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August 31, 2007

Resource 3000 calls community for survey

HP 3000 homesteading (and migration) supplier Resource 3000 wants to know how the HP 3000 community is managing to stay on the platform. The company posted a notice this week which asks for input on a 10-question survey.

Question 1 is "Are you or your company still operating an e3000? If your answer is "No," you are almost done with this questionnaire!"

But answer a yes and you can provide the community, including yourself, with a snapshot of 3000 homesteading (or migration) in 2007. Resource 3000 will summarize the survey results for all HP 3000 customers who respond. The survey is online at www.resource3000.com/survey.php

Resource 3000's Steve Cooper said the survey's specific information "which promises to be interesting" will not be shared with any third party. He added that it's a chance to "share your
thoughts on where we are and where we're heading."

Cooper, who manages Resource 3000 partner member Allegro Consultants, said in an e-mail to the HP 3000 newsgroup

To better serve this still-vibrant community, we’d like to find out who’s going (why, how, and where to), who’s staying, and what their associated issues are. We, in turn, will share a summary of the results-which promise to be interesting-with all who participate in the survey.

07:38 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 30, 2007

Fourth gen language aims for fifth decade

The new TransAction moves Transact apps to new platforms and supports 3000 implementations, too.

    HP 3000 development partners have demonstrated their resourceful habits many times during the platform’s four decades of service. Now a 30-year-old language and its unique architecture on MPE/iX are getting refurbished to move away from the 3000 — or continue an MPE life with an up-to-date library.

   The Transact/3000 product was developed in 1977 by David Dummer of Imacs, offering a product that was among the first rapid development tools (RDTs) for the platform. HP picked up the product in 1981 and sold it, along with several report writers, as the Rapid family of tools. A few thousand 3000 customers adopted Transact over the next decade or so, making Transact a Fourth Generation Language — or more accurately, a “three and a half GL,” according to ScreenJet’s Alan Yeo.

   4GLs, as these solutions have been called, delivered a faster way to create applications than third-gen languages such as COBOL. Speedware and PowerHouse are other choices either working on 3000s or embedded inside 3000 apps.

   Yeo’s firm has been working with Dummer for four years, through investigations, coding and tests, to create TransAction, a software suite that includes a new Transact Function Library. That library is in production use at more than 30 former HP 3000 installations, part of ScreenJet’s footprint for the Transact to COBOL T2C solution.

   The newest solution eliminates Transact’s lock-in to 3000 and MPE/iX, Yeo says. While the installed base has dwindled to a few hundred sites — HP forced Transact off its “strategic” list in favor of another product — Yeo said that the small target market still warranted the work.


“It’s a complete re-write of Transact into TransAction, for what we all have to admit is a tiny niche market,” he said. “Well, those of us who have worked in the 3000 aren’t afraid of niche markets.”

   The software stands on the shoulders of ScreenJet’s work to deliver T2C, Yeo added. TransAction supplements the Transact Function Library with a compiler and a run-time version, software that allows Transact code to be moved to HP-UX and Linux. A Windows target version of TransAction “can be supplied when required,” Yeo said.

   Dummer said the product eliminates the migrating customers’ effort of putting Transact code onto other platforms. “How much simpler for these users if the application source could be kept as Transact on the migration platform,” Dummer said. “The result was the creation of a prototype of a compiler and transaction engine that made full use of the existing Transact Function Library.”

   TransAction is made of a compiler which generates a file containing a high level process code instruction set, plus a transaction engine which performs the application instructions from the file. “The transaction engine fully supports the various Transact process control structures such as LEVEL, PERFORM, DO and RETURN(n),” Dummer said.

   The Unix/Linux versions also use an OS Module to tap the native functions of the new target platforms. The Module interfaces with tools such as AMXW from Speedware, MPUX from Ordina-Denkart, Intrinsix from Resource 3000 partner Allegro Consultants, and Transport from TransforMix. These allied tools give HP 3000 sites access to new-platform functionality through MPE/iX commands and intrinsics, to make migrations less complex and deliver payback sooner.

04:59 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 29, 2007

Fall 3000 meeting by the Bay?

    Rumors float this month, while the wheels turn for a November 3000 do, as the British would call a gathering.

    Can the 3000 community keep itself from meeting? Signs during this summer point to no, and a novel meeting that is gathering steam by San Francisco Bay.

   The year 2007 posed the prospect of being without a gathering dedicated to the HP 3000. But now a cadre of luncheon launchers, led by Europeans Alan Yeo and Michael Marxmeier, wants to give away place-settings once again. A limited capacity, one-Saturday luncheon and networking day meeting is emerging on the Euros’ dance card for November.

   The pair of men, whose ScreenJet and Eloquence firms drove a 2005 HP 3000 Luncheon, appear to be at it once more. With pledged support from MB Foster and Speedware, and requests out to other key 3000 supporters, a weekend do, as the British say, seems likely to form.

   Novelty has never been in short supply among the 3000 community’s developers and entrepreneurs, as evidenced by a new wrinkle in the meeting concept. The gathering will have an attendee limit — the talk is 50, maybe as many as 100. The agenda is wide enough to include updates on 3000 solutions for homestead and migration sites, but leaves room for informal dinner gatherings around a day-long event including a lunch.

   The meeting, as-yet unnamed but being scouted, will be free. Attendees will bear only travel expenses — which can range from the Europeans’ Trans-Atlantic trip costs to a few gallons of gas for a drive to the area hotel. The payoff is a weekend day or so to network, trade tips and get updates.

   In 2005 Yeo and Marxmeier, with on-site help from QSS founder Duane Percox, gathered about 25 customers and partners for a short-notice luncheon near San Francisco. Interex had cancelled its conference and gone bankrupt so quickly that 3000 community members got stuck with travel tickets to a city with no HP meeting.

   This year’s instigators promise to give the community enough notice to book travel, or keep a weekend open — as well as a pledge to follow though with the event once it’s established.

   At presstime of our printed issue, the details of this Bayside MPE Meeting — a monicker we use for lack of a finalized name — were still developing. Keep up to date with The 3000 NewsWire’s blog for particulars. In our office, we are keeping our November calendar ready for an MPE/iX networking trip. The current buzz has the gathering on the weekend of November 17.

08:53 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 28, 2007

Vance lands his bike on a 3000-friendly path

HP's Jeff Vance — one of the most prolific contributors of HP 3000 software and utilities — retired from HP on May 31. It took him less than two months to land his next job, writing software for educational application vendor QSS. The firm is carefully migrating some of its HP 3000 customers to Linux and HP-UX, and Vance will be helping in the effort as a Senior Technologist.

I now work for Quintessential School Systems (QSS) in San Mateo. They develop, sell, and support quality financial apps for public school districts K-12 and have generous share of the market.

I'll get to wear several hats at QSS -- I'm wearing two now with more to come shortly! They really are a great company. The folks I've met are ethical, hard-working, kind, smart, and have a healthy work-life balance.

I have the title of "Senior Technologist" and all I know for sure is they got the "senior" part right!  I am starting off learning the Ruby language and using it in a Ruby on Rails framework for new web apps. I'll be able to work directly with customers too! So far the job is great!  I even have an office with a door -- wow!

Vance spent much of his most productive time for the 3000 at a home office in the Santa Cruz Mountains. An avid mountain biker, he's taking his bike to work now. "I even brought my bicycle to work today and did a short lunch ride -- there are 7.5 miles of singletrack trails in a nearby park!"

It's a kudo for QSS to land Vance as well. When he retired from 28 years' work with the 3000 for HP, he said "I am looking at other companies where I can wear several hats, and help them create solutions to delight customers. I want to remain close to the end users."

HP 3000 veterans can leverage their IT development experience for new positions. Even if MPE and COBOL is all you know well, you've probably also gained great insights into building business solutions for end-users.

06:46 AM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 27, 2007

Telling stories to create an HP 3000 history

NewsWire Editorial

By Ron Seybold

    We tell stories to propel ourselves through life. The tales can repeat what we’ve heard, invent accounts based on misunderstanding, even suture facts together like a kind of Frankenstein monster: something living at the moment, but unlikely to survive into its golden years.

    Judging by the pulse of remember-when storytelling, the HP 3000 community may be entering its golden years by now. If that phrase feels like a bad fit for a computer cancelled by its maker, you might see more monsters lurking in the dark of the future. It’s okay — plenty of people make choices to avoid the unknown.

    The monsters for your community include a vanishing HP 3000 ecosystem, as well as across-the-board risk for companies which still run the computer as a mission-critical tool. I’ve heard both stories in the past few weeks. I question whether either tale will stand up for many more years.

   History will tell, people say. Experts and storytellers use that phrase to seal off discussions, like corking off a bottle of scotch after a few wee drams. But even when history tells, many years later, one person is telling. Like all historians, they express their views in what they choose, blending a taste of the past like a mélange of wine.

   In my home’s buffet sits one of those bottles, a red that doctors say we should sip to maintain our health. The bottle calls itself Synergy, a blend of Sirah, Zinfadel and just a touch of Sangiovese. The brand is Novella (another story metaphor) offered by EOS Winery.

    Okay, it’s just too obvious by now — EOS, End of Support. When is the end of support for the 3000, anyway? Long ago in 2001, when we were all more dewy-eyed about what to fear, HP assured us all that 2006 was the end of the 3000’s story.

   Then HP altered the ending, like having more chapters added to a book on your nightstand while you sleep next to it. The EOS of 2006 became “at least 2008.” This is not a story with a firm ending. I know that feeling. Even with many pages written in a novel, I find its last act is changing, gathering up a different ending.

  However, all that I’m doing is telling a story in that novel to entertain, maybe enlighten. I’m not trying to advise companies on how to invest in IT, or when to embrace change. Hewlett-Packard will do that for you, on some days. At other times HP says it’s up to you to decide your ending — but they have newer books ready when you finish.


An indefinite ending can enrage some people. In June, millions howled when The Sopranos ended in a stunning flash to black, at a peak of tension in a scene, with a rock anthem in mid-verse in the background. How could they do this to us, people screamed. The wrap-up episode did a good job with many loose ends, but the fate of Tony Soprano was unresolved.

   As a storyteller, I admired the ending. Yes, I did have to lean forward and check if the cable box had died on us, the finish was so sudden. But as Abby and I sat there together, mute as a pair of giraffes, I understood why the storytelling stopped as it did. It’s up to us to decide the ending of something as epic. Nobody has to tie a bow on something as massive as 86 Sopranos episodes, or 35 years (so far) of HP 3000 history.

   History is on my mind this month because I’ve cracked open my notes on a history of HP 3000. People have been generous with stories that can make a history, like the tale of the first ordered HP 3000 or how HP’s first rapid development tool arrived on the scene.

   I’m all too happy to blend these wines, like that bottle of Synergy. But I know that I’m writing a history that doesn’t have an ending, only lessons.

    You don’t have to agree about the need for a tidy ending. Abby reads mysteries, I’ve got a Orson Scott Card’s science fiction in my bookcases — all of these stories demand a resolution. Even a TV series can have a well-drawn conclusion, like the classic Six Feet Under episode, looking nearly 100 years forward in under fives minutes of screen time.

   This relates to the HP 3000. Endings, and the future, loom large in the minds of 3000 customers. HP sent a signal, almost six years ago, that the computer’s chronicles will wrap up much sooner than later. But the ending appears to be much more like The Sopranos finale than any Elizabeth Peters cozy mystery.

   Just a few weeks ago, Jennie Hou of the 3000’s HP business office said the vendor still hasn’t decided how long HP will support the server. The risk of using the computer continues to escalate, she says in our Q&A interview. However, the specifics about that risk “are left as an exercise for the reader.” HP can offer examples, sure.

   But nobody knows which examples apply. Except you, or your migration advisors who’ve seen your IT organization, applications and processes. The next time you hear somebody say something like “I’d move heaven and earth to get off of an HP 3000 now,” try not to bounce away from such reactionary spew. Yeah, I actually read that someplace yesterday.

   Sure, there are companies who need to move heaven and earth to migrate. There are addicts who shouldn’t even keep red wine vinegar in their panty, let alone red wine. Every case is a little different. Every history includes different tales from different storytellers. Just because they say it’s history doesn’t make it true.

   Keep an eye out for details, specifics of authority and credibility that build a strong foundation for trust. When you hear a barb about heaven and earth, try to learn which universe the speaker hovers in today. Is it in celestial front-line experience, or an armchair at the computer screen? Idle gossip over a cell phone, or war dispatches about an IT disaster that will never make the press? (Honest and hoary stories about failure take many years to surface, I’ve learned.) Has the speaker served in active duty, or just borrowed an old service cap to pose as a modern-day migration veteran?

   History is supposed to teach us how to avoid tomorrow’s mistakes. As we work into the third year of our news blog storytelling, I hope for many more tales from you about the HP 3000’s past. Looking back lets us all analyze, not just romanticize. Your community is creating new tales, even today, about how to manage a platform transition. We’re here to help spread the word. The richest stories I’ll save for that history I’m writing — with your help, I hope.

08:42 AM in History, Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 24, 2007

Q&A: Visualizing HP's new level of support

New HP e3000 business manager Jennie Hou briefed The 3000 NewsWire on the concepts of HP's continuing 3000 support. We spoke at this summer's HP Technology Forum.

Why is HP visualizing a new custom level of support?
    We believe there may still be customers out there needing help from HP. We will evaluate customer needs based on HP’s local capabilities and on an individual basis. If there are local capabilities, we will still be able to provide troubleshooting and problem isolation services. We can provide existing patches if they would solve these problems, provide workarounds, and/or binary patches whenever possible. What we won’t be doing is to create new General Released patches or enhancements.

So what kind of patches will HP create in this post-Basic Support phase?
    Hypothetically, if the Customized Legacy Support is invoked, only site-specific binary patches and workarounds will be provided. That’s what we’re envisioning, and it’s a natural support evolution for products that are reaching end-of-life.

Does any of this change HP’s overall position about its future with the 3000, or the customer recommendation?
    No, we still strongly recommend that our customers migrate off the 3000 to other HP solutions. Every day they’re still on the 3000 there are more risks involved.

    We do understand that migrations can take longer than planned. We are trying to achieve the right business balance by listening to what our customers are saying and working together with our partners in the e3000 ecosystem.

Will the Customized Legacy stage allow HP to reduce the amount of its resources devoted to the platform? Are there now only a few people in the company who spend all of each day, every workday in a month, dedicated to HP 3000 work?
    As we are reaching the end-of-life for the e3000 platform, it’s normal to have decreased resources over time. However, it’s HP’s policy not to disclose any specific numbers.

Does HP intend to exit the support business for the 3000 at some date?

    Of course. Eventually there will be no HP support of the 3000. HP will exit that support business completely. HP cares about our installed base and wants to help our customers in maintaining a stable e3000 environment while they conduct their migrations. Therefore, the support model evolves based on customer needs and balanced business approach.

So does HP have a date to end its support services for the 3000? Or are you going to let customers tell you when such Customized Legacy support is no longer needed?
    We’ve been describing a conceptual model. There’s no time frame associated with it. Basic Support is being offered at least through 2008, and we’re going to stay with that date for now.

Will the end of all of HP’s 3000 support trigger the licensing of any parts of MPE/iX mentioned in HP’s December 2005 announcement?
    When the end of support date is there, we will be working backward. We will work with any interested parties as well as OpenMPE. HP feels very strongly that 12 months of lead time to prepare third parties is enough. If X is the end date, then X-minus a year will be our timeframe.   

HP has said in the past it will work with third party support companies where HP can’t provide services to its customers. What will HP do to enable these support companies to step in to provide 3000 support that HP is backing away from? What about OpenMPE assuming some of this work?
    There have always been third party support companies in the 3000 community; that’s nothing new. We are working with OpenMPE. That’s why Jeff Bandle is here, as the new liaison to OpenMPE board. We are also talking to third parties, looking at third party options out there.

  When HP leaves the 3000 support business, we’ll update our customers accordingly.

How do you like the new job, here in the first month or so?
    I always enjoy working with customers and partners, this expanded role offers me more opportunity to do that. There are lot of people in our [HP 3000] organization that are very customer-focused, and I get to introduce two new customer/partner representatives: Craig Fairchild and Jeff Bandle.

12:53 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 23, 2007

HP Q&A: Hou envisions post-08 support

Hou_2 Jennie Hou may get to author HP’s final chapters in the 3000 saga. A veteran of 23 years of HP’s work on the platform, Hou took over the reins for 3000 business manager Dave Wilde when he moved on to another HP division late this spring. Like Wilde, Hou joined an HP 3000 group when the platform was rising to its peak installed base, a day when the vendor was active in the software tools market for MPE V and then MPE/XL.

   Hou began her computer experience during her high school years, as many 3000 veterans have, attending a Fortran class. She brought a Computer Science degree to HP when she joined in 1984 and later earned an MBA.

   Hou has been a part of many of the areas of HP’s business: Release Management, Quality, R&D, Partners’ Consulting, Marketing, Planning, and Escalation Management. Her work includes communication with partners and customers, as well as many years of labor to make Oracle a database alternative for HP 3000 sites. Hou has worked with Oracle for more than a third of her HP career.

   It would be fair to describe the Oracle assignment as yeoman work, considering how few HP 3000 sites deployed the IMAGE databaase alternative and how much effort she and HP invested in the relationship. Between 1992 and 1996, the porting and consulting team worked onsite with the Oracle Lab team at Oracle’s corporate headquarters in the Bay Area. Hou later became the business and technical alliance manager for the HP e3000/Oracle relationship and stayed with the project through 1999.

   This year she assumes the official title of R&D Project Manager in the HP’s Business Critical Systems Customer Experience Technology Division. Hou becomes a key leader in shaping serious endgame decisions for HP’s 3000 business: source code licensing, cooperation with third party support firms, release of HP intellectual property to the community and more. During the HP Technology Forum, HP's update for the 3000 customer included a talk on the Customized Legacy support concept, something that — if it emerges — will keep HP in the 3000 support business beyond 2008. We spoke with Hou to find out more at this summer’s Forum.

There’s been talk this week of a new Customized Legacy support concept for the 3000. How is HP thinking about this, and where will the company find the need for such an offer?

   Customized Legacy support is something that Basic support may evolve into, but since it currently is a conceptual model, please take what we’re saying as a framework. It’s based on feedback we received from the installed base and our partners as we continue to monitor our customers’ needs and concerns.

   The theme we have been communicating is that there are stages in the 3000’s lifecycle. The first one was from the 3000’s introduction back in the ‘70s until 2001; we offered full support with active development. When we announced obsolescence in 2001 we went into another phase. This second phase had full support with limited development. The development work was to ensure there was a stable environment and availability of the latest platforms so we can give people the time to go through this transition.

   When we reached the end of 2003 we stopped selling systems, but we did provide hardware add-ons for another year. All along, HP provided full support for our customers on a worldwide basis where we worked on fixing defects, delivering General Release patches and PowerPatch Releases for our [support] customers.

  As we approached 2006, we also heard from customers that migrations were taking longer. There were many reasons: budget, internal timelines, government regulations they needed to prepare for, etc. Everything got shifted farther out, because there’s always a gap between planning and implementation.

   Despite this fact, migration had passed the plateau and we were in a downward curve. However, there will still be some customers planning and migrating beyond 2008.

   We’ve heard a lot of success stories with the migrations, and lots of ISVs are offering other HP solutions for our customers. The installed base is transitioning, and many have completed those transitions.

   On the other hand, because of extensive and complex home-grown solutions, it is taking some large accounts a longer than anticipated amount of time to complete their migrations.

    In working with our customers and partners on these migrations, we have seen a lot of different scenarios out there. Therefore, we extended “basic” support through 2008. This support phase has limitations. We will not do enhancements to support new peripherals. We only do critical bug fixes with some limited enhancements to improve stability. These are things like securing the FTP environment and SCSI pass-through. We look to choose those efforts that will help our customers have longer business continuity and connectivity.

   People who need more than Basic Support can work with HP to get customized support for their mission-critical environment. So far, in general, this has been meeting our customers’ needs.

   We do want to stress the fact that there are fewer options as time goes on. In the basic support life cycle we have dropped some products, such as Java and Predictive Support. So there are some restrictions.

   We believe there is another possible phase we call “customized legacy” support. It will be one more step down from the “basic” support. It will be based on local capabilities and with even more restrictions.

10:46 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 22, 2007

Free 3000 terminal emulator earns update

The freeware program QCTerm, a admirable alternative for HP 3000 shops with little budget for emulator programs, just got a 3.0 version during the last week.

AICS Research, one of the oldest third parties in the HP 3000 community, developed QCTerm for its users of QueryCalc. The program's development stretches back 10 years, an extraordinary lifespan for any software offered for free. Emulator licensing fees being a roadblock to those customers during the late 1990s — as well as another facet of technical support involving emulator companies — AICS founder Wirt Atmar led a successful project, which culminated in a 1.0 version, to build software which turns a PC into an emulator — of HP 3000 terminals, as well as other hosts.

Atmar just reported to the community, over the Internet newsgroup, what the new 3.0 offers and where the program is headed in its next version.

This new version has been modernized for several new features, and because of contracts with several agencies, a number of enhancements have been added. Of all those, the one item that might be of use to you is that hotlinks to URLs have been added to the terminal’s display. If you have text anywhere on your screen that begins with an “http://” and you double-click it, we now bring up a web browser and go to the address that’s been specified.

The new version can be downloaded from


Please let me know if you have any trouble with anything. Surprisingly, QCTerm is still getting about 100 downloads a week, even though there’s less and less demand for a full HP terminal any longer.

The next major enhancement I intend is to put SSH 1 and 2 support into the terminal.

AICS is keeping the free program up to date with the latest Microsoft operating system, too.

If you’re running Vista, I’d appreciate it if you would download and try this version. Several people who are using Vista have commented on problems that they’ve had installing the older version, Version 2.1.

We have Vista machines here, but we’ve had no problems at all. I suspect the root cause of the problems lies with the installer we wrote ourselves during Windows 3.x days.

We’re using InstallShield now for the installer for the new version (and that increases the install from 2.4 MB to 14.0 MB, simply because InstallShield transports everything it might conceivably need with the installation program). This new version can now be installed anywhere that you wish, rather than merely at the c:\ root as all previous versions had to be.

07:46 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 21, 2007

The bounty of ODE, only a password away

Yesterday we forwarded a report from Stan Sieler, HP's most recent recipient of the "e3000 Contributor of the Year" award, on the state of HP 3000 diagnostics. One super diagnostic program, ODE, holds a wide range of test programs.

These testing pieces of software got more important during the last year, since HP mothballed its Predictive Support service for the HP 3000. Predictive dialed into a 3000, poked around to see what might be ready to break, then reported to HP's support engineers.

Diagnostics are a manual way to perform the same task, or fix something that's broken. ODE, a set of offline tools, is all tucked away behind a password that only HP's support staff can deliver for your 3000. Sieler reports:

I ran each one, and documented whether or not it requires a password. (A few utilities seem to have little or no use because HP hasn’t provided a method of saying “hey, my disk drive isn’t an HP drive, and it’s over here”.)

ODE is a collection of diagnostics/utilities, each different.


******             Offline Diagnostic Environment                    ******
******                TC  Version A.02.26                            ******
******                SysLib Version A.00.78                         ******
******                Loader Version A.00.62                         ******
******                Mapfile Version A.01.61                        ******

(ODE)     Modules on this boot media are:

filename    type    size     created   description
README2     TM      63       04/07/13  64 bit version that displays README fil
MAPPER2     TM      146      04/07/13  64 bit version of the system mapping ut
MEM2        TM      257      04/07/13  64 bit Memory diagnostic
AR60DIAG2   TM      590      04/07/13  Fibre Channel 60 disk array utility (64
ARDIAG2     TM      682      04/07/13  64 bit version of the ICE & ICICLE disk
ASTRODIAG2  TM      273      04/07/13  64 bit version of the ASTRO IO Controll
COPYUTIL2   TM      320      04/07/13  64 bit version of the Disk-to-tape copy
DFDUTIL2    TM      264      04/07/13  64 bit version of the Disk firmware dow
DISKEXPT2   TM      241      04/07/13  64 bit version of the expert disk utili
DISKUTIL2   TM      222      04/07/13  64 bit version of the nondestructive di
NIKEARRY2   TM      324      04/07/13  Nike disk array utility
VADIAG2     TM      906      04/07/13  hp StorageWorks Virtual Array Utility
WDIAG       TM      1084     04/07/13  CPU diagnostic for PCX-W processors
IOTEST2     TM      880      04/07/13  64 bit version that runs ROM-based self
PERFVER2    TM      126      04/07/13  64 bit version that runs ROM-based self

ODE> mem2
******                         Version B.02.27                       ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> ar60diag2
******                            AR60DIAG2                          ******
******                         Version B.03.29                       ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> ardiag2
******                             ARDIAG2                           ******
******                         Version B.05.11                       ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> astrodiag2
******                           ASTRODIAG2                          ******
******                         Version B.00.25                       ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> copyutil2
******                            COPYUTIL2                          ******
******                 Version B.01.11 (19th Mar 2004)               ******

no password
NOTE: didn't seem to want to see Seagate disk drive.

            Copy Utility (COPYUTIL) Help Menu

  UTILINFO  - Shows information on COPYUTIL including quick start info.
  HELP      - This menu, or use HELP <help item> for more detailed help.
  DISPMAP   - Displays the devices found.
  TAPEINFO  - Reads the header of a tape and displays the  information,
              such as the  product  string  and path of the  disk,  the
              creation date, the vol #, and so forth.
  TAPEDRVINFO  - Reads the hard compression mode of a tape drive and
              displays the information,
              The info is only available for SCSI/FIBRE DAT tape drives.
  DRVINFO   - Shows inquiry information of any disk drive or tape drive. 
  TLINFO    - Shows inquiry information for a Tape Library/Autochanger. 
              The addresses of robot hands, magazine slots and tape
              drives are listed there.
  TLMOVE    - Moves a tape from a magazine into a tape drive, or vise versa.
  BACKUP    - Copies data from a disk to tape(s).
  RESTORE   - Copies from tape(s) back to a disk (The tape must be made
              with COPYUTIL's BACKUP command).
  VERIFY    - After a successful BACKUP, by VERIFY user may double check
              the contents of the tape(s) with the data on the disk.
  COPY      - Copies from a disk device to another disk device.
              The supported devices are restricted to SCSI devices so far.
  FORMAT    - Formats a given disk back to its default values.
  TERSEERR  - Turns on or off the terse error flag.  Default is off.
  IGNOREERR - Turns on or off the ignore error flag.  Default is off.

ODE> dfdutil2
******           Disk Firmware Download Utility 2 (DFDUTIL2)         ******
******                 Version B.02.21 (23rd Sep 2003)               ******
No Disks were found. 

didn't seem to want a password.
Since Seagate disks are so prevalent, one would expect some means of
updating firmware on them ... if firmware updates exist.

ODE> diskexpt2
******                            DISKEXPT2                          ******
******                         Version B.00.23                       ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

Note: although it doesn't "see" Seagate drives, you can configure them in
and access them.

ODE> diskutil2
******                            DISKUTIL2                          ******
******                         Version B.00.22                       ******
No supported devices found on this system.

Note: doesn't "see" Seagate drives, and you can't configure them in.

ODE> nikearry2
******                            NIKEARRY2                          ******
******                         Version B.01.12                       ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

ODE> vadiag2
******                             VADIAG2                           ******
******                         Version B.01.07                       ******
Please wait while the system is scanned for Fibre Channel Adapters...
No Fibre Channel Adapters were found.  The test cannot continue.  Aborting.

(No password requested up to that point.)

ODE> wdiag
******                              WDIAG                            ******
******                         Version A.01.53                       ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

(from a friend:)
WDIAG is the PCXW ODE based diagnostic program.  It is intended
to test the Processor of the various PCXW based systems in the offline
environment.  The program consists of 150 sections, 1/150,
and are organized into the following groups:

   1.  CPU data path tests, Sections 1/6 (6 sections)
   2.  BUS-INTERFACE tests, Sections 7/10 (4 sections)
   3.  CACHE tests, Sections 11/25 (15 sections)
   4.  TLB tests, Sections 26/34 (9 sections)
   5.  CPU instruction tests, Sections 35/86 (52 sections)
   6.  CPU extended tests, Sections 87/101  (15 sections)
   7.  Floating point tests, Sections  102/134 (33 sections)
   8.  Multiple processor tests, Sections  140/150 (11 sections)

ODE> iotest2
******                             IOTEST2                           ******
******                         Version B.00.35                       ******

no password required

ODE> perfver2
******                            PERFVER2                           ******
******                         Version B.00.15                       ******

no password required

09:31 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 20, 2007

Programs off limits, without passwords

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the HP 3000 diagnostics you cannot use — at least you can't if you're not an HP support customer. These programs reside on your HP 3000 disk, if you've installed a version of MPE/iX during the past seven years.

(And if you haven't, well, you don't really need diagnostics, do you? You've got a stable system, genuine faith in your disc drives — not to mention lots of luck.)

For the rest of the community, those self-maintaining or using third-party support, these diagnostics require a password. The question is, which diagnostics? Stan Sieler, HP's most recent recipient of the "e3000 Contributor of the Year" award, reports on the state of HP 3000 diagnostics.

The online diagnostics come in two flavors:

  • Older releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via SYSDIAG.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs DUI.DIAG.SYS). (MPE/iX 6.0 and earlier, possibly MPE/iX 6.5 (I’m not sure))
  • Newer releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via CSTM.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs /usr/sbin/stm/ui/bin/stmc).

Both are, well, difficult to use.  (HP-UX also switched from sysdiag to stm.) Both have some modules that require passwords, and some that don’t.

The offline diagnostics are on a bootable CD or tape. The lastest offline diagnostics CD (for PA-RISC) that I could find was labelled “2004”.

It has seven diagnostics/utilities.  I tried running all of them on an A-Class system.  The “ODE” one is special; it’s a program that itself hosts a number of diagnostics/utilities (some of which require passwords).

(I’m not saying “password protected”, because that implies they need protecting ... “password restricted” or “password deprived” might be a more accurate phrase :)

Sieler reported on the details of the "non-ODE" diagnostics. Just a sample of what you can use, and what will be waiting for HP to unlock once the vendor gets out of the 3000 support business:

filename   type   start    size     created
XMAP       -12960 832      1568     04/08/10 17:12:26
ODE        -12960 2400     880      04/08/10 17:12:26
EDBC       -12960 31344    1696     04/08/10 17:12:26
EDPROC     -12960 33040    6928     04/08/10 17:12:26
MULTIDIAG  -12960 39968    6256     04/08/10 17:12:26
TDIAG      -12960 46224    7216     04/08/10 17:12:26
CLKUTIL    -12960 53440    240      04/08/10 17:12:26

ISL> tdiag
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> clkutil
no password

ISL> edproc
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> edbc
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> xmap
...probably doesn't require a password (can't run on A-Class)

ISL> multidiag
******                          MULTIDIAG                            ******
******                    Version A.01.12                            ******
Enter password or a <CR> to exit:

Tomorrow, we'll let Sieler cover the ODE diagnostics, which HP has tucked away behind a password.

07:25 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 17, 2007

HP's quarter posts strong enterprise marks

Third quarter results surfaced from HP yesterday, numbers that showed the company is selling more enterprise servers than ever — much of it in Windows-based blades — while leaving Dell in the rear-view mirror in HP's thriving personal computer segment.

Q3_results_overview The figures released after the close of the markets on Thursday showed an Enterprise Storage and Servers (ESS) unit performing better than ever, raising its profits for a quarter that's traditionally HP's weakest. ESS earned 18 percent of HP's $25.3 billion Q3 revenues, outpacing sales in HP Services  — which include support for the HP 3000 as well as all other HP products.

Profits were strong from the ESS group, almost three times higher in dollars than the same quarter in 2006. Printer and Imaging (IPG) revenues and profits still lead HP's revenues and earnings; supplies (ink and paper) continue to make up more than half of the $981 million IPG profits in Q3. But profits were flat in printers compared to 2006's Q3.

Ess_q3 However strong those overall ESS numbers appeared, the results from Business Critical Systems (BCS)  — home of the HP Integrity offerings — showed weaker performance. Hewlett-Packard continues to weather the loss of sales from its PA-RISC and Alpha servers, while Integrity has taken over the majority of BCS sales. The numbers indicate that while Integrity sales are stronger than ever — now 67 percent of BCS sales, and up 71 percent from last year's Q3 — the Integrity numbers are not yet making up for lost sales of PA-RISC solutions. HP said in its conference call with analysts last night:

Business Critical Systems revenue decreased 3 percent year over year. Integrity server revenue grew 71 percent and represented 67 percent of  Business Critical revenue, up from 38 percent in the prior-year period. Integrity momentum was offset by ongoing declines in PA-RISC  and Alpha.

HP added that the ESS margins grew because of petroleum prices, warranty improvements, pricing discipline and "our ability to align our cost structure investments to deliver the next-generation datacenter to our customers."

HP predicts it will finish fiscal 2007 on Oct. 31 with about $103 billion in yearly sales and a strong $2.67 per share profit. But CEO Mark Hurd, while stressing that the company had a strong Q3 across the portfolio, told analysts there's much work to do to get HP's Enterprise business performing better.

I want to make sure you are clear -- we still have significant  investments and opportunities ahead of us. The initial results of our Enterprise sales force deployment are encouraging. However, we’re still not adequately covering this segment, and we will be adding additional feet on the street to expand our share of wallet.

HP also plans to keep reducing its workforce to maintain profits. "We will need to take the necessary actions, which include incremental workforce reductions, to lower our cost structure," Hurd said. "I’m pleased with our progress, but as a company, we still have plenty of work ahead."

Analysts offered praise for the Q3 results. "[HP] is ahead of some of [its] plans were laid out at Analyst Day [in June]," said Harry Blount  of Lehman Brothers.

HP's Software group shows the strongest potential for growth overall for the company. This is the segment where HP recently announced its plans to acquire Opsware and Neoview. Hurd explained how those purchases — for a total of almost $2 billion — will expand the offerings for the 3000 customers who move to the HP-UX solutions.

Opsware helps us a lot in the automation space. Management, we feel  is very good with the integration of OpenView and Mercury.  Think of  us as really maturing, we think, our management suite of capability. Maturing in automation  -- what Opsware really gave us was not only server management and storage management pillars, but also gave us the workflow run book that really moves across the pillars.

So you typically see network automation, storage automation, server automation, and then there is really this workflow that connects those capabilities. And Opsware is the world leader at doing that and has  done a great job.

Stock_repurchase HP also has made its strongest effort in more than five years to repurchase its own stock, buying $8.8 million so far in 2007 with its cash. Hurd said at the conference that "We believe that we have got plenty of cash. And I think we have been pretty public about the fact that we are willing to go  down in cash and to do the right things for the Company." HP's shares were up by $1.16 (2.5 percent) on the morning after the quarterly results.

10:48 AM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 16, 2007

Two years on, Interex still being sold off

Two years beyond the bust-out of user group Interex, the organization's assets are still being liquidated. Not that there was a lot of value left to sell off. The most prized of the meager assets in the bankrupt group: The customer list, which HP bought for $66,500 in a blind auction in the fall of 2005.

This week, bankruptcy trustee Carol Wu reported to us that she was "in the final stages of liquidating assets" of the user group that expired at age 31. Beyond the liquidation will come repayment of the group's debts. Best of luck to those owed. Interex flashed into darkness while it sank in more than $4 million of debt. When liquidating the largest asset nets less than 2 percent of what's owed, those thousands of creditors may not want to get their hopes up.

Hpworld05_ad Management of the user group planned the 2005 HP World conference, and ran up bills for it,  a show that was supposed to open its doors two years ago this week. The bills included advertising like the banner ad shown here, which was still running on the news.com Web site more than a week after Interex went broke.

The Aug. 14-18, 2005 conference was only a fervent hope, though, a plan from a group that had a habit of working for 11 months to collect enough revenues to stay afloat another year, by putting on one massive conference and expo. The all-eggs-in-one-basket flaw collided with new competition in 2005, but there was evidence on Interex walls the end was already en route.

Missteps are easier to see in hindsight, but one that plagued the user group was a lack of focus. All during an era of computing specialization, when subjects like "graphics" gathered special interests like Java's Swing interface, Interex's executives and board aimed the other way. Big annual gatherings and general meetings ran the table in the Interex pool room. Regional User Groups, aimed at a common ground of geography, earned money from the mother-ship for renewing members — while the Special Interest Groups that focused on HP-specific technology starved for attention and support.

These SIGs didn't struggle because of a lack of intelligent leadership. Stan Sieler, whose Allegro Consultants helped spark a 1990s revival of SIG-IMAGE, shared a moment with us about his tour of the abandoned Interex offices. During the fall after the bust-out, Sieler — who HP honored this summer as its “e3000 Contributor of the Year” — requested access to Interex offices in Sunnyvale to look for artifacts of historical interest. Three decades of service, all during the rise of the computer industry, would leave a lot of history. Evidence of mistakes was everywhere, Sieler said.

It was quite sad, and very annoying. Everywhere you looked there were things that said “we’re not a company dedicated to a user group, but we’re a company out of control and headed in many different directions simultaneously."

Most cubicles were missing some or all of their PC equipment. Apparently, employees on the last day left with it.  I don’t know if they got their final paychecks, or vacation pay, so I don’t know how justified that was.

The saddest thing was the “Special Interest Group of the Year” plaque. It had two tags on it: SIGIMAGE, 1992, Steve Cooper, and SIGSYSMAN, 1993, Scott Hirsh ... and the remaining 10 tags were empty, never filled in.  (We have it now, hanging up on our wall.)

As an editor of The HP Chronicle and The 3000 NewsWire during that time, the RUG vs. SIG emphasis was frustrating. I spent many hours in SIG meetings at these conferences, time spent well to gather up specific content. Even in the years after the Internet boomed, these meeting rooms were the best place to learn the nuances of managing your 3000.

But the fork in the road for Interex — heading down the RUG path instead of rising on the trail with the SIGs — set the engines of disconnection in motion. Growing larger as a group meant spreading resources ever-thinner. RUGs used to feed the Interex with volunteers and content, papers based on field experience. In the waning days of HP World, it became harder to place papers in the show's lineup if your presentation was not from HP.

Many user group members, volunteers and partners continue to lay the blame for Interex's demise at HP's feet. Hewlett-Packard assembled a show during the summer of 2005 to compete with the Interex fatted calf, then went about winning business from the companies who had always exhibited at the Interex show.

The business that migrated to HP's new Technology Forum Expo, operated by Encompass and the Smith Bucklin user group management firm, never returned to HP World's show floor. The lesson in all this is that group management matters just as much as a user group's relationships with vendors — especially when millions in bills every year are part of the formula.

10:20 AM in History, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 15, 2007

Third party improvements a fact of 3000's life

Our report on the death of Joerg Groessler, developer of breakthrough designs for enterprise server backup, has drawn out some history, tribute, and a clarification since we posted the July 24 entry.

The subject of third parties' sparks for the 3000's flame is an important one. Throughout the platform's history, the most breakthrough of designs and development for the system have come from outside HP's labs. Hewlett-Packard's engineers have executed well on the challenges of keeping up the flow of customer requests for the MPE/iX Command Interpreter and Posix interfaces, as well as enhancements to some other subsystem modules.

The labs' contribution of open source favorites such as C++, Apache, Samba, domain name services and more began outside HP, however. Each of these mainstays then went through the gauntlet of testing and integration and documentation at the hands of HP's lab experts. More recent work on IO and device support has led to use of disks larger than 300 GB and the forthcoming SCSI pass-through driver.

But in the dawning years of the platform, software engineers outside HP delivered crucial tools and processes. It's important to remember this as HP's development resources wane for the 3000. Third parties are still alive in this ecosystem. Some are lively long after HP calculated they would survive.

Alfredo Rego and Rene Woc produced Adager, the first database adapter and manager — for a platform whose largest claim to fame was an award-winning, bundled database. (IMAGE co-creator Fred White built the product, too — after leaving HP.) Looking at MPEX from VEsoft shows how the 3000's operating environment can be streamlined, turbo-charged and built into a tool which any sysadmin, manager or programmer can benefit from. Such products arrived unprompted in the 1970s and 1980s, and even into the 1990s, sparked by the community's devotion to the 3000.

The first XML tool for the 3000 arrived just last year, offered by Canam Software. The platform has a way of keeping up with what is essential, thanks to third parties like Groessler and Orbit, which released the first 256-bit encryption facility for the 3000 this year.

Groessler's work went beyond the backup genius that bettered HP's STORE and RESTORE. Winston Krieger, the first Technical Director for 1980s software powerhouse Tymlabs, offered us a story about Groessler's efforts on Backup/3000. Krieger noted that the released product passed through Groessler's design lab, but Tymlabs revised the program to ship the first full-functioning version. But in his correction, Krieger also offered great praise for his colleague, citing the development of CopyRite, a better, faster method to copy files on early '80s HP 3000s.

“While Joerg participated in the development/prototyping of several Tymlabs products, including an early backup prototype, his work on the CopyRite product was the most valuable contribution to Tymlabs success in the HP 3000 marketplace," Krieger said. "CopyRite was (and still is) a great replacement for FCOPY. Its premier feature is an incredibly fast algorithm, invented by Joerg, which is used for creating the B-Tree index structure for KSAM files (10 to 100 times faster than other algorithms commonly used by HP and others).”

Not to slam HP's engineering, which often solves another knotty problem for a 35-year-old platform: How to release improvements which don't break three prior decades of development.

An HP alumnus added praise for Joerg's third party work just yesterday. A more recent colleague of Groessler's, former HP 3000 product marketing mangager Peggy Ruse, commented to our July 24 obituary:

I am so sorry to learn of Joerg Groessler's passing. Joerg was one of my first clients when I started my consulting business, Ruse Consulting, after leaving HP. I worked as a product marketing manager in the CSY/3000 division for a few years. I really enjoyed working with Joerg, Mark Klein, and other Orbit senior managers. Fine company with good people. I'm honored to have known him. My heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues.

08:21 AM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2007

Older tech has big advantage: it works

You may catch a bit of razzing about using an HP 3000 in 2007. Slurs like dinosaur and ancient get tossed at you or your company. But in Britain the oldest tech in networking is still a mandate for some British Telecom (BT) products. What's more, key parts of the government use ISDN.

And you might have guessed, an HP 3000 is powering some of the ISDN in the country, according to today's article in The Register. Nobody wants to unplug ISDN — other than the providers who want to sell something newer. (Sound familiar to some of you?)

Why? As the article says, it works.

Guy Kewney writes, "Even if you could provide the signalling and interface "presentation" of ISDN to customers today, you'd have trouble replacing what ISDN is famous for: working."

As one veteran of the business told me: "It's like those old HP 3000 minicomputers. People installed them way, way back and they haven't touched them since. I know of ISDN2e installations that went in before 1980, which did a simple once-a-day dial to the ISDN link at head office, transferred a batch of data, and hung up; and they're still doing it 30 years later."

And the problem is, if you change a thing, the software behind it might stop working, and nobody knows what it does or how to adjust it if it stops.

"I went into one of our clients," said a sysadmin at a large software company which handles vehicle tracking applications. "We asked where the gear was, and nobody there knew. We had to track the cables and, eventually, under a load of old rags - literally - we found this HP 3000 connected to the ISDN socket, working. It's been doing that for decades!"

3000 community veterans and partners know this kind of story is common among 3000 customers. The ISDN tale points out the opportunity and reliability cost of making a migration. Not to be overlooked. Also in this category: Testing of the new platform. Every presentation during the last three years to promote a migration includes this line, or words to the effect: you can't test enough.

08:38 AM in Homesteading, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 13, 2007

HP rolls out critical database repair

Last Friday afternoon, HP confirmed that it has released crucial repairs to the 3000’s database, a patch that disables the IMAGE/SQL Large File function for greater-than-4GB datasets (LFDS).

The software eliminates some data corruption potential on 3000s — the chance of mangling datasets that are built using HP's Large File design. LFDS are the default dataset when creating new 3000 databases.

HP’s 3000 business manager Jennie Hou reported that the patch was cleared for General Release on August 9 and is available from HP’s online IT Resource Center. The 3000 group's Jazz Web site has been updated with a new page devoted to the patch.

The GR status means that any HP 3000 customer will be able to download and use the patch, no matter which firm provides 3000 support for the customer. Until this general release date, the critical patch — which went into public beta test 10 months ago — was only available to HP's support customers.

08:46 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 10, 2007

Right To Use can be included in an upgrade

As we reported in May, HP's new Right To Use licenses (RTU) are sometimes not needed during an upgrade from one HP 3000 to another. HP has simplified the tier structure of the 3000 family, according to business manager Jennie Hou and Jeff Bandle, liaison to the OpenMPE board.

"There are instances where if you do an upgrade, you stay in the same tier," Bandle said. "That essentially is a zero-cost upgrade."

HP still issues a RTU certificate in such a situation, Bandle added. As for the tier simplifaction, Hou said that HP is now using system horsepower as its guide.

"We simplified it by looking at HP 3000 Performance Units," Hou said, from Level 1 through a Level 7. The vendor wants the customer to feel a sense of investment protection, so long as the site stays within the same tier.

Those Performance Units took the place of industry-standard HPC benchmarks late in the 1990s. The model uses an HP 3000 Series 918 as a 10 units (a Series 39 "Classic" 3000, pre-RISC, is a 1) . The 3000 line's performance using PA-RISC stretches all the way to 768 units on the N-Class and 84 units on the A-Class servers.

08:50 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2007

Still loaning and leading after all these years

By the middle of 2002, HP was offering a loaner program to companies which were migrating away from their HP 3000s. For a term of up to six months, HP ships a second server to any site making its transition. Eligible replacement servers now include Integrity or PA-RISC HP-UX systems, as well as HP's Proliant Windows and Linux servers.

That program is still in service after more than five years, now in the sixth year of the 3000 Transition era.  Jennie Hou, HP's business manager for the 3000, said the vendor's migration offerings are "very consistent" over these years.

HP still provides "no-cost training" for its target operating environments, using a Web-based model. The vendor offers rebates on storage purchases related to a migration, too. Now a new Neoview solution is part of HP's alternatives.

The loaner program can launch a low-cost acquistion of the replacement server. "After half a year you can do a buyout of the server at a huge discount," she said at this summer's HP Technology Forum.

Hou added that despite what might seem to be an obvious choice for loaner buyouts — newer Integrity and Opteron systems — some customers still choose to buy out a PA-RISC HP-UX server.

She also pointed out that HP has a broad line of potential replacement platforms including the new NeoView business intelligence data warehouse solution. HP 3000s have such mission-critical duties that these data marts are more common than ever on the platform. Hewlett-Packard called its Neoview implementation inside the company a gamble, but obviously a risk that paid off. For many years, HP conducted its internal business on HP 3000s.

12:32 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 08, 2007

HP promises open source porting paper

Porting open source software is a task in the future for many a homesteading 3000 customer. When HP expanded the range of 3000 abilities, the vendor's labs included several open source solutions such as the Apache Web server, DNS and bind nameservers, standardized FTP, and perhaps the most useful of all, Samba file and printer sharing.

Samba has been working in the 3000 community for a long time. The software's roots lie in an after-hours effort to get Samba working with MPE/iX. Lars Appel, who at the time in the 1990s was an HP support engineer in Germany, ported the open source code to give the 3000 a better link with other enterprise servers and Windows desktops on a network. Eventually HP blessed Samba with full support on the 3000.

At the recent HP Technology Forum, the new HP liaison to OpenMPE Jeff Bandle announced that a Samba porting paper will be released to the community during 2007. HP 3000 business manager Jennie Hou says the document — to be available from the HP Jazz Web site for the 3000 — dovetails with the new Samba/iX release.

"This will complement the Samba release we've just done," she said. "It documents the procedures for taking open source code and moving it to MPE/iX — tips on making it work on the 3000, so we can be sure people in the 3000 community do have that knowledge."

Hou said HP will release the paper, which includes general information that will help port other open source solutions, within this calendar year.

Open source has the potential for keeping the HP 3000 more current at a later stage in its life. The GNU C++ compiler opened the door for all of HP's open source additions to the 3000 operating system. Like so much of what's clever and stable for the platform, GNU C++ came out of a third party lab, the product of late-night work by Mark Klein. At the time Klein managed the Orbit Software labs. His work bootstrapped the open source renaissance for the 3000. Both Appel and Mark Bixby used C++ to deliver open source to the system; at the time, Bixby was a systems administrator for a California college while moving Apache to the 3000.

Without the work of the independent community, the forthcoming porting paper would have less experience to document. HP adds the polish and subsequent implementation knowledge, all to ensure 3000 homesteaders can keep key parts of their system stable.

08:34 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2007

Helpful programs, still locked away

No, we're not referring to the Contributed Software Library, a community asset still available after the 2005 Interex shutdown. More helpful programs are from HP, written for use by the vendor's SE support staff. Some time ago HP said it would be evaluating the release of these diagnostics to the 3000 community.

The effort involves unlocking these programs, which are bundled inside of MPE/iX. HP would have to remove the passwords to give customers and third-party support firms access to these tools. And it appears that the latter group is holding up the diagnostics release. As examples of a passworded utility, some portions of cstm require a password, according to independent support providers, and some offline tools require a password.

HP uses these diagnostics — well, some of them — on HP-UX systems. The vendor has no plans to terminate its HP-UX support, and so competes with the third parties. You get the picture.

Of course, in a recent interview we heard HP doesn't have a firm finale date for its HP 3000 support, either. But Jeff Bandle, the liaison to the OpenMPE board, explains that HP is still looking for a process to get these diagnostics available to the 3000 community.

"We’ve evaluated that, and what it would take to do that," he said at this summer's HP Technology Forum.
"As we do things we have to think of HP as a whole. We have to think about how they impact other parts of HP, like the 9000 business. That all goes into the final decision we’d make about that. Part of our process is working with our HP 9000 internal partners."

02:29 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 06, 2007

Critical LFDS patch readies for release

HP will release crucial repairs to the 3000's database soon, a patch that disables the IMAGE/SQL Large File function for >4GB datasets (LFDS). Both Craig Fairchild and 3000 business manager Jennie Hou report that the patch should soon be cleared for General Release. The GR status means that any HP 3000 customer will be able to download and use the patch, no matter which firm provides their 3000 support.

Regardless of whether a 3000 is being migrated in the next year or more, or working as a homesteading system, this patch is a must-load for 3000 users.

The Large File option has corrupted some databases, leading HP to engineer a way to turn it off permanently and protect 3000-hosted data. HP created LFDS as a follow on to Jumbo datasets, but the implementation in two versions of LFDS still permitted corruption under select circumstances. In the meantime, the 3000 community, full of system managers with limited IMAGE ability, has been forced to execute some tedious repairs using Adager's software and expertise.

HP has stepped up to shoulder its duty of data protection with this patch, first released to beta-testing in November of last year. At 10 months of test time, the software will make it into GR status ahead of many others which HP has created. Hou said HP will announce will patch TIXMXY4 goes GR.

"We are scheduled to General Release the patch by end of this week," Hou reported today.

Fairchild, the HP 3000 lab's liaison to the community, also said the patch is nearly ready to GR. Software always has a fluid schedule for completion, however.

"Because this is active work," he said, "things can change depending on whether some unexpected glitch crops up, or if things go better than expected."

"The original LFDS patch, TIXMXW7 has been superceded by patch TIXMXY4. Once we get approvals from the appropriate players across the lab and support organizations, we plan on making TIXMXY4 GR. This should happen sometime within the next couple of weeks.

The GR status is of further benefit to HP's support customers, the 3000 owners who can download and implement HP's PowerPatch collections. "Once it becomes GR, it becomes a candidate to be included in future PowerPatch releases as well," Fairchild said.

06:08 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 03, 2007

How to make IDE drives serve your 3000

Whether you are managing a migration shop, and keeping 3000 costs down until shutdown, or homesteading independently and indefinitely, HP 3000 guru Stan Sieler has discovered a process to make cheap IDE drives work with HP 3000 servers.

These drives come as cheap as $99 new, a tiny fraction of the price of HP-certified storage devices for the HP 3000. But as the community has debated in the past, HP's standards ensure greater reliability, but at a increased cost per gigabyte that can be hard to justify in a Transition world.

The key to Sieler's connection between SCSI ports on the 3000 and IDE is the Acard AEC-7720U Ultra SCSI-to-IDE Bridge, a device that Sieler bought on eBay for $30 plus shipping. The Acard has been on the market for at least four years; more information is available at the company's Web site.

Sieler reported, "I installed a Maxtor 120 GB IDE disk drive (probably 3 to 5 years old) on an HP 3000/918."

I took the Maxtor drive, plugged in the SCSI/IDE adapter,  selected a SCSI ID (I probably could have made it cable select, but I didn’t have the time), put the combo into a spare external  drive box, plugged in the SCSI cable and a power cable (it was a special power cable that splits the normal plower into two connectors, the normal (crappy) connector that I hate, and a smaller connector to power the adapter.

"I added the box onto a 918, sysgen'ed it in, rebooted, and voila!" He filled us in on the details of mapping the drive into the HP 3000's registry of peripherals:

SYSGEN is used to build (and display) an I/O configuration, and makes no requirement that it matches reality.  The only oddity I’ve encountered so far is that the initial “DOIONOW” didn’t notice that the drive was present ... but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that that has happened on standard SCSI drives from time to time, given the amount of user testing DOIONOW probably doesn’t get.

SYSGEN followed by DOIONOW failed to see the drive.  I shut down the 3000, power cycled it, brought it up to below the  ISL prompt, and did a "search" command, and it saw the drive!


   - I ran SYSGEN and added the drive in as LDEV 2 (small system :) powered it on, and then did a “DOIONOW” (after confirming that the commands in LOG4ONLN.PUB.SYS were correct, of course ... I’ve often seen stale date in that file).  The I/O configuration change worked (in that LDEV 2 was now configured), but MPE didn’t realize that the drive was spinning.

     (I didn’t think to power cycle the drive at this point ... that may have worked and let me avoid the reboot)

   - I shutdown the system

   - I started the bootup, interrupted it so I could interact with the PDC (“below the ISL”) ... (that’s where you’d normally type the “BOOT PRI” command to boot into the ISL)

   - I typed “SEA” (for “search”), and it found the drive and reported it as a Maxtor drive with firmware revsion “YAR4”.

   - I did a “BOOT PRI”, and said “yes, I want to interact” (that got me to the ISL prompt)

   - At the ISL> prompt, I entered: ODE MAPPER at the MAPPER prompt, I entered: RUN

That displayed a map of the I/O devices (and memory/CPU) on the system:

Type  HW    SW    Revisions
Path       Component Name                 ID    Mod   Mod   Hdwr  Firm
---------- ----------------------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
56/52      HP-PB SCSI                     4H    14H   39H   0     0
56/52.0.0  HPC1504(X)/HPC1521B DDS tape   -     -     -     -     T503
56/52.5.0  Maxtor 6 Y120P0                -     -     -     -     YAR4
56/52.6.0  HPC2490AM disk drive           -     -     -     -     5193

      At this point, I could have chosen to use some other ODE utilities
      to explore the disk drive, but I felt it wouldn’t be worth the time.
      (Normally, if the drive appears in a SEA command, it’s cabled
      correctly and working.)

   - I exited MAPPER, and got back to the ISL> prompt.


   - When the system came up, it saw LDEV 2 (and gave the usual misleading message (bug :) about it being a duplicate of some other drive ... this almost always happens when MPE tries to do volume recognition on a non-MPE disk, and can be ignored in this case).

   - I used DEBUG to confirm that I could read the drive:

       (logon as MANAGER.SYS, or some user with PM capability)

       dsec 2.0, 40, b

   - I used VOLUTIL to initialize the disk and create a volume set:

       newset maxtor, maxtor1, 2
          (this results in a drive with permanent and transient limits set
           to 100%)

   - I created a group on the new disk:

       :newacct test, mgr
       :newacct test, mgr; onvs=maxtor
       :altgroup pub.test; homevs=maxtor

   - I restored a database onto it:

       (on a different machine)

       :store @.pub.test

       (on the machine with the Maxtor IDE drive)

       :restore ;;show;olddate;keep

Voila!  I now had my 5 GB database on my 120 GB Maxtor drive!

It’s available as a normal retail item, but is somewhat hard to find (not a lot of call for SCSI compared to standard PC and even Mac items.

This adapter has been on the market since at least 2003 (based on the date on the manual).

06:20 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 02, 2007

Rare recommended 3000 patch

HP peppers my e-mail in-box with patch notices, but nearly all of the recommendations relate to HP-UX servers. Most often, the things that cross my limited attention span are HP releases like critical software updates to close down Unix breaches, or the latest patches to block hacks on fundamental tools like FTP, DNS and other keystones. But last week included a rare notice of a needed HP 3000 patch.

The situation on HP 3000 patches in general draws little water these days. As many 3000 managers and owners know by now, more than 80 of HP's patches, for MPE/iX versions ranging from 6.5 through 7.5, remain in beta test. The HP automated notice of last Friday announced one of the few patches that's escaped beta test status and moved into general release.

Patch DTCGDB8A  for MPE/iX 7.0 corrects problems with host downloads for DTCs using the A.14.40.E00 firmware. The HP patch ID page reports that this patch doesn't replace another, and goes on to list a dozen Service Requests (SRs) that the patch repairs. HP notes that the patch is non-critical, though, unlike the security repair patches from the HP-UX labs.

The rare status of MPE patch notices is both good news and bad for customers. On the one hand, MPE/iX is so stable by now and so obscure in its architecture that the everyday band-aids common to Unix management are unheard of in 3000 management.

But 3000 customers may want more of these notices to surface soon. Since we last counted in June, the list of beta-test-frozen patches has shrunk by only one DTC patch. This leaves dozens out there, including some major pieces of HP engineering such as the "Disallow LargeFile Datasets on [IMAGE] C.10.xx as there are problems in the implementation," known as TIXMXW7A when HP unveiled it last fall. We're waiting for word from HP on when that software, which disables the ill-conceived LargeFile feature, will go General Release.

Just a pair of favorable reports on a patch, issued by HP Support customers, are all that's needed to spring a patch from Patch Jail. While HP 3000s continue to work, repairs like these could maintain the system's stable legend — a reputation so strong that an MPE/iX patch notice is a rare thing.

03:06 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 01, 2007

Strength in numbers for 3000 conferences?

Even as the Greater Houston RUG is rescheduling its 2007 conference — the new dates are March 14-15, 2008 — the group might be tilling an bigger plot for a comprehensive HP 3000 gathering. While the first MPE/iX International Conference now gets six extra months to bloom, another healthy 3000 plant might put down roots on that same March weekend outside of Houston.

Ed Stein of the CAMUS user group, a hotbed of HP 3000 ERP users, checked in to report on a healthy conference a few weeks ago for his group. Stein, a CAMUS board member, said that CAMUS is thinking of an even bigger HP 3000 event for next year — by combining the CAMUS meeting with the MPE/iX conference.

Our CAMUS conference went pretty well last month. Our board of directors decided to keep CAMUS going and to have another conference next year, and probably also in 2009. One idea that we had was to hold our conference in Houston alongside your conference, given that most of our membership is HP 3000. Houston is also a good central location for our members and is accessible by most airlines.

It's not exactly rocket science to combine user groups in a single event. After all, that's how HP got the HP Technology Forum started: by combining the Encompass user group event with those of the Tandem (ITUG) and OpenView Forums. "Our thinking is that there could be strength in numbers," Stein said in a message to the GHRUG board.

But the alliance calls another to mind. In the 1990s the Texas-area RUGs — there were four at the time — gathered as the All-Texas RUG meeting, with conferences in Galveston, Houston, Austin and the Dallas Metroplex. Other than those confabs — crafted in a much different era than today's transition times — no two user groups in the HP 3000 community have ever shared a venue to expand their offerings for both sets of members.

While that rescheduling might have been a disappointment to some in the 3000 community, GHRUG's dedication to a quality conference opens the door for a bigger gathering of your birds of a feather.

06:21 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)