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HP to help wipe out LFDS on 3000 databases

    HP has implemented its plan to resolve its two-year-old Large File DataSet (LFDS) issue with the IMAGE/SQL database on HP 3000s. But the vendor’s tested and approved change which fixes the potential LFDS database corruption issue is not going to be released, according to MPE/iX lab director Ross McDonald. Instead, HP will release software to get LFDS ability out of IMAGE databases.

   HP is shelving the months of work on fixing LFDS to stay in step with the HP 3000’s database community. Experts at Adager, Robelle, Bradmark, Allegro Consultants and other vendors have all said that LFDS needs to be withdrawn from the C.10 versions of IMAGE/SQL. Simply put, the fixes to the software don’t justify the benefits that LFDS promised: dynamic expansion of detail datasets.

   LFDS had the potential to corrupt databases which had datasets bigger than 4GB, by all accounts both within HP and in the database utility vendor community. But few customers used the feature knowingly, especially after Adager and then other third parties warned of its corruption capability.

    McDonald said HP doesn’t believe there are any customer sites experiencing corruption issues due to LFDS, a feature first released in 2004 and fraught with multiple attempts to fix its problem.

Instead of releasing the tested patch to fix LFDS, HP will be releasing a patch to disable the capability. This patch, TIXMXW7, is now in beta test, and will run on versions 6.5, 7.0 and 7.5 of MPE/iX.

   “This could take some time,” McDonald said of the beta process for the TIXMXW7 patch. HP will post notices to the community through online resources, including the 3000 NewsWire blog, when TIXMXW7 goes to General Release (GR).

    On a more immediate schedule, HP is using the HP Jazz Web site to offer a new tool today that lets customers discover if they’ve created any Large File Datasets in their IMAGE/SQL databases over the past two years. This LFDSDET tool, available at jazz.external.hp.com/lfds, scans a 3000’s databases — though it doesn’t need to read a full database — to locate LFDS on a 3000. The tool, like all on the Jazz Web site, is free, along with the DBSCHEMA file.

    The Web page jazz.external.hp.com/lfds has full details and links to the available resources. The TIXMXW7 patch, once it reaches GR status, will be available on the HP ITRC Web site. Like any other GR patch, TIXMXW7 can then be downloaded and used by any HP 3000 customer, including those who don’t purchase 3000 or MPE/iX support from HP.

   LFDSDET is HP’s first tool to examine the contents of a 3000 since HP’s Jeff Vance created SIUPDATE to do an inventory to help in migrations.

   McDonald said HP decided not to release its fix for LFDS “in part because it would require all the database tool vendors to change their products — and also, some Privileged Mode customer applications,” he said.

   LFDS is embedded deep in the IMAGE database code, so changing it would add risk to using IMAGE/SQL, he added. “This isn’t the right time to be adding risk,” he said. McDonald went on to indicate that “we have concluded that this is the best solution from both a customer and partner perspective.”

   Jumbo datasets have been in use much longer than LFDS, and HP said jumbos meet customer needs as well as LFDS with one exception. Dynamic expansion of detail datasets can’t be handled if those datasets are Jumbos. But third-party products from database providers are good workarounds to meet that feature set, HP says.

   After the TIXMXW7 patch is installed, the LFDS Detection tool will automatically be executed. If the system is found to be free of LFDS databases, a file will be created that prevents write access to LFDS databases.

   However, if the detection tool finds LFDS databases on the HP 3000 system, these offending databases will be identified, and instructions will be displayed on the system console directing the customer to the jazz.external.hp.com/LFDS Web site. In this case, write access to the LFDS databases will continue to be granted so as not to impact ongoing customer operations.

   HP says that after the LFDS databases have been converted to Jumbo databases, customers should re-run the LFDS Detection Tool in installation mode to verify a clean system.