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November 2006

October 2006

Waking up to an afterlife

Three years ago today HP stopped taking orders for the HP 3000. The day was marked around the world with a wake, celebrated in pubs, bars and backyards, as customers and engineers who grew up around the server gave it a fond farewell.

But 36 months later, just how far has the 3000 moved? It's nowhere near HP's corporate price list, a move that has made the hardware cheap, even fully licensed. This summer a Series 987, complete with valid license for the MPE software on it, sold for 0.1 percent of its price new. Matt Perdue grabbed the steal of the year with a check under $300, a long way away from the $230,000 of the system new in the 90s. Thanks to the Spring, Texas school district auction starting at a $5 opening bid, that 3000 enjoyed the greatest discount of any. "They just didn't know what they had there," more than one 3000 manager said about the deal that sprang from Spring.

Support from HP is still available, many months away from beig discontinued by the vendor. Meanwhile a wider array of third party support companies ply their trade, waiting for the HP customer to go independent of their system vendor. The Wall Street Journal, ABC News and others might be surprised to see systems still for sale, companies continuing to rely on MPE and an afterlife in full flow, three years after the wake.

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Travel to train on leisurely November weekend


Why travel to train? It's a throwback, but a rich one. Long after the days when trains were the best way to travel, people still crave the experience. Room to roam. A different pace. Seeing what the airlines cannot show you.

In much the same way, in-person user conferences deliver an experience of yesterday that makes it easier to get through your tomorrows. In Houston in less than two weeks, a conference with the 3000's transistion in mind wants to pull you out of your seat and office and down to the Gulf Coast for a few days of extraordinary in person education.


We're excited, even if we are just up the road in Austin and so nearby we can drive. Alfredo Rego, who has become a rare speaker indeed, gives the keynote next Friday morning. Gilles Schipper and Paul Edwards will show you how to manage the 3000 resource for homesteading, whether you're staying a long time or just marking time until the Unix or Windows system gets finished. Then there's Bill Hassell, who's offering the best HP-UX and Unix training you'll get.

Last year, the community and its vendors said this kind of conference sounded like a good idea. It's a reality now, but it needs your support.

And the price? Outrageously inexpensive. Would you believe $175, with $60/night rooms still available at the likes of Extended Stay America (my address for that weekend)? Then there's the beach, just 30 minutes away in Galveston, for stellar walks in the moonlight to help mull over what you've heard. With other users, talking in person and bringing their experiences from the migration trail. People are moving by now; you can ask them the hard questions in person.

The conference only demands one workday away from the office, though you want to get to the Univ. of Houston Clear Lake campus early on Friday, so as not to miss Alfredo's talk. Vendors and sponsors are coming. The conference needs you, the user, to add networking and that train-travel glee. Have a look at the agenda for the Nov. 10-12 meeting. Registration forms are available online, too. At the door signups are just $200. GHRUG has already scoped out the nearby hotels, too.

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Open source at HP, some closed minds for customers

Dude HP's commitment to the open source font of software is pretty well documented. HP Software Engineer Ragavan Srinivassan told customers at the recent HP Technology Forum they could see that commitment at HP has its own guild for open source and Linux engineers who work at Hewlett-Packard, as well as a structured process to get an engineer approval to spend HP time working on open source solutions.

HP now runs its corporate-wide Enterprise Directory services on an open source solution, one which HP created using "some really high-quality open source tools," according to Srinivassan. Information retrieval, authentication, authorization, group management, messaging and collaboration between HP employees are all made possible through the Directory.

Srinivassan said that HP used a broad range of open source tools to create its directory: RPM package management, OpenSSH, CVS for revision control, rsync to synch up data files between servers, Perl, Postfix as an LDAP-aware mail server, Sudo to delegate root privileges to administrators, Apache as its Web server and something called RRDtool for infrastructure data collection and analysis purposes.

The presentation at the Forum drew some questions from an HP 3000 manager who's on the road to migration, trying to duplicate MPE faculties without spending beyond his budget on third party tools. Srinivassan said HP's decision to use open source made the Enterprise Directory possible.

But another HP talk on the same day at the Forum cast doubts on open source capabilities. Of course, that presentation touted the wonders of an HP-branded net management solution, operating on Linux. What open source set of tools could really compete? "I'm not going to trust my business to some hacker in Denmark who's got a ring in his nose and is awake when I'm asleep and asleep when I'm awake," said HP's David Claypool, Product Manager in Technical Marketing.

This issue of supportability is essential to making open source work; both HP speakers agreed on that. But Srinivassan was uncovering resources and methodologies to make open source as reliable as anything proprietary. He said moving to open source helps HP acquire customers by offering leadership instead of being viewed as a laggard.

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Copy tapes, patching FTP and more

Is there a way in MPE to copy a tape from one drive to another drive?

John Pitman replies:

I have done this before. Use the biggest number that is accepted by file equate for the device to cover the biggest blocksize used. I'm a bit hazy about using 1 as recs/block. I used something like this to copy reel tape backups to either DDS or QIC 120 tapes once long ago.

File tapin;dev=7;rec=32768,1,f,binary
File tapout;dev=8;rec=32768,1,f,binary
Fcopy from=*tapin;to=*tapout;files=all

Robert Mills adds:

Go to HP's Jazz Web site and have a look at TAPECOPY and TCPY.

I would like to patch my Series 969 6.0 system. When I browse HP's patches database, it lists several patches depending on the version of FTP. I can't tell what version I run. Also, can I do this update with people on the system, or do I really need exclusive access for PATCHIX to finish just the FTP patches?

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Keeping watch on 3000 hosts

HP 3000 servers may not need the babysitting that other environments demand. But when a server is mission-critical, as so many 3000s are, monitoring that resource's availability makes good IT sense.

New solutions for this kind of watching are rare on the 3000 market these days, but the existing product selection works just fine for HP 3000s — as well as HP-UX servers, Linux boxes, and even Digital VAX systems.

The software comes from ASP Technologies, based in Windsor, Colo. and it's been available for years now. Vantage is a console management package designed differently than many network watchers. This solution does not require installation of agent software on any managed resource like a 3000 or a 9000. ASP says this design "allows control over a much wider variety of systems and devices."

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Reflection's owner readies for Vista

Although many HP 3000 sites say that Microsoft's Vista desktop won't be a part of their near-term strategy, the 3000 vendor which counts the greatest number of desktops running a product will be ready for Vista. Well, ready now — and then ready a little later, in the case of software serving HP hosts.

The split schedule springs from the merged entity of AttachmateWRQ — or simply re-named Attachmate, following a corporate rebranding of the combined company this summer. Attachmate sells a host access solution called EXTRA! X-treme, software that offers functionality similar to WRQ's Reflection, but for OpenVMS, Unix and IBM systems only.

The connectivity for HP 3000 systems is left to the redoubtable Reflection, whose Service Pack 2 of version 14 is scheduled to be ready for Vista in March of next year. EXTRA! X-treme will be ready next month, the same time Microsoft is promising its initial release of its overhauled Windows. Attachmate says that X-treme is the first piece of commercial software to receive the Microsoft Certified for Windows Vista logo. The "next-generation terminal emulation" program, as Attachmate calls Reflection, will be ready in the spring — probably long before Vista gets even a toehold inside HP 3000 shops, both those migrating as well as homesteading.

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DR for HP's PR

After sinking to historic lows in misjudgement and ethics, HP is doing its best to dig itself out of its PR trench — but it needs to use its legendary engineering discipline to uncover the sources for the mistakes. In the second part of our weekend podcast (5 MB MP3 file) we talk about why the examination can be good thing for its customers, especially those going forward from 3000s to HP Integrity systems. The remaining partners and customers of the 3000 community, while privately saddened about the clay feet HP’s shown — well, they’re standing behind the company they’ve worked alongside for decades. A customer who cares about HP’s future can only hope that HP can assemble some image recovery, kind of a PR-DR, in IT-speak.

The smell of hubris revived again

After reading a fresh stirring of HP's messy cauldron on Page One of this week's Wall Street Journal, customers get reminded again about the HP boardroom's disregard for privacy — and its hubris in thinking company secrets trump the rights of reporters, board members and many others. In our weekend podcast, (8 MB MP3 file) the first 10 minutes of two parts, we listen to what HP's CEO says, review some history, and consider what Mark Hurd's words mean to the future of your system maker.

HP puts Integrity marketing into higher gear

Hppwrtools_materials1000 As the twelfth year of HP's campaign to tout Itanium nears its end, the company is drawing some HP 3000 veterans into the battle to replace the 3000 with Integrity servers. The latest of these systems will be powered by the Montecito version of the chip first announced in December, 1994. Since HP's Unix will run on no architecture other than Itanium and no server but Integrity, migrating 3000 customers are open to the idea of buying into a chip that many have dismissed. The opening comes mostly because needed applications run on HP-UX. Oh, and the upheaval of embracing a new vendor — by stepping away from HP — helps HP's 3000 replacement appear as an easier choice.

To its credit, HP is making things easier for the 3000 solution providers to sell an Integrity system, driving the effort with wireless toys and access to a proprietary database of contacts, among other tools. You could be the owner of a race car or robot, along with an HP Integrity server running a replacement application for your HP 3000 mission-critical programs.

HP now offers $11,000 and more in marketing money to even a modest-sized member vendor in the Developers & Solution Partner Program (DSPP) . HP has often paid its resellers to market HP wares; in the past this money was called co-op funding and paid out in cash. Now resellers never see these thousands of dollars directly deposited, then spent as a vendor wishes.

Instead, marketing expertise in lead generation and co-branded collateral material is funded directly by HP this year. After all, the vendor said nearly two years ago that its goal was to have Itanium-based sales pull even with PA-RISC-based enterprise revenues. Radio-controlled robots and a database subscription service form the newer parts of HP's wood behind the Integrity marketing arrow.

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Another look in the i at an alternative

Some online news resources are just discovering that IBM has taken down HP 3000s in some places., which sometimes writes original articles instead of just pointing at news from other sources, ran an article today about the news that Flax Art shifted from HP 3000 to the IBM System i servers.

As news, it's a bit stale. Flax made its move in the winter of 2003-4, mostly because the IT director there was fed up with HP's departure from the 3000 marketplace. We took note of the Flax story in this blog last summer, and the 2005 news even ran in a special "iSeries Update" issue the NewsWire printed in the summer of 2004.

But "new to me" is one reason for writing a story, so we'll use it to update our migrating readers about IBM's alternative to the 3000. The server had a smaller third quarter in 2006 than in 2005, with sales down 22 percent from the prior year's quarter. HP has often told customers who consider the System i (known as the AS400, iSeries and i5 over the past five years) that IBM couldn't hold together the market or community around this server and its applications.

IBM has other things to say. It's helping a new "i Society" social network take off, one that smacks of the connectivity of MySpace, according to the System i press. Last week IBM released a special entry-level version of its System i 520 with SAP installed, ready to compete on price and performance with Windows server solutions running SAP. This is not a community declining at anything close to the rate of HP's withdrawal from the 3000 community. Several HP 3000 mainstay ISVs do business in the System i market, too.

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User group election deadline nears

Members of the HP enterprise computer user group Encompass have just the rest of this week left to vote on directors who will take seats in 2007. One candidate brings experience from the advocacy efforts of Interex, the user group that started its life in the 1970s from a wellspring of HP 3000 experts and volunteers. Whatever the obvious business mistakes Interex made in its final years, volunteers like Steve Davidek offered services to benefit users, no part of the Interex problems. Even HP 3000 members, on several occasions, saw advocacy channels open up through Davidek's efforts.

While the GHRUG group signs dedicated managers up for a 3000-specialized conference in a few weeks in Houston, Encompass can call on a wider volunteer base and greater resources. HP is allied closely with Encompass, a partnership that offers customers an opportunity to be heard in Encompass events, both in-person and online.

The Greater Houston RUG and Encompass still have a role to play in spreading information and connecting 3000 users. Speedware's Chris Koppe is already on the board of directors for Encompass, which is offering a 3000-related event next week.

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HP 3000 conference offers agenda

Ghrug_112006The Greater Houston Regional User Group (GHRUG), the last working RUG in the US with a conference to present, has released its November agenda for the Nov. 10-12 meeting of this year's only HP 3000 conference. GHRUG has outlasted its parent organization Interex, as well as many other North American regional user groups, to offer this $175 event at the University of Houston Clear Lake campus.

Full abstracts from the 15 speakers offering more than 20 talks are available on the GHRUG Web site. There's also a vendor show offering a chance to talk with providers of solutions for HP 3000s.

The conference, which begins Friday morning at 8 with Alfredo Rego's keynote "A bit at home, a bit on the edge," runs through 4 PM Friday and Saturday afternoons and wraps up at 11:30 Sunday, after Bill Hassel's talks on system security.

Leading off the homesteading track is Gilles Schipper, founder of the GSA support firm for HP 3000s. Schipper will speak in two successive sessions on "Easy and affordable enhancements for the HP 3000 homesteader." A migration track kicks off at the the same 9 AM start, led by Michael Marxmeier training on Eloquence migrations of IMAGE data and Speedware's Dani Knezevic on data migrations.

Alan Yeo travels from the UK to Houston present on the migration track. There's even a talk on how to migrate HP 3000 IMAGE data to MySQL.

Registration forms are available online, too. Registration right up to conference day earns the $175 rate; at the door signups are just $200. GHRUG has already scoped out nearby hotels, too. Some of the best HP 3000 advice available will take to the meeting rooms in Clear Lake. We hope to see you there.

The end of HP's lessons on hubris?

    With the release and reviews of Carly Fiorina's book Choices, and former chair Patricia Dunn teeing off on the company's boardroom members, it's been open season on HP strategy and its targets.  HP is doing its best to dig itself out of this PR trench, and that’s a good thing for its customers, especially those going forward from 3000s to HP Integrity systems. (No comment on the irony in that product name, HP's replacement for the 3000, is necessary — except maybe to say that HP's iron has a better record now than the boardroom at the top of its maker.)

   It appears the revelations have tailed off now, and even those who’ve been fingered and vilified got their say on national TV. Bad judgment can crop up anywhere, but it often grows in the pungent fertilizer of hubris, the “we’re Number One” re-engineering of the HP Way started by Carly during the Compaq assimilation.

Get updated on HP's migration advice

Mark down Oct. 25 on your information calendar if you want the latest advice and reports from HP about the march to migration away from the HP 3000. The vendor has scheduled a Webcast through the Encompass User Group service at 4 PM EDT that day.

HP Transition Manager Alvina Nishimoto will present “HP e3000 Transition Options:”

This Webcast will outline the current HP e3000 transition programs available to customers along with the different transition options and resources to help in a transition:

- Hardware and software roadmap and support - Conversion kits for A’s and N’s
- Substantial discounts towards purchase of new Integrity servers
- Transition webinars
- Free education offerings
- Migration services available
- Tools, compliers, and database options will be examined and migration tools discussed.

To register, visit the Encompass Web site Webcast page. At the bottom of the page there is a link to the registration page. Simply click on the link and follow instructions. The 3000-specific Webcasts haven't been oversubscribed in the past, but this one seems broad enough to attract some extra interest.

We're especially interested in the advice about conversion kits for A- and N-class servers, since their HP-UX counterparts are already on the discontinued list.

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3000 conference unveils speakers

With about four weeks left until its Nov. 10 start date, the weekend HP 3000 conference is making a registration form, cost, hotel options in southeast Houston and its speaker lineup all public this week. The $175 conference covers three days and features Adager's Alfredo Rego as the keynote speaker, taking users through a tour of MPE, Unix, Macintosh and Windows enviroHotel_map_092006nments, all while delivering a peek at the latest in database management.

Judy Reustle, coordinator of the show's speaker slots, said that the conference committee still has a few speaking slots left open.

"The rest of the speakers are: GSA's Gilles Schipper, OpenMPE's Paul Edwards and Chuck Ciesinski, MB Foster's Birket Foster, Speedware's Alan Yeo, Transformix's Charles Finey, Eloquence creator Michael Marxmeier, Dani Knezevic of Speedware, HP-UX guru Bill Hassel, Richard Sonnier and Charles Johnson.

"I still have one or two possible slots if there is still a speaker out there that wants me to fit them in. I just need abstracts with initial correspondance." Contact Reustle at [email protected]. The call for speakers form is at the GHRUG Web site.

Making Unix equate with MPE

File equations are a 3000 speciality in an IT operation, "the commands that redefine the attributes of a file, including perhaps the actual filename," according to our friends at Robelle. Since Unix doesn't have file equations, customers who are making their transition need to learn how to make Unix's symbolic links report what a 3000 manager once learned from a LISTEQ command.

Up on the 3000-L newsgroup a customer asked what he might use to do the work of LISTEQ on a Unix system. 3000 managers are used to checking file equations when something mysterious happens with an MPE file.

Dave Oksner of 3000 application vendor Computer And Software Enterprises (CASE) offered the 'find' command as a substitute in Unix/Posix, telling it to only process files of type "symbolic link."

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Double shots in less than 60 minutes

We couldn't label this report as "News Outta HP" because its principals have both been turned out of the company by now. But in a brief span of network TV time, both of Hewlett-Packard's former chairmen took shots at the current management of their former companies. CBS let reporter Lesley Visser interview both Carly Fiorina and Patricia Dunn in a remarkable pair of segments notable for their lack of balance.

CBS used the "we couldn't get them to talk to us" alibi while keeping their report focused on just one point of view about HP's past five years. The two leaders excised from the company complained about conspiracies, charicature-ization and the unfair treatment HP's board gave them.

Customers of HP 3000 installations might sympathize with these former executives; the 3000, after all, was cut from the HP roster almost as "suddenly and without warning" as Fiorina claims she was fired. The transcript of the CBS stories shows a former CEO in total denial about her shortcomings. What else would anyone say on the eve of publication of their book about HP management, Carly-style?

HP employees — current and former — hurled plenty of criticism at the TVs broadcasting the CBS stories, more at Fiorina and her revision of history. The richest irony escaped the 60 minutes news dragnet: Dunn sparked the moves that led to Fiorinia's ouster. CBS viewers were treated to the spectacle of seeing a fired CEO commiserate with the director who swung the axe on her.

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MPE upgrade carries bonus gigabytes

HP is offering an upgrade to the world of HP 3000 disks in the form of a revised version of MPE.

Some MPE revisions bring subtle changes. But none of them, until now, have increased the available storage space on the 3000's boot drive. Moving from MPE/iX 6.5 to 7.5 will do that, because HP's final version of MPE recognizes space greater than 4 GB on the system's startup volume.

HP engineered the change for maximum flexibility, according to users and vendors doing upgrades these days. HP's early discussions about the design would have made the liberated space only available for a user volume.

HP found a way to restrict the files that needed to be in the 4 GB section of drives while leaving the remainder of the space available transparently. For customers whose LDEV 1 is an 18 GB device — and it should be, since those are the newer generation of HP's smallest 3000 drives — recovering those gigabytes could be a way to induce an upgrade.

Customers get the extra space back which they paid for on their drives without extra hassles like an INSTALL. The retesting involved with upgrading needs to have an obvious benefit, for some 3000 customers.

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How long has this been going on?

HP's former chairman trusted her chief counsel and the company's head of legal ethics to approve methods to plug leaks from HP's board. How did they investigate? They used an outsourced company which has been working "as a captive contractor" for Hewlett-Packard for at least eight years.

HP 3000 customers from the late 1990s might do the math on that figure and see that Security Outsourced Solutions could well have been working on HP's bust of the illegal broker community selling HP 3000s. Those investigations ramped up in 1999, seven years ago. One of the operatives in that case, Fred Adler, also testified in HP's charges against Allegro Consultants in 2002, in a spin-off case where HP charged the company with engineering a unprotected version of SS_CONFIG, a key tool used in the broker investigation. Adler spoke plainly in the Congressional hearings last week. He's now an HP employee, and he reported that HP considered the SOS pretexting procedures a standard practice.

That statement has to be reckoned against the denials of former chairman Dunn, chief legal counsel Baskins and CEO Hurd, who all say they never heard of pretexting, or never heard it was part of the SOS procedure. Top leaders of HP said they believed private phone records are available though a public Web site. It's up to HP's customers to decide if they want to trust a company with so many innocents at the senior executive level. Investors don't care. HP's share price rose another 80 cents on Wednesday.

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The other HP charged with crime

Today the California Attorney General announced he will seek indictments for former HP chairman Patricia Dunn, and HP's ethics attorney Kevin Hunsaker, based on their conduct in the hoax to quell leaks from the HP board.

This is the first time an HP board member — well, resigned board member — has faced indictment, let alone a chairman. Dunn wanted to keep her seat on this board before all allegations surfaced. Now at least HP is spared the embarrassment of having someone active in its executive level under indictment.

But the general news media are reporting headlines in shorthand. "HP executives face indictment," said NPR this afternoon, overlooking the fact that neither Hunsaker or Dunn are associated with HP anymore. That's a level of distinction some customers are applying to the whole pretexting scam out of the boardroom. That's the other HP, some say, not the one associated with the HP 3000. Other customers make no distinction, according to comments offered in our spot poll.

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HP sells the Integrity concept

HP sent out another message to the marketplace starting last week, one that didn't involve "tracer technology" or any phony product information designed to smoke out reporters. (Now we hear CEO Mark Hurd approved the fake message to the CNET reporter, if not the tracer technology.) But all of that has little to do with the HP most 3000 customers engage, the long-time engineers and managers of the 3000 group. Today in Minneapolis, HP taught customers about the advantages of its Integrity, a server, HP hopes will replace some other HP product that it won't support or update in at least a few years.

The HP Integrity Solutions Tour is visiting 30 cities between Sept. 26 and Nov. 16 across the US  — plus a bonus show in Hawaii on Dec. 12. (For the best-performing team, perhaps.) The morning-long event, with breakfast served before and lunch afterward, gives customers a chance to "deep dive" into either the Integrity hardware, or the new territory (to 3000 vets) of virtualization.

Several members of the multiple teams doing the show hail from the 3000 division, when there was such a thing at HP. At the NewsWire we're marking down November 14, and not just because it's the five-year anniversary of the HP step-away announcement. HP's team will present the show in San Antonio that day. We hear the zen master of the HP hardware briefing, HP's Dave Snow, will be on hand for that one.

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Still linking, after all these years

It's true: many resources have changed, and some have expired, from the workbench of the HP 3000 customer in the almost three years since HP stopped selling the system. HP predicted that the ebb of the computer's ecosystem, within five years of 2001, would make the server a bad bet for long-term enterprise computing.

But with what's close to five years of hindsight to guide them, the community still offers much of what was available before HP's decision. A massive menu of resources for the 3000 customers lives at, maintained by the OpenMPE's Webmaster John Dunlop. At the very top of a well-stocked page today, Dunlop's put a link to an article about using PHP, the powerful Web server utility, on the HP 3000.

Dunlop recently dropped us a note to seek a little more spotlight for the site, which continues to offer a terrific one-page roundup of all things Web-based for the 3000's ecosystem.

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