June 07, 2017

CSL image shimmers today on open website

MirageThe era of the Contributed Software Library ended officially when Interex ended its lifespan. The CSL was an asset that never made it into the bankruptcy report about the user group. In a lot of ways it was the most tangible thing Interex ever did. CSL tapes -- yes, DDS cartridges -- still flutter about the 3000 community. Programs are on disks. Finding the whole shebang has been tricky. This week, it's less so.

Knowing what's inside the CSL is less difficult to discern. Tracy Johnson operates a 3000 called Empire under the auspices of OpenMPE. Empire knows what's in the CSL. The Empire program list is just that, though: an index to programs that don't reside on the Empire server. Managers can match the index with a downloadable CSL image referenced on the Facebook group HP 3000 Appreciation Society. What is available has a good pedigree, although recent achievements are murky.

When a manager wanted to track down something called HPMAIL, the 3000-L readers learned a lot, as is often the case. One of the most interesting revelations was the location of a CSL release that can be downloaded. The short answer is a link from Frank McConnell at the HP 3000 Appreciation Society. "It's a copy of the CSL tape," reported Ian Warner on the 3000-L list. "It’s not exactly straightforward, but for now there is a CSL ISO image on the Web."

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:49 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pivital Solutions: Your complete
HP 3000 resource

June 05, 2017

Where to Take Receipt of Mail for the 3000

Return to SenderSome HP 3000 sites have little remaining budget for purchasing software for their systems. This state of affairs can change quickly. Company management can discover a hard-working and little-known application, one that will work even harder with a bit of software tied into it. (Minisoft's ODBC middleware comes to mind, as it did when it rose up at See's Candies just a year ago.)

Email, though, is harder. That application hosted from a 3000 never had a strong hold on corporate computing unless companies were good at looking at the future (3k Associates' NetMail saw the future and led MPE/iX shops to it) or deeply rooted in the past. HP Deskmanager was from a past where it ran Hewlett-Packard for more than a decade. HP Desk came into the world in the 3000's heyday of the 1980s. Tim O'Neill's 3000 shops held onto it through the Unix version of HP Desk. By his account, they came away from Deskmanager muttering.

There are bona fide motivations for making the 3000's data accessible to email transport, though. Mission critical information still needs to bolt from person to person as fast as lightning. ByRequest from Hillary Software sends 3000 reports around a company using email. The mail engine itself is nearly always running on a non-3000 server.

The most classic integration is to have a mail server on the 3000 itself. This was the wheelhouse for NetMail, which remains a current, supported choice for the site that can invest in mission-critical updates to their 3000s. Mail isn't often in that category for spending on MPE/iX. The community has managers who want to install nothing but shareware and open source and Contributed Software Library tools. So manager John Sommer reached out the 3000-L mailing list to find a CSL mail program. Everybody learned a lot, as is often the case. One of the most interesting revelations was the location of a CSL release that can be downloaded.

The short answer is a link from Frank McConnell at Facebook's HP 3000 Appreciation Society. "It's a copy of the CSL tape," reported Ian Warner on the list. "It’s not exactly straightforward, but for now there is a CSL ISO image on the Web."

Read "Where to Take Receipt of Mail for the 3000" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:04 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 02, 2017

Sendmail fine-tunes, if you still need delivery

By Andreas Schmidt,
with Mark Bixby, and Jens von Bülow

Relying on the HP 3000, you may want to use this box for incoming and outgoing e-mails as well. This is possible using a collection of software bundled with the HP 3000, or available in the public domain:

• Sendmail/iX, the mail transport agent well known on HP-UX that was ported to MPE/iX;

• Syslog/iX, the event logging subsystem required by Sendmail/iX;

• MAILX.HPBIN.SYS, the mail reader, and;

• Qpopper, the POP3 protocol for downloading.

Sendmail/iX and Syslog/iX have been ported to MPE. MAILX.HPBIN.SYS is part of the Posix shell part of each MPE/iX release since 4.5. The combination of all four of these utilities will enable your HP 3000 to receive Internet e-mails sent to you@host.domain and send Internet e-mails into intranets.

Read "Sendmail fine-tunes, if you still need delivery" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:29 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 31, 2017

Laser ruling a draft for 3000 owners' rights

LaserJet 33440ALaserJets are wired into the history of the HP 3000. Hewlett-Packard never would have developed the printer that changed HP without a 3000 line in place. The business printer was designed to give minicomputer users a way to print without tractor-feed paper, fan-fold greenbar or dot-matrix daisywheels. That was more than 30 years ago. A Supreme Court decision on laser printing this week has a chance at affecting the future of HP's 3000 iron.

The ruling handed down this week was focused on a lawsuit between an HP rival, Lexmark, and a company that builds and sells Lexmark replacement toner cartridges. Lexmark tried to assert that its patent protection for laser toner cartridges extends to the buyers of the cartridges. Nobody could refill that Lexmark-built cartridge but Lexmark, the print giant said.

The upstart Impression Products has been buying used cartridges from the customers and refilling them. If this sounds like healthy commerce to you, then you agree with the decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts this week. Even though a company can protect a patent as it sells the product, the patent doesn't hold if the product is resold, or modified and resold. An article at WashingtonPost.com — where 3000 legend Eugene Volokh leads a popular law blog — has all the details.

HP is not in the story except for a line at the bottom, which notes how seminal the LaserJet remains in the story of printing. An earlier edition, the correction notes, used the word laserjet instead of laser printer. The 3000's future ownership might ride on how courts determine the Supreme's decision. You can resell a car that you've modified and break no law. HP has long maintained the HP iron called a 3000 is no vehicle, though, even while it carries the magic rider called MPE.

Read "Laser ruling a draft for 3000 owners' rights" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:11 PM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 26, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Tape to Disk, Posix time fix

C1539 tape driveEditor's Note: Monday is the Memorial Day holiday here in the Newswire's office. We'll be back with a new article on May 31. With every day that passes, HP's original hardware gets older and more likely to fail. Virtualization of hardware brings newer hardware into service with 3000s and helps with this problem, a risk that's greatest on the 3000's moving components. Especially tape drives like the C1539 above; even HP's discs are less likely to fail. Enjoy this advice on how to put stored data from tape into a store-to-disk file, as well as keeping dates accurate in MPE/iX's Posix name space.

I have some information on a tape. How do I create a store to disc file with it?

There are a few solutions. The first and easiest is to simply restore the info to a system (RESTORE *T;/;SHOW;CREATE;ACCOUNT=WORKSTOR) where WORKSTOR is an account you create to pull the data in.  Then a simple FILE D=REGSFILE;DEV=DISC and STORE /WORKSTOR/;*D;whatever else should create the disc store.

The second is to use FCOPY. The STORE format is FILE TAPEIN;DEV=TAPE;REC=8192,,U,BINARY.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Tape to Disk, Posix time fix" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:11 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 24, 2017

2028 roadblock might be evaded site by site

Road Closed SignAfter sizing up the lifespan prospect for MPE/iX apps, the forthcoming failure of date handling looms large. CALENDAR, which is intrinsic to identifying the correct date of a transaction, stops working at the end of 2027. HP chose a 57-year lifespan for MPE when it fell back to making a 16-bit 3000, way back at the start of the 1970s.  Loose talk about fixing this problem has bumped around the community for years. 

Now there's someone who believes there's a way to make MPE/iX a 2028 resource and beyond. It's got to be done site by site, though.

"At the moment, I suspect changes to handle 2027 problems are likely to be site-specific," said Stan Sieler of Allegro, "depending upon their applications."

"A range of possible options exist," he adds. "They're complicated by the likelihood that some software has roll-your-own build a CALENDAR format date code." Erasing this roadblock could make specialized in-house apps immortal. The software doesn't need to rely on HP's hardware anymore. Stromasys and its Charon emulator have enabled that.

Allegro owns an MPE/iX site code license, as does Pivital Solutions and a few other companies. Allegro's Sieler and Steve Cooper also have experience developing MPE internals for HP. The algorithm isn't that complex, but installing such a software fix will be done customer by customer.

Read "2028 roadblock might be evaded site by site" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:39 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 22, 2017

Making 3000 Memoirs, One Post at a Time

Memoir ProjectFive years ago I was entering into memoirs territory. I had a decent start on my own memoir, Stealing Home: The Road to the Perfect Game. It was time for the 3000 community to have its memoirs, too. A few of the community's leaders shared stories, each a memory, of how the 3000 changed their life.

It was a simple and heartfelt formula I believed might be a book. What happened to the HP 3000 Memoir Project was that it became a dynamic story. Instead of being compiled into pages, the 3000's memoirs are in the History section of the blog. There are nearly 400 stories in there.

Three times a month, a history article gives us insights. I call these Wayback Wednesdays, or Fallback Fridays. Each memory is designed to supply meaning and insight. We can't change what happened to us. We might alter how we perceive it, though, as well as change the direction it propels us toward.

Everyone goes into every life situation with specific expectations. History shapes those expectations. We all try to make sense of what's happening to us; prior events give us context. We imagine how what we're doing in this moment will impact us in the future. Memoirs give us a guide to see how things might work out. Maybe most importantly, we draw on memories to evaluate what's happening and see what to do next.

So when Rob'n T Lewis of South Seattle College asked today, "Is the HP 3000 Memoir Project finished?" I said no. Perhaps it will never be, if there are stories remaining to tell. We told the first of them on this blog in 2007. We're always going to be evaluating everything for meaning, always drawing conclusions—not concluding the storytelling.

The Computer History Museum has an Oral History website section. It includes accounts from Alfredo Rego and Marty Browne of ASK. We're continuing that tradition for the 3000 founders, because everybody wants the last word.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:26 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 19, 2017

Friday Fallback: The White House's 3000

White houseThere's a torrent of news coming out of the White House this week, but there's also a bit of history noted for 3000 users and fans. Out on the FedTech website, editor Phil Goldstein created some history and reported on some more with a story about the HP 3000 being the first computer ever to support the White House. It was 1978 when the 3000 began to aid White House efforts like tracking the desires of Congress.

A nonprofit organization that's been telling stories about the White House since 1961, the White House Historical Association says that Jimmy Carter's first minicomputer was "assembling databases, tracking correspondence, developing a press release system, and compiling issues and concerns of Congress." Goldstein developed a high-points article about those heady days of undercutting IBM mainframes and the swift rise of the 3000. In 1979, for example, the 3000 accounted for 15 percent of all data systems revenues at HP. It was $150 million in orders, up from $50 million in 1976.

The article has its problems with history. The timelines suffer from either a 1984-style rewrite, or rushed research. By the accounting of FedTech (a website run by vendor CDW) the 3000's operating system only lasted until 1997, the computers first surfaced in 1972, and HP began to develop it in 1968. Wrong, inaccurate, and misunderstood, those dates are. These things happen when a story's subject is Old Tech. Who'd care if the facts aren't accurate. The 3000's dead, right?

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 3.08.37 PMThere's plenty to appreciate in the article. Appropriate links to resources like 579-page The HP Phenomenon, and the HP Computer Museum. There's a link to a book, Managing Multivendor Networks, that covers the 3000 and was written in 1997. Wait, that's supposed to be the same year as MPE was wrapping up, right? Geez, these details. The truth is that MPE is still working today, 20 years beyond the inaccurate sell-by date.

HP was only successful in selling some of the first working models in 1974 after buying back all the failed 1972 units. And the development begun in 1968 was to create the Omega Project. The System/3000 was a fall-back effort when Omega, a 32-bit revolutionary design, was killed by HP in 1971. The vendor's short-circuit of a game-changer started a history that ran right up to the 2001 pull-out notice from 3000 futures. That one killed the rewrite of MPE/iX for the Itanium IA-64 chips.

The HP Phenomenon has priceless accuracy and strong details about the 3000's roots, starting on page 159 with MPE—Rx for Business. Dave Packard's quote that "we're wasn't proud of the 3000" echoed the system's endgame at HP. It's a thankless task to stay current when the vendor relentlessly withholds funds for innovation. What is not noted in the history article is that the 3000 made HP a computer company with the biggest success it ever had by 1976. You read the HP Phenomenon to find that fact.

As is often the case, the coda written to FedTech's 3000 story is rushed to a total demise. The wrap-up misses the work that the system does today, asking instead, "Why Did The HP 3000 Die Off?" Reports of its total demise are Fake News, something on the mind of the current White House occupant.

Read "Friday Fallback: The White House's 3000" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:27 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 17, 2017

Beyond emulations might lie migrations

Crm-data-migration-steps-cloudAs another webinar demo unspooled today for HP 3000 data migration products, the strategy of hold on or move onward demoed another facet. A 3000 might be a candidate for de-commissioning simply because the system has been too successful in the past. The next server will be different, but there's no guarantee the replacement will be better in significant aspects. Waiting for something better is not as easy as moving to something different.

Take COBOL compilers, for example. At the investment firm Fayez Sarofim, the HP 3000 was being evaluated for replacement. One element of the eval was finding a COBOL compiler compatible with the code running on the 3000. The company had to choose a way forward that was mostly different. Better was another phase.

"We chose AcuCOBOL over Micro Focus at the time of our migration because AcuCOBOL better handled the packed HP Floating Point without losing significant decimals," said George Willis. "It also had a more powerful set of debugging tools that were easy to use." Protecting decimal data was the priority. Getting a superior debugger was the improvement.

Time moved onward for the Sarofim strategy though, shifting away from apps and toward software services (SaaS). HP's Unix systems—an HP-UX 4466 Rx using AMXW, Cognos, Micro Focus COBOL, Suprtool and Warehouse—eventually got the boot, just like a 3000 did. The shift to services erased a department at the company. There's no emulation that can oppose that kind of sea change in strategy: "We don't even need our own servers, we'll access an app instead."

While making its move to HP's Unix, Willis said "We did not want to go through another riskier migration until we were stabilized. We are certainly stable now, but the firm has decided to move a different direction." So onward it went to SaaS. Emulation never got a fighting chance.

Read "Beyond emulations might lie migrations" in full

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

May 15, 2017

3000 Cloud Doings: Are, Might, and Never

Flight-simulator-cloudsThe latest news about cloud computing for HP 3000s came from Stromasys. The company selling the Charon virtualizer (many think of it as an emulator) announced a new bundled offer as well as announcing that any public cloud can run Charon. Sites that employ the Oracle Cloud to host their virtualization systems get un-metered cloud services as part of that deal with Stromasys. Oracle Cloud is one of the newer players in the cloud market. There's no place to go but up in market share for Oracle Cloud, carving out its business among providers dominated by Amazon's Web Services.

Emulating HP 3000 servers, however, is a job that's not often suited for a shared Intel-based server. There are exceptions, like light-duty 3000s or those in archival mode. Those are the best profiles for 3000s in the cloud running Charon, according to the Stromasys HP Product Manager Doug Smith. 3000 A-Class systems — Stromasys calls this Charon model the A520 — can be run from the cloud.

Many of the cloud's typical servers make memory and CPUs available on an as-needed basis, swapping processor power and RAM in and out. This is in contrast to dedicating a highly-threaded CPU and all available memory to a task like emulation. "Charon requires dedicated resources," Smith said. "If I say I need a 3.5 GHz CPU response, then I need that 3.5 GHz in the host itself, not being shared among other virtual machines."

It's safe to say there are 3000s in our community that are good candidates for a cloud profile. A-Class systems running the one last MPE application, some app still critical to a datacenter, for example. Better to have this sort of foolproof hardware service chain using virtualization, instead of stocking redundant 3000 memory sticks. (The better option to stay with the 3000 hardware from HP is an independent support company.)

The cloud — a term that doesn't have much traction for classic 3000 pros like Smith — might evolve to the point where dedicated CPU performance at any level could become affordable. Not even Hewlett-Packard knew how to price and sell its HP Cloud so its Unix customers could host datacenters in the cloud. Integrity chips were the next generation of PA-RISC, so emulating any chipset with that pedigree is no small matter. Smith, like any other analyst in IT, considers dedicated performance from a public cloud as cost-prohibitive.

Never-say-neverAny company can arrange to use an offsite, networked host for MPE/iX apps. This seems more like timesharing to the 3000 pros than Infrastructure as a Service. Cloud computing is supposed to reduce costs, and it does so by sharing resources. Sharing is not a great match for emulation at multiple levels. When you use a VMware host to create the Linux cradle on one level, which then virtualizes PA-RISC with Charon, that's a more intense CPU requirement than public clouds can handle. Pull out the VMware and you're fine for a smaller datacenter.

Cloud computing users definitely are shifting their expenditures from capital expenses to operating expenses. OpEx can be easier to place in a budget than CapEx, especially for legacy systems like the 3000. We'll never see a day when there's no more CapEx spending in datacenters like those in the 3000 world. OpEx is on the rise, but like the Paperless Office of the 1980s strategies, CapEx will always have some benefits. One is the constantly dropping cost of HP's hardware, if you can arrange for enough backup components and parts.

Read "3000 Cloud Doings: Are, Might, and Never" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:06 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 12, 2017

How to Step Through a CSLT Reinstall

Stepping-stonesAssume you've seen your Series 918 crash to its bones. You replace the 3000 and need to reinstall from CSLT. Many a 3000 site hasn't done this in a long time. This is when you're getting in touch with your independent support company for advice and walking the steps to recovery.

Oh. You don't have a support company to call. One more thing that's been dropped from the budget. You could ask on the 3000 newsgroup for help, so long as your downtime isn't serious. This support strategy is one way to go, and James Byrne got lucky this week. One expert walked him through the critical steps.

"I am working my way through the check-lists for reinstalling from a CSLT," Byrne said, "and I have come to the conclusion this stuff was written more to obscure than to illuminate." The HP documentation advised him to boot from disk, something he couldn't do. "Fortunately this is a backup 3000, and nothing too bad can happen yet."

Gilles Schipper, our esteemed homesteading contributor, provided the answers. The problem lay in a bad boot drive, but how do you discover that's true? We'll get to that in a bit. First, the CSLT reinstall.

"Assuming you have no user volume sets:

1. Mount CSLT in appropriate drive and boot from alternate path
2. From prompt, type INSTALL
3. At completion, boot from primary path and START NORECOVERY (this is your second "boot".)
4. Mount whichever tape contains your directory (could be the CSLT or your latest full backup - if directory on both, use whichever is more current)
5. Log on as MANAGER.SYS and restore directory (:file t;dev=?;restore *t;;directory - note 2 consecutive;)
6. Use VOLUTIL to add additional discs to MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET.
7. Mount backup tape and:
:restore *t;/;keep;create;olddate;partdb

Reboot with START NORECOVERY

Ah, but what to do if you have user volume sets?

Read "How to Step Through a CSLT Reinstall" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:53 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 10, 2017

Wayback Wed: 3000s Needed More Time

In this era of cloud computing, the roots of the original HP 3000s rise up. Clouds are the ultimate shared computers, systems so fluid they use hardware that can be provisioned with a set of entries on a webpage. Forty-five years ago this month the first computer that created our community wasn't making its way to its first loading dock. HP called this system a server for multi-programming, designed with the full intention of enabling people to use it from remote locations. The product couldn't bridge the miles between California and Connecticut, unable to ship from the HP factory location to a customer facility on time. It was the beginning of a black eye the vendor wore for nearly two years.

First-HP-3000-Sale-DelayHalting starts have been in many a successful product's history. In May of 1972 the HP 3000 was already running late, beset with hardware problems. The archives in the NewsWire offices include a letter to the first customer to order an HP 3000. The initial shipments of HP 3000s only fulfilled Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard's doubts about being in the commercial computing business. Their H-P was stuck with a product which started as a disaster. It was up to another Bill to break the news in the letter (click for details).

HP put its best face on this first delay, telling Yale-New Haven Hospital that "When a first order comes from a hospital such as Yale-New Haven and from [Dr. David Seligson] a person with an international reputation in the field of laboratory automation, we are doubly flattered." But this HP 3000 system was going to ship late to New Haven.

"Although our development is remarkably close to the targets we set over a year ago, we find that we must slip our shipments to insure that our customers receive a computer system with the built-in reliability that HP is known for," read Bill Terry's letter to Seligson. "Your system will be the first shipped outside the immediate Cupertino area and is scheduled for December, 1972."

The letter arrived in May, seven months before HP would finally allow the first 3000s outside of California. It was a simpler time with crude technology. HP offered the hospital a bonus for enduring the delay. "We would like to donate an additional 8K words of core memory (part 3006A, $8,000.00) to your HP 3000 system. Additionally, our intention is definitely to continue with plans for the training of your people, both in Cupertino and New Haven, as soon as possible." The 3000 entered the world as an ASAP project.

Read "Wayback Wed: 3000s Needed More Time" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:10 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 08, 2017

Turnkey cloud services mirror 3000 roots

Tree rootsRe-hosting HP 3000 applications keeps getting less complex. Managers who homestead once had to locate an HP 3000 which had similar specs, one that could preserve their application license levels. Because it was an HP box, their auditors wanted them to execute an MPE license transfer with HP. More paperwork, like finding a 20-year-old bill of sale.

When Stromasys virtualization showed up, the mandate for specialized MPE Hewlett-Packard servers fell out of the equation. Configuration was still required, though, sometimes because the Intel servers in the strategy were already otherwise engaged in a customer’s datacenter.

In each of those formulas, companies continue their local management of hardware, storage and networking. It’s an On Premises choice, called On Prem in some planning sessions. Cloud computing is the opposite of On Prem. It is changing the need for hardware in the datacenter. The strategy now has an official role in virtualized 3000 practices.

Stromasys recently introduced Oracle’s cloud services as an option for Charon HPA, the emulator that transforms an Intel server into a PA-RISC system. The company also issued a notice that Charon works with all other cloud computing options.

Charon has been ready for the cloud for several years. The new element is a packaged set of software, support services, and provisioned cloud computing without a meter for usage. Director of HP 3000 Business Development Doug Smith at Stromasys said the cloud equation best fits archival installations and smaller, A-Class-grade production shops.

Read "Turnkey cloud services mirror 3000 roots" in full

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

May 05, 2017

Newer 3000s come at low cost vs. downtime

A-Class vs. Series 900 performanceEarlier this week a 3000 site worked through a system halt by replacing Series 918 memory sticks. Ultimately the problem was resolved with newer memory, but a full replacement of the server might have been just as easily obtained. The relative performance of 3000s sold across the years becomes a factor in this sort of support equation. A manager might find themselves poring over a chart like the one at left (click for details of the A-Class comparisons to older 3000s.)

HP was never much motivated to benchmark its 3000 line against the rest of the world's business servers. However, customers about to upgrade were able to define the relationship between the boxes in the lineup. HP used a 1.3 HP 3000 Performance Unit rating for its Series 42 HP 3000 classics, the pre-RISC range of models before MPE/XL. Most customers consider a Series 917 to be the bottom of the PA-RISC line, and that server earns a Performance Unit score of 10.

The tables and rating sheets were printed by HP until 2004. For example, here's one of the last, a page from the HP e3000 Business Servers Configuration Guide. The ultimate generation A-Class servers start at a 17 and make their way up to an 84. The N-Class computers start at 100 and build up to 768. In general, an A-Class with a 200 at its model tail end will be faster than what is being replaced from anything that's not an A- or N-Class.

Even in 2017, these numbers can matter. A Series 918 will be approaching age 23 by now, first manufactured in 1994. An A-Class server is at most 15 years old. Replacing  9x8s with A-Class servers can be a way to delay replacing HP's 3000 gear altogether. Rejuvenation like this is not a long-term solution, but a manager might be in between the rock of aging iron and the hard place of frozen software licenses.

Used A-Class or N-Class servers can add reliability for customers who must homestead. Even the ones selling for $2,000 are a lower cost to avoid downtime than a search for 25-year-old memory components.

Read "Newer 3000s come at low cost vs. downtime" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:57 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 03, 2017

More than ever, old sticks trigger backups

Memory-cageRegular and frequent backups still hold their spot as keystones in a stable HP 3000 datacenter. The backups are even more essential this year. 2017 is the 14th year and counting since any HP 3000 components have been manufactured. Excepting some third party disk solutions, the average age of Hewlett-Packard's MPE/iX servers has more than doubled since HP stopped building the boxes in 2003.

In 2003 a manager might be daring enough to run a shop with a server built in 1991, the first year the 9x7 servers were manufactured. Systems in the first wave of PA-RISC design were still in service, but a Series 950 was a rare box by the time HP stopped building them. That oldest 3000 server at the time was still only 15 years old. That made the average age of a 3000 about 8-10 years.

Add 14 years to that lifespan and it's easy to locate a 3000 and its components which are more than 16 years old. The Series 9x8 systems turn 25 this year. The numbers came up in a recent emergency repair discussion out in public. A Series 918 at Harte & Lyne ground to a halt with a bad memory component, and even a pair of replacement sticks were duds on this 23-year-old system. The 918-928 servers are still among the most frequently used servers in the community.

The manager at Harte & Lyne keeps this hardware high-wire act going because of Powerhouse licensing problems. The repairs of his 918 coincided with very recent backups, but it could have been up to 30 days behind. Loss of company data was well within reach at this logistics company. The backups prevented the calamity that's now started to hit spare parts, too.

Read "More than ever, old sticks trigger backups" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:41 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 01, 2017

No obit for your OS, but not so for hardware

ObitThere's a new documentary in theaters about writing obituaries. The film Obit covers the work of obituary writers at the New York Times. No matter how you feel about mainstream media, the Times is one of just a handful of media outlets still telling stories about the lives of people who've just died. Obits were part of my reporting tasks when I broke into journalism, but I never wrote anything about someone famous while I worked at the Williamson County Sun. My very next job was Editor of the HP Chronicle, where people were famous within a modest community. I didn't write an obit at the Chronicle. I was eight years into the work at the Newswire when Danny Compton, a co-founder of ROC Software, died so very young at 40.

Compton and his wife Wendy were fun and important to reviving the Maestro user community. Why care about them now, you might ask, or even a legend like Fred White, whose life story I wrote up when he died in 2014? An obit is written for a death of something material, a person with a body, or an object which can be scrapped or destroyed. Something of value which made a mark on the world. The years continue to pull out HP's 3000's hardware from service. No one's making new gear with PA-RISC chips. Someday nearly everything that's an HP 3000 will go to dust.

The same cannot be said about MPE/iX. An obituary of the OS might be hard to prepare. The demise of HP's hardware could be written in advance. Advance obits, sitting up on the cloud by now, are a practice of those obit journalists. Obit writing tells about a life, not a death. Even as a celebrity continues to celebrate birthdays, their clock is ticking. Maybe that MPE/iX demise is in 2028. It's easier to see an obit arriving earlier for HP's hardware, though. It might read HP 3000, durable business server, dies at 51.

Hewlett-Packard's HP 3000, the first minicomputer which included a database wired into a file system, passed away on November 14, 2023 when the last CPU board failed to boot the server's operating system. The hardware, whose design was revised from the heyday of mainframes through the boom of the Web economy, carried commerce and data among entities as varied as aerospace makers and police departments. It is survived by the software written for the MPE/iX operating system as well as the database IMAGE/SQL.

HP's 3000 gear grew from a system that demanded raised flooring and specialized cooling to systems that could be carried under an arm. The hardware once read data from paper tapes and gained its ultimate IO abilities processing Internet data from standardized networks.

The obit for MPE/iX will be harder to write in advance. The OS is still going places.

Read "No obit for your OS, but not so for hardware" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:26 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 28, 2017

Friday Fine-tune: directories and tombstones

ByetombstoneA 3000 manager wanted to know about adjusting privileges on their server. When the community's veterans started to respond, extra information rose up. Some of was about the management of files in MPE/iX, the kind of legacy recorded on what's known as a tombstone.

Tombstones are data used to solve 3000 problems and establish file access. HP says in its manual for programming in MPE/iX that "It's frequently necessary to obtain status information on a file to determine the cause of an error." A File Information Display is frequently called a tombstone, providing:

  • Actual physical and operational file characteristics.
  • Current file information, pertaining to end of file, record pointer, and logical and physical transfer count. Information on the last error for the file and the last HPFOPEN or FOPEN error.
  • When a file is opened, the final characteristics may be different from those originally requested because of defaults, overrides, :FILE commands, and the file label.

You can use the PRINTFILEINFO intrinsic to print a tombstone. It requires that you specify the file number returned when the file is opened by HPFOPEN or FOPEN. The tombstone can display either a full or short format.  If the file is open, it provides a full display. Otherwise, it provides a short display. Calling this intrinsic does not automatically abort the program.

You can call the PRINTFILEINFO intrinsic from programs written in COBOL II/XL and HP FORTRAN 77/iX. When calling from COBOL II/XL, use the FD filename. You can call the name PRINTFILEINFO directly from HP FORTRAN 77/iX programs. You can obtain the required file number by using the FNUM intrinsic.

Tombstones came up after one list member resurrected an answer about privileges from a 11-year-old post. Ray Shahan, still managing archival systems for Republic Title of Texas, heard his name in discussion about TD and RD privileges and how to control them. He quipped about not being heard from in ages.

Read "Friday Fine-tune: directories and tombstones" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:37 AM in Hidden Value, History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 26, 2017

Wayback Wed: Doing the Beta patch Samba

Samba dancerIn April of HP's 2006, the company was exhorting its customers to use the 3000 improvements built by the vendor. Near the top of that list was the latest Samba, the printer and file sharing open source software that made it easy for 3000s to connect to Windows servers and resources. The latest version was 3.0.22, delivered to the world in the same year as the Samba community began to use it. The snag for a 3000 user: the official patch was only available to customers that year with an HP support contract.

The issue remained a troubling one that HP settled by the end of its 3000 business. Beta patches with improvements like SCSI Pass Thru and Samba eventually got unfettered distribution, even through they never passed the tests needed for General Release status. Today, the best way to get any HP 3000 patch is to use the guidance of an independent support company. We never tire of reminding readers that Pivital Solutions is an all-3000 provider, an official reseller of 3000s until HP closed that business, and one of seven holders of an MPE/iX source code license. It's a unique combination.

HP improved the 3000 and repaired bugs with a patch process that included alpha and beta testing before going into general release to customers. General Release status was important, because until HP's code was GR'd no one could get it but HP support customers. That was a wide gap in coverage. By 2006 the majority of the 3000 world was getting support from the independent companies which serve the community today. Alpha testing happened inside HP, and beta happened in the customer shops where a test machine was available. As the 3000's futures dwindled inside HP, though, the beta testers became harder to recruit. Customers usually took on patches in a PowerPatch collection. One was being prepared for the ultimate MPE/iX 7.5 release during April, 2006.

The announcement of a PowerPatch deadline was a routine message from HP's 3000 lab. The messages asked customers to pick up what they'd ordered though the Systems Improvement Ballot. "There are more than 30 beta-test patches still not qualified to be included in the PowerPatch. Tests of PowerPatches must be completed by customers on HP support. The 7.5 patches can only be tested on a subset of the 3000 installed base: any server released before the 9x8 systems won't be able to test anything created for 7.5."

HP lab liaison Jeff Vance told the user community, "If you voted for one of the many SIB items which are stuck in beta-test, waiting to become GR patches, and have not requested any of these patches, please do so ASAP. It really doesn’t do the user community much good to have a bunch of MPE enhancements stuck in beta-test, maybe never to see the light of day."

Customers' devotion to stability kept the beta test improvements in the dark. Changes to a 3000 became harder to justify on a stable, version-frozen server. Samba 3.0.22 was ported by HP for all three supported OS versions of that year, from 6.5 through 7.5. It was the final Samba version developed through HP's labs, a significant one since Samba gained the ability to join Active Directory as a member, though not as a domain controller. Samba was one of the first advances for 3000s resulting from Posix standards for MPE -- developments that earned the OS its /iX name.

As HP closed down the MPE/iX labs, concerns rose about beta-test enhancements like a current Samba disappearing for customer use. A beta patch that never made it to General Release might be unavailable once HP's support contracts ended. The vendor came through with a plan to make the beta patches available to the world: ask HP support for what you'd like by name. Samba 3.0.22 was dubbed SMBMXY6F, for example.

The patched MPE/iX code itself remains inside HP Enterprise, but HP 3000 customers enjoy a unique place in HP's support world. A current HP support contract isn't required to get the code. It's a dance, to be sure, that a customer must do with HP support—but at least now that HP's been divided into Enterprise and Printer companies, the 3000 questions don't get confused with HP printers using the same number.

Read "Wayback Wed: Doing the Beta patch Samba" in full

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

April 24, 2017

On the Surprises Of Six Decades

.Kaypro Man

I never expected to be doing this on the day that I turned 60. That's today. I joined the world of the HP 3000 when I was 27. I worked out my earliest articles about MPE (there was no iX) on a Kaypro II like the one depicted at right. Yes, that phone there was state of the art, too. I came hungry to write about PCs and Macs and figured the minicomputer beat would be a starting spot. This has become the destination, the world we love together.

In my late 20s I gave little thought to what my job would be by the time I got old enough to buy Senior tickets at the movies. I'm a journalist, so I think about the future more than some fellows, though. I had no vision about reporting about a minicomputer when I turned 60. Like you, I never believed I'd be doing this for so long. More than half my life, I've typed the letters MPE together. My life has been blessed, both with the rich array of people whose stories I get to tell, as well as the sponsors who support this life's work. I am thankful for both.

But here we all are, faithful to work that is rich and comforting, steeped in the knowledge that the 3000 is nearly 45 years old. Just at midlife, perhaps, at least in the measurement of a man. I'm entering my third act, I like to say. Friends are close at hand in my life and I continue to  create with words and ideas. My dreams are realized and something I'll never retire from. Perhaps that's true for you as well. The 3000 was supposed to be rubbish by now. Instead, people still want to buy HP's software for it

I'm here for the surprises like that. Survival is success earned across years and through uncertainty and crisis. Your support of that survival is a point of pride. We all earned our latest act. Enjoy the role you are playing, making way for the future.

On Saturday my bride and publisher Abby cooked up a party for me, a total surprise. It was the first surprise party of my life. Sometimes the universe gives us surprises. When we're lucky, the surprises are enduring and continue to reward our faith and hope. The love, ah, that flows on its own, propelled by our lives together.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:27 AM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 21, 2017

Federal program re-trains HP 3000 pros

US LaborHP 3000 IT pros have a challenge to overcome in their careers: how to add modern skills to the classic toolset they learned managing 3000s. Those between jobs must handle the costs to train, too. Craig Proctor has been spending time to learn the likes of C#, Java and Visual Studio. After one year of study, he didn't have to spend his own money.

"I took a dozen different classes," Proctor said. "The Trade Act paid for it all. It's possible to take one class at TLG Learning, or work with them to design a series of classes."

Proctor worked with a 3000 for more than 20 years at Boeing, as a Configuration Management Analyst and Business Systems Programmer Analyst. He left Boeing and began a period he calls Updating IT Skills in his resume at LinkedIn. TLG, based in Seattle, gave him training that he will blend with the business analysis that's so common in 3000 careers. He understands that by drawing on his recent education he'd accept at an entry level IT position. "You get the merger of an experienced analyst, using new tools," he said of his proposal to any new employer."

An extension of the Trade Act signed into US law by President Obama was one of the few bills to escaped the partisan logjam. A federal website describes it as a way for foreign-trade-affected workers to "obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become re-employed." $975 billion in federal funds have been sent to states like Proctor's in Washington, adminstered by each state. Furloughed workers file a petition for training, job search and relocation allowances. These pros have an average age of 46, which is the younger side of the HP 3000 workforce.

Read "Federal program re-trains HP 3000 pros" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:11 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 19, 2017

Where will HP even take 3000 money today?

CashboxCompanies want to do the right thing, even while they're keeping their budgets in order. When a customer of the 3000-only support shop Pivital Solutions needed to add Netbase/iX to their server, it was time to find the correct way of doing that. The customer didn't have a license for the HP software needed to power Netbase.

HP once sold such a thing. More accurately, HP's distributors sold licenses for this subsystem software. The most common purchase was TurboStore, but items like a COBOL II compiler and odd ducks like Business Report Writer and Allbase 4GL were on HP's price list. Now it looks like there's no longer a list, and scarcely anyone left to take a check.

Pivital's Steve Suraci was resolute about serving his customer with integrity. It might've been a lot easier for a 3000 vendor to just load a subsystem onto a server that HP stopped supporting more than six years ago. Some customers need to satisfy license requirements on everything, though. Getting a license meant finding a reseller or someplace inside HP Enterprise to send the check. Media for subsystem software on the 3000 doesn't ship from HPE by now. This would be a license-only transaction. But where was the cash box?

After Suraci reached out to me, I touched base with people in the 3000 world who might still need a contact to purchase MPE/iX software from HPE. The first wave of requests came back stumped to identify who'd be running the 3000 store anymore. A trip to the website for Client Systems, the final 3000 distributor in North America, draws a couple of parking pages for domains. The OpenMPE advocates planned for many things in the eight years they worked with HP. A missing HP pay station was not among those plans.

Read "Where will HP even take 3000 money today?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:10 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 17, 2017

3000 Community Meets Up on LinkedIn

LinkedIn 3000 CommunityMore than 660 HP 3000 veterans, pros, and wizards emeritus are members of the only 3000 group on LinkedIn. Last week a message from 3000 vendor and group organizer Dave Wiseman invited them all to meet in the Bay Area in the first week of June.

Wiseman organized a couple of well-run meetings in the UK over the last few years. The latest one he's working to mount is a users group meeting without the work, as he said in a brief LinkedIn discussion message. The message provides a chance to point out one of the best-vetted gatherings of 3000 talent and management, the HP 3000 Community.

I created the 3000 group nine years ago and have screened every applicant for membership. You need to have HP 3000 work history in your resume to capture a spot in this group. As the years have worn down the mailing list for 3000 users on 3000-L, this LinkedIn group now has a greater membership in numbers.

LinkedIn is now a part of the Microsoft empire, a $26 billion acquisition. That's good news for Microsoft customers whether you use Windows or something as explicit as the lightweight ECTL tool for SQL Server, SSIS. The latter is being used by The Support Group on a migration of a MANMAN site to the new Kenandy ERP package.

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn who ran a social networking site while Mark Zuckerberg was still in middle school, is now on the LinkedIn board of directors. The pedigree of LinkedIn flows toward services as well. The highly regarded training site Lynda.com is now a part of LinkedIn. There's a Premium membership to LinkedIn, priced as low at $29.99 a month, that includes access to every course on Lynda. You'll be staggered to see how much business, design, development, and technical training is available through the same network that hosts the only HP 3000 online community.

Job searches are complex and a trying experience for many HP 3000 tech pros. LinkedIn makes it easier. If nothing else, a good-looking resume complete with video, audio and work portfolio examples is part of being a LinkedIn member. Applying for a job is easier in many places by pointing to your LinkedIn resume.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:28 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 14, 2017

The way to San Jose offers 6-figure 3000 job

Developer posts in the HP 3000 world don't come up often, but companies and organizations need talent. On GovernmentJobs.com, a position is open that has a starting salary of $108,802. For the right professional, the pay could go as high as $132,254.

Seeking a COBOL/HP3000 developer who will be responsible for maintaining the AIMS application which runs on a HP3000 system and support the HP3000 system administration work with other team members. The AIMS application is the main appraisal and assessment application for the Assessor's Office. In addition, the selected candidate will help in the AIMS replacement project, which entails rewriting the legacy AIMS application to run in modern platform.

AIM3000The software is probably the venerable AIM/3000, a financials package that was shiny and new in 1983. The job is at the County of Santa Clara, a shop where just two years ago the organization was looking for help to rewrite AIMS into an application "running on a modern platform." The listing for this year's job reiterates that movement off MPE/iX systems. This time out, the position is being listed as Information Systems Manager I.

The successful candidate should have experience with program development work in COBOL on HP3000 as well as HP3000 system administration experience. The candidate must have the knowledge and experience performing duties listed below.

  • Maintaining the software application running on HP 3000 system.
  • Supporting the HP 3000 system administration work with other team members
  • Program development work in COBOL on HP 3000
  • HP 3000 system administration work such as batch job scheduling, system backup and restore, printer and output management among other system management tasks.

The 2015 listing was seeking an Information Systems Analyst II at a lower pay scale. The new job could well be the manager for the 2015 staffer. The position closes in two weeks, on April 27.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:22 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 12, 2017

Oracle serves a profitable slice of cloud

IaaS revenue sharesAmazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure receive the established reputation for cloud resources. Oracle is the new player in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) game. Within a month after Oracle announced sustained profitability on its cloud operations, Stromasys rolled out its plans for offering HP 3000 virtualization through Oracle Cloud.

Oracle's spring numbers showed the third straight quarter of increasing revenues overall, even while its business in application software declined throughout those months starting in mid-2016. Cloud growth, primarily in platform and software services, is making up the difference at Oracle. Oracle means to get its slice of the cloud's pie. Oracle is not on the chart from 2016. But neither is Salesforce, a company with 4 million subscribers. Revenues are not the only meaningful measure of the clout in cloud computing.

Rodney Nelson, an analyst at Morningstar, said the results show "new cloud revenues are more than offsetting the declines in software license sales." Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison said that Oracle Cloud will eventually be the vendor's largest business, outpacing revenues from the application suites that built the $40 billion a year giant.

The coincidence of a new platform for HP 3000s arriving on the cloud hosts of HP's most ardent competitor is profound. Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise business has cast off the futures of MPE/iX and OpenVMS, exiting markets that were still growing, albeit at low rates. The trends away from legacy infrastructures like proprietary OS on vendor-built hardware are mirrored in Oracle's shifts.

New software licenses, a measure tied to Oracle’s on-premise software business, declined in the latest quarter by 16 percent. The decline was smaller than the drop of 20 percent posted in Oracle's fiscal second quarter. This is the pattern HP's own Mission Critical Business operations followed. Ultimately, trends like that led to dividing HP into two companies. When profitable business shrinks, the computing model must be changed. Those changes track with the concept of eliminating the need for on-premise hardware to host MPE/iX operations.

Read "Oracle serves a profitable slice of cloud" in full

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

April 10, 2017

3000 backup strategy for closing Sundays

ClosedOnSundayEaster Sunday is on this week's horizon. While it's a rare day of closure at our local HEB grocery chain, Sundays are another sort of closure for 3000 managers. Nearly all of them want their partial backups of the weekdays to wrap up before the backup begins that will serve the work week. If you do full backups every night and want to make the new strategy to do partials during the week and a full on Sunday, there's a way to make that work. Donna Hofmeister, one of the former OpenMPE directors, explained the strategy in a message to 3000 managers.

First you need to decide what kind of partial you want to do.  On Tuesday, do you want to backup all files changed since Sunday's full backup or do you want to backup all files changed since Monday's backup?  (and so on....)

There are some things to think about here. If your "line in the sand" is always Sunday, then you have to deal with knowing that by Friday/Saturday your "partial" backup is likely going to be sizeable and will take longer to run. On the other hand, if you ever have to do a big restore, your restore plan is plan is pretty simple -- you'll need your last partial and your last full backup.

If your "line in the sand" is always yesterday, then your "partial" backups will be relatively small and quick. The flip-side is your big restore could be very complicated, since you'll need every partial backup through Monday plus your full backup. I think most people set the backup date as "Sunday" and do partials from there. But there's a technical bit that's also important.

Read "3000 backup strategy for closing Sundays" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:40 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 07, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Creating the perfect CSLT

Editor's note: A classic technique, detailed here by the NewsWire's Hidden Value editor emeritus John Burke.

PerfectTapeA question about creating a CSLT for a Disaster Recovery test turned into a general discussion about what the perfect CSLT should look like. A system manager wanted to use the STORE option on the SYSGEN TAPE command to store additional files onto the CSLT he was creating for his DR test but was running into trouble trying to specify STORE options as part of the SYSGEN TAPE command. In particular, he wanted to simply add ;SHOW to get a listing of all files stored.

The answer to his original question is to use an indirect file, as in

sysgen>TAPE MODE=VERBOSE DEST=OFFLINE STORE=
^CSLT.INDIRECT.SYS

where the indirect file contains whatever STORE directives you want in addition to the file list.

One contributor recommended robust efforts to get a listing: “A backup tape is of limited value without a listing. For Disaster Recovery purposes it is also a good idea to have the original HP tapes and patches with you as it is possible to create an SLT that does not install or work on a different HP 3000 system.” This same contributor also suggested creating a disk file with a listing of all the stored files.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Creating the perfect CSLT" in full

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

April 05, 2017

Stromasys Charon lifts off with Oracle Cloud

Charon on CloudThe makers of the only emulator for HP's 3000 hardware have announced a new service to deliver the Charon virtualized MPE/iX systems over the cloud. Stromasys eliminated the need for HP-branded hardware when it released Charon for HP 3000 users in 2012. The latest development eliminates the need for any local hosting resources by moving processing to Oracle Cloud.

“We are thrilled to offer a robust cloud solution to our customers by collaborating with Oracle,” said John Prot, Stromasys CEO in a press release. Oracle VP for ISV, OEM and Java Business Development David Hicks added, “The cloud represents a huge opportunity for our partner community."

The release notes that the Oracle Cloud is "the industry’s broadest and most integrated public cloud, offering a complete range of services across SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. It supports new cloud environments, existing ones, and hybrid, and all workloads, developers, and data."

Cloud-based HP 3000 and MPE/iX computing is a solution Stromasys brings to the 3000 community for the first time. While remote-based HP 3000s have been an IT staple for decades, a system hosted without the need to integrate and install any host systems is a breakthrough offering.

Charon for HPA relies on a Linux-based host, making the cloud-provisioned services from Oracle a minimal transition from local-hosted Intel servers. Charon on Oracle Cloud includes a license for the Charon virtualization software along with unmetered Oracle Cloud services and support for the combined solution.

Oracle says its cloud offering is more complete than those from Amazon Web Services. “AWS is an incomplete cloud," said Vice President of Cloud Platform Ashish Mohindroo. "The main AWS  focus is IaaS, compute, and storage. If you want to store files in the cloud [or] spin out a new server, you’re good. But most customers want to run applications, and with AWS most of those capabilities come from third parties. So when it comes to integration, you’re on your own.”

Read "Stromasys Charon lifts off with Oracle Cloud" in full

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

April 01, 2017

History processor heralds new Wayback/iX

A reconfiguration of HPCALENDAR intrinsic capabilities is opening the door for date revisions, one of the last remaining roadblocks to an everlasting MPE/iX lifespan. The design and development of the project has been underway in a Sourceforge repository since 2013, with a handful of volunteers working to deliver the new intrinsic WAYBACK.

BillandDaveworkingVolunteers cited the work of the Stromasys Charon HPA system for providing the ongoing inspiration to keep the work alive. One developer, who requested anonymity for fear of having his report labeled fake news, said that the everlasting platform for MPE/iX software triggered the stealth project. "This is no fool's errand," he said. "We'll bring these apps into a future HP never dreamed about. That's the value of the HP Way, retaining value and profitability."

When successfully tested, WAYBACK will bypass the 2028 roadblock to date processing. The Sourceforge team, which calls itself the League of Joy, believes that an additional processor will have to be added for HP 3000 hardware manufactured by Hewlett-Packard. Emulated and virtualized HP 3000s are expected to need no such separate CPU, although a high number of cores will make date manipulation seamless.

The end of accurate date processing — a state that the League calls Fake Dates — was never a concern when MPE was first developed. "This is not a bug, really," said Vladimir Volokh, who is not a part of the League development team. "It's a limitation. This 'end of 2027' date was as far away as infinity when MPE was created." Adding a Wayback/iX to the package of Fundamental Operating System components is the next step in the work to add pages to the 3000's calendar.

HPCALENDAR, rolled out by Hewlett-Packard engineers in the late 1990s for the 6.0 release of MPE/iX, has been a newer tool to solve the old Fake Date problem. Since HPCALENDAR is fresher than CALENDAR, it's only callable in the 3000's Native Mode. WAYBACK intercepts the calls to CALENDAR and pipes them though HPCALENDAR, or so it's hoped once this history processor makes its way through beta testing.

In the meantime, one of the developers in the League of Joy suggested that IT pros who want their MPE/iX apps to run beyond 2028 should bone up on using intrinsics. Suggesting the Using Intrinsics whitepaper on the 3K Associates website, D. D. Browne predicted a swift end to the Fake Date roadblock.

"We've all been keeping the 3000's applications alive for longer than NPR has been broadcasting real news," Browne said. "It's going to carry us all beyond retirement," he said of any system running with WAYBACK. "Back in the days the 3000 was built, TV and radio stations once signed off the air. This operating environment is never going off the air."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:30 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 30, 2017

Puts, Gets, and Serving Up Transfers Faster

Server TrayHP 3000s are exchanging files with other servers, a process that's included the FTP protocol for more than 15 years. This capability was once so magic that the arrival of Samba file exchange on MPE/iX was lauded as a breakthrough. FTP is quite a ways off the most current of transfer protocols. One manager's started a discussion about how to improve transfer speeds to and from the 3000, though. He's using DSCOPY as well, but prefers the PUTs and GETs of FTP.

The advice that's current about FTP/iX says that hard-coding the 3000's ports (100mb full duplex, or 10mb half) is one way to speed things up. Ensuring your traffic is not running through a proxy (called "being proxied) is another idea. Measuring the speed of a PUT against a GET is one step in discovering why the 3000's FTP might seem slow.

In 2008, MPE/iX gained a secure version of FTP—at least part of one. This SFTP functionality arrived at the end of the Hewlett-Packard lab era for 3000s, a period when new tools were not being placed into wide use. Sites were locking down their 3000 scope of operations to ensure stability. The port of this then-current functionality fell short of complete: only an FTP secured client got created. PUTs could be secured, as well as GETs. But only from Windows, Unix, or Linux hosts to the 3000. The 3000 wasn't going to dish out files using secured FTP. There are notes in place to carry the work forward, though.

MPE/iX tools and components are also out there to complete this securing of file transfers. OpenSSH is the best-known protocol. A quick-start bundle can be downloaded from the MPE-OpenSource website run by Applied Technologies. There are SFTP installation instructions at Applied, too. Someone who's got a need for securing FTP transfers will need to do the server side of the porting, which was completed on the client side by Ken Hirsh, Mark Bixby, and Mark Klein. Requests to speed up FTP are a sign this porting would be more than just an open source hobby project.

Read "Puts, Gets, and Serving Up Transfers Faster" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:11 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 27, 2017

HP's storage devices trigger extra 3000 care

TractionWhere can an IT professional ask a question about bringing a 3000 peripheral back to life? The best place to ask is a support company, one that can even supply a replacement device if the aging 3000 iron has gone offlline. The next best place is the 3000 newsgroup and mailing list. The free advice has covered warnings as well as solutions on how to rescue the process of recovery.

The 3000 console shows an ABORTIO detected on device 9. A backup stops at Wesleyan Assurance Society and Jill Turner asks what causes the abort. "The backup logs off. No one has typed a command to do that. What would cause that message to appear?"

Tracy Johnson manages 3000s at TE Connectivity. "Sometimes an error with the mechanism shows up as an abortio. It doesn't have to be a typed command. Hitting the eject button in the middle of an operation would do it.  I have forced the issue myself sometimes: 'Damn, wrong tape! Press eject.' It then shows up as abortio detected."

Hmmm, mechanism error. That amounts to a troubled piece of hardware. Al Nizzardini suggests that the troublesome tape drive get a thorough cleaning, "and have a spare on hand to do a replacement." Good advice, although a manager has to ensure the backup tapes written by one elderly HP drive can be read by another. It's not automatic.

Disk drives have 3000 managers on watch, too. Companies have options beyond device replacement here in 2017.

Read "HP's storage devices trigger extra 3000 care" in full

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

March 24, 2017

A Few Stops on the 3000 Maintenance Line

ToolkitAfter inviting our readership to share their HP hardware service providers, we're got some early entries to share. The list of 3000 support teams is not the same as the companies who continue to service hardware. Much of the time these are different companies. While a manager can find some help on MPE/iX administration from a hardware outlet, this account-level support is more thorough and fine-tuned coming from a company like Pivital Solutions, or from The Support Group for MANMAN and ERP-focused engineering.

Even HP recognized this when the company was the primary support vendor for 3000 sites. A Customer Engineer was the equivalent of that hardware guru, working in the days before what Hewlett-Packard called Phone In Consulting Service. Close to 30 years later, onsite hardware maintenance is still the linchpin of keeping HP's aging hardware alive. Customers don't perform much of this while working with a vendor. "There's a liability issue when you have the customer do the component replacements," said one rep who's been working 3000 accounts for several decades.

A Software Engineeer was something very different than an HP CE. Not only did they know IMAGE at a depth that could outpace a CE, they often knew a customer's applications. Not just the HP-branded apps, either. In time, the top-tier utility vendors offered a kind of SE service. Adager was well-known for saving a site from calamity that wasn't yet a customer.

Without further preface, here's a few notes on some hardware resources who've volunteered information or been verified by their customers.

Saratoga Computers: "We are a group of ex-HP CE's," says Jim Maher. "All of us are experts servicing HP3000, 9000 and yes even 1000's. our average experience working on HP equipment is over 30 years." Hardware support providers usually branch out to other systems, such as Dell and HP's ProLiant systems. even Cisco switches, workstations and printers. Maher says that's the case at Saratoga.

Blueline Services: Bill Towe founded this provider that backs up the internal needs at The Support Group, among many other 3000 customers. In some cases the best way to bring up a downed 3000 is to ship a replacement system; that's what happened once, according to the Support Group's Terry Floyd. Component-level service is available as well.

Read "A Few Stops on the 3000 Maintenance Line" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:28 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 22, 2017

Webinar explores data migration roadblocks

MB Foster is broadcasting a webinar on Thursday at 11 AM Pacific Daylight Time, a briefing that covers tools and strategies to move data. The program promises to cover components of data migration projects. As is often the case, the webinar also will highlight the potential roadblocks to migrating data. Explanation of methods, project planning, and data governance are also a part of the one-hour show. Registration for access is at the MB Foster website.

PotpourriIt can take months to move data from one platform to another. Just ask Bradley Rish, who as part of the Potpourri Group managed a two-step process to migrate away from Ecometry software on an N-Class HP 3000. Potpourri first went to Ecometry on HP-UX, then a few years later moved away from HP's proprietary environment to Windows. Same application, with each move aimed at a more commodity platform.

But there was nothing commodity about the company's data. Data migration required eight months, more than the IT pros at the company estimated. Rish said that two full-time staffers, working the equivalent of one year each, were need to complete the ultimate migration to Windows.

Migrations of data don't automatically mean there's an exit from the HP 3000. At Potpourri, after a couple of years of research by IT, the exit from the 3000 was based on HP's plans for the computer, not any inability to serve more than 200-plus in-house users, plus process Web transactions. It's a holding company that serves 11 other web and catalog brands. More than half its transactions occur in the final 90 days of each year. Holiday gift season is the freeze-out time for retailer IT changes.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:46 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 20, 2017

Data migration practices support cloud IT

Crm-data-migration-steps-cloudCompanies moving from HP 3000s to cloud-based IT are reaching deeper into data migration. In some cases, the records that have never left a datacenter are becoming an asset managed in cloud computing. The process prompts lessons on tools and practices that can be new to IT administrators and ERP developers in 3000 shops.

Work at The Support Group is helping to lead manufacturer Disston Tools onto the Force.com cloud services, leaving the classic MANMAN ERP application behind. Disston is adopting the Kenandy cloud ERP solution as a MANMAN replacement.The tools to migrate Disston's data cover a wide scope of functionality, from the Minisoft IMAGE-savvy ODBC utility to the commonplace Microsoft SQL Server Information Services (SSIS).

The latter tool can be priced more effectively for a smaller enterprise if it can be licensed as a developer version for a one-time data move, said the Support Group's David Floyd. "I'm not running a production database with SSIS," Floyd said. He added that it took four days of training to become fluent in using SSIS. At the Force.com cloud service, a proprietary database takes the place of IMAGE to store company information that has sometimes never left the world of MPE/iX and the 3000.

Read "Data migration practices support cloud IT" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:20 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 17, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Moving all disks at once

I want to take all my disks, system volume set, and the user volumes, and move them to another machine that has no disks. How can I best do this?

Lars Appel replies

You might use SYSGEN to create two different config groups in the SYS account, one for the old system (e.g. CONFOLD), and one for the new system (e.g. CONFNEW). To create the new config you might start with one of the existing config templates, e.g. CONF9x8.SYS for 3000/9x8 systems. Use BASEGROUP to open it, adjust IO to your needs and KEEP it as CONFNEW.

7935Just make sure that every disk gets an LDEV in the new config. Paths and LDEVs (except for LDEV 1) do not need to be the same on the new system. MPE/iX will notice (and "collect") all available volumes during bootup (as long as they are "visible" by a configured LDEV number).

Shutdown the system, plug disks into the new box, power it on, boot from the primary path (or enter the appropriate path for LDEV 1) and at the ISL prompt do a START NORECOVERY [NOSYSSTART] GROUP=CONFNEW.

You might also need to adjust NMCONFIG with NMMGR as a different system will probably have the LAN cards at a different physical path. In case you make a copy of NMCONFIG, make sure it stays on LDEV 1 (FILE;DEV=1).

We replaced LDEV1 on our HP 3000, did an INSTALL. Then we did
RESTORE *T;/;DIRECTORY;SHOW;KEEP;OLDDATE
The MPE-filespace was restored normally, but the HFS filespace was not. RESTORE told me to use CREATE=PATH which I then did. The DIRECTORY is on my STORE tape - so what went wrong?

Wolfgang Kinscher, and Gilles Schipper reply:

If you are planning an install keep this in mind: Do not specify the option "DIRECTORY" with a partial (DATE>=) backup. STORE will not put the HFS directory structure on tape. Do the following instead: STORE ;*T;DIRECTORY stores all of your MPE/HFS directories on tape. Then do your partial backup without DIRECTORY option

After the install, first restore your DIRECTORY with RESTORE *T;;DIRECTORY and then restore your partial and your latest full backup respectively.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:13 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2017

3000 job fills at mainframe's speed

Ursinus_College_sealPublic listings of HP 3000 positions can be tricky to track. A Web search I run with Google tagged an opening in Pennsylvania last week. Google will track a search term and email results to you. Although "HP3000" returns a lot of pages about 3000-horsepower motors, it sometimes unearths news.

The position looked like a classic one and didn't seem to be related to migration work, although it's hard to verify the latter. The immediate opportunity, posted by David Mortham of staffing firm The Fountain Group was for an "HP 3000 Mainframe Engineer."

We are seeking a HP 3000 Mainframe Engineer for a prominent client of ours. This position is located in Collegeville, PA. Details for the position are as follows:

  • Good knowledge in HP3K Mainframe.
  • Good Experience with COBOL, Suprtool, Cognos Quiz, QTP and MPEX.
  • Able to work on enhancements as per the business requirements.
  • Able to troubleshoot issues within HP Mainframe Environment.
  • Able to handle the technical production support issues
  • Prepare technical documentation for various processes flow applications.
  • Able to manage business requirements, writing business requirement documents / technical design documents.
  • Excellent design and technical query writing skills.

It's all there: Powerhouse 4GL, aided by top tools MPEX and Suprtool, with the applications in COBOL. It wasn't available less than a week after the March 6 posting. 3000s can not only be as fast as any mainframe, the remaining openings in 2017 move off the market at similar speeds.

There's not much of a clue about where this 3000 job, a full time one at that, was open. But the listing floated up on the Higher Education job board. Ursinus College, an institution nearly 150 years old, is in Collegeville. Universities earn higher regard when they're older. Some business computer systems do as well.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:22 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 13, 2017

3000 friends: Meet in the Valley, or seaside?

Dream InnAn HP 3000 user group meeting has become so rare by 2017 as to be legend. After Interex closed up shop suddenly in 2005, Alan Yeo organized a late-binding gathering in 2005, then another in 2007 and another in 2009, all in Silicon Valley. By 2011, Yeo was working along with me and Marxmeier Software's Michael Marxmeier to put on the HP3000 Reunion at the Computer History Museum. The Reunion provided the debut spot for the only HP 3000 emulator, the Charon HPA from Stromasys.

Then the meetings began to evolve to reconnect us without needing a formal program. The most enjoyable part of the formal meets, after all, was the SIG-BAR gatherings in the hotel lounges. Gossip and speculation were always a key part of SIG-BAR. Lately the meetings have moved exclusively to this Special Interest Group. Last year there was a lunch meeting at the Duke of Edinburgh pub, set up by Birket Foster.

There's something about these leaders that can rouse people to return. The Bay Area in summertime has drawn a rich collective of 3000 veterans and experts. In 2008 the Computer History Museum hosted a seminar on 3000 software history. Another fellow with user group meeting experience is leading this year's charge to the Valley.

Dave Wiseman notified us about a 2017 gathering he's setting up for the Bay Area.

So we used to all be good friends in the community and its about time we met up again for a beer or three. We had a couple of very pleasant meetings in the UK and I am in California early June so I thought that I might organize one in the valley around June 5/6/7th. I am happy to organize a meeting while I'm in San Francisco. Could you tell me if you would be interested in coming? We’d love to see all of our old friends again

Dates: Any preference for Monday June 5th, or Tuesday June 6th?
Location: San Francisco/ SFO airport hotel/ Cupertino, or Santa Cruz (I’d see if we could book the Dream Inn for a Santa Cruz location)
Time: Lunch, afternoon or evening

Please email me, davebwiseman@googlemail.com, so we can see if there are enough people interested to make it worth everyone's while.

I'd put a vote up for the Dream Inn (above, seaside) since it was a stop on my cross-California 20th wedding anniversary trip with Abby. They're even got a Dream Floor at the top.

Read "3000 friends: Meet in the Valley, or seaside?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:18 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 10, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Going Beyond JBOD

By Gilles Schipper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 08, 2017

ERP ecosystems now being fed by analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 06, 2017

Add-on applications pour down from clouds

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

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

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

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

Read "Add-on applications pour down from clouds" in full

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

March 03, 2017

When and how to back up 3000 directories

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

By Gilles Schipper
Homesteading Editor 

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

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

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

The proper procedure during reload is as follows:

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

Then -- and this where many go wrong,

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

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

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

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

March 01, 2017

Wayback Wed: Customers' Proposition 3000

Computerworld April 22


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 27, 2017

HP quarter invites a peek at a smaller profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 24, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Opening Up MPE's Shell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 22, 2017

Simulator knows what day it is, or was

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

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

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

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

$ hp3000 mpe-auto

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

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

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

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

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

February 20, 2017

Harris School Solutions buys K-12 ISV QSS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 17, 2017

K-12 vendor still migrates schools to Linux

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

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

By John Burke

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

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

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

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

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

February 15, 2017

Wayback Wed: An Emulator's Partners Enter

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

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

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

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

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

February 13, 2017

ODBC treasure might be in your system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 10, 2017

3000 support branches into multiple types

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

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

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

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

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

Read "3000 support branches into multiple types" in full

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

February 08, 2017

3000 hardware support resources requested

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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