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."

Read "May meant an IMAGE defense against Codd" in full

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

Pivital Solutions: Your complete
HP 3000 resource

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)

March 02, 2018

Fine-Tune Friday: One 3000 and Two Factors

RSA SecurID fobPeople are sometimes surprised where HP 3000s continue to serve. Even in 2018, mission-critical systems are performing in some Fortune 500 companies. When the death knell sounds for their applications, the axe gets swung sometimes because of security. Two-Factor security authentication is a standard now, serving things like Google accounts, iCloud data, and corporate server access.

Eighteen years ago, one HP 3000 shop was doing two-factor. The work was being coded before smartphones existed. Two-factor was delivered using a security fob in most places. Andreas Schmidt worked for Computer Sciences Corporation, which served the needs of DuPont in Bad Homburg, Germany. CSC worked with RSA Security Dynamics to create an RSA Agent that connected a 3000 to an RSA Server.

Back in that day, authentication was done with fobs like the one above. Now it's a smart device sharing the key. Schmidt summarized the work done for what he calls "the chemical company" which CSC was serving.

Two-Factor Token Authentication is a state-of-the-art process to avoid static passwords. RSA Security Dynamics provides an MPE Agent for this purpose which worked perfectly for us with Security/3000, but also with basic MPE security. The technical approach is not simple, but manageable. The main problems may arise during the rollout because of human behavior in keeping known procedures and avoiding changes, especially for security. But to stay on HP 3000 into the future, the effort is worth it, especially for better security.

The project worked better when it relied on the Security/3000 software installed on the server hosting Order Fulfillment. Two-factor security was just gaining widespread traction when this 3000 utilized it. Schmidt acknowledged that the tech work was not simple, but was manageable. When a 3000 site is faced with the alternative of developing a replacement application away from MPE/iX, or selecting an app off the shelf like SAP, creating two-factor is within the limits of possibility. Plus, it may not be as expensive as scrapping an MPE application.

Schmidt's article covers an Agent Solution created by CSC. Even 18 years ago, remaining on the 3000 was an issue worth exploring. When many outside firms access a 3000, two factor can be key.

Read "Fine-Tune Friday: One 3000 and Two Factors" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:52 PM in Hidden Value, Migration | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 28, 2018

An Opening for MPE's Closing Numbers

OpenMPEHeaderTen years ago this month OpenMPE was holding one of its last contested board elections. Spring meant new questions and sometimes new people asking them. The advocacy group launched in the wake of HP's 3000 pullout notice never had a staff beyond its directors. Once in awhile a 3000 expert like Martin Gorfinkel would be contracted for a project, but most of the time the six to nine volunteers from the 3000 community debated with HP on every request, desire and crazy dream from a customer base stunned into transition.

Directors operated on two-year terms, and those elected in 2008 were the last to serve theirs in the era when HP operated an MPE/iX lab. While the lights were still on at HP, there was some hope homesteaders might receive more help. OpenMPE was in charge of asking, but could report nothing without HP's okay.

OpenMPE never pulled from a deep base of volunteers. Most elections featured the likes of nine people running for seven seats, so a long list of losing candidates was never part of the results. The ballots came through from members of the group via emails. Here at the NewsWire I counted them and had them verified by a board committee. In the biggest of elections we saw 111 votes cast.

OpenMPE Links
OpenMPE's 2009 patch proposal

The 2008 election revolved around source code licensing for MPE/iX. The vendor would report the last of its end-game strategies by November, and the end of HP's 3000 lab activity was to follow soon after. Support with fixes to security problems and patches would be over at the end of 2008, and that made the election important as well. There was no promise yet of when the source code might be released, to who, or under what conditions. It looked like HP was going to shut down the MPE/iX lab with beta test patches still not moved to general release.

Getting candidate positions on the record was my role. I dreamed up the kinds of questions I wanted HP to answer for me. HP only promised that by 2010 customers would know whether source would be available and to who. A question to candidates was, "Is it acceptable for the vendor to wait until the start of 2010, as  it plans to do now?"

The question was more confrontational than the volunteers could ask. HP controlled the terms of the discussion as well as the content. Hewlett-Packard held conference calls with volunteers for the first five years of the group's existence, but the calls stopped in 2008. 

Fewer than 30 people ever served on an OpenMPE board. The list was impressive, but keeping good talent like consultant and columnist John Burke or Pivital Solutions' Steve Suraci was tough. Directors like that always wanted more out of HP than the vendor would provide: more transparency, more resources. Of the final three to volunteer, Keith Wadsworth was the only one ever to ask the board to consider if OpenMPE should continue to exist. His election in 2010 gave him the platform to demand an answer. During the next year the directors dwindled to three. 

The group was finally granted a license for MPE source, but it had little else as an asset. There was a $10,000 fee due to HP in 2010 for that license which the group couldn't pay. It also didn't have developers who'd polish it toward any productive use among 3000 customers. That source code was like metal stock without a drill press to shape it, or even an operator.

Staffing resource was always an issue. The group did its best work when it pointed out the holes HP had left behind in its migration strategy for customers. A license transfer process would've never surfaced without OpenMPE's efforts. As of this year, license transfers are the only remaining HP 3000 service a customer can get from HP Enterprise.

Read "An Opening for MPE's Closing Numbers" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:19 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 26, 2018

Overview compares emulation strategies

MBFA Emulation OptionsMB Foster has put some of its Wednesday Webinars online for streaming. A link to a web page leads to a form for input of your name and email, and eventually a return message gives a link to the streams. The company has a lot of firsts to its name for transition training, and this might be the first delivery online of 3000-specific advice since HP's migration broadcasts of 15 years ago.

Much of the online content wraps around the MB Foster product line: UDACentral, UDASynch, and MBF-Scheduler all have webinars. One broadcast, though, promises to be one of the first overviews of emulation strategies. These are the ways customers can re-host HP 3000 applications. Virtualization, using the Charon HPA solution from Stromasys, is the ultimate solution discussed in 45 minutes of presentation.

"I don't think there's anybody else in the marketplace that's given an overview of the emulators," said MB Foster's Chris Whitehead. "It's been up to each individual company to decipher what they can and cannot use."

He's right, and the webinars from early this year and the middle of last year give a broad overview of what emulation might look like. It's an interesting term with many definitions, according to our overview. For some planners, this word means getting away from MPE/iX-based hardware, creating a shell on a Windows or Unix host where MPE/iX apps run. The infrastructure and surround code changes, along with databases and services like job streaming. A more current solution, from Stromasys, gives modern Intel hosts a Linux cradle, where a PA-RISC lookalike runs existing MPE/iX code, infrastructure and all. Nothing changes except the hardware in that emulation.

CEO Birket Foster said some of his customers have deployed the Charon emulator. A few on the call said the overview was helpful in understanding the options for emulation.

The link to the emulation show is available by following the MB Foster link to its email-collection page. One pass through what the company calls HP 3000 Emulation Options (free signup required) has about 45 minutes of review including slides. The Stromasys information shows up at the 34:00 mark of the show, which includes summaries of EZ-MPE, TI/Ordat, and Marxmeier's Eloquence database — the latter a TurboIMAGE lookalike.

The goal of most emulation is to keep changes to a minimum. Charon does the most complete job of limiting change.HP helped emulation become virtualization for 3000s. Emulation of HP's hardware on Intel came to our community after Stromasys re-engineered code for PA-RISC boot up. HP gave help directly to the company to complete the project after a long pause on HP's part.

Read "Overview compares emulation strategies" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:31 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 23, 2018

Friday Fine-tune: Check on LDEV availability

Is there a way to have an HP 3000 jobstream check to see if a tape drive (LDEV) is available? I am not seeing a HP system variable that seems to list the status. I can see via a SHOWDEV that the device is available or not. I just need a jobstream to be able to do the same.

Roy Brown replies

We use a utility, apectrl.pub.orbit, that we found in our ORBIT account alongside Backup+. We use this, in a command file run as a jobstream, to check that tapes are mounted ready for our nightly backups, and, in the backup job itself, to eject them when complete.

Tom Hula says,

It's been awhile since I've messed with the 3000. I have a utility that I received from Terry Tipton many years ago that does that checking. It is called CHKTAPE. So if the tape drive is dev 7, I have CHKTAPE 7 in the jobstream and then check for the results in CHKTAPE_RESULT. We are looking for a value of 0, but here are all the results:

0 - Tape is unowned, online, at BOT and writeable
1 - Tape is unowned, online, at BOT and write protected
2 - An error occurred.  Probably an invalid device number
3 - Device is not a tape drive
4 - Device is owned by another process
5 - Device is owned by the system
6 - Tape is not online
7 - No tape in device

Terry has a reminder that the program must reside in a group with PM capability. I have been using it on all my backups since without any problems. Let me know if you are interested in getting a copy of this utility.

Alan Yeo adds,

We use the little ONLINE utility from Allegro to put a tape on-line, or back on-line; we use it to put automatically back on-line to do a verify after the store.

Donna Hofmeister replies

Here's a scripted solution to the question. MPE has the best scripting language of any OS. Thanks, Jeff (Vance)!

Read "Friday Fine-tune: Check on LDEV availability" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:03 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 21, 2018

HP's Enterprise reports a rising Q1 tide

HPE Hybrid IT Q1 2017
Source: HPE reports. Click for details.

As her parting gift to incoming CEO Antonio Neri, HP Enterprise leader Meg Whitman left him with one of the best quarters HPE has posted in years. While the company that makes systems to replace the HP 3000 posted 34 cents a share in profits, its revenue from server sales rose by 11 percent, along with gains in storage revenues (up 24 percent) and datacenter networking gear (up 27 percent).

The increase in server sales has been a difficult number to deliver ever since HP stopped supporting the HP 3000. The gains came in the computer lines driven by Intel's chips, not HP's Itanium processors.

An analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy was quoted in the Bay Area's Mercury News as saying "If this is what HPE will look like under new CEO Antonio Neri, investors, customers, partners and employees will be pleased.”

The results came from the final quarter of Whitman's leadership, though. The company is raising its quarterly dividends to almost 12 cents a share, a 50 percent increase, to return money to shareholders. HPE will be buying back its stock throughout 2018 as well. The stock price rose to $18.35 on the report, which beat analysts' estimates of 22 cents a share in profits and $7.1 billion in revenue. HPE's Q1 2018 revenues were $7.7 billion.

Industry Standard Servers—the type of computer system that can drive the Stromasys Charon virtualized MPE/iX environment—came in for specific mention in HP's conference call with analysts. ISS contributed to the overall growth in servers, according to Neri. 

He also commented on the change in US tax laws benefiting HPE ("we have more flexibility in using our overseas cash") and then explained how his HPE Next is going to shift the culture of the corporation that was once ruled by the HP Way.

Read "HP's Enterprise reports a rising Q1 tide" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:46 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 19, 2018

Relief at Finding One Another is Real

Missed-youIt can be difficult to round up a collective of HP 3000 and MPE users. Even the CAMUS user group society meeting of November was dominated by vendors, consultants and non-customers. I began long ago to classify consultants as customers. They're representing a company that needs expertise but can't put an expert on the payroll. During the call one consultant spoke up saying he was doing just that. A representative from Infor was asking how many of the meeting's attendees had MANMAN installed.

After awhile Terry Lanza, who'd organized the meeting conducted on a widespread conference call, asked "Is there an HP 3000 user group still going, or has that kind of folded?" Doug Werth of Beechglen replied, "The user group doesn't really exist much. It's just the HP3000 Listserv."

Even the 3000-L, where the L stands for Listserv, has many moments of absolute quiet. People are curious, reading what's been up there for more than 25 years. But it can be weeks between messages. The Quiet Day Count stands at seven right now, after an exchange about groups residing on multiple volumesets.

That's why it's encouraging to see people like Lanza and Dave Wiseman bring efforts to bear on finding one another. Wiseman, who's hosted some 3000 gatherings over the very-quiet last five years, still has his eye set on a 2018 3000 meeting. He's looking in specific at two dates for a meeting in June: Saturday the 16th or Friday the 22nd. That could be a meeting in Cupertino, or a gathering out on the California coast in Santa Cruz, he says. I'd be voting for that Friday (flights are cheaper on Thursdays) with time to enjoy California for a couple days afterward.

Get in touch with us via email, or better yet with Wiseman, to show a preference. (davebwiseman@googlemail.com or +44 777 555 7017)

The overwhelming emotion I see and hear during meetings like that CAMUS call or an in-person event is relief. "I thought I was the only one left out here running a 3000," someone said during the CAMUS call. You're not, and gatherings reinforce your good stewardship of an IT resource. They might also provide an update on what to do next. It could be virtualization or a migration. Real world experience flows easier in person. You can also learn what you might have missed.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:18 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 16, 2018

Friday Fine-tune: Deleting Bad System Disks

As HP 3000s age their disks go bad, the fate of any component with moving parts. Even after replacing a faulty drive there are a few software steps to perform. Wyell Grunwald explains his problem after replacing a failed system bootup disk

Our disk was a MEMBER in MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET. I am trying to delete the disk off the system.  Upon startup, the 3000 says LDEV 4 is not available.  When going into SYSGEN, then IO, then DDEV 4, it gives me a warning that it is part of the system volume set — and cannot be deleted. How do I get rid of this disk?

Gilles Schipper of support provider GSA said that INSTALL is something to watch while resetting 3000 system disks.

Sounds like your install did not leave you with only a single MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET disk. Could it be that you have more than one system volume after INSTALL because other, non-LDEV 1 volumes were added with the AVOL command of SYSGEN — instead of the more traditional way of adding system volumes via the VOLUTIL utility?

You can check as follows:

SYSGEN
IO
LVOL

If the resulting output shows more than one volume, that's the answer.

He offers a repair solution as well.

Read "Friday Fine-tune: Deleting Bad System Disks" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:43 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 14, 2018

Wayback Wednesday: An Armload of Value

Snow with A-ClassOn a February afternoon in a Silicon Valley of 2001, the HP 3000 realized its highest order of invention. The PA-RISC processors had been powering the server for more than 13 years, and HP was working on the next generation of systems. Y2K was already one year into the rear view mirror and the lineup needed a refresh. HP responded by giving the customers a server they could carry under their arms.

The first A-Class model of what HP called the e3000 came into the meeting room of the Interex Solutions Symposium under Dave Snow's arm. The audience was developers, software company owners, and the most ardent of 3000 customers. The box was the realization of a low-cost dream about the 3000s. The installed base had been hoping for hardware that could keep the 3000 even with the Intel-based hardware powering the Windows business alternatives.

Snow was a little out of breath as he came to the front of the meeting room in the Sunnyvale hotel. He set the 3.5-inch-high server down and caught the eyes of people in the crowd, lusting for the computer. "No," he said, "this one is already spoken for in the labs." Like in the older days of Hewlett-Packard, the company created a tool its own engineers wanted to use. He said the computer was the result of a challenge from a customer the year before: "bring a 3000 into the Chicago HP World show you could carry under your arm. It's a portable computer, although it does weigh a bit."

A-ClassCPUsThe A-Class systems cost thousands less per year to support than the Series 9x8 and 9x7s they replaced. HP told resellers A-Class support would be $415-$621 a month for systems running up to 65 percent faster than the older models. But HP also horsepower-throttled the servers in a move to preserve value for the most costly servers already in the market. The HP-UX version of the A-Class was more than twice as fast.

Snow borrowed one of the few that were testing-ready from HP's MPE/iX labs on that day. In a movie of 5 minutes, Snow leads a tour of the advantages the new design offered over the 9x9 and 99x 3000s. HP pulled the covers and cabinet doors off to show internal hardware design.

HP introduced the speedier N-Class systems just a few months later, and so the market had its ultimate generation of Hewlett-Packard hardware for MPE/iX. The 2001 introduction of the A-Class—a computer that sells today for under $1,500 in some price lists—was part of the reason for the whiplash when HP called off its 3000 futures just 9 months after that February day. When the Chicago HP World closed in that summer, it was the last expo where HP's slides showed a future of more innovations.

These 14-year-old systems have been eclipsed by the Intel hardware, but running a virtualization system. The Stromasys Charon HPA is running MPE/iX production applications on servers even smaller than that A-Class. HP had the idea of making its computers smaller. It was up to the virtualization concept to make them both smaller and faster.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:16 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 12, 2018

MPE/iX keeps propelling relevant history

Professor KanzbergAt a recent meeting of HP 3000 managers running ERP shops, the present conditions and futures surfaced during a discussion. The MANMAN users, running an application on 3000s that hasn't seen an update in more than a decade—like their servers and OS—marveled at the constancy in their community.

Things change slower than expected. A monolithic application like ERP is the slowest of all to change. MPE/iX and its apps are proof: the history of technology is the most relevant history. History makes migration a requirement.

Ed Stein is a board member of the CAMUS user group. At the meeting he said the past three years have not removed many members. The 2028 CALENDAR replacement process caught his eye.

"I chuckled when I read a NewsWire article in 2015 and thought, 'Hey, how many of us are going to be around in 2028?' Well, most of us who were community members in 2015 are still members now," Stein said. "There's a future for those still running on MPE. If you don't like the hardware, then there's Doug Smith [from Stromasys] telling you how to get over that issue. MANMAN could be around in archival use 10 years from now—if not in actual production use."

Stein read that article about the CALENDAR intrinsic's shortcomings and decided he'd plan ahead, just to check off one more crucial challenge to the 3000's useful lifespan. 

"We want there to be a CALENDAR fix sooner than later," Stein said. "Because later, the talent might be retired or gone to fix this thing. We're looking at this as more of an insurance policy. If by chance we're still on this platform 10 years from now, we're going to be okay."

The platform's history is responsible for HP's continued standing in the business computer market, after all. Professor Melvin Kranzberg (above) wrote a set of laws to show how we relate to technology. MPE's relevance is more proven with every subsequent development.

Read "MPE/iX keeps propelling relevant history" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:56 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 09, 2018

Using a PURGEGROUP to clean volumes up

Empty file cabinetIs using PURGEGROUP a way to clean up where groups reside on multiple volume sets? I want to remove groups from Volumesets that aren't considered HOMEVS.

Tracy Johnson says

The syntax for a command on group PUB.CCC might read

PURGEGROUP PUB.CCC;ONVS=USER_SETSW

Denys Beauchemin says

The ALTGROUP, PURGEGROUP and NEWGROUP commands act on the specified volumeset after the ONVS keyword.

The HOMEVS keyword is used to specify in which volumeset the group is supposed to reside and where the files will be found in a LISTF or FOPEN.

If you have the same group.account existing on multiple volumesets and they have files in them, the entries on volumesets—other than what is in HOMEVS for that group—are invisible. If you want to get to them, you need to point the group's HOMEVS to that volumeset and then you can get to the files.

If there are no files in the group.account of other volumesets, it's not a big deal.

Keven Miller says

You could review the volume scripts available that were once on HP's Jazz server. 

Take care in using  the PURGEGROUP command. You can have files existing in the same group name, on separate volumes—which makes mounting that group a problem. So make sure the group on the volume is clean of files you might desire before the PURGEGROUP.

HP's documentation for the PURGEGROUP command has a similar warning.

Read "Using a PURGEGROUP to clean volumes up" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:09 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 07, 2018

Living with what's still working in MPE

Classic-carsSome functionality of MPE/iX will be outliving its accuracy. That's the situation with the CALENDAR intrinsic, which now has less than 10 years of correct capability remaining. Few 3000 support and development companies can reach inside MPE/iX source, and of those, nobody's going to fix the original intrinsic.

"There is no fix inside the CALENDAR routine," says Steve Cooper of Allegro. "There is no pivot point in the CALENDAR routine. It's returning a number from 0 to 127. It's up to the program to decide what to do with that. Or you live with it."

On the latest technical conference call, some companies with access to HP's MPE/iX source were on the line. "If you want to fix the banner when you log in, then you need the source code for MPE," said Doug Werth. "If you want to fix the program that's printing the wrong date on a report, then you need the source code to your program."

To be clear, even having MPE/iX source code won't give CALENDAR more years of accuracy. Werth said that fixing MPE/iX—something the source code companies like Pivital at least have enough license to attempt—isn't an open subject, either. "There's a lot in that HP licensing we're probably not allowed to talk about," he said, speaking of Beechglen.

Chevrolet ApacheLooking the other way and living with what's still working—that's genuinely possible for a 3000 that's not calculating time between transactions. "For this group of people," said CAMUS board member and 3000 manager Terry Simpkins, "if they're still using MANMAN transactionally, they're going to care. If you're in an archive mode where all you're doing is looking up things that happened in the past, not so much."

Read "Living with what's still working in MPE" in full

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

February 05, 2018

Migrations Altered to Appear as Emulation

Terms about transition have been fluid and flexible for more than a decade in the 3000 community. People say migration when the solution is actually conversion. Migration has also been called emulation, a status that was the holy grail when HP canceled its 3000 plans. "If only," said the companies dug in on MPE/iX, "there was a way to make something behave like the 3000 value set."

Altered-Carbon-MigrationOpenMPE spent the first four years of its lifespan chasing that ideal. First there was the goal of getting ahold of enough source code that MPE/iX could continue to evolve in labs outside HP. That was shot down right away, and then there was the goal of getting a replacement platform for HP's hardware. The 3000 experience was lashed to PA-RISC and HP wasn't building any more of those servers by 2003.

Enter the first discussions of making a chip that could mimic PA-RISC, a PA-8000 at the least. This emulation was not going to happen in hardware. One plan proposed that HP would continue to make the chips and sell them to a third party vendor. People wanted to believe something.

What people wanted was a way to slip their 3000 computing into a new body, something fresher than HP's old designs. This past weekend, Altered Carbon dropped on Netflix. The story shows how the things that make up our true selves — like the programs custom-built to run a company — can be re-sleeved into a new body. The brain is called a Stack on the show, the body is a Sleeve. Sleeves are disposable for the right price. The Stack is backed up and treasured. You only experience Real Death when your Stack is destroyed.

The magic is moving the Stack into a new Sleeve. The magic was putting MPE/iX stacks onto the disposable sleeves of Intel hardware. After emulation's ideal went into hibernation, Stromasys opened the door back up with software, and true emulation was born. It's been more than five years by now, and the project became a product quickly. Emulation means making one host mimic another. It's got a powerful attraction: limited change and no re-training.

Emulation looks like migration, though, when it walks like it and sounds like it. This kind of emulation ducky takes non-3000 software (Linux, Windows, even Unix) and plants it in place of MPE/iX. The programs will slip across to the new host after revisions and rewrites, work that's usually delivered by the line of code. There are substitutions for surrounding tools (like MPEX, or a job scheduler) that demand retraining. It probably looks different to the users, too, so there's that adjustment.

Migration still has real benefits. It walks and sounds a lot different than a software engine that takes 3000 programs and runs them on Intel hardware. Emulation has no other changes except to learn how to replace the oil in the engine and learn how to start it up. Charon, really. Everything else is migration. If you'll be headed to migration, it's a straighter path acknowledge you'll migrate and find an agent to apply that change. The 3000's had years of camouflage offered as emulation. In place of a real emulator, it was the best way forward.

Read "Migrations Altered to Appear as Emulation" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:52 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 02, 2018

Simplifying MPE/iX Patch Management

NewsWire Classic

By John Burke

Patching-machineEven though Patch/iX and Stage/iX were introduced with MPE/iX in 1996, these HP tools are poorly understood and generally under-used. Both are tremendous productivity tools when compared with previous techniques for applying patches to MPE/iX. Prior to the introduction of Patch/iX and Stage/iX, system managers did their patching with AUTOPAT, and you had to allow for at least a half-day of downtime. Plus, in relying on tape, you were relying on a notoriously flaky medium where all sorts of things could go wrong and create “the weekend in Hell.”

Patch/iX moves prep time out of downtime, cutting downtime in half because you create the CSLT (or staging area) during production time. Stage/iX reduces downtime to as little as 15-20 minutes by eliminating tape altogether and, furthermore, makes recovery from a bad patches as simple as a reboot.

This article is based upon the Patch Management sessions I have presented at Solutions Symposia. The complete set of 142 slides (over 100 screen shots) and 20 pages of handouts are downloadable in a file from www.burke-consulting.com. The complete presentation takes you step-by-step through the application of a PowerPatch using Patch/iX with a CSLT and the application of a downloaded reactive patch using Patch/iX and Stage/iX. Included is an example of using Stage/iX to recover from a bad patch.

Why should you care about Patch Management? Studies and surveys suggest that 50-80 percent of all HP 3000s will still be running by 2006-2009 – even HP now agrees. Keeping a system running smoothly includes knowing how to efficiently and successfully apply patches to the system. HP has committed to supplying bug fix patches to MPE/iX and its subsystems through 2006, including two PowerPatches per year. [Ed. note: The process continued through 2008.] There may also be new functionality added, either to support new devices or in response to the System Improvement Ballot (SIB).

Patch/iX is a tool for managing patches. It can be used to apply reactive patches, a PowerPatch, or an add-on SUBSYS tape with a PowerPatch. Patch/iX is actually a bundle including the PATCHIX program and a number of auxiliary files that are OS release dependent. Patch/iX allows you to:

• Qualify all patches in a set of patches;

• Install reactive patches at the same time as a PowerPatch;

• Selectively apply patches from a PowerPatch tape; and,

• Create the CSLT (or staging area for Stage/iX) while users are still on the system; i.e., when it is convenient for you without incurring downtime.

Read "Simplifying MPE/iX Patch Management" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:41 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 31, 2018

What to do when there's no HP patch

PatchesPatches and workarounds will be a continuing part of the 3000 manager's life, even here in the second decade of the 3000's Afterlife. You can get patches if you want 'em. You may want a workaround instead.

A custom workaround is a more reliable repair for something that's not operating correctly inside MPE. The very last round of patches which HP built were not tested to HP's standard. By now there's no more HP work for new repairs.

Some independent support providers know the 3000 as well as anyone left at HP. Some of the biggest and best-connected vendors have a license for MPE/iX source code, because a patch isn't what most customers want. Such a thing has to be tested, and a lot of production 3000s are under lockdown today. Changes are not welcome.

Enter the indie patching potential for MPE/iX. Binary patches are much more of a possibility when source code is in the hands of a support company. There were seven licensees who got MPE/iX source back in 2010. Working with a support firm that's got source is one step closer to a custom patch.

The path to patching can be tricky for some owners. "MPE folks are very reluctant to patch," said Donna Hofmeister, former OpenMPE board member. "The HP-UX folks are often desperate to patch."

Read "What to do when there's no HP patch" in full

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

January 29, 2018

Locating patches is now a personal search

PatchworkTen years ago the threads between MPE/iX patches and Hewlett-Packard were intact. The vendor stopped developing the fixes and additions to a 3000's abilities. But owners were assured that the software would be ready for download. A call to HP's Response Center would continue to connect customers and patches.

None of those facts are true by now. Some support providers say there's not enough HP left in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise support to even know what a 3000 does. The 3000 experts who still track such things concur. Donna Hofmeister, former OpenMPE director, said "No one can get MPE patches from HPE now. There's simply no organization left to handle such a request."

In 2008 one significant patch issue involved beta release software. HP was clinging to its established testing practice, one that limited beta tests to current HP support customers. OpenMPE wanted to close that gap and become a force for good to get 3000s patched.

CEO Rene Woc of Adager proposed that OpenMPE administer the beta testing of patches caught in HP's logjam. The HP support customers were not taking a bite of the new bytes. Meanwhile, OpenMPE had pan-community service in its essential charter. Hofmeister said OpenMPE could speak for the thousands of sites which couldn't access beta patches for tests.

If it weren’t for OpenMPE, all the companies coming individually to HP for support beyond end-of-life wouldn’t have a collective voice. It’s OpenMPE that’s uniting these voices.

Spin the world forward 10 years and HP has indeed stopped issuing all patches. The software is available from other sources, however. Devoted owners and consultants are breaking the rules by sharing their patches—but only because HP broke a promise. HP tried for awhile to clear out beta patches. This week we heard some went into general release "because they had at least one customer who installed them without ill effect."

Even after more than a decade, there's still a forum where a customer can ask about patches: the 3000 mailing list. The transactions happen in private. Responsible support companies cannot say they'll distribute HP software.

Ask around, Hofmeister said, to find out who has HP's patches. There's a more reliable way to get repairs, though.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:31 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 26, 2018

Fine-tune: Policing logins, telnet on 3000s

How can I set up a time constraint to a particular login, or group of logins, onto the HP 3000?

If you do not have a security product, you could create a UDC using OPTION LOGON, which would check the system time (for example, < 6:00am OR > 7:00pm), then ECHO a warning to the user, and then issue BYE. You might want to include the OPTION NOBREAK as well.

How can I restrict inbound telnet by IP address?

You can limit incoming telnets to your machine by using the INETDSEC.NET.SYS file. If you haven’t made use of this file previously, there’s a sample file — INSECSMP.NET.SYS — that you can copy to INETDSEC.NET.SYS and make changes from there. You will also need to link it with the Posix name using this command:

NEWLINK /usr/adm/inetd.sec, INETDSEC.NET.SYS

Details are in HP's Configuring and Managing MPE/iX Internet Services manual.

How can I dynamically control hardware compression on my DDS drives?

The name of the command file is devctrl.mpexl.telesup. An example:

xeq devctrl.mpexl.telesup 38;compression=disable

The help command “help devctrl.mpexl.telesup” will display the parameters. 

The full syntax must be entered on a single line:

DEVCTRL.MPEXL.TELESUP dev=(ldev) eject=(enable/disable/nochange)
compression=(enable/disable/nochange) load=(online/offline/nochange)

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:20 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 24, 2018

HPE's latest-to-exit CEO leaves for phone TV

Whitman-smartphoneMeg Whitman, who led HP from an acquisition-hungry behemoth to a company split in two, is heading to work making short television. Good Morning Silicon Valley reports that she's going to lead NewTV — a name is considered to be tentative— with Jeffrey Katzenberg of the movie and TV production world. Both served on the board of Disney. The story sounds like Whitman wants a job changing the cultural landscape, or at least screens on smartphones.

NewTV has some pretty ambitious thoughts on the video industry, the kinds of which you would expect to hear from a startup backed by some industry bigwigs who are used to getting things done their way.

According to a report from Variety, Whitman will lead a company that “aims to revolutionize entertainment with short-form premium content customized for mobile consumption.” The basic idea of NewTV is create video programming like 10-minute-long shows that are produced with techniques, and money, that usually go into traditional broadcast programs.

How NewTV will do this, and with what kinds of partners will it work, remain to be seen. Whitman is said to be planning on getting into more fundraising efforts for the company. According to Variety, Whitman said, "We’re going to be recruiting the very best talent, and in a few more months we’ll have to more to say on this.”

Whitman leaves her HPE job, and chairmanship of the board, at the end of next week. It's not her fault the company went from being able to send an MPE patch in 2011 to being an enterprise without contact to 3000s in any material way—is it?

In 2012 she said that HP would be locked out of a huge segment of the population in many countries if it didn't have a smartphone by 2017. She was correct about that. Investments in mobile entertainment are so much more fun than operating enterprise IT. Whitman says the new job is a return to her startup roots, referring to eBay. She was different than the three CEOs who came before her, according to CBS News. "It hired director Meg Whitman as a CEO replacement for fired Leo Apotheker, a main scapegoat originally hired to replace fired Mark Hurd, who was hired to replace fired Carly Fiorina."

And so Whitman is the first HP CEO to resign peacefully in this century. Lew Platt left the company on his own terms in 1999 after almost doubling the company's revenues during his seven-year tenure.

Read "HPE's latest-to-exit CEO leaves for phone TV" in full

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

January 22, 2018

Still meeting after all of these years

Sig-BAR-ribbonA personable community was one of the big reasons the HP 3000 got its own publication. The HP Unix community was more reticent during the 1980s, holding just a few meetings. HP 3000 owners and managers were a social bunch. It led to the founding of the HP Chronicle, where I first met the devotees and experts about MPE/iX. There were SIG meets, RUG conferences, Birds of a Feather gatherings, and national Interex conference attendance that felt almost automatic for awhile. Gathering in person isn't automatic for anyone now that social networks rule our roost.

There's still some desire to meet and share what we know, in person, however. Dave Wiseman is inquiring about gathering users in California this summer.

Wiseman, the founder of HP 3000 vendor Millware and an MPE veteran since the system's most nascent days, floated the idea of a "3000 Revival" in Europe in 2014. Wiseman was the chairman of SIG BAR, the informal after-hours gossip and news sessions held in conference bars. Stories swapped during the 1990s went on until all hours. I'd drift off into a light doze in a lounge chair after hours at a conference, listening all day, and then get snapped awake by something I hadn't heard. It's possible that a 2018 meeting could deliver something we hadn't heard in a long time.

Wiseman-alligatorWiseman will be in the US this June. (The picture at right comes from the 1980s, when he hauled around a floaty alligator at an HP conference hosted in Nashville). But that gator pool toy design is still in use, along with HP 3000s.) He described what a revival can amount to. The last time, he called the event an HP3000 SIG BAR meeting.

Read "Still meeting after all of these years" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:50 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 19, 2018

Friday Fine-tune: How to add disks and redesign HP 3000 volume sets

Disk-drive-platter-hp3000I am in serious need of some hardware and hardware setup redesign. Essentially, we have 30GB of disk all in the system volume set and want to add 20GB more and go to multiple volume sets. How do I do this?

This checklist can be used to add new disks and completely redesign the volume sets:

1. Perform two full system backups and verify each.
2. Create a new sysgen tape.
3. Check the new sysgen tape with CHECKSLT.
4. Copy @.@.SYS to a separate tape and verify.
5. Verify all disk drives configured and working properly.
6. Create a BULDACCT job for each new volume set with just the accounts destined for that volume set.
7. Verify that a current full BULDACCT exists on tape.
8. Shut down the system.
9. Restart the system.
10. From the ISL prompt, INSTALL.
11. In VOLUTIL, scratch all drives except for ldev 1.
12. In VOLUTIL, do "NEWVOL volset:member# ldev# 100 100" for each volume in the system volume set (other than ldev 1).
13. In VOLUTIL, do "NEWSET volset member# ldev# 100 100" for the master volume for each new set.
14. In VOLUTIL, do "NEWVOL volset:member# ldev# 100 100" for each volume in each new
set.
15. Restore SYS account files with ;KEEP;SHOW;OLDDATE options.
16. Stream all BULDACCT jobs to create accounts structure.
17. Restore all files with ;KEEP;SHOW;OLDDATE options.
18. Spot-verify applications.
19. Once everything appears OK, run a BULDACCT.
20. Perform a full system backup.

Read "Friday Fine-tune: How to add disks and redesign HP 3000 volume sets" in full

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

January 17, 2018

VerraDyne adds new 3000 migration savvy

Legacy Migration VerraDyneThe HP 3000 has journeyed on the migration path for more than 16 years. The journey's length hasn't kept the community from gaining new resources give an MPE/iX datacenter a fresh home, though. VerraDyne takes a bow this year with an offer of skills and service rooted in 3000 transitions. The Transition Era isn't over yet, and Windows remains the most likely destination for the remaining journeys.

In-house application suites make up the biggest part of the homesteading HP 3000s. Business Development VP Bruce McRitchie said his MPE experience began in an era before MPE/XL ran the servers at McCloud-Bishop while other partners worked at System House during the 1980s.

In those days the transitions came off of Wang and DEC systems, he said, as well as making changes for HP 3000 customers. The work in those days was called a conversion more often than a migration. In the years since, replacing an in-house solution with a package was a common choice for migrations. Package replacements have their challenges, though. McRitchie reminds us that custom modifications can make replacement a weak choice, and often a business must change its operations to meet the capabilities of a package. There's sometimes data conversions, too.

In contrast, the VerraDyne migration solution is a native implementation to a target environment with no emulation, middleware, or any black box approach. ADO or ODBC enables database access when a VerraDyne project is complete, usually anywhere from three months to a year from code turnover to return to client. Microsoft's .NET platform is a solution that's worked at prior migrations. But there's also been projects where COBOL II has been moved to Fujitsu or AcuCobol.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:55 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 15, 2018

Emulation or iron meets Classic 3000 needs

A few weeks ago the 3000 community was polled for a legendary box. One of the most senior editions of Classic 3000s, a Series 42, came up on the Cypress Technology Wanted to Buy list. The 42 was the first 3000 to be adopted in widespread swaths of the business world. It's not easy to imagine what a serious computing manager would need from a Series 42, considering the server was introduced 35 years ago.

Series 42 setupThese Classic 3000s, the pre-RISC generation, sparked enough business to lead HP to create the Precision RISC architecture that was first realized with its Unix server. The HP 9000 hit the Hewlett-Packard customer base and 3000 owners more than a year before the 3000's RISC servers shipped. Without the success of the Classic 3000s, though, nobody could have bought such a replacement Unix server for MPE V. Applications drive platform decisions, and creating RISC had a sting embedded for the less-popular MPE. Unix apps and databases had more vendors.

That need for a Series 42 seems specific, as if there's a component inside that can fulfill a requirement. But if it's a need for an MPE V system, an emulator for the Classic 3000s continues to rise. Last week the volunteers who've created an MPE V simulator announced a new version. The seventh release of the HP 3000 Series III simulator is now available from the Computer History Simulation Project (SIMH) site.

The SIMH software will not replace a production HP 3000 that's still serving in the field, or even be able to step in for an archival 3000. That's a job for the Stromasys Charon HPA virtualized server. But the SIMH software includes a preconfigured MPE-V/R disc image. MPE V isn't a license-protected product like MPE/iX.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:16 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 12, 2018

Disaster Recovery Optimization Techniques

Newswire Classic

Editor's Note: The 3000s still in service continue to require disaster recovery processes and plans. Here's a primer on crafting what's needed.

By Gilles Schipper
Newswire Homesteading Editor

While working with a customer on the design and implementation of disaster recovery (DR) plan for their large HP 3000 system, it became apparent that the mechanics of its implementation had room for improvement.

In this specific example, the customer has a production N-Class HP 3000 in its primary location and a backup HP 3000 Series 969 system in a secondary location several hundred miles removed from the primary.

The process of implementing the DR was more manual-intensive than it needed to be. As an aside, it was completed entirely from a remote location — thanks to the Internet, VPNs and the use of the HP Secure Web Console on the 969.

One of the most labor-intensive aspects of the DR exercise was to rebuild the IO configuration of the DR machine (the 969) from the full backup tape of the production N-Class machine, which included an integrated system load tape (SLT) as part of the backup.

The ability to integrate the SLT on the same tape as the full backup is very convenient. It results in a simplified recovery procedure as well as the assurance that the SLT to be used will be as current as possible.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:23 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 11, 2018

Rootstock acquires ERP vendor Kenandy

Rootstock logoThe world of cloud-based ERP got a rumble today when Rootstock acquired competitor Kenandy. The Support Group is a MANMAN-ERP service firm that's got a Kenandy migration in its resume by this year, after moving Disston Tools off MANMAN and onto Kenandy. Support Group president Terry Floyd said the combination of the two leading cloud ERP companies looks like good news for the market.

"They're scaling up to get new business," he said, after sending us the tip about the connection of the firms. He compared the acquisition to the period in the 1990s when Computer Associates absorbed ASK Computer and MANMAN.

"After CA bought MANMAN, they kept on putting out releases and putting money into the company," Floyd said. "Salesforce must be behind this acquisition in some way."

Kenandy and Rootstock's software is built upon Salesforce and its Force platform and toolsets. A thorough article on the Diginomica website says that the deal was a result of a set of opportunities around a mega-deal and a key leader for a new unit at Kenandy. The plans to combine forces for the vendors include keeping development in play for both Rootstock and Kenandy products.

The Diginomica reporting by Brian Sommer says that Kenandy has a significant number of software engineers and a strong financial executive. "It's the talent [at Kenandy] that makes the deal fortuitous," Sommer wrote, "as Rootstock was ramping up for a lot expensive and time-consuming recruiting activity." Rootsource, by taking on the vendor with a product that's replaced a 3000 at a discrete manufacturer, "is of more consequence to Salesforce."

Vendors like the Support Group seem likely to benefit from the acquisition. By Sommer's reckoning, Salesforce might not have known which vendor among its network of ERP partners to call for manufacturing prospects. "Now one call will [send] the right response and product onto the prospect."

ERP mergers don't always have this level of synergy. When Oracle bought JD Edwards/Peoplesoft, there was friction and disconnect between the organizations. Floyd said that as a result of the Kenandy acquisition, "There may be new business for us." Companies like the Support Group supply the front-line experience to migrate 3000 manufacturers to a cloud platform.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:46 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 08, 2018

Searching and finding in MPE/iX with MPEX

Searching ManIt's a world where it's ever-harder to find files of value. This week a story aired on NPR about a hapless young man who mislaid a digital Bitcoin wallet. The currency that was worth pennies eight years ago when he bought it has soared into the $15,000 range. Alas, it's up to the Bitcoin owner to find their own money, since the blockchain currency has no means for recovery. Another owner in the UK a few years back, James Howells, lost millions on a hard drive he'd tossed out. A trip to the landfill to search for it didn't reward him, either.

Being able to locate what you need on your HP 3000 involves going beyond the limits of MPE/iX. Searches with the Vesoft utility deliver more results and faster than any native capabilities.

Terry Floyd of the Support Group suggested MPEX as a searching solution. "MPEX with wildcards and date parameters is what I use for search," he said, "for instance"  

%LISTF @xyz@.@(CREDATE>12/1/2017),3    

Or

%PRINT @.@;SEARCH="Look for this"

Seeing MPEX come up as a solution for search reminded us of a great column from the Transition Era for the 3000. Steve Hammond wrote "Inside Vesoft" for us during that time when 3000s not only continued to hold data for organizations, but production-grade data, too.

Gonna find her, gonna find her, Well-ll-ll, searching
Yeah I’m goin’ searching, Searching every which a-way, yeh yeh

— The Coasters, 1957

By Steve Hammond

I have to admit it — I’m a bit of a pack rat. It drives my wife crazy and I’ve gotten better, but I still hold onto some things for sentimental reasons. I still have the program from the first game I ever saw my beloved Baltimore Colts play. On my desk is the second foul ball I ever caught (the first is on display in the bookcase). I have a mint condition Issue 1 of the HP Communicator — dated June 15, 1975 (inherited when our e3000 system manager retired). It tells that all support of MPE-B terminated that month, and the Planning Committee chairman of the HP 3000 Users Group was a gentleman from Walnut Creek named Bill Gates (okay, not that Bill Gates).

My problem is even when I know I have something, I just can’t find it. I had an item the Baseball Hall of Fame was interested in; they had no ticket stub from the 1979 World Series, which I had — seventh game no less. But it took me over two years before I literally stumbled across it.

I wish I could add some sort of easy search capabilities to my massive collection of junk like we have in MPEX.

The most commonly used is the search option in the PRINT command. But there are a couple of other ways to search that I’ve used over the years for different reasons, and we’ll look at those too.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:53 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

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