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)

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HP 3000 resource

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 h@.pub.sys,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 davebwiseman@googlemail.com.

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.

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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.

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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 @.@;ONVS=<volset>

Jeff Woods adds:

In addition to the suggestion to use “:REPORT @.@;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 @.@” 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.

Read "Wayback Wed: Charon's coming out, at a pub" in full

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.

Read "How to Create Cause and Effect on MPE" in full

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)

May 07, 2018

June's 3000 Reunion destination: Building D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 04, 2018

How Details and Masters Get the Job Done

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

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

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

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

May 02, 2018

May meant an IMAGE defense against Codd

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

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

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

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

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

April 30, 2018

3000 fans explore a mystery of history

HP suitcase

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

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

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

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

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

April 27, 2018

Fine-Tune Friday: DDS diagnosis and tips

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

Gilles Schipper replies:

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

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

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

Get rid of that internal DDS tape drive

By John Burke

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

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

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

Read "Fine-Tune Friday: DDS diagnosis and tips" in full

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

April 25, 2018

What emulation might include one day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 23, 2018

When A Better Future Comes from Bad News

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

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

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

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

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

Read "When A Better Future Comes from Bad News" in full

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

April 20, 2018

What Does HP's Disc Brand Mean?

By John Burke

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "What Does HP's Disc Brand Mean?" in full

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

April 18, 2018

Wayback Wed: one website to serve them all

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Wayback Wed: one website to serve them all" in full

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

April 16, 2018

How many 3000s are out there?

1954 CensusIt's a reasonable question, that one, whose answer gets pursued by homesteaders and migrators alike. How many of those computers are still running out there? That's the question asked by the vendors who aren't familiar with the 3000. From another voice, the query sounds like "How many of us are left, by now?"

We heard the question from a migration services company and thought we would ask around a bit. The range of estimates is wide, and unless you're reading from a client list, the calculation of how many systems is a guess based on whatever activity you've seen. Sales of used systems to companies would be one way of measuring such activity. Support contracts would offer another data point. Customers currently paying for support of apps might be a third.

From Steve Suraci at Pivital Solutions, the estimate is 500 active servers in production use, and at least that many more for some sort of historical purpose. In between those two systems might lie hot spares or Disaster Recovery servers. If a system is mission-critical enough to have a hot spare, it's probably going to be one of the last to be mothballed whenever MPE goes dark altogether.

Some of the mystery comes from the fact that 3000s are running all across the world. We've reached some North American community providers, but European and Mideast-Asia is beyond our reach. The numbers in this story reflect North American activity.

Starting with that low end of 1,000-plus systems, Steve Cooper of Allegro estimates 300 to 1,000 active servers. He adds that his number includes both real and emulated systems, acknowledging the role that the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator is playing. Another 3000 veteran at Allegro, Donna Hofmeister, estimates up to 2,000 active systems, "but that seems a bit optimistic to me," Cooper adds.

Read "How many 3000s are out there?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:56 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 13, 2018

Fine-Tune: Net config file care and feeding

I’m replacing my Model 10 array with a Model 20 on MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET, so it'll require a reinstall. What’s the best way to reinstate my network config files? Just restore NMCONFIG and NPCONFIG? I'm hoping I can use my old CSLT to re-add all my old non-Nike drives and mod the product IDs in Sysgen—or do I have to add them manually after using the factory SLT?

Gilles Schipper replies:

Do the following steps:
- using your CSLT to install onto LDEV 1
- modify your i/o to reflect new/changed config.
- reboot
- use volutil to add non-LDEV1 volumes appropriately
- restore directory or directories from backup
- preform system reload from full backup - using the keep, create, olddate, partdb,show=offline options in the restore command
- reboot again

No need for separate restores of specific files.

Read "Fine-Tune: Net config file care and feeding" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:38 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 11, 2018

Wayback Wed: HP group combines, survives

Connect LogoIn the aftermath of the Interex user group bankruptcy, an HP enterprise user group survived. That group remains intact to this day. Its survival is due to an ability to combine forces with other groups, an effort that kicked off 10 years ago this week.

That week was the time when Encompass, the user group that outlasted Interex, gave members a vote on merging with three other HP-related groups. At the time of the April vote, Encompass and these partners weren't even sure what the allied group would call itself. Endeavor was being floated as a possible new name.

The vote of the Encompass members approved the merger with the International Tandem User Group; the European HP Interex group, which was operated separately from the rest of Interex; and a Pacific Rim segment of the Encompass group. The European Interex reported that it had 35,000 members at the time of the merger.

Encompass became Connect, a name announced at HP's Discover conference later that same year. Connect still operates a user group with a large meeting (held at HP's annual event, for the in-person gatherings) as well as smaller Regional User Groups.

The group bills itself as Connect Worldwide, the Independent Hewlett Packard Enterprise Technology, a membership organization. Membership in any user group has evolved during the decade-plus since Interex expired. By now it's free to join the group that serves OpenVMS customers, companies that still employ HP's Unix computers and hardware (Integrity), and sites using the HP NonStop servers (the former Tandem systems).

Those Tandem-NonStop users make up nearly all of the in-person meetings other than the HP Discover event. Discover is devoted to everything HP Enterprise sells and supports. One of the few links remaining to the 3000 at Connect is Steve Davidek, whose management and then migration off 3000s at the City of Sparks made him a good transition leader at Connect.

There are Technical Boot Camps for both NonStop and VMS customers that Connect helps to organize. A boot camp for HP-UX never became a reality. That's one of the choices a group of allied users must face: even some support for a resource like a boot camp (some members were eager) needs to be balanced against the majority membership's desires.

Read "Wayback Wed: HP group combines, survives" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:33 AM in History, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 09, 2018

Aspects to Ponder in Package Replacements

By Roy Brown

Shining-gemEach kind of migration has its advocates, and each has its pros and cons. Your constraints are going to be cost, time, and risk. Probably in that order. I can’t say much about the first two; that depends on your circumstances. Last week we talked about the differences between conversions and migrations and the risks. Another option is going to a package to execute a migration off MPE/iX. It might even be a familiar package — but on a less familiar platform.

Packages

If you have a package running on your HP 3000 which you are happy with, and the vendor provides that same package, or something very similar, on other platforms, then it’s likely just a case of choosing which platform to go with.

Your vendor-supported migration path should be pretty straightforward, and your hardest problem is going to be to decide what to do with the crust of subsystems and reporting programs that have built up, and which surround the package proper. If there are some you can’t do without, and the features aren’t provided by the package anyway, on the new platform, this may be a good chance to get to grips with the tools and utilities on the new platform, and how things are done there.

But maybe you had a bespoke or home-grown application on the HP 3000, in an area now covered by one or more packages on other platforms, and it makes more sense to move onto a package now than to go bespoke again?

In that case, you have a three-way analysis to do; what does your existing system provide, what does the new package provide, and what are your users looking for?

I’ve heard the advice “don’t go for customization, go for plain vanilla” a lot. It certainly gives cost and risk reduction, though perhaps at the expense of business fit. I reckon that a shame; every company has something that is its USP – unique systems proposition – something in its IT that gives it its edge in its chosen business.

On the other hand, sometimes a company does things differently because it was easier, or “it was always done that way.” Those are things you shouldn’t lose sleep over giving up.

Read "Aspects to Ponder in Package Replacements" in full

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

April 06, 2018

How to Measure Aspects of Migrations

Newswire Classic
By Roy Brown

GemSo you are going to migrate. When migrating to a different system or platform, there’s usually something the vendor needs you to lose. But is it essential business functionality, or just an implementation quirk of your old system?

Which migration are you going to have? The luxury option of a custom replacement of your old system? To a package on a new platform, maybe a version of a package you had before, or one new to you? Perhaps the rewrite option, where a team of programmers, possibly offshore, re-implement your system in a whole new environment, while keeping the existing functionality. Or will it be a conversion, where your existing system is transferred to a new platform using automated tools?

Each has its advocates, and each has its pros and cons. Chances are, your constraints are going to be cost, time, and risk. Probably in that order. I can’t say much about the first two; that depends on your circumstances.

Code Conversion

But risk comes in two timescales; immediate risk – “Can we do this? Can we get onto the new platform?” – and the longer-term risk that you are maybe painting your company into a corner by accepting some compromises now that later will turn into shackles.

Those with very long memories may recall some of the early packages being offered for the HP 3000, the apps with KSAM file structures, not IMAGE ones. You just knew they had been ported from elsewhere, not written native on the HP 3000. And if you could find what you wanted, on IMAGE, you were surely glad.

That’s the longer-term risk, then, for some conversions with low short-term risk; you’ll be on the new platform, certainly. But you may have something that plays like the modern-day equivalent of having KSAM, when the smart money is on IMAGE.

Look hard at where you are going to be after a tools-based conversion; will you be fully on the new platform with all-independent code, or will you be running in an environment provided by your conversion specialists? If the latter – and these can indeed lead to faster, cheaper, lower-risk conversions – treat your supplier as a package implementer that you are in with for the long haul, and judge them accordingly.

Likewise, what about ongoing, internal support? One of the reasons to move to new platforms and new paradigms is to tap in to the new generation of people who know their way around them. But if it’s hard to see how you are going to get ongoing support for your HP 3000 apps, how much harder will it be to find people who can support a hybrid old/new system you might wind up with?

Read "How to Measure Aspects of Migrations" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:08 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 04, 2018

Emulation leader hires ex-HP legacy expert

Sue_SkonetskiStromasys, makers of the HP 3000 virtualization and emulation product Charon-HPA/3000, announced the company has hired Susan Skonetski as its Director of Customer Development. Skonetski comes to the Charon product team from the VMS Software firm that's been taking over responsibility for that Digital OS from HP. She's also a former executive at HP, where she was the go-to person for the VMS customer community.

Birket Foster of MB Foster has compared Skonetski to a George Stachnik or perhaps a Jeff Vance: a company exec who's relies on an intimate knowledge of a customer base which uses legacy software and hardware. At HP she was manager of engineering programs for the OpenVMS software engineering group until 2009. She logged 25 years of advocacy service to VMS working first at Digital, then Compaq, and finally HP. She became a leader independent of HP and still strong in the VMS community after HP laid her off in 2009. That was the year HP was also halting the HP 3000 labs development. She became VP at third-party support vendor Nemonix.

In 2010 Skonetski revived a VMS boot camp that had languished during the year she left HP. The event was held in Nashua, NH because until 2008 an HP facility in that city was one of the places where VMS matured. At that boot camp attendees also heard from a 3000 marketing linchpin, Coleen Mueller, addressing technical issues and innovations along with OpenVMS partner companies. We chronicled the event in a story about how HP's unique enterprises stay alive.

Skonetski said that understanding a legacy community flows from years of organizing events and strategies aimed at a unique customer base.

Through my experience, I’ve seen up close the critical role that these legacy systems play in daily business cycles. Helping to ensure the availability of these applications is imperative, with service and support options decreasing for SPARC, Alpha, VAX, and the HP 3000. Stromasys’ innovations, along with their strong team of software designers, solutions executives, and account management professionals, made joining the organization a natural fit. I’m proud to help bring to market both cutting-edge solutions and the user communities of these systems.

Read "Emulation leader hires ex-HP legacy expert" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:32 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 02, 2018

Options for HP 3000 Transformation

By Bruce McRitchie
VerraDyne

GearsTime — it marches on. We can measure it, bend it and try to avoid it. But in the end the clock keeps ticking. This is true for owners of the venerable HP 3000. In its day one of the top minicomputers ever manufactured, it went head-on against IBM (mainframes, AS/400, and System 36), Wang and Digital - and won many of those battles. And many HP 3000s are still running and doing the job they were designed to do. They have been upgraded, repaired and tinkered with to keep them viable. But when is it time for them to retire?

There are options. Many vendors have been working diligently to provide a transformation path to move from the HP 3000 to a modern platform and language. By making such a move these organizational risks are reduced:

  • Hardware failure.
  • Personnel failure - aging programmers.
  • Software failure.

Migration issuesSo why aren't the remaining HP 3000 owners flocking to newer technology? Is it because they know the technology so well — and it works? Have they been through large ugly development projects and never want to go through the pain again?

Whatever the reasoning, the arguments for staying with HP 3000 must be wearing thin. There are options, and to a greater or lesser extent, they all do the transformation job. Today's technology will allow companies to move their whole HP 3000 environment to a new modern environment, with or without changing language and operating system elements. Of course, with the different paths there are trade-offs that must be considered. This article briefly explores some of the options available to transform your HP 3000.

Emulation

At first glance this can appear to be the cheapest and easiest solution. A company picks the supplier of the emulation software, installs it, then puts their code on top and voila—their system is running as it always did. 

But is it? You may now have an emulator interpreting instructions from your HP 3000 and the new operating system you'll use to run the emulator. Is that interpretation always correct?

Read "Options for HP 3000 Transformation" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:16 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 30, 2018

Fine-tune transceivers and their heartbeats

Heartbeat-chartIs MPE/iX sensitive to heartbeat signals generated by network transceivers in LANs? We think it's having a performance impact on our 9x7. What can we do?

These extra heartbeats can be a drain of up to 15 percent on CPU.

If DTCs are involved, flipping a switch on the transceivers can resolve the CPU drain. After flipping the SQE switch to on, excessive IO activity stops — and with it, the excess CPU activity it causes.

If the SQE heartbeat on the 10BaseT transceiver is not on, you can get a high level of disk IO, because the system wants to log each of these events. The IO can be significant, up to a continuous 70-80 IOs per second. Doing a LINKCONTROL @; STATUS = ALL can turn up heartbeat losses recorded since last reset. Turning on the transceiver's SQE heartbeat corrects the problem.

Somewhat randomly, we get a handful of heartbeat losses, carrier losses and transmit errors (same number of each). We can go for days without seeing any. We replaced the MIO card but it had no effect on these occasional glitches. I’d like to replace the transceiver because we see no other problems anywhere on our network. What are my chances of successfully doing this hot?

You can swap transceivers hot. In fact, Replacing the transceiver solves the problem.

What diagnostics and network reports should I trace to discover a transceiver's heartbeat problems?

SQE heartbeat loss can lead to all sorts of network and system performance problems. It's usually caused by a defective transceiver or a transceiver that has not been configured correctly  The first thing to do is check for heartbeat losses on the LAN card. Heartbeat losses on the system card cause slow network throughput, most notable in large file transfers. The LINKCONTROL command can show you if the transceiver is not providing SQE heartbeat.

Read "Fine-tune transceivers and their heartbeats" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 28, 2018

From Small Boxes Came Great Longevity

HP 3000s have survived more than 40 years by now. The live-server count probably numbers in the thousands, a populace that includes many members of the Series 9x8 line. This month, 24 years ago, HP started to deliver that low-end set of servers that's still running today.

A Series 918 or 928 is commonplace among the sites still running 3000s in production or archival mode. In the spring of 1994 HP uncapped a low-end unlike any before it. An 8-user server, running at the lowest tier of MPE/iX license, was under $12,000 in a two-slot system before sales tax. The 928 could support up to 64 users for under $40,000.

918-997 HP 3000 performance 1999The low-end of the 3000 line has outlasted many 9x9s

Servers at the 968 and 978 slots of the debut product lineup supported up to 100 users and still sold for under $85,000. The prices were high compared to the Unix and Windows NT alternatives that Hewlett-Packard was pushing hard in 1994. This was the era when Windows NT hadn't yet become the Windows Server software, however. Unix was on the way to proving its mettle in stability compared to 3000s.

The introduction of the 9x8 Series came in a shadow year for my 3000 reporting. I'd left the HP Chronicle and hadn't yet started the NewsWire, which would debut in 1995. During 1994 I was a freelance writer and editor for HP, looking over my shoulder at this low-end rollout that might preserve the 3000 in the small business markets. The 918 was a key to the 3000's renaissance and a good reason to start a newsletter and website. It's also helped keep the server alive in production to this day.

Read "From Small Boxes Came Great Longevity" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:16 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 26, 2018

Upgrade your hardware to homestead longer

Hardware toolsKeeping storage devices fresh is a key step in maintaining a datacenter that uses HP's 3000 hardware. Newer 3000s give you more options. Our net.digest columnist John Burke shared advice that's still good today while planning the future for a 3000s that will remain online for some time to come. Maybe not until 2028, but for awhile.

If you can, replace your older machines with the A-Class or N-Class models. Yes, the A-Class and some N-Class systems suffer from CPU throttling. (That's HP’s term. Some outside HP prefer CPU crippling.) However, even with the CPU throttling, most users will see significant improvement simply by moving to the A-Class or N-Class.

Both the A-Class and N-Class systems use the PCI bus. PCI cards are available for the A- and N-Class for SE-SCSI, FW-SCSI and Ultra-3 SCSI (LVD). You can slap in many a drive manufactured today, made by any vendor. SCSI is SCSI. Furthermore, with MPE/iX 7.5, PCI fiber channel adaptors are also supported, further expanding your choices.

If you are going to homestead on the older systems, or expect to use the older systems for a number of years to come, you have several options for storage solutions. For your SE-SCSI adaptors, you can use the new technology-old interface 18Gb and 36Gb Seagate drives. For your FW-SCSI (HVD) adaptors, since no one makes HVD drives anymore, you have to use a conversion solution. [You could of course replace your FW-SCSI adaptors with SE-SCSI adaptors, but this would reduce capacity and throughput.]

One possibility is to use an LVD-HVD converter and hang a string of new LVD drives off each of your FW-SCSI adaptors. HP and other vendors have sold routers that allow you to connect from FW-SCSI adaptors to Fibre Channel resources such as SANs. It's one way to accomplish something essential: get rid of those dusty old HP 6000 enclosures, disasters just waiting to happen.

As for tape drives, move away from DDS and use DLT (4000/7000/8000) with DLT IV tapes. Whatever connectivity problems there are can be dealt with just like the disk drives. If you have an A-Class or N-Class machine, LTO or SuperDLT both use LVD connections. If you have a non-PCI machine, anything faster that a DLT 8000 is wasted anyway because of the architecture lineups with 3000 IO.

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

March 23, 2018

Moving, Yes — Volumes to Another 3000

Newswire Classic

By John Burke

Here is a shortened version of the revised checklist for moving user volumes physically from one system to another without a RESTORE

  • Get the new system up and running, even if it only has one disk drive

(if you've purchased additional new drives, do not configure them with VOLUTIL yet)

  • Analyze and document the configuration on the old system, making any necessary configuration changes on the new system and creating an SLT for the new system;
  • Backup and verify the system volume set and the user volumes separately (be sure to use the DIRECTORY option on all your STOREs);
  • VSCLOSE all the user volume sets on the old machine;
  • Move all the peripherals over to the new machine. On a START NORECOVERY, the user volumes should mount. The drives that were on the system volume set on the old system and any new drives added should now be configured in using VOLUTIL;
  • RESTORE the system volume set:

RESTORE *T;@.@.@;KEEP;OLDDATE;
SHOW=OFFLINE;FILES=n;DIRECTORY

  • RENAME the following three files if they exist to something else:

SYSSTART.PUB.SYS
NMCONFIG.PUB.SYS
COMMAND.PUB.SYS (udc configuration)

  • RESTORE the above three files from your tape with the DEV=1 option.

The OS requires that some files, for example SYSSTART, be on LDEV 1;

  • RUN NMMGR against NMCONFIG.PUB.SYS, then using NMMGR, change the path for the LANIC, if necessary, and make any other necessary NMMGR configuration changes.
  • Validate NETXPORT and DTS/LINK, which should automatically cross validate with SYSGEN.
  • START NORECOVERY

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:10 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 21, 2018

Tracking the Prints of 3000 Print Software

Tymlabs logoA reader of ours with a long memory has a 3000 connected to a printer. The printer is capable of printing a 8.5 x 12 sheet, so it's enterprise-grade. The 3000 is running software built by OPT, '90s-era middleware for formatting print jobs from MPE/iX.

To nobody's surprise, the PSP Plus product had problems operating in 2018. "I actually tried to use it in recent times to print to a strange brand of printers, Microplex," our reader said. "The software still ran, but formatting did not work right."

Bruce-Toback

"I was able to print to it with some success, but I could never get the software to do what I wanted it to do, which was to fill up a 12 x 8.5" page and make logical and physical page breaks coincide." The software was a stellar choice for its day, having been developed by the funny, wry and brilliant Bruce Toback (above). Bruce passed away during the month we started this blog, though, more than 12 years ago. His tribute was the subject of our very first blog entry.

Great software that once could manage many printers, but can't do everything, might be revived with a little support. It's a good bet that OPT support contract hasn't been renewed, but asking for help can't hurt if your expectations are reasonably low. The challenge is finding the wizard who still knows the OPT bits.

"We bought and it went from OPT to Tymlabs to Unison to Tivoli to...” These kinds of bit-hunts are the management task that is sometimes crucial to homesteading in 2018. Printing can be a keystone of an IT operation, so if the software that drives the paper won't talk to a printer, even a strange one, that failure can trigger a migration. It's like the stray thread at the bottom of the sweater that unravels the whole garment.

Maybe this product that started at OPT never made its way to Tivoli. My notes say ROC Software took on all of the Unison products. Right here in Austin—where we're breathing with relief after that bomber's been taken down—ROC still supports and sells software for companies using lots of servers. Even HP 3000s.

Read "Tracking the Prints of 3000 Print Software" in full

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

March 19, 2018

Why Support Would Suggest Exits from 3000

Way-OutThe work of a support provider for 3000 customers has had many roles over the last 40 years. These indies have been a source for better response time, more customer-focused services, a one-call resource, affordable alternatives and expertise HP no longer can offer. They've even been advisors to guide a 3000 owner to future investments.

That last category needs expertise to be useful, and sometimes it requires a dose of pragmatism, too. Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions gave us a thoughtful answer to the question of, "How do I get my 3000 ready for post-2028 use?" His advice shows how broad-minded a 3000-focused support company can be.

By Steve Suraci

While the solution to the 2028 problem is going to be fairly trivial, it really is the entry point to a much bigger question: What logical argument could any company make at this time to continue to run an HP 3000 MPE system beyond 2028?

I understand that some companies have regulatory requirements that require data to be available on the 3000 for years beyond its original creation date. Beyond this, what logical justification could an IT manager make to their management for perpetuating the platform in production beyond 2028? 

2028 is a long way out from HP’s end of support date [2010] and even further from the original 2001 announcement by HP of their intentions to no longer support it.  It would seem to me that there was a reasonable risk/reward proposition for extending the platform initially for some period of time.  I have to believe that the justification for that decision will expire as time goes on, if not already.

The homesteading base has not in general been willing to spend to keep the platform viable.  They take bigger and bigger risks and alienate themselves from the few support providers who remain capable of providing support in the event of an actual issue. The stability of the platform has lulled them into believing that this has been a good decision.  But what happens when it’s not?

Read "Why Support Would Suggest Exits from 3000" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:05 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 16, 2018

Fine-tune Friday: SCSI Unleashed

Seagate 73GB driveAlthough disk technology has made sweeping improvements since HP's 3000 hardware was last built, SCSI devices are still being sold. The disk drives on the 15-year-old servers are the most likely point of hardware failure. Putting in new components such as the Seagate 73-GB U320 SCSI 10K hard drive starts with understanding the nature of the 3000's SCSI.

As our technical editor John Burke wrote, using a standard tech protocol means third parties like Seagate have products ready for use in HP's 3000 iron.

SCSI is SCSI

Extend the life of your HP 3000 with non-HP peripherals

By John Burke

This article will address two issues and examine some options that should help you run your HP 3000 for years to come. The first issue: you need to use only HP-branded storage peripherals. The second issue: because you have an old (say 9x7, 9x8 or even 9x9) system, then you are stuck using both old technology and just plain old peripherals. Both are urban legends and both are demonstrably false.

There is nothing magical about HP-branded peripherals

Back in the dark ages when many of us got our first exposure to MPE and the HP 3000, when HP actually made disk drives, there was a reason for purchasing an HP disk drive: “sector atomicity.” 9x7s and earlier HP 3000s had a battery that maintained the state of memory for a limited time after loss of power. In my experience, this was usually between 30 minutes and an hour.

These systems, however, also depended on special firmware in HP-made HP-IB and SCSI drives (sector atomicity) to ensure data integrity during a power loss. If power was restored within the life of the internal battery, the system started right back up where it left off, issuing a “Recover from Powerfail” message with no loss of data. It made for a great demo.

Ah, but you say all your disk drives have an HP label on them? Don’t be fooled by labels. Someone else, usually Seagate, made them. HP may in some cases add firmware to the drives so they work with certain HP diagnostics, but other than that, they are plain old industry standard drives. Which means that if you are willing to forego HP diagnostics, you can purchase and use plain old industry standard disk drives and other peripherals with your HP 3000 system.

Read "Fine-tune Friday: SCSI Unleashed" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:41 PM in Hidden Value, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 14, 2018

Wayback Wed: When MPE/iX wasn't for sale

Ten years ago this week, HP made it clearer to 3000 owners that they didn't really own their systems. Not the life-breath of them, anyway. At the final meeting of the Greater Houston Regional Users Group, e3000 Business Manager Jennie Hou explained that the hundreds of millions of dollars paid for MPE/iX over 30 years did not equate to ownership of HP 3000 systems. HP was only licensing the software that is crucial to running the servers—not selling it.

The hardware was a physical asset owned by the buyers. The software, though—which breathed life into the PA-RISC servers—was always owned by HP. Without MPE/iX, those $300,000 top-end servers were as useless as a tire without air.

Most software is purchased as a license to use, unless it's an open sourced product like Linux. The reinforcement of this Right to Use came as the vendor was trying to control the future of the product it was cutting from its lineup. HP 3000s would soon be moving into the final phase of HP's support, a vintage service that didn't even include security updates.

Hou confirmed the clear intention that HP would cede nothing but "rights" to the community after HP exited its 3000 business."The publisher or copyright owner still owns the software," Hou said when license requirements beyond 2010 were discussed. "You didn't purchase MPE/iX. You purchased a right to use it."

WhoOwns

The announcement made it clear than any source code license was going to be a license to use, not own. Support companies and software vendors would be paying $10,000 for that license in a few years' time. Ownership of HP 3000s is built around MPE/iX, by HP's reckoning, even in an Enterprise era. License transfers for MPE/iX are one of the only items or services HP offers.

HP's announcement during that March came on the heels of a new third party program to transform HP 3000 lockwords to passwords — the character strings that were needed to operate HP’s ss_update configuration program.

The new SSPWD takes an HP lockword — designed to limit use of ss_update to HP’s support personnel — and delivers the corresponding password to enable a support provider start and use ss_update.

Continuing to reserve the license for MPE/iX means that emulated 3000s still have a link to Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, too. The vendor never implemented its plans to offer separate emulator-based MPE/iX licenses, either.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:54 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 12, 2018

Momentum moves towards Museum meeting

CHM displayDave Wiseman continues to pursue a 3000 user reunion for late June, and we've chosen to help invite the friends of the 3000. One of the most common sentiments from 3000 veterans sounds like what we heard from Tom Gerken of an Ohio-based healthcare firm.

"It was really sad seeing the HP 3000s go away," he said, talking about the departure of the system from Promedica. "I really liked MPE as an operating system. It was the BEST!"

The last HP 3000 event 2011 was called a Reunion. A 2018 event might be a Retirement, considering how many of the community's members are moving to semi-retirement.

Wiseman says that he's in retirement status as he defines it. "It's working not because you have to,"he said in a call last week, "but because you want to."

Most of us will be working in some capacity until we're too old to know better. That makes the remaining community members something like the HP 3000 itself—serving until it's worn down to bits. The event this summer will be a social gathering, a chance to see colleagues and friends in person perhaps for the first time in more than a decade.

The weekend of June 23-24 is the target for the 3000 Retirement party. We're inquiring about the Computer History Museum and a spot inside to gather, plus arrangements for refreshments and appetizers. There will be a nominal cover fee, because there's no band. Yet.

If you've got a customer list or a Facebook feed you'd like to spread the word on, get in touch with me. Spread the word. Email your friends.

No matter whether you have a contact list or not, save the date: one afternoon on the fourth weekend of June. Details to come. 

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

March 09, 2018

Fine-Tune Friday: Account Management 101

Newswire Classic

By Scott Hirsh

Ledger-bookAs we board the train on our trip through HP 3000 System Management Hell, our first stop, Worst Practice #1, must be Unplanned Account Structure. By account structure I am referring to the organization of accounts, groups, files and users. I maintain that the worst of the worst practices is the failure to design an account structure, then put it into practice and stick with it. If instead you wing it, as most system managers seem to do, you ensure more work for yourself now and in the future. In other words, you are trapped in System Management Hell.

What’s the big deal about account structure? The account structure is the foundation of your system, from a management perspective. Account structure touches on a multitude of critical issues: security, capacity planning, performance, and disaster recovery, to name a few. On an HP 3000, with all of two levels to work with (account and group), planning is even more important than in a hierarchical structure where the additional levels allow one to get away with being sloppy (although strictly speaking, not planning your Unix account structure will ultimately catch up with you, too). In other words, since we have less to work with on MPE, making the most of what we have is compelling.

As system managers, when not dozing off in staff meetings, the vast majority of our time is spent on account structure-related activities: ensuring that files are safely stored in their proper locations, accessible only to authorized users; ensuring there is enough space to accommodate existing file growth as well as the addition of new files; and occasionally, even today, file placement or disk fragmentation can become a performance issue, so we must take note of that.

In the unlikely event of a problem, we must know where everything is and be able to find backup copies if necessary. Periodically we are asked (perhaps with no advance notice) to accommodate new accounts, groups, users and applications. We must respond quickly, but not recklessly, as this collection of files under our management is now ominously referred to as a “corporate asset.”

You wouldn’t build a house without a design and plans, you wouldn’t build an application without some kind of specifications, so why do we HP 3000 system managers ignore the need for some kind of consistent logic to the way we organize our systems?

Read "Fine-Tune Friday: Account Management 101" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:51 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 07, 2018

Wayback: When MPE would need no 3000s

3000 license plateIt's been a decade and a half since HP began to examine the needs of the homesteading base of 3000 owners. Fifteen years ago this month, the first HP proposal for licensing MPE/iX outside of the server's ownership was floated into the community. The document in March of 2003 said that a license could be created "Independent of the HP e3000 platform."

HP had renamed the 3000 as the e3000 to tout the server's Internet compatibility. The era around 2003 was full of possibility. Mike Paivinen was a project manager in R&D who spearheaded a lot of planning for 3000 homesteading. Emulators were on the horizon. Somebody would need licensed MPE if they were to use them. Paivinen authored the un-3000 MPE/iX proposal.

The major concern is that without some more details, companies interested in creating a PA-RISC platform emulator would be unable to fully evaluate their business case for moving forward with an emulator project. Below is HP’s current proposal for distributing the MPE/iX operating system independent of the HP e3000 hardware platform.

Onward the plan went, setting out terms that included running any emulator on HP-branded hardware, as well as operating MPE/iX on the emulator with no warranty. At the time the 3000 division was calling itself Virtual CSY, or vCSY.

vCSY intends to establish a new distribution plan for the MPE/iX operating system which will likely be effective by early 2004. The MPE/iX OS would be licensed independent of the HP e3000 hardware platform. The license terms would grant the licensee the right to use a single copy of MPE/iX on a single HP hardware platform subject to certain terms and conditions. Such terms and conditions would require MPE/iX to be run in an emulated environment, hosted on an HP platform, and would include a statement that MPE is provided “AS-IS” with no warranty.

For about $500 a license, HP would offer MPE/iX and some subsystem software like TurboStore "via an HP website. The customer should be able to purchase MPE/iX online, download it, or have it shipped on CD." There was a big catch that would end up kicking in. Item 16 of an HP FAQ was a question that set out a dare.

Read "Wayback: When MPE would need no 3000s" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 05, 2018

2028 patching begins to emerge

Beechglen Communicator CoverBeechglen Development has announced a new 2028 patching service. The services are aimed at customers using Beechglen for HP 3000 and MPE/iX support. According a PDF document hosted at the Beechglen website, the software modifications to MPE/iX are authorized through the terms of the HP source code license that was granted to seven firms in 2011.

Several 3000 consulting and support providers have an ability to serve the community with revisions to extend 3000 date-handling beyond January 1, 2028. Several of them were on a CAMUS user group call last November. Beechglen is the first company to employ the date repair services through a set of patches. One question is whether the patches can be applied to any system, or must be customized in a per-system process.

The software alterations seem to include changes to MPE/iX, not just to applications and surround code hosted at a 3000 site. Doug Werth, director of technical services at Beechglen, said in a message to the 3000-L mailing list, "While it isn’t quite “MPE Forever” it does extend the HP 3000 lifespan by another 10 years."

The strategy was outlined as part of a document called the Beechglen Communicator, formatted and written to look like the Communicator tech documents HP sent to MPE/iX support customers through 2007. 

The Year >2027 patches have been developed as enhancements under the Beechglen Development Inc. MPE/iX Source Code Agreement with Hewlett-Packard. As provided in this agreement, these patches can only be provided as enhancements to MPE/iX systems covered under a support agreement from Beechglen Development Inc.

The three pages of technical explanation about the patches is followed by a list of third party software companies who have products "certified on Beechglen-patched MPE systems that their software is Y2028 compatible." Adager and Robelle products are listed as certified in the Beechglen document.

Read "2028 patching begins to emerge" in full

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

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