No shy, conservative 3000 community member, Advant's "Captain GREB" has posted another notice about the abilities of the company's SSEDIT software — this time to change an HP 3000 from an older model family to a newer one that can now boot the latest versions of MPE/iX.
The Captain — likely Steve Pirie of Advant's staff — posted a message that offers proof of running MPE/iX 7.5 on a Series 9x7 HP 3000. 9x7s, the most popular model of 3000 in the PA-RISC era, have been locked out of booting up with either MPE/iX 7.0 or 7.5. HP put code in both versions of the operating system which checks for an HPCPUNAME string, then only boots if the server is a 9x8 system or later.
Pirie said the test in the "GREBs Lab" was "a hack. But it's proof of concept that MPE 7.5 can boot on a 9x7. We didn't do much beyond booting and a LISTF."
Advant's posting may be designed to put even more wood behind its arrow of offering GREBs, the Generic REplacement Boxes which the company will modify with a personality change. Pirie said that Advant will sell such systems itself, or modify a server without license which a customer purchases or supplies for the Advant service.
"We can do either [of those]," Pirie said. "A GREB is basically a used HP 3000 or HP 9000, that is reconfigured and sold without a license, after being modified with SSEDIT."
"In the past for certain third-party maintenance companies, we have initialized [CPU] boards for them," Pirie added. "I don't have a problem doing that — but what some people have done is turned around and on the gray market they have sold those boxes. And basically we've been cut out of a lot of money."
HP made its claim for damages in 1999 against third party resellers on the same basis. The vendor claimed in lawsuits against HardwareHouse and others that it lost sales of HP 3000s when such third parties changed HP 9000 systems to become HP 3000 servers, or increased user limits on servers with an unprotected copy of SS_CONFIG.
Advant's GREB offer, as well as its information about making older HP 3000s run newer versions of MPE/iX, stops short of convertiing HP systems from one type to another. Or does it? The model lineup on the grebs4hp.com Web site lists three N-Class servers which can become either type of system, 3000 or 9000.
Pirie said Advant wants its value for SSEDIT's personality-changing abilities. "If you want a GREB now, you'll have to buy the whole box," he said. "We're getting as choosy as HP is. So another third-party maintenance company is going to have to spend a lot of money to get a spare part. Or they can negotiate with us."
Advant thinks of their HP 3000 services and sales as "Hospice 3000," according to Pirie. "Death with dignity for an old friend."