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Linux means low bucks for KOBOL

So long as spelling the 3000 community's favorite computer language with a K doesn't bother you, the price of a COBOL compiler on the Linux platform can be a bargain compared to what you'll recall from HP's 3000 world. While COBOL II from HP cost several thousand dollars to fire up on any HP 3000, KOBOL, with an MPE module from theKompany.com, costs just $259, period. Oh, and if you want that KOBOL product in a box, instead of a download, it's an extra $15.

What's up with this pricing, even if it is just a single developer license? How can any company, even theKompany, make a living off $60 compilers and $199 specialized platform (HP 3000) modules? It's all just part of the rules for the Linux enterprise space, where the operating system can often be free (as in beer) with applications and tools not much more.

Last month we interviewed Matt Perdue, an OpenMPE board member and owner of Hillcountry.net, an ISP and consulting practice. The latter practice serves HP 3000 customers across several industries, both those migrating as well as homesteaders. Perdue had a direct answer to our question "Which platform looks like a good fit for the 3000 customer who’s got to migrate?"

"Linux," he said. "Running on anything."

theKompany is run by Shawn Gordon, former 3000 NewsWire reviewer and COBOL columnist and an app developer for the MPE community. We asked if anybody has ever used KOBOL in conjunction with a 3000 application, or for moving apps off their MPE/iX system.

"I know a few people that were doing it," he said. "One company flew me out to help walk them through it; we had the first app ported in 10 minutes. If you use Eloquence and you're not using [VPlus] it's really quick."

We know, if you're not using VPlus then things can be a lot faster in any migration process, regardless of what platform you're choosing or which compiler. [ScreenJet, of course, speeds the VPlus migration.] But it's still hard to imagine any COBOL less costly that is supported.

Cost isn't everything, but sometimes heading to Linux demands that all pieces of the solution must pass under a lower budget bar. There are other, better-known Linux compilers for HP 3000 customers migrating to that platform. We'll talk about one of those leading solutions tomorrow.