT supplier to millions of sites. In a cloud IT solution a company buys a subscription to an application. Kenandy, for example, is an application choice in the world of Salesforce. Rather than hoping for a third party to create a tool that can access Kenandy, the new cloud model delivers forecasting as an option on the bill of fare.

Forecasting was never a built-in MANMAN module, Terry Floyd of TSG reminded us last week. David Floyd of the company recently returned from data integration work at Disston Tools in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Together the two men explained how cloud ERP can bring essentials like forecasting within reach. They're in the the second generation of software expertise at TSG. Terry Floyd wrote archiving software for MANMAN during the 1980s, for example, a product that was sold and added to MANMAN sites. This sort of software can be added to a cloud ERP solution like Kenandy's. Today, however, it's a subscription option, as quick to integrate as adding a tier of TV channels to a cable subscription.

Changes that spring from the migrations forced by HP have been costly. Not every new look triggered by HP's drop of the 3000 is negative, though. Adding planning power has been a multi-million dollar bet in the old 3000-era strategy. There are, however, a few aspects of cloud computing which the old-era model continues to beat.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:28 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 03, 2017

When and how to back up 3000 directories

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

By Gilles Schipper
Homesteading Editor 

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

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

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

The proper procedure during reload is as follows:

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

Then -- and this where many go wrong,

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

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

Read "When and how to back up 3000 directories" in full

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

March 01, 2017

Wayback Wed: Customers' Proposition 3000

Computerworld April 22


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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Wayback Wed: Customers' Proposition 3000" in full

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

February 27, 2017

HP quarter invites a peek at a smaller profile

Dorian GreyQuarterly results from the latest report on Hewlett-Packard Enterprise didn't impress investors. On the news of its revenues falling short of estimates—what's called a "miss" in today's markets—the stock got sold down 7 percent a share. Stock prices come and go, and HPE has made a better restart than the HPQ end of the split-up HP. The future, though, is certain to be getting slimmer for HPE. The question is whether something smaller can ever grow like the monolithic HP which carried 3000 customers across more than three decades.

It's easy to dismiss the fortunes of a split-off part of a vendor which doesn't make 3000s anymore. When the plans wrap up on a pair of  "spin-mergers" of two of the company's bigger business units, what's left over might have lost any further ability to change the enterprise computing game. Migrating 3000 customers will still have to take their computing someplace. Looking at the HPE prospects for 2017 is a part of that decision.

Analyst Bert Hochfeld has just written a 4,000-word report on the company on the Seeking Alpha website. That's a huge piece of business reporting that deserves a close read if you're buying stock or working for HPE. IT managers can find some insights as well. Cherry-picking some sections, to look at HPE's business futures, is useful for planning. HP's selling off its Enterprise Services and Software businesses to CSC and Micro Focus, respectively. The deals will wrap up by September. Hochfeld says what remains at HPE is unlikely to grow. A lack of growth is what drove down HP's stock last week.

"I do not think anyone imagines that what will remain of HPE in the wake of its divestitures is a growth business," Hochfeld said. "There are some growth components in otherwise stagnant spaces. The company has yet to demonstrate that it can execute at the speed necessary to exploit the opportunities it has—and to make the right choices in terms of allocating its resources in what are difficult markets."

In a report titled Has the company done a u-turn on a trip to nowhere? Hochfeld notes that what's left over at HPE this year might be viewed like the picture of Dorian Grey. But that would only be true, he adds, in a world where datacenters will only be run by cloud providers. Companies will run their own datacenters, a fact HP will need to stress to stay relevant when it displays a smaller profile.

Read "HP quarter invites a peek at a smaller profile" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:17 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 24, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Opening Up MPE's Shell

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Opening Up MPE's Shell" in full

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

February 22, 2017

Simulator knows what day it is, or was

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

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

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

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

$ hp3000 mpe-auto

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

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

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

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

Read "Simulator knows what day it is, or was" in full

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

February 20, 2017

Harris School Solutions buys K-12 ISV QSS

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

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

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

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

The QSS saga includes a long-term migration campaign on behalf of its HP3000 users. When HP cut its 3000 plans short in 2001, finding a replacement platform with no such trap door was paramount to QSS. Well before the solution was established as a commercial choice, QSS was sent down a path toward Linux. The company calls this Version L, with the migrations coming away from Version H. This past year, the majority of QSS sites crossed over from the 3000 to Linux use.

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

Read "Harris School Solutions buys K-12 ISV QSS" in full

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

February 17, 2017

K-12 vendor still migrates schools to Linux

Editor's Note: We learned today that Quintessential School Systems (QSS) has been acquired by another school software ISV, Harris School Solutions. QSS has been notable for leading customers from its MPE/iX application suite onto Linux—and QSS was one of the very first to do this in the 3000 world. Here's a replay of our report about the how and why of this migration campaign's roots. It's an effort that began in the earliest days of the Transition Era, according to this report from 2002. In the article below, just swap in Linux for any mention of HP-UX. There's not a measurable benefit to leading anyone to HP's Unix anymore.

QSS outlines pilot move of K-12 apps to Open Source

By John Burke

Rolling deskQuintessential School Systems (QSS), founded in 1990, is an HP 3000 ISV providing software and consulting services to K-12 school districts and community college systems. While developing, supporting and providing administrative and student records management computing solutions for these public school districts, QSS created a set of tools for HP 3000 developers. QSDK was a subroutine library toolkit to network applications. QWEBS was a Web server running on the HP 3000. When QSS talks about migrating HP 3000 applications to Open Source, we all need to pay attention to what they are doing and how they are going about it.

Public school systems are understandably very cost-conscious, so for competitive reasons QSS had already started investigating migrating its software to an Open Source solution before HP even announced on November 14, 2001 its intentions about the 3000. This put QSS ahead of most ISVs and non-ISVs in determining how to migrate traditional HP 3000 COBOL and IMAGE applications. At HP World 2002, QSS COO Duane Percox gave a talk titled “Migrating COBOL and IMAGE/SQL to Linux with Open Source.” Percox hoped to share QSS’s pilot project experience for migration approaches.

QSS customers tend to be very cost sensitive, and so an Open Source approach has a lot of appeal for any ISV providing a complete packaged solution. Non-ISVs looking to migrate homegrown applications to other platforms might want to stay with commercial operating systems, databases and compilers for the vendor support. But there are migration choices here that are useful for anyone moving MPE/iX applications.

Read "K-12 vendor still migrates schools to Linux" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:37 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 15, 2017

Wayback Wed: An Emulator's Partners Enter

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

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

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

Read "Wayback Wed: An Emulator's Partners Enter" in full

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

February 13, 2017

ODBC treasure might be in your system

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

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

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

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

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

Read "ODBC treasure might be in your system" in full

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

February 10, 2017

3000 support branches into multiple types

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

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

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

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

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

Read "3000 support branches into multiple types" in full

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

February 08, 2017

3000 hardware support resources requested

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 06, 2017

German A-Class sells for $162 per CPU

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 03, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: Care and feeding of UDCs

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

UDC definition
Click for details

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Fine-tune Friday: Care and feeding of UDCs " in full

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

February 01, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: The 3000's e-Moment

SnowWithBezelIn the waning days before the Year 2000, the HP 3000 was running behind popular labels. The position was nothing new to the server and its fans. Hardly anyone outside of the MPE community knew about the computer and its legacy across the final 25 years of the 20th Century. For many years it didn't matter that the computer ran in the shadows of IBM big iron, Unix dot-com servers, and Windows PCs. The 3000 performed without problems and delivered impressive returns on investments in the HP iron.

But as far as the world outside the community could tell, the HP 3000 had little to do with the Internet. Once Y2K's survival mission was in the industry's rear-view mirror, HP decided to do something about the shadows around MPE/iX. In the prior decade MPE became MPE/iX to show the world the 3000 knew a bit about Unix. In February of 2000 HP rebranded the computer as the HPe3000, dropping that lowercase vowel in the middle of a name that hadn't changed in 27 years.

E3000Label-0002A vowel is an easy thing to add to a product. The Internet, not so. Engineers across the community, eventually those inside HP, worked between 1996 and 1999 to bolt on elements like a Web server, DNS software, Unix mainstays like bind, and more. The server was already working on the Web in spots like the e-commerce shops of Hickory Farms and Brookstone retailers. Despite the larger profile of well-known customers like M&M Mars, using the 3000 on the Internet was a secret weapon.

A new name was proposed to change that. HP Product Planning Manager for 3000s Doug Snow brought the idea to division GM Harry Sterling in 1999. By early the next year the entire server lineup had been re-branded. The new server bezels, both those for the standard cabinets as well as racked 3000s, wore a new badge. The name change story extended to our offices as well. The publisher of the NewsWire became known by a new name. Dottie Lentz became Abby Lentz to the world after I spread the news about a name as nascent as the 3000's Internet abilities.

Read "Wayback Wednesday: The 3000's e-Moment" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:56 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 30, 2017

German A-Class for sale at $1.07 + shipping

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

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

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

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

Read "German A-Class for sale at $1.07 + shipping" in full

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

January 27, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Memory and disk behavior

By Jeff Kubler
Kubler Consulting

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

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

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

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Memory and disk behavior" in full

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

January 25, 2017

Migrate, emulate: Wednesday show's for you

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Migrate, emulate: Wednesday show's for you" in full

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

January 23, 2017

SD cards take a hand in 3000 storage

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

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

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

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

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

Read "SD cards take a hand in 3000 storage" in full

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

January 20, 2017

RAIDing Your Storage to Homestead

By Gilles Schipper
Homesteading Editor

Model12HOne straightforward way to improve the value of an HP 3000 is replacement. That is, finding a better disk storage hardware component—replacing what shipped with your 3000 with a corresponding disk subsystem, one that offers the superb protection of hardware RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).

I would also recommend this replacement for those who utilize HP 3000 Mirror/iX software—since Mirror/iX does not protect the MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET volume set . It also forces one to utilize user volume sets even if the situation does not otherwise warrant it. I believe there is a place for user volume sets, but only in very specific and limited circumstances.

The main advantage of hardware RAID is that it offers excellent protection from disk failures and resulting data loss and time lost due to data recovery requirements. Chances are good that you are if you are a candidate to benefit from hardware RAID, your existing disk technology is relatively old and prone to failure as a result of years of use.

Let's face it, unlike a good wine, older HP 3000 hardware and its associated peripherals do not get better with age. Quite the contrary.

However, even if you choose a RAID technology that is also relatively old or obsolete, the nature of the technology itself affords you a great measure of protection from disk failures and corresponding data loss and downtime.

The inexpensive choices include the Nike Mod10 or Mod20 and the HP Autoraid 12H. A higher-end RAID solution is in HP’s VA7000 family of products.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:24 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 18, 2017

Recruiter opens book on college opportunity

MRG SearchYou don't see many requests for HP 3000 expertise by now, at least not in a public setting. But a boutique placement agency posted a request for COBOL experience on the 3000 mailing list this week. The notice doesn't deliver many details, but it stands out in a job market where opportunities have been few.

Under the covers, where consultants and developers serve 3000 shops both on the move as well as homesteading, gigs lurk. One veteran knows another and they'll contract for a period together. Most of these engagements involve finding someone familiar with a piece of 3000 software.

MRG Search and Placement has a website but there's no public listing of available positions. It's just as classic old-school as a lot of the talent that could fill those jobs. The message in public was simply "HP3000 skills needed in an University setting," and went on to mention COBOL was involved. The language usually is, considering the vast percentage of in-house apps written in the language.

Jon Culotta runs MRG, which is upfront about keeping 3000 customers and talent connected.  "Established in 1976, MRG started its niche recruiting in the HP 3000 arena. That core market is still served today." The company's heartland is Amisys healthcare software talent, but a university might only be involved if it was a health organization operated by a school.

The job is on-site and contract. Culotta's email is jculotta@mrgsearch.com.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:32 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 16, 2017

Older hardware, current support, new prices

TapeMaster LTOHP's 3000 hardware is still being offered for sale. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise wants none of this 2017 action. Independent hardware brokers sell HP 3000s today, and by the looks of the pricing the transactions might be simply for parts. How could anyone operate a company while they rely on a $975 server?

The price is one data point on a wide spectrum of a sweeping array of servers, all offered on the 3000 mailing list this week. At the tip-top of the spectrum was a $3,175 system, first introduced early in the 1990s. At the very bottom was the faithful Series 918LX, priced at $675 including a DDS-3 tape drive. The newest computers came in at that $975 price.

The range of power ran from the 918 to the Series 989KS/650. It was a $290,000 system sold new in the late 1990s. The one on offer this week from the broker carried a price tag that was discounted $288,625.

Antiques? Some, perhaps, but not all. Series 918 and 928 servers from HP—both on the list—are running production systems today. Roy Brown, a consultant and developer in the UK and a member of the 3000 list, is running two Series 918s. One much newer server is holding archives at a migrated shop in Texas. While using the old, or very old HP iron one smart customer keeps support current for such boxes. Even when they're not on the critical path for computing.

Read "Older hardware, current support, new prices" in full

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

January 13, 2017

Emulation review will air out all options

January 26On January 26 MB Foster is airing the 2017 edition of its emulation webinar. The 40-minute show will walk 3000 managers through four emulation options. Last year's show had four very different products. Three will address the MPE/iX environment: how to get your applications onto the Windows OS. One will give you emulated hardware. In the first edition of the webinar, Birket Foster called the Charon emulator for 3000 hardware emulation "flawless."

The other three solutions — unless the lineup changes from last year's show — are all based in software methods to replicate databases and surrounding code. They are

The MB Foster environment emulation solution has been working for at least one customer. We introduced it in 2013. Here's our story from that year for reference. We'll all look forward to the update at 11 AM PST.

eZ-MPE opens new Windows for 3000 sites

MB Foster is announcing a hybrid of solutions aimed at making migrations off the 3000 easier. The company is calling its offering MBF eZ-MPE, and it’s aiming customers at the native benefits of working in Windows once they make their transition. MBF eZ-MPE is a solution for HP 3000 sites that have a keen interest in transitioning to a Windows environment, while they preserve their company’s competitive advantage and legacy applications.

Read "Emulation review will air out all options" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:12 AM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 11, 2017

Finding the knowledge HP once shared free

HP3000-resourcesIn 2008 was the debate, and I don't mean between our now-outgoing President and his rival. The debate was in your community about future knowledge. Where could you expect to find HP 3000 and MPE/iX manuals in the coming years? It didn't turn out to be where it was planned and proposed, but a manager of a homestead 3000 does have options today.

For many years, MMM Support hosted the full range of HP's manuals for hardware and software. As of this morning the website is offline, but it's probably a configuration error and not a sign of a company's demise. You'll find plenty of links on our blog to the hpmmmsupport.com site. The manuals are in PDF format and you don't experience any pop-up or page-takeover ads like you see in YouTube.

The newer player in the hosted HP manual arena is TeamNA Consulting. While it's a newer site, the venture is led by one of the older (in history) resources. Neil Armstrong, one of the tech wizards at Robelle, is the NA in TeamNA. Armstrong started with the HP 3000 more than 34 years ago—an era where MPE IV was still a common OS for the servers. Plenty of experience there, and plenty of manuals available too. More manuals than HP will share with the world today. The extra information is hardware documentation.

This wasn't the future the 3000 community expected in the days when official 3000 support from HP was nearly gone. Today that support is well-filled by companies like Pivital, a bedrock upon which homesteading and 3000 emulation rests.

Read "Finding the knowledge HP once shared free" in full

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

January 09, 2017

3000 experience floats up to the Fed

FedRichmondReid Baxter started his work in the HP 3000 world in 1981. This year he's helping to support the IT at the US Federal Reserve in Richmond, VA. There is no direct line between these two postings. Baxter has made the most of his career that started with MPE and terminals to lead to his current post where he helps maintain computers that serve the US banking bedrock, The Fed.

Baxter, one of the earliest 3000 Newswire subscribers, checked in this week to congratulate us on another anniversary as we crossed into the 22d calendar year of publishing. It's been quite a while, as Baxter says, since an HP 3000 was in his life: seven years ago he transitioned off everyday 3000 duty when his employer JP Morgan-Chase closed down its MPE/iX servers.

Baxter went into support of the 3000's successor at Chase, HP-UX, and then onward into Linux. When your skillset goes as far back as HP's Data Terminal Division, a new environment presents more opportunity than challenge. The 3000 once had a place in banking IT, which is why Chase once deployed the ABLE software suite from CASE for asset management.

After Chase did a downsize in 2015, Baxter went on a lengthy quest to land a new spot in finance computing. He's working today for HP Enterprise Services, by way of the Insight Global staffing enterprise. His mission is support of that Fed IT center, work that he can do remotely. One reason for that telecommute is that banking has often needed remote computing. Banking software on the 3000 once drove the adoption of Internet services on the business server, after all.

Read "3000 experience floats up to the Fed" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:59 AM in History, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 06, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Logging, IP logins, SNMP

Due to a disk crash, I had to reload my HP 3000 system recently. I’ve just discovered that system logging has been suspended. How do I resume system logging?

Paul Christidis replies:

The reason for the suspension of logging was most likely due to a duplicate log file name. When the SLT was created the then-current log number was recorded, and when you restarted the system from your most recent SLT it tried to open the sequentially next log file. Said file already existed.

  • MOVE the existing log files to a hold area
  • Determine what logfile the system resumed on
  • Perform a series of SWITCHLOG commands until the logfile number advances to one more than the highest number in the hold area
  • Then move the held logfiles back to the pub.sys group — replacing the ones created by the series of ‘switchlog’ commands.

Is there a way to see the IP address associated with a particular login?

Any user with SM can do the following, for example:

:SHOWVAR HPSTDIN_NETWORK_ADDR;JOB=#S495
HPSTDIN_NETWORK_ADDR = 172.16.0.30

The command :listf ci.pub.sys,8 will list all sessions and will show their associated IP address.

I’ve got an older model HP 3000 and I'd like to start monitoring it with SNMP for things like CPU utilized, jobs running or whatever other cool stat I can SNMP-grab. The problem I have is I can’t find the MIBs for it anywhere.

Andreas Schmidt replies:

First of all, I do not recommend the use of SNMP on the 3000, for performance but also security reasons. SNMP is not the securest protocol, as you know. Nevertheless, here are some hints:

• In the group NET.SYS you will find the SNMPUDC. This should be set in any case for MANAGER.SYS or on system level.
• Having set this, a SNMPCONTROL STATUS will show you the status of the SNMP subsystem.
• SNMPCONTROL START / STOP are self-explaining.
• The MIBs specific for MPE can be found in the document HP SNMP/XL User’s Guide

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

January 04, 2017

Future Vision: Too complex for the impatient

Seeing the future clearly is not simple, and planning for our tomorrows is a crucial mission for most HP 3000 owners and allies. Changes easily cloud the vision of any futurist—people who dream up scenarios and strategies instead of writing science fiction.

Or as Yoda said, "Difficult to tell; always in motion is the future."

ToiletpaperEconomics makes every future vision more compelling. A friend who just became a city council member reminded me of this when she talked about taxis and hotel checkouts. These things are the equivalent of COBOL and batch job streaming—just to remind you this post is an IT report. Disruption surrounds them. COBOL, batch, hotels, and taxis still keep our world on its feet. Nearly all of us reach for a legacy solution when we're finished sitting in the bathroom, too.

The new council member forwarded a futurist's article on Facebook—where so many get their news today, alas—an article that pegged so many bits of the economy that are supposed to be going the way of MPE V. (I think we can all agree it's really over for the OS that powered 3000s before PA-RISC.) The Facebook article says we need only to look at Kodak in 1998 when it "had 170,000 employees and sold 85 percent of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt." The timing is wrong, just like the timeframe predicted for total migration of the 3000 base. Was: 2008. Now in 2017: still incomplete.

The futurism you hear predicts things like "What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years — and most people won't see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that three years later you would never take pictures on film again?" Nobody did, because it wasn't true in 2001 that film disappeared. Neither had MPE disappeared by 2006. These predictions get mangled as they are retold. This year's IT skills must include patience to see the future's interlocking parts—a skill that a 3000 owner and manager can call upon right now. Since it's 2017, in one decade we'll be facing the final year of the date-handling in MPE that works as HP designed it. I'll only be 70 and will be looking for the story on who will fix the ultimate HP 3000 bug.

I love reading futurist predictions. They have to concoct a perfect world to make sense, and the timing is almost always wrong. Kodak took another 14 years after 1998 to file for bankruptcy. But after I disagreed with my friend, she reached for her own success at using disruptive tech to make her point. Even an anecdotal report is better than retelling abstracted stories. The danger with anecdotes is that they can be outliers. We heard them called corner cases in support calls with HP. You don't hear the phrase "corner case" during an independent support call. The independent legacy support company is accountable to a customer in the intense way a hotel operator commits to a guest. A guest is essential to keeping a hotel open. A lodger at an Airbnb is not keeping the doors open, or keeping jobs alive for a staff of housekeepers. There can be unexpected results to disrupting legacies. People demand things change back from a future vision. Ask voters in the US how that turned out last year.

Read "Future Vision: Too complex for the impatient" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:44 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 02, 2017

Where's your backup media in the new year?

DAT72Here in the opening days of the New Year it's time to resolve your way to a cleaner 2017. People in the US and the UK voted for changes starting this year and they'll get some, including unexpected ones. You don't want unexpected change on your homesteading HP 3000 system, though. One of the simplest means to forestall a crisis is getting fresh media for your backups. MPE/iX system backups are no better than the media they employ.

Not long ago, a 3000 manager was looking for fresh DLT tape for his backups. Tape remains a part of the backup regimen at some shops, never more true than at a site still using HP's 3000 hardware. DDS drive verification should be among your new year's examinations.

New tape media is available for purchase. New tape all the way back to DDS-1 is on the Data Tech Store website. As a minimum 2017 homestead resolution, write a fresh backup onto new tape.

Disk backup will pull your homestead practices out of the 1990s. As DLT technology fades, cheap high capacity Serial ATA discs took their turn as the method of choice for large backups. Store to disk should be the next generation of MPE/iX backup. Using an SCSI to SATA converter, newer drives can capture backups from 3000s. HP's SCSI storage devices for 3000s are at least a decade old by now. SATA disks work well for smaller systems where Model 20 HP backup units are overkill.

The age of media can be offset by more recent design. Although it's slower and has lower capacity, tape is a seasoned technology. On the other hand, disk has the advantage of being engineered more recently. Pencils versus rollerball pens is a similar consideration. You know exactly how long a pencil can be used. Pens are more indelible but expire unexpectedly.

MPE/iX servers created using the Charon emulator from Stromasys can even employ SSD disks for backups. Verifying any media, new or old, should be on a manager's to-do list for 2017. It's even better to craft a regimen that rotates fresh media, whether you're relying on tape or storing to disk.

Read "Where's your backup media in the new year?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:50 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 28, 2016

HPE losing weight for 2017: in servers, too?

SlimdownHewlett-Packard Enterprise made itself smaller during 2016, the natural progression of a slim-down that started in the fiscal 2016 period for the company. Annual results for the first full year of the dual-HP venture—one devoted to business computing, the other to all else—showed a continued decline in sales. HP cut its software group loose this quarter, selling off assets like Autonomy to Micro Focus. Becoming smaller has not helped HPE's overall numbers quite yet.

Sales at the Enterprise group, home to 3000 replacements like ProLiant servers, fell by 9 percent from 2015's Q4. The full HPE sales tally for the quarter dropped by $900 million in year-over-year measures. Were it not for favorable currency shifts, the company would have had to bear the full range of these losses. Until HP could offset its results with divestitures and currency benefits, the Enterprise Group ran $403 million in the red. A total of $50.1 billion in HPE sales was booked in 2016. More than $3 billion in profits were left after expenses were met and taxes were paid.

A report from Patrick Moorhead at Forbes noted that the sell-off of HPE software to Micro Focus was a marriage to a company with a solid history of preserving acquired products. Whitman "bragged on Micro Focus a bit," Moorhead wrote, "saying that the company has never shut down a product that they acquired and merged with, and that their growing assets will be important moving forward." He added that the statement looked like it was crafted to keep the former HPE software customers satisfied with becoming Micro Focus clients.

HPE keeps slimming itself down to ensure its expenses will drop. Since revenues are on a decline year over year, the ploy to sell off businesses with dim short-term prospects seems destined to continue. On the website The Street a story has reported that according to Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha, Hewlett Packard Enterprise could part with its servers, storage, IT support and consulting. One potential buyer might be the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's server business, which Garcha values at $8.9 billion, could interest Huawei. The unit has $15.4 billion in projected fiscal year 2017 sales and $1 billion in Ebitda, Credit Suisse estimates.

Read "HPE losing weight for 2017: in servers, too?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:01 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 26, 2016

Did you get what you wished for?

Waving SantaNine years ago we ran an article that suggested 10 things a 3000 owner could put on their Christmas list. Most of them were directed Hewlett (Santa) Packard, since the vendor's toy factory was so full. After this weekend of Christmas, it's instructive to take a look at what was delivered from the 2007 list and why—or why not. In summary, the HP 3000 hardware remained frozen in time. The software did advance, though. Here's the wishes.

1. Unleashing the full horsepower of A-Class and N-Class 3000s

You got this only if you poked around for a third party consultant who knows how to do this. HP had three more years of support and one more year of full MPE/iX lab when we wrote that wish in 2007. All those years made no dent in the vendor's resolve. It's okay, there's Charon HPA from Stromasys to introduce speedy futures.

2. Or just unleashing the power of the A-Class 3000s (since the A-Class operates at no more than one quarter of its possible speed)

Didn't get this, either. We're always surprised to see how many A-Class systems still show up for work every day. The A-Class amounted to the Series 9x8 caliber of PA-RISC for MPE/iX.

3. Well, then just unleash the N-Class systems' full clock speeds

Like a broken record here: this didn't appear under any tree, either Christmas, phone support, or other kinds. There is a way to employ eight CPUs on 3000-class PA-RISC servers. Don't ask HP about it. Your independent support provider will probably have a story to tell you.

4. HP's requirements to license a company for MPE/iX source code use

The market got this a couple of Christmases later. Source didn't matter much to the future of the system. It improved some workaround options, though. This became more important as more workarounds edged into the 3000's support practices from independent providers.

Read "Did you get what you wished for?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 23, 2016

The True Meaning of A 3000 Christmas

Charlie and LinusCharlie Brown shouts to the stars in the 1966 TV classic, "Isn't there anybody here who knows the true meaning of Christmas?" Linus leads him to the story that started the season which we're now ending. I like to think of that character's voice delivering an answer to the question, "Doesn't anybody remember the true meaning of MPE/iX?" Linus might say, "Its value, Charlie Brown, and its promises kept."

Like the commercial holiday that Charlie despised, there was always the phrase "you could just tell them to migrate" while discussing what HP's 3000 iron cannot do.

Feelings can affect choices and confirm faith. There was a design to extend the 3000's memory from 8GB to 32. But HP explained it couldn't justify doing that kind of work any longer. Adding "So migrate" might have sent people looking for systems with better memory, like a Christmas tree all shiny and new.

There are people who have known MPE/iX just as long as HP's lab experts, and some more deeply. A team of third party experts wrote the book Beyond RISC. HP bought thousands of copies. These two sides, first inside HP and now out in the expert community have wooed and rued that MPE gal, all while she has gained weight (years) and lost her tone (customers, demanding updates) and shown more grey (elderly versions of Ethernet, SCSI, all the tendrils of open source).

Yes, they've both had a relationship with her, but the outside experts still love her. HP's experts took her out, bought her dinner, even gave some gifts to show they knew her. The true meaning of MPE/iX and protecting a promise now resides in the wise Linus of our world, the independent software and support providers.

Read "The True Meaning of A 3000 Christmas" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:18 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 21, 2016

Wayback Wed: A Dark Day for Emulation

LasthopeThe future looked dim for hosting MPE/iX on virtual hardware in December of 2009. Your market had little news about the forthcoming Charon HPA 3000 emulator. That software was only in alpha testing. This was the month that Strobe Data announced it was curtailing development of its 3000 emulator. Your community headed into 2010 with the hope of a Stromasys success and HP's promise to announce the new independent holders of MPE/iX source licenses.

Licensing source for an OS that only runs on aging HP hardware has value, indeed. Support customers benefit from outside licenses. It's well worth asking if your support vendor has such a license. But as a model to extend the lifespan of MPE/iX in production, source won't do the work that an emulator does: create new boxes.

Strobe hoped to do that using new hardware. The company started as a venture to emulate Digital computers as well as the HP 1000 real time machines. Many roadblocks stood in the way of a successful 3000 emulator launch in 2009. Strobe's founder Willard West intended to sweep away some obstacles by obtaining new PA-RISC processors. The chips were to be integrated on cards that would go into high-end Windows servers.

But development takes money. The resources for non-Digital development at Strobe did not materialize. It would take two more years for the ultimate winner in 3000 emulation, Stromasys, to bring out a product that needed no special HP hardware—just a special OS to run, MPE/iX.

An economic lull at the end of 2009--HP was reporting declines in all of its businesses except services --set the 3000/PA-RISC emulation work onto Strobe's back burner. The rate of hardware aging made a profound difference to Strobe, a small concern compared to Stromasys.

"We are just trying to survive the lull in government orders right now," the company's Alan Tibbetts said during the dark of that December. "The trouble is that the sales of our [Digital] PDP-11 line are down. The PDP-11s became unreliable more quickly and we have sold a bunch of them in the past, but the easy ones have already been captured." The month was a moment like the epic one in The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda watches Luke fly off Degobah, his training unfinished. "That boy was our last hope," he said. "Now matters are worse."

"No," Obi Wan replies. "There is another."

Read "Wayback Wed: A Dark Day for Emulation" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:35 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 19, 2016

University completes its course with regrets

ISU logoAfter decades of use in a wide array of business and educational functions, the Idaho State University of has shut down its HP 3000s. The institution worked with Powerhouse tools from the earliest days of the 3000, a period that included some years using MPE V.  Idaho State University turned off our HP 3000s. "We have the one N-Class server, plus two A-400s, for sale or for parts if there is interest." 

John MacLerran reported to the 3000 mailing list, "with fond memories", the accomplishments and lifespan of MPE/iX at the university based in Pocatello.

The HP 3000 had been in use at ISU since the early 1980s, running everything from Procurement and Payroll to Student Registration and Grading. When I started work at ISU as a programmer in 1984, we had two Series 68s (later upgraded to Series 70s). Over the years, we upgraded as budget allowed. We installed the current boxes in Summer of 2001. Our production box was an N4000 4-way 440 mHZ box, and our development box was an A400 110 mHZ box. In 2004 we added a VA7100 array to our N4000 box, and it was this configuration that we turned off in October.

We went live with Banner, an ERP for universities, in 2009— but some applications on the HP 3000s hung on much longer because there was no suitable replacement in the ERP system. 

Since we are a State of Idaho agency, there is a somewhat convoluted process for us to sell the boxes, but if there is any interest, you can contact our Customer Services manager Tony Lovgren at lovgtony@isu.edu for more information.

Idaho State worked, tested, and managed its migration over more than 11 years. Since the choice to migrate was replacing in-house Powerhouse with the Banner application, its exit from the 4GL was simplified. Batch processing was harder to replace.

Read "University completes its course with regrets" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:17 PM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 16, 2016

Friday Fine-Tune: Login recovery strategies

We have changed passwords on MANAGER.SYS—and now we cannot locate the changed passwords, thanks to some staff reductions that made the new passwords unavailable. Any ideas on how to recover them?

John Stevens says

If you're logged on as OPERATOR.SYS, do LISTACCT on all the accounts that may have SM capability, then logon as the MGR/MANAGER of those accounts: TELESUP, and SUPPORT, and there are others; LISTACCT will find them. Login as those users (unless you don't have those passwords either) and LISTUSER MANAGER.SYS. Vesoft's MPEX might help ease some of this as well.

Duane Percox of QSS adds a simpler approach:

If you can log onto operator.sys:

file xt=mytape;dev=disc
file syslist=$stdlist
store command.pub;*xt;directory;show

Using your favorite editor or other utility search for the string: "ALTUSER MANAGER SYS"
You will notice: PAS=<the pwd> which is your clue.

Steve Ritenour suggests that a logon to the TELSUP account will unlock the passwords.

Some 3000 managers believe the subject itself should be filed in a place not easily found. "These responses are all well and good," said Bruce Collins of Softvoyage, "but shouldn't we be thinking twice about posting this kind of information (i.e. how to hack an HP 3000) to the 3000 newsgroup?"

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Login recovery strategies" in full

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

December 14, 2016

HP: Still a font of talent after all these years

It's Wayback Wednesday, but the 3000's history recall has fresh entries from the current day. A lot of HP 3000 sites turned away from Hewlett-Packard's offerings over the last 15 years. But more than a few have not, even after three CEO ousters and a split up of the company into consumer and enterprise parts. There's still something in the split-off parts to admire. A new book chronicles lasting HP lessons to the industry players who are lapping HP today.

HewlettandPackardAmong the former: thousands of HP employees who've spent decades serving the HP customer. From engineering desk to conference presentation room, too many people to count or name have lifted the level of service. We heard from one today, Guy Paul, who once managed HP 3000s for the vendor and now is working on network storage for HP Enterprise. When asked what's remained stellar about the company where he's worked for 32 years, Paul pointed at people.

"The only thing that has remained that is good is the dedicated hard-working people I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from all these years," he said. He was compelled to add that many are leaving after the HP split up "and a merger all happening within one year." It's always been true that HP's loss of superior people is the industry's gain. So much of the 3000 independent enterprise earned its stripes by way of direct work with HP, too.

Some of that bounty has been released this week. A new management book might be cause for little celebration, but take a closer look at the new Becoming Hewlett-Packard. It was co-authored by a former top HP executive, Webb McKinney. He was interviewed eight years ago at the Minicomputer Software Symposium at the Computer History Museum. More than 20 of us were contributing 3000 stories at the Symposium, but the oral history McKinney gave at the Museum was even better. Best practices for the industry haven't changed that much since then. The HP book even makes a case for why the practices that have changed ought to change back. We're talking the HP Way here—although the book makes it clear that donuts are not a pillar of the Way.

Read "HP: Still a font of talent after all these years" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:02 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 12, 2016

Security in cloud IT expands to fit ERP

Raining-cloudsHP 3000 sites that make a migration bring a broad array of technology into their planning rooms. In the world of MPE/iX, the server and infrastructure was almost always on the premises of the company or in a subsidiary's offices. Once a company begins to migrate to commodity environments, this structure starts to evaporate. In a meeting about what to do next after something like MANMAN, clouds and the ground they float above get equal valuation.

Security is a challenge in the process of floating clouds for enterprise IT. As Terry Floyd from The Support Group is leading Disston Tools through its migration, he's seen that security is no sacrifice to the gods of change who live in the clouds.

Kenandy is making its way into the command center of Disston. "We are seven months away, on schedule, and on budget," Floyd said when he checked in last week. "There is a lot to do here. MANMAN is very robust, and Disston has a lot of customizations, as well as serious use of EDI."

By its nature EDI passes sensitive information across networks. Kenandy works by riding the Salesforce cloud and its networking. Disston won't have to settle for something less secure.

"We are just getting into setting up user security settings," Floyd said. "Kenandy is as robust as MANMAN is.  It can be tightened down as much as you want."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:16 PM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 09, 2016

Friday Fine-Tune: Driving Filesystem Checks

Space_odysseyIn the middle of a full backup, the HP 3000 at James Byrne's shop came to a system halt at 3 AM. It was the kind of halt that puts up those puzzling abort messages not even HP has fully documented. For example, about SA 1458, Robelle's Neil Armstrong said, "My experience with SA 1458 is that it is a catch-all abort. You need to look at the subsystem information and the only way to truly know the root cause would be to get a dump and analyze it." He referenced a webpage that breaks down the process of doing 3000 system failure analysis, too.

When a halt occurs during a backup, there's always the chance the 3000's filesystem has been injured. "I'd say run FSCHECK.MPEXL.TELESUP and check your filesystem," said Keven Miller of 3k Ranger. He added that a former HP support expert, Lars Appel, "instructed me that System Abort messages are in subsystem 98. From the MPE Error Messages Volume 2, Chapter 4, System Aborts, 1458 MESSAGE means A critical process is being terminated due to a trap."

Sure enough, power interruptions at Byrne's shop introduced damage to an Image database. 

We reached the point last summer were we were toying with going off-grid simply to avoid the repeated power interruptions. If this sort of thing is causing damage then we will have to consider it. And it seems to; we now have a broken backward chain in one of our Image databases. A thing that I cannot ever recall. Coincidence? We are doing a backup, and then I will be using Adager to go in and take a look.

FSCHECK is an included tool on the 3000. It's simply there to validate extents and scan the table cache for missing files. Better tools include not only the legendary Adager, but independent support suppliers for the 3000 owner. People who know the fast commands of tools like CSTM. "What does your support provider say?" asked one support vendor. Self-support can be backed up by 3000-L questions. Some of the advice about the halt even ran to looking at memory issues. A provider can help eliminate these possibilities.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Driving Filesystem Checks" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:20 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 07, 2016

Taking Steps into Open Source with a Plan

Various_shoe_print_vector_294583A significant number of HP 3000 shops have employed Linux as a replacement over the last 15 years. (Yes, it's been that long that the MPE/iX community has been migrating or homesteading their systems). Over that time, open source software has become so mainstream that an architecture meeting often includes a line like, "Well, what can open source do for us here?"

If open sourcing a commercial datacenter sounds enticing—think of the size of the community you join, for example—it's wise to remember a commercial open source is the way to success. Downloading and testing is always essential, but adding open source has its best prospects when there's a commercial, paid support aspect to the choice.

This week we reported on one HP 3000 site where the system is making a slow exit. Harte & Lyne is still using a Series 918 with MPE/iX 7.5. The operations are being supplanted by what manager James Byrne calls FOSS: Free and Open Source Software. He's got his reservations about doing much more in that direction, though. Byrne said a more commercial—though not vendor-specific—approach to new architecture is in order.

HP was advising this to its enterprise computing customers as far back as 2006. Linux in the datacenter was a lot more exotic in that year, a time when HP was still selling support for the 3000. That vendor-based support is all gone by now, right down to the demise of docs.hp.com webpages where advice and training materials once lived. If you need 3000 support, third parties like Pivital Solutions are the best way to go forward, even if you're going away slowly.

An HP exec of 2006 said it only made sense to look for a supported FOSS design. David Claypool said

The rational thing to do is to choose something from a commercial company, whether implementations available and supported by a Linux distribution or non-affiliated Xen implementations like those from XenSource, Virtual Iron, and now Oracle.

Working together in such alliances was part of what FOSS was all about at the beginning. It would be another four years before Oracle would hire the departing CEO of HP, Mark Hurd, to run Oracle's software business. In 2006 all was pretty collegial between Oracle and HP.

Read "Taking Steps into Open Source with a Plan" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:58 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 05, 2016

COBOL's Continuing Value for 3000s

PingpongThe venerable workhorse of COBOL is often maligned during IT strategy meetings. The language usually has to make do with a lot less educational opportunity these days in universities, too. It is verbose and legacy and not ever going to captivate a ping pong table discussion about which platform development platform is best. There are perhaps only 1 million people in the world still trained in using it.

However, COBOL brings a single, enduring asset to the 3000s and other mainframe-caliber servers where it runs. COBOL is a standard, one that's exploited and extended and supported by many vendors, not to mention carried through decades of use. This is no one-man show.

You cannot say that about Powerhouse, or any other fourth generation language. If there's a standard out there for C-Sharp, or the wonders of Visual Basic, it is controlled by a single vendor. Powerhouse users are in a pickle. A single company, Unicom, controls the fate of all users employing the 4GL, and the vendor is jerking its leash on users. When Unicom said it was canceling the license of one customer, James Byrne at Harte & Lyne, then Byrne had a response.

"I am ignoring that," he said. "One cannot cancel a contract without cause."

He went on to point at what sets COBOL apart while he's choosing foundational software. "Not that we use it," Byrne said, "but there is a reason that COBOL is still around. The people who do not understand why are at the root of many of the problems with FOSS." That's open source software he's referencing, something that a vendor cannot cancel, but drifting toward commercial prejudices anyway.

Read "COBOL's Continuing Value for 3000s" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:14 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 02, 2016

Friday Fine-Tune: Print classes, STORE, FTP

I need to add classes to a printer on my HP 3000. I keep getting a message that the LDEV doesn't exist from SYSGEN's I/O section when I issue the ACLASS command. I can see the device exists, so what's the problem?

Letterpress-2Devices on your system that are configured through NMMGR must have their classes changed through NMMGR, which is probably why you're getting the error message. Run NMMGR and go to the PROFILE for the device. You should be able to add classes to the device at that point. After making changes in NMMGR, remember to VALIDATE these changes to NMCONFIG, and then cross-validate using the RDCC command from SYSGEN's SYSFILE section.

NMMGR changes take effect after the system has been reSTARTed and the power has been cycled on the DTCs. You should cut a System Load Tape (SLT) making these changes so you'll have them on tape for your next UPDATE.

If your device was configured through SYSGEN, the device should have its classes modified through SYSGEN. You're right, you do use the ACLASS command in the IO section. Changes to the IO section require a START to make them take effect.

In HP's MPE/iX manuals I am are directed to backup the system as follows:

STORE @.@.SYS,@.@.@-@.@.SYS;*T;DIRECTORY;SHOW

What is the practical benefit over

STORE @.@.@;*T;DIRECTORY;SHOW 

People trot out the reason from the distant past: if you have to do a re-install it is good to have PUB.SYS (and maybe the TELESUP account) on the front of the tape so you can restore quicker.

Gilles Schipper woke us up with his response. “The reason one would perform the former over the latter is to ensure that all of the files residing in the SYS account be placed at the beginning of the backup. Whether that is a good thing is, in my opinion, dubious."

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Print classes, STORE, FTP" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:22 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 30, 2016

This just in: Generalissimo Cobol is not dead

FrancoStillDeadA favorite running gag on the most antique Saturday Night Live shows was Chevy Chase reading the fake news. With each broadcast he'd repeat this joke: "Generalissimo Franciso Franco is still dead." Same result, week after week. A situation with a lot in common with COBOL's current fortunes. Despite what people think they know about it, the Common Business Oriented Language still props up a vast swath of the business data across the world.

Nothing has changed with COBOL's fortunes since we last visited this topic with a podcast in 2014. During that year's spring, the NPR Planet Money radio team posted a show that blamed COBOL for the slow pace of money-changing in clearinghouse transfers. The mistaken report was like fingering English for the outcome of the Presidential election. Yes, the COBOL code in banks turns the IT cranks. The result is not the fault of the tool, but how it has been used. Yes, English was used in the 2016 campaign. [Insert joke about Twittering here.]

COBOL gapOur COBOL correspondent Bruce Hobbs pulled this story back into the light this week. He pointed to an article on the HackerRank blog, examining COBOL's not-dead-yet status once again. If you like numbers, the article included these above. Its still a language that supports 80 percent of all point of sale transactions and routes health care to 60 million patients a day.

To be fair, one of the sources of that graphic is the company still selling COBOL, Microfocus. But Gartner is also cited, an impartial consulting giant. In the NPR show the reporters interviewed an exec from Fiserv, a vendor who might have known better; they made some of their fortunes selling Spectrum/3000 for credit unions.

In the HackerRank piece, the author quotes an article from 20 years ago that surveyed why COBOL has held on so long.

Read "This just in: Generalissimo Cobol is not dead" in full

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

November 28, 2016

3000 customers ponder what they're leaving

LifeboatsThis month's relicense quotes that Unicom delivered to Powerhouse customers could spark some migrations. Although these 3000s have held on by using out-of-support software, the five and six-figure prices to return to MPE/iX support "are difficult to imagine as a sustainable model," said Charles Finley of Xformix. "The price makes it worthwhile to move away from Powerhouse entirely."

Finley, who's been assisting 3000 shops in migrations and conversions for 15 years and more, isn't the only vendor who's skeptical of the Unicom pricing scheme. "That strategy will not last long," he said of the sky-high quotes. "We can move the Powerhouse to a Java-based non-proprietary alternative for something in that [$300,000] ballpark. Pricing like that [from a vendor] only provides incentive for people to leave the product."

The full scope of what a customer is leaving is worth some consideration, however. Finley offered the scope of a typical 3000-using Powerhouse customer's datacenter lineup.

Focusing on the base language is misleading at best. The background processing/shell scripting is usually more difficult to migrate than the base application. I suspect that there could be more to a relicensing story than simply the Powerhouse license. For example, if the customer has some dependent 3GL code such as COBOL, a few third-party products such as Suprtool and MPEX, along with JCL, UDCs, and Command Files—the cost to migrate all of that, and the database and other file types, could well exceed the price of only the Powerhouse license.

Hearing such please-go-away pricing can be hard to comprehend. A decade or two of using a foundational tool like Powerhouse shouldn't end with a six-figure quote, but sometimes such a lengthy relationship drifts to a bottom-line-only state. "Don't they normally look at the financials before determining price?" asked consultant Craig Lalley. We've heard about that same software update strategy from another support consultant.

Read "3000 customers ponder what they're leaving" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:49 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 25, 2016

Friday Fine-tune: Adding disks and IP blocks

Is it possible to add a disk drive "on the fly" without doing a reload?

Jeff Kell replied:

You generally have to shut the system down to install and cable the disk to avoid electrical/interface problems. The usual approach is to use SYSGEN to configure the new device on the path where it will reside, keep the new configuration, shutdown the system, install the disk and do a START NORECOVERY.

Once the disk is recognized by the system, you can add it to your running configuration as follows (assuming the new drive will be LDEV 5 in the system volume set):

:volutil
> newvol mpexl_system_volume_set:member5 5 90 90 (DISC,SPOOL)

[For details, see "Volume Management", HP Part No. 32650-90045 or "Performing System Management Tasks" HP Part No. 32650-90004.]

This will add the volume to the system volume set, but it also has some side effects. Since the new volume is "empty" and the disk space allocation routines attempt to "balance" loads across drives, all of your new files and transient space will be allocated on the new drive until it's capacity approaches that of the other volumes. This will create an I/O bottleneck on that drive, at least initially.

You could selectively :RESTORE certain accounts (or the whole system) to try and balance the allocation. You could also perform an INSTALL and a :RESTORE for better efficiency, but at the cost of a great deal of time. There are also certain third-party utilities that will balance disk utilization across members of a volume set. These utilities work online on a running system and don't require any downtime.

The network configuration of our HP 3000 was originally set up with one block of IP addresses. Now I need to add another block of addresses. Where do I add these in NMMGR?

You can add an IP address using NMMGR the following way:

  1. After typing NMMGR, select "Open Directory" .
  2. Then select "Update Dir."
  3. Now select the "Add" option (F5.)
  4. You are placed in a screen where you can enter the IP Address of the machine. The type is generally set to 1( IP).
  5. Now press the "Save Data" (F6) option, back out of NMMGR, and you are done.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:00 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 23, 2016

Mailing news from the HP 3000: an old skill

Blue mailboxInternal mail hosts remain a crucial tool in datacenters, even some running MPE/iX. "You still host your own email?" is not a question you'd only pose to a crazy manager. An organization's security standards can be so high that no outside mail server will be trusted. In the earliest days of email, 3k Associates built and sold a beautiful native MPE mailing system, Netmail/3000. It's a smart mailserver, meaning it doesn't require that an organization's e-mail be piped through an Internet provider's mail server for final delivery. Then in the late 1990s, HP's lab started the long process of porting sendmail to MPE/iX.

Now some 3000 sites are looking at how to replace their 3000-based mailing software as they migrate. One of them contacted us this week to ask about an alternative to sendmail. Linux is their migration target, after a history using the 3000 that goes back to the days of HP Deskmanager. Tim O'Neill shared a story while asking about an alternative to sendmail.

I saw that FreeBSD Unix has its version of sendmail. Seeing reference to FreeBSD made me recall a story about FreeBSD running on an old HP 3000, maybe a Series 70 or an early Spectrum system. I think I have read that FreeBSD is at some sites still running in production mode, as MPE and MPE/iX are. It also made me wonder what the installed base of FreeBSD might be — and how that compares to the installed base of MPE and MPE/iX on old hardware and on Charon hardware.

FreeBSD, like MPE/iX, has some surprisingly large companies using it. You might have heard about one of them called Netflix. Of course the Charon HPA emulator from Stromasys makes every remaining product and archival 3000 a candidate for the kind of longevity we see in FreeBSD.

Sendmail has a colorful history. The Unix Hater's Handbook devoted a full chapter to the software's vulnerabilities; sendmail comes from the Unix heritage, after all. By 2003, HP was still patching sendmail to shut down security breaches, although the breaching wasn't nearly as serious on MPE/iX as on Unix variants including Linux. Sendmail's open source capabilities are now under the banner of ProofPoint, the company that purchased the sendmail resources in 2013.

Sendmail's worldwide release was last updated in 2014. HP announced it was testing sendmail to place in the Fundamental Operating System in November, 2001—a month that's famous in the 3000's history for other reasons. But the software moved along to an 8.13.1 release in FOS. It's only one major release behind the worldwide open source version, now advanced to an 8.14 release. Sendmail also includes encryption.

Read "Mailing news from the HP 3000: an old skill" in full

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

November 21, 2016

Middleware rescues a Quiz captive, again

Old friends can help with new challenges to homesteading. Minisoft's ODBC software stepped in again to get a 3000 customer away from the pricing schemes of Powerhouse and its Quiz reporting software. That ODBC link between MPE/iX and Windows databases and tools turned out to be the essential component in pulling a client away from Powerhouse, according to the Support Group's Sue Kiezel.

BarsKiezel said her support client got an eye-popping quote to move Quiz from a 9x9 to an A-500 server: $27,000. Like some sites who are learning about the new regime of pricing from Unicom, this Support Group customer was returning to Quiz support after years of no improvements to the former Cognos product. Quiz made its way onto many MANMAN installations in the during the 1980s on the ERP suite. Getting out from under that legacy required a reasonable tool to connect the data with more modern reporting.

Enter the Minisoft ODBC software. The middleware connected with SQL Server to build a reporting database, data that was used to create the Excel spreadsheets everyone wants to use. As we've seen before, Windows-based reporting solutions like Crystal Reports can carry the 3000's data into departments better than Quiz did.

"SQL Server has turned into a beautiful database," Kiezel says. "You don't need a database administrator for it. Because of this kind of connection, my users no longer need paper for their reports. The middleware opens it up for MANMAN uses, and Excel can make joined tables for reports. Instead of just sending out a paper report, I'm sending out a spreadsheet, with the first three sheets of them working like a visual dashboard."

Visual Basic does analytics in this kind of report solution, too. "We are now in the modern world," Kiezel says. The bonus? Finding an expert to tune up these reports is a $50-75 hourly charge, instead of the $200 hourly that a Powerhouse consultant will charge to beautify and enhance Quiz. There are features and solutions that are worth the extra cost you'll sometimes encounter in MPE/iX. But reporting doesn't turn out to be worth the extra expense in licenses and expertise — not when there's middleware to open up reporting options. 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:05 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 18, 2016

Friday Fine-Tune: Tricks with command files

I'm working on a command file on my HP 3000. Is there any way to have it copy part of itself into a separate (temporary) file?

Jeff Vance replies:

MPE does not support the Unix concept of ‘here’ files, where input data for the command can reside in the same file as the command, except in the case of jobs. But even in a job, you may not include inline data for a script or UDC invoked by that job.

The SPOOKHELP script may be of some use. This single script contains the help text for all of the SPOOK commands plus the code to search for and display that text once HELP xyzzy is entered.

How can we execute a command after a user enters the :bye command in MPE?

Olav Kappert replies:

It is possible to execute many commands after the bye has been entered.  Simply create a UDC (maybe a cmd file) called bye.

The contents of the UDC for the command bye is up to you.  This would be useful if you want to do statistics before the session terminates.

John Pittman adds:

Don’t let them do a bye. We don’t allow any users access to OP system prompt at all. They get a logon no break UDC that runs a menu, and when they end the menu, they get logged off.

Inside that UDC at exit time, we build a string giving user, connection point (LDEV or IP of their PC) connect time, CPU date etc and append it to a log file. Then we know when anybody last used the system, how many users are using different connections, or when different user names are using the same connection point.

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

November 16, 2016

Noteworthy dates drive views of the future

Nov. 14 pageThis week on the 3000 newsgroup, Alan Yeo of ScreenJet picked up the remembrance torch to note the anniversary of 2001's 3000 business shut-off at HP. About your resilient computer he added, "In some ways it seems to have survived in some places in better shape than the HP that announced they were killing it!"

We agree and noted as much in the Nov. 14 NewsWire article. I promised to make not such a big deal about the history of the event; instead I tied it to recent advice about a hybrid of local and cloud-based ERP alternatives

Jan 1 pageThat event brought some benefit along with all of its carnage. Canceling the HP business operations for the 3000 (never an end-of-life; vendors don't get to define that) also sparked the completion of the first PA-RISC hardware emulator from Stromasys. The software continues to assure us all that the aging HP hardware won't be our only option over the next 11 years or so. Remember, on Jan. 1 2028, at 0000 hours, the dates stop working. Not MPE altogether, however.

A fix for that date issue might become a project for some remaining support company which has an MPE/iX source license. As you might infer from a date in this month's political events, stranger things have already happened.

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

November 14, 2016

The best wishes for your long life: a Plan B

Congratulations to us all. This is the 15th anniversary of the "we're killing off the 3000" announcement from HP. The end-game hasn't played out like HP expected. In 2001 the company's management didn't see three CEO resignations coming over those 15 years, or the company being forced to split itself to stay relevant to enterprise IT. Those two events are related. Yes, the 3000 got its pink-slip notice at the HP of 2001. So did the overstuffed, unwieldy Hewlett-Packard. The company that lurched toward every business while stepping back from others. It took 14 years almost to the day, but HP is half the size it was: HP Enterprise is the severed sibling from 2001's family.

Inside the 3000's division during that year, no one was talking about emulating the 3000 PA-RISC hardware that the company would stop building in 2003. That's now a reality, a new development since the 10-year anniversary of this sobering date. Hewlett-Packard was going to lead four customers out of every five away from MPE/iX, delivering them to the Unix alternative of HP-UX. Windows was going to get new customers out of the upheaval, too. No one figured three of every four departing companies would choose a non-HP environment.

DDoS Outage MapHere on this date in 2016, the idea of an environment as a crucial strategy is feeling outdated. IT directors always cared about applications. Now they're told they don't have to worry about environments. The cloud computing providers will do that for them. Except when they cannot provide the cloud. Behold (above) the map of Internet outage from last month on an ugly day.

The Support Group's Terry Floyd offered a Plan B strategy to the manufacturing customers of CAMUS last week. More than 30 companies using HP 3000s and MANMAN are in the CAMUS user group. Floyd's company is delivering a fresh alternative to help MANMAN sites move on from the 3000. But he also supports homesteading sites. With a foot in both worlds, he recommends staying safe by having a Plan B, even while you employ cloud computing for your future.

Read "The best wishes for your long life: a Plan B" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:06 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

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