September 10, 2018

Durable 3000s seek, sometimes find, homes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Durable 3000s seek, sometimes find, homes" in full

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

Pivital Solutions: Your complete
HP 3000 resource

September 07, 2018

Queue up those 3000 jobs with MPE tools

NewsWire Classic

By Shawn Gordon

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

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

Three commands accommodate the job queue feature:

NEWJOBQ qname [;limit=n]
PURGEJOBQ qname
LISTJOBQ

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

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

Read "Queue up those 3000 jobs with MPE tools" in full

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

September 05, 2018

Where's the lure to launch into the cloud?

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

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

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

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

Read "Where's the lure to launch into the cloud?" in full

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

September 03, 2018

The Labors of 3000 Love

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

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

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

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

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

August 31, 2018

SFTP and the points where transfers may fail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 29, 2018

Hear tips for MPE iron to protect and serve

Podcast: Ending the Reruns

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

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

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

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

August 27, 2018

Where to go when the app vendor is gone

Nature-2806211_1920
The cozy corner of your world that's the HP 3000 Community on LinkedIn has many reports about where users are working. One story that's slid onto our desk from that community illustrates the work a 3000 owner faces when a software vendor leaves them behind. For many sites with few resources, this is the situation that triggers a migration.

This is a story of what happens when the Hewlett-Packard hardware outlasts vendor applications. It's not that the app has stopped working, not at all. But the manager of the 3000 knows his employer has limited time to plan for a future while using software that can't be modified, because there's no source code — and not much documentation, even though the software's been customized.

3000s stay in service long enough to get to the point where the most durable piece of the solution is MPE/iX. Hardware can die off and be replaced by Charon from Stromasys. Expertise can be hired on contract for administration and operations. Development, though, is the hardest asset to maintain. When expertise dwindles for a third party piece of software — in this case, the IBS/3000 (Integrated Business System) financials package from DeCarlo, Paternite and Associates — a migration is usually in order.

The 3000 manager said he came on board at the company and learned about IBS being a key business component. "I Googled it to see if there was a user forum, vendor site, or any information. All I found was Irritable Bowel Syndrome."

Even if there was still vendor support available, it would be of limited use because there are so many in-house modifications and enhancements. The app has served us well, but is not sustainable for the long term.

He reports that the migration project will have to survive bad decisions, woefully inadequate management support, bad consultants, and a lack of expertise. "New leadership is in place with more realistic expectations. I hope we can hit a 2019 target." This manager of an A500 system is counting down to an end of 2018 retirement — and doing his best to ensure the system can outlast him.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:40 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 24, 2018

Kept Promises for Open Source on MPE/iX

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

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

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

Read "Kept Promises for Open Source on MPE/iX" in full

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

August 22, 2018

Wayback: 3000s boot mainframes out of HP

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

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

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

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

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

The paper is archived at the OpenMPE website.

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

PosterProject

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

August 20, 2018

Following Job Lines in Emulated 3000 Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Following Job Lines in Emulated 3000 Life" in full

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

August 17, 2018

Nike Arrays 101

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

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

By John Burke
Newswire Classic

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Nike Arrays 101" in full

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

August 15, 2018

3000 users linking up, 10 years later

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 13, 2018

Licensed MPE source solves OS mysteries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 10, 2018

HPCALENDAR joins 3000 intrinsics hits

Newswire Classic

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

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

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

By Shawn Gordon

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

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

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

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

Here’s the lineup of intrinsics:

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

Read "HPCALENDAR joins 3000 intrinsics hits" in full

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

August 08, 2018

Wayback: Linux re-enters the 3000's world

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Wayback: Linux re-enters the 3000's world" in full

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

August 06, 2018

E-commerce keeps making sales on 3000s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 03, 2018

2028 calendar changes to hit MPE, not 3000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 01, 2018

Charon carries Boeing in new 3000 orbit

Pluto and its moons
Illustration by Melanie Demmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 30, 2018

Ways to make SFTP serve to a 3000 system

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

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

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

That leaves the proxy solution.

In this solution, a manager would set up a Linux SFTP server with two NICs. NIC 1 goes to the outside world. NIC 2 is a crossover to the HP 3000. From the HP 3000, SFTP to the Linux server via NIC 2.
 
In another scenario, you can FTP between the HP 3000 and a Linux virtual machine. One developer said that on the Linux VM "we have a small application that talks to the HP 3000 via FTP and forwards to and from other machines via SFTP or SSH." He added that the app on the Linux system is written in Java.
 
Migration often includes this kind of expertise. Charles Finley, a veteran of HP 3000 matters since the 1980s, recently raised his hand to offer notes on using an SSH tunnel. "It does not involve coding, the use of libraries and—although you can do it with Linux—does not necessarily involve Linux." He drew a link to an example employing a Windows host, adding that "we use Linux or Windows for this type of thing. Here's a description of how connect to an FTP/SFTP server which can be accessed via another server only, using PuTTY, "something we make use of a lot," Finley said.
 
There's also a simple way to use SFTP by employing Stromasys Charon. Other servers can SFTP to a Linux partition. Charon is hosted under Linux as it emulates the 3000 hardware. This hosted MPE server can then pick the files up internally.

Read "Ways to make SFTP serve to a 3000 system" in full

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

July 27, 2018

Worst Practices: Shouldn't Happen to a Dog

By Scott Hirsh

Chaplin-A-Dogs-LifeThere is a saying in Washington about Washington: “If you want a friend, get a dog.” Ha! We system managers should be so lucky. We can’t even be our own best friend.

It’s sad but true: we system managers won’t cut ourselves any slack. We repeatedly put ourselves in jeopardy, often making the same mistakes time after time. We even break all the rules we impose on others. Don’t believe me? See if you recognize any of these examples.

1. Hand crafted system management

Ah yes, the good old days. Peace, love and tear gas (I never inhaled). But here’s a news flash, sunshine: for system managers, the ’60s are dead. Predictable, repeatable tasks can and should be automated. If you can script it, you can schedule it. And if you can schedule it, you can automate it. So what are you waiting for? Do you like (take your pick): streaming jobs by hand; adjusting fences and priorities by hand; reading $STDLISTs; staring at the console waiting for that one important message? For this you went to college?

And yet, we (or our management) come up with lots of lame excuses for running a stone-age operation. Can’t afford the automation products, don’t trust automation, can’t trap every error, blah blah blah. Those excuses may fly when you’re small, but suddenly you have more systems, bigger systems and manual management turns your shop into burn-out central. Now there’s turnover costs, downtime costs, opportunity costs.

Oh, and by the way, it’s much more expensive to implement automated management in a large, busy environment than it is to grow automated management from a smaller environment. Perhaps some of us are just adrenaline junkies, or we fear not being needed. Get over it and automate already.

2. The disappearing act

A close personal friend of mine — okay, it was me — once made a change to Security/3000’s SECURCON file, then left for an all-day meeting about 40 miles away. Guess what? None of the application users could log on after my change. Way back then, my pager almost vibrated off my belt from that one. And it made for some interesting meetings when I got back.

I have seen lots of cases where a system manager made a configuration change, installed a patch, or fussed with SYSSTART or UDCs, then immediately went home. Big mistake. If you’re lucky, you live near your data center and can zip right back to repair the carnage that was discovered right away. If you’re not lucky, first you don’t discover your mistake until the worst possible moment — say, around the heaviest usage period the next day — and then you’re forced to take the system down to fix the problem. Ouch.

3. A lack of planning on my part does constitute an emergency on your part

A variation on No. 1. We are the eternal optimists. No matter how invasive the procedure, everything will work out perfectly, right? How many PowerPatches must we install before we realize we must leave adequate time for testing the patched system and perhaps back that sucka out? No really, this time HP (or your favorite vendor) has learned from past mistakes and has a bullet-proof update. No need to leave a cushion for collateral damage. Right.

Every decent system administration book offers the same advice: Don’t do anything you can’t undo. Make a backup copy of whatever you’re changing. Keep track of the steps you followed. Be prepared to back out whatever you’re doing. Because that contingency time can inflate your update schedule by hours, it’s unlikely you can safely make a system change at any time other than weekends or holidays. 

4. I’ve got a secret

You make changes but don’t tell anyone about them. Let’s be charitable and say your changes worked as planned. Unfortunately, nobody knew you were going to make the change. I have seen a change as innocuous as modifying the system prompt have unintended consequences (Reflection scripts looked for the old prompt and now wouldn’t work). The term “system” implies interrelationships. Anything we do has a ripple effect. When we don’t tell others that we’re about to make a change — “they wouldn’t let me do it if I told them!” — we don’t do ourselves any favors. I would love to hear other war stories under this category (hint, hint).

Read "Worst Practices: Shouldn't Happen to a Dog" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:58 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 25, 2018

P9500 storage comes to N-Class 3000s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 23, 2018

Users' HELLOs echo back on 3000-L

Hello Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Users' HELLOs echo back on 3000-L" in full

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

July 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "July's IA-64 news, delivered by the Sandman" in full

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

July 16, 2018

3000 mailing list now quiet for a month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 13, 2018

Fine-Tune: Resetting your LDEV 21 Console

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

1. Is the port configured and available?

a) Check to be sure the system recognizes the port

:showdev 21

LDEV     AVAIL
     21     AVAIL

b) Is the SYSGEN configuration okay? 

:sysgen  sysgen>io
io> ld 21

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

c) Is the User Port configured in NMMGR?

:nmmgr
then ...

OPEN CONF, DTS, USER PORT

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

Read "Fine-Tune: Resetting your LDEV 21 Console" in full

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

July 11, 2018

Holding on to 3000 data: this might work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 09, 2018

Local advice guided bets for 3000 users

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 06, 2018

Using MPE/iX to send SFTP files

I have a script that uses FTP to send files to a site which we open by IP address. We've been asked to change to SFTP (port 22) and use the DNS name instead of an IP address, and I don't believe the 3000 supports that. Does it? If so, how?

Allegro's Donna Hofmeister replies:

I'm not sure you want to do SFTP on port 22. That's the SSH port. SFTP is meant to use port 115. Have a look at one of our white papers on how to do SFTP on MPE.

If you are going to use DNS, you must have your 3000 configured for that. It's easily done. 

However, if you've never done anything on your 3000 to make it act like a real computer (oh -- that's right, it is a real computer and fully capable of using DNS), this can turn into a can o'worms.

Read "Using MPE/iX to send SFTP files" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:15 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 02, 2018

Measuring the Miles to Homesteading's End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 27, 2018

Tiki hut tales run toward success, survival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 25, 2018

Meet shows veterans never too old to learn

2018 3000 Reunion

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_3832

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

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

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

Read "Meet shows veterans never too old to learn" in full

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

June 22, 2018

We're raising a glass in your honor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 20, 2018

Reunion now includes Orly party. And you?

Just an afternoon, to trade stories on the 3000

The Duke signOn June 23, the 3000's users, friends and family are gathering for the latest 3000 Reunion. It may be the last, but then legendary rock bands tell us each tour is their last. The event will include legends — and we’re all rocking on like so many musicians who are in their 60s and beyond.

Here's the essentials

There's even a pre-meeting before the official pub afternoon. Orly Larson checked in to say that "You may want to remind the 3000 Faithful about the Pre-meeting SIG Bar tomorrow at my place in Cupertino after 3 Friday, and the Sunday afternoon after 2pm also at my place." To get the location of the Orly party, email him.

Starting at 1 on Saturday in Cupertino, community members will gather in a cozy snug at the Duke of Edinburgh pub for lunch, beverages, and war stories. People who know and remember the 3000 will meet in a pub so familiar to the MPE crowd that the joint is still known as Building D by some. It's just to the west of where the 3000 grew up. Space has been reserved for a group that's making its way beyond 20 attendees. If you join us, I will be delighted to see you and hear your stories there, as well as any update on your interests and work of today.

There’s no charge for the meeting, thanks to sponsorship of the bar from CAMUS and other happy contributors. A special tour of the Apple Visitor Centre — located on the land that was once the home to the 3000 — is scheduled for 4:30.

Let us know you're coming by by visiting the webpage to check in. Consider it a warm restart of legends. Come to listen to stories and share yours. I'll be glad to hear yours.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 18, 2018

Still seeking expertise for 3000 work

Port of VirginiaFresche Legacy floated a request this month for 3000 experts to contact the company which was once called Speedware. Eric Mintz runs the services group there. 

Fresche Solutions (formerly Speedware) is looking for HP resources (related to MPE, HP-UX, 4GLs, COBOL, IMAGE, Eloquence, knowledge of the common third party utilities, etc.) for various engagements and start dates (some almost immediate). Mandates may include onsite, remote, short to long term. I can't be more specific than this, so please reach out to me directly and I'll work to facilitate next steps.

Some long-term HP 3000 shops have used the services at Fresche. One of them, Virginia International Terminals, has worked with the company long enough to know it as both Speedware and as Fresche. Late in 2016 the organization was doing its final push away from the 3000. The Windows version of Speedware was the target, with the organization moving off of five MPE apps.

The VIT project was moving ahead of schedule when we last checked in with Mintz. We chronicled the pace on that migration during the earliest phase of the Transition Era, once more as the work ramped up,  and again not long ago. MPE was fully dug-in at the organization, which is now part of the Port of Virginia. That's one reason why 3000 expertise was essential to a successful migration.

VIT was fully locked in over all of the last 15 years of its migration. Even still, when HP dropped Carly Fiorina in 2005, it made the IT manager at the time wonder about a twist in the 3000's fate at the time.

Read "Still seeking expertise for 3000 work" in full

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

June 15, 2018

Heartbeat at the center of CPU boost

Newswire Classic

By Gilles Schipper

The activity light on the 3000's LDEV 1 was abnormally high, and we noticed very sluggish response time, even though only the console was signed on and no batch jobs were executing. Having no idea what the problem was — and absent any tools such as Glance to shine a light on the situation — we began to revert to the previous configuration, software and hardware.

Only a week later, with some analysis of NM log files, were we able to establish what was going on. The performance problem was related to the 3000's transceivers. SQL heartbeat was disabled for all of them. The result was that the CPU was being inundated with an overwhelming amount of IO requests in order to log the missing heartbeat event in the NM log file.

This unnecessary and voluminous IO was enough to bring the system to its knees — even absent any other activity. In today's HP 3000 environment, this serious CPU wastage problem can be overlooked, because faster CPUs could render the problem relatively less noticeable. But I would venture to guess that there is a lot of the "wasted IO" that is affecting a large number of HP 3000s out there.

Fortunately, there is a very simple way to recognize whether the problem exists, and also a simple cure. To determine if you have this problem, simply type the following command and look at the reply that follows:

:listf [email protected],2

ACCOUNT=  SYS         GROUP=  PUB

FILENAME  CODE  ------------LOGICAL RECORD-------  ----SPACE----
                  SIZE  TYP    EOF    LIMIT R/B  SECTORS #X MX

H000000A*           1W  FB     5      66010   1      256  1  *
H000000B*           1W  FB     0      66010   1        0  0  *
H0909A5A*           1W  FB     5      66010   1      256  1  *

H0909A5B*           1W  FB     0      66010   1        0  0  *
H13ECEEA*           1W  FB     5      66010   1      256  1  *
H13ECEEB*           1W  FB     0      66010   1        0  0  *
H15F669A            1W  FB     5      66010   1      256  1  *
H15F669B            1W  FB     0      66010   1        0  0  *
HASTAT    NMPRG   128W  FB     347      347   1      352  1  8
HAUTIL    NMPRG   128W  FB     424      424   1      432  1  8
HP32209B  PROG    128W  FB     15        15   1       16  1  1

Notice the OPEN files (the ones with the associated asterisk suffixing the file name) that are 1W in size. There are two such files associated with each configured DTC, file name starting with the letter H, followed by six characters that represent the last six characters of the DTC MAC address, followed by the letter A or B. The EOF for these files should be 0 and 5 for the respective "A" and "B" files.

Otherwise your CPU is being subjected to high-volume unnecessary IO, requiring CPU attention. The solution is to simply enable SQL heartbeat for each transceiver attached to each DTC. This is done via a small white jumper switch that you should see at the side of each transceiver.

Voila, you've just achieved a significant no-cost CPU upgrade.

There is also another method of eliminating this excessive CPU overhead that involves using NMMGR to uncheck as many logging events as you can for each DTC, revalidating and rebooting.

But the SQL-heartbeat enable method is a surer bet.

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

June 13, 2018

New DL325 serves fresh emulation muscle

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

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

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

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

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

Read "New DL325 serves fresh emulation muscle" in full

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

June 11, 2018

Making a 3000 Reunion a Personal Affair

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

HP 50th Anniversary Song

Lyrics to Orly's 50th Anniversary HP song

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

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

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

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

Orly at Reunion
Orly Larson

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

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

Read "Making a 3000 Reunion a Personal Affair" in full

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

June 08, 2018

Fine-Tune: Making the 3000's ports report

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

Kevin Miller replied:

:sockinfo.net.sys

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

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

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

Jeff Kell replied:

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

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

Gilles Schipper replied:

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

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

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

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

Chris Bartram replied:

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

Read "Fine-Tune: Making the 3000's ports report" in full

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

June 06, 2018

Wayback: HP's 3000 Conference Sign-off

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Wayback: HP's 3000 Conference Sign-off" in full

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

June 04, 2018

Being first is about serving customer needs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Being first is about serving customer needs" in full

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

June 01, 2018

Recovering a 3000 password: some ideas

I have an administrator who decided to change passwords on MANAGER.SYS. Now what's supposed to be the new password isn't working. Maybe he mis-keyed it, or just mis-remembered it. Any suggestions, other than a blindfold and cigarette, or starting down the migration path?

The GOD program, a part of MPEX, has SM capability — so it will allow you to do a LISTUSER MANAGER.SYS;PASS=

If your operator can log onto operator.sys:

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

While using your favorite editor or other utility, search for the string: "ALTUSER MANAGER  SYS"

You will notice: PAS=<the pwd> which is your clue.

It's said that a logon to the MGR.TELSUP account can unlock the passwords. The Telsup account usually has SM capability, if it wasn't changed.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:57 PM in Hidden Value, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 30, 2018

HP is doing better without some customers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "HP is doing better without some customers" in full

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

May 25, 2018

Fine-Tune: Locking databases into lookups

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

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

Doug Werth replies:

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

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

Steve Dirickson agrees with the poster of the question:

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

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

Read "Fine-Tune: Locking databases into lookups" in full

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

May 23, 2018

Wayback: Web prospect put songs in hearts

Web GuitarEarlier this week, a call went out for musicians who know the HP 3000. The June reunion of 3000 experts and veterans includes a couple of notable ex-HP members, GM Harry Sterling and former songwriter/engineer Orly Larson. Dave Wiseman, who's leading the band on the June 23 afternoon, has asked around to see if anyone will bring an instrument to accompany Orly's 3000 songs.

That request brought a guitar to mind in a happy time for the 3000. George Stachnik strummed one on Navy Pier in the steamy air of August to lead the 3000 faithful at the 1997 Interex show in Chicago. That was a summer of some hope and relief, too.

In 1997 the fate of the 3000 was brightening. Much of the middle 1990s was a slow time for the rate of MPE/iX enhancements. Once the World Wide Web, as we first called it, broke through in 1995, every computing platform needed to have a story about how the WWW was employed. IBM's AS/400 and Digital's VMS didn't have stories any better than MPE's. That didn't matter as much to customers using those systems. Theirs were not under the gun like the 3000 was, trying to outpace HP-UX and Windows NT in the HP salesforce.

Stachnik strummed and we perspired on Navy Pier, the Chicago venue where the 3000's 25th Anniversary party was being held. He'd passed out the songsheets and I looked around the crowd. Those who weren't singing along were grinning. Your average datacenter manager is less likely to sing in public, but the songs were in the air as Stachnik delivered them with gusto. 

The smiles were as wide as Lake Michigan at HP World, faces beaming with the hope that only HP could bring to the party. I hadn't seen such good feeling since 1991, the year after the Boston Interex uprising. Sure, it was fun celebrating the 25th birthday of the HP 3000 out on the end of Navy Pier on the first night of the show. But the real celebration started the next day, when the HP 3000 division showed its customers proof that the HP 3000 has a real future.

Y2K was already warming the mid-'97 air. First it had driven up wages and contracts for 3000 experts, and then HP announced it would have a Web server for sale on MPE/iX. Programmers with nothing but good COBOL skills could command $55 an hour and Southwest Airlines was frustrated: it couldn't find administrators for its 3000s, whose footprint was growing there.

The future wasn't so bright there was a commitment to make MPE/iX ready for the new Merced chip architecture that was HP's next step for enterprise systems. The 3000 was getting some Internet attention at last, though. Some of that engineering is still ready for today's networking prime time, too.

Read "Wayback: Web prospect put songs in hearts" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 21, 2018

Second generation of migration begins

Synergy for DummiesHP advertised the transition off of 3000s as a migration in 2002. The changes and replacements took place throughout the rest of that decade, culminating around the time HP was closing off its support operations for MPE/iX in 2011. That was generation number one for migration at 3000 shops. The second shift is underway.

Promedica is the largest employer in Toledo, Ohio, a non-profit corporation which used 3000s to manage provider operations running the Amisys software. Tom Gerken is still an analyst at the organization, after many years of managing the production HP 3000s. Now the healthcare firm is shifting off of its Unix version of Amisys, after taking its 3000 computing and migrating it to HP's Unix.

"We did continue using Amisys," he says. "We moved to HP-UX in the second half of 2006. The data transfer to the Oracle database went smoothly. It was really sad seeing the HP 3000s go away."

At Promedica the changes are leading into another generation of migration. "We most likely aren't staying with Amisys much longer," he said. "We have begun the search for a replacement system. I think Amisys is still in the running officially, but I hear it's a long shot to make it into the finals."

Out at the City of Sparks, Nevada, another longtime 3000 manager is shifting into a fresh generation of computing resource. What was once MPE/iX, and then became a virtualized Windows datacenter, is becoming even more virtual.

Read "Second generation of migration begins" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:32 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 18, 2018

Fine-Tune: Setting up a 3000 as file server

I would like to set up an HP 3000 as a file server. In one of my accounts I want to have a share for my 100 users pointing to a separate directory in this account. The homes section in smb.conf normally points to the home group of the user, which is the same for all of them and is not helpful. Is there another way of solving the problem, or must I configure more than the 100 shares?

Mark Wonsil replies:

I saw a clever little trick in Unix that should work on MPE:

[%U]
path = /ACCT/SHARES/%U

This creates a share name that is the same as the username and then it points the files to a directory under the SHARES group.

How do I set my prompt setting in the startup script?

John Burke replies:

Here’s what I do for my prompt:
SETVAR HPPROMPT,”<SASHA: “+&
“!!HPJOBNAME,!!HPUSER.!!HPACCOUNT,!!HPGROUP> “+&
“!!HPDATEF !!HPTIMEF <!!HPCWD>”+CHR(13)+CHR(10)+”[!!HPCMDNUM]:”

This yields, for example,
<SASHA: JPB,MGR.SYSADMIN,PUB> THU, FEB 20, 2003 11:15 PM </SYSADMIN/PUB>
[7]:

A disk drive has failed on a user volume. How can I determine the accounts and groups on that user volume?

John Clogg replies:

Try REPORT @[email protected];ONVS=<volset>

Jeff Woods adds:

In addition to the suggestion to use “:REPORT @[email protected];ONVS=volset” (which may fail because it’s actually trying to look at the group entries on the volume set) you can do a “:LISTGROUP @[email protected]” and scan the listing for groups where HOMEVS is your uservolumesetname. The advantage of LISTGROUP is that it uses only the directory entries on the system volume set. You may want to redirect the output of LISTGROUP to a file and then search that rather than trying to scan the listing directly.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:43 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14, 2018

Pub salvation in UK not needed at The Duke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11, 2018

How to Create Cause and Effect on MPE

Causality-iconHP 3000s took a big step forward with the introduction of a fresh intrinsic in 1995. Intrinsics are a wonderful thing to power HP 3000 development and enhancement. There was a time when file information was hard to procure on a 3000, and JOBINFO came into full flower with MPE/iX 5.0, back in 1994. "The high point in MPE software was the JOBINFO intrinsic," said Olav Kappert, an MPE pro who could measure well: his 3000 experience began in 1979. JOBINFO sits just about at the end of the 456-page MPE/iX Intrinsics Manual published in '94.

Fast-forward 24 years later and people still ask about how they can add features to an application. The Obtaining File Information section of an MPE KSAM manual holds an answer to what seems like an advanced problem. That KSAM manual sits in one of several Web corners for MPE manuals, a link on Team NA Consulting's page. Here's an example of a question where INFO intrinsics can play cause and effect.

I'm still using our HP 3000, and I have access to the HP COBOL compiler. We haven't migrated and aren't intending to. How can I use the characteristics of an input file as HPFOPEN parameters to create an output file? I want that output file to be an exact replica of the input file. I want to do this without knowing anything about the input file until it is opened by the COBOL program. 

I've tried using FFILEINFO and FLABELINFO to capture the characteristics of the input file, once I've opened it. After I get the opens/reads/writes working, I want to be able to alter the capacity of the output file.

Francois Desrochers said, "How about calling FFILEINFO on the input file to retrieve all the attributes you may need? Then apply them to the output file HPFOPEN call."

Donna Hofmeister added 

Have a look at the Using KSAM XL and KSAM 64 manual (Ed. note: link courtesy of Team NA Consulting). Chapters 3 and 4 seem to cover the areas you have questions about. Listfile,5 seems to be a rightly nifty thing.

But rather than beat yourself silly trying to get devise a pure COBOL solution, you might be well advised to augment what you're doing with some CI scripts that you call from your program.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:24 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 09, 2018

SSD devices continue to serve 3000s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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