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QSS gathers another 3000 HP expert

The man who made the Apache Web server a reality for HP 3000s has landed a post at an HP 3000 third party software firm. Mark Bixby joined Hewlett-Packard's MPE/iX lab late in the 1990s, while the vendor was still adding open source utilities to the operating system. Somehow, HP couldn't find a job this year for the man who brought domain name services and the first Web server to the HP 3000.

Bixby landed a development position at Quintessential School Systems (QSS), making him the second HP 3000 lab expert to join the K-12 applications provider during the past year. Jeff Vance, whose 28-year tenure with HP ended when he took early retirement from the company, joined the school system software firm in 2007.

To be accurate, QSS is more than just the spot where more than 100 US school systems buy an application for HP 3000s. Ever since 2003, QSS has been investigaing, developing, as well as recently shipping a vendor-neutral version of its software; that is, one that will not rely on a vendor-only operating environment like MPE/iX.

Vance joined QSS to work on the newest of platforms, open source Linux projects. Bixby seemed delighted to join his former HP colleague at the company which still serves many HP 3000 sites.

I will be taking a couple of months off to focus on various personal projects, then in July I will be joining Quintessential School Systems (QSS). I definitely look forward to working with Jeff Vance again, who also ended up at QSS after he left HP.

By the time Bixby ended his road inside HP, the company had already moved him out of HP 3000 day-to-day work. If ever there was a sign HP is taking rapid leave of your community, it's the vendor's inability to find a place for an engineer with Bixby's skills, as well as his repository of MPE/iX internals knowledge.

Bixby had done volunteer development for the 3000 community during 1998 on Apache, bringing over the Web server that's now a de-facto standard. Bixby ported the open source version of Apache to create the product that HP eventually called Apache/iX. The vendor took in both the 3000 Web server as well as its creator as part of HP's 3000 resources by the time Y2K was impending.

But HP has been cutting jobs continuously since CEO Mark Hurd arrived, a process which former CEO Carly Fiorina launched with the Compaq merger in 1999. Bixby located a new development lab to work at just weeks after he sent feelers into the 3000 development community.

A couple of months ago, HP in its infinite wisdom decided that my services were no longer necessary. My last day of employment there was April 18.

Please delete [email protected] from your address books, lest the other Mark Bixby who still works at HP (yes, there were two of us) starts getting e-mail intended for me.

So HP may still have a Mark Bixby, but the community knows the vendor doesn't employ the Mark Bixby. And since HP is dropping its 3000 operations, having the Mark Bixby outside of HP is a very good thing for your community, even if his work will revolve around a new platform solution. See, there's that MPE/iX repository, now working along with QSS founder Duane Percox's early support of OpenMPE.

Bixby has a helpful repository of his 3000 work at his own Web site,