Once we posted our item about the DICE technical job listing for rewriting the PA-RISC boot sequences, a few comments from HP hardware veterans popped up in reply.
The intrepid Captain GREB, back from a summertime vacation through the Napa wine country, has voiced serious doubts about whether HP is really rebuilding the process to reconfigure PA-RISC servers. He posted a comment to our original item, which might be summarized by his belief that this kind of outside-HP hiring is about 20 years out of date, at least for 3000 engineering:
Outside hiring to work on the MPE kernel? Maybe in 1986, but not in 2006.
Another HP hardware vet called us to suggest that if this project is for real, it might represent a way to keep the 9x7 hardware owners from getting access to MPE/iX 7.0 — by using the Advant/IRS SSEDIT utility to tell the system it's a 9x8. (This is still an experimental switch, even by The Captain's accounts. But the first try did produce a sucessful boot.)
Of course, any HP revision in the boot procedure would have zero effect on the thousands of HP 3000s absolutely frozen by their owners. No changes, no problems, they say. That might be the temperature HP wants to keep those systems, making the servers ever less capable under new computing requirements. (Or not. It's not really healthy to imagine a vendor so calculating about such a small portion of its customer base.)
In any case, it will be interesting to see if the DICE job posting yields changes to the 3000 community's future. On the bright side, the work may just be to make SS_CONFIG more user friendly, for the day when HP will release it, post-support, to the customer community. One report we heard today said that when HP's own engineers tried to use SS_CONFIG at a customer site, the HP CE was stumped. A call to the HP Response Center was needed. Apparently SS_CONFIG, used to maintain HP PA-RISC servers the world over, has documentation in need of revising.
Come to think of it, maybe that's what the DICE position is all about: making some sense of a trade secret program's documentation.