Experts inject value into eBay bargain
October 15, 2008
Picking up an HP 3000 on eBay has become commonplace today. Hardware brokers cannot justify selling any servers in the 9x7 Series which companies decommission. So too, HP has no interest in taking back these 3000s, even though every one has an MPE/iX license which comes at a dear price when an upgrading customer needs to purchase one.
Even the act of changing an HPSUSAN number will cost thousands of dollars, according to reports from the user community. Despite all these symptoms of a system with declining value, 9x7s still land in the hands of ardent computer customers as experimental systems, all the while doing everyday work in companies large and small.
So when Paul Raulerson purchased a Series 917 for a song on eBay, he acquired just the first in a string of valuable assets related to the HP 3000. Once Raulerson got a message off to the newsgroup devoted to the HP 3000, he learned how to bring up the system from a cold start, as well as the details of starting up a network. Veterans of 3000 management offered up the extra value, advice sent gladly and quickly.
I picked up what I think is a really cool 917LX from eBay, loaded with MPE/iX 6.0. I have successfully encouraged it to IPL and let me in, but just about the sum total of my MPE command repertoire consists of HELLO MANAGER.SYS;HIPRI and Control-A SHUTDOWN DTC. Oh, and my eyes glazed over and crossed when trying to figure out NMMGR. I’m not even quite sure what DTC means.
If a 3000 user has ever had to educate a new IT staff member on the 3000's networking, the counsel offered to Paul could be useful elsewhere, too.
The network was the biggest mystery to the self-anointed newbie.
In particular, if anyone could be point me to the information on how to configure the network card so I might actually be able to access it without being on a serial console, I would be most appreciative.
Craig Lalley of EchoTech, who supports HP 3000s along with Jeff Kubler, explained
(To get started, check out docs.hp.com)
As for NMMGR, I will give you the ‘Cliff notes’ version...
At the ISL prompt, where you type start norecovery... try typing ‘ODE’, for offline diagnostics... once in there type ‘run mapper’, this will give you an ‘ioscan’ type of listing. Look for the path of the ethernet card, you will need it for NMMGR.
Once the system has started enter NMMGR by typing ‘NMMGR’ after logging on as manager.sys.
F1 to open config, you may need to create it.
F3, I believe, is NS
F1 for guided config
Put the path and IP address in. Save it, on the way out, look for the F5 ‘utility’ key. Validate NS and DTS subsystems... don’t worry about store and forward errors... just try re-validating again. If clean, go to the : prompt and type
NETCONTROL START;NET=name you just created
and finally, NSCONTROL START
OpenMPE director Donna Garverick gave follow-on network startup advice
docs.hp.com/en/mpeixall.html -- you’ll want to bookmark this.
About NMMGR. You may already find that a network was defined inside of NMMGR. If so, there is a high probability that the path to your multi-function IO card (MFIO; which as I’m sure you already noticed, has many different ports/connectors on the back — hence the name) is already configured.
The really interesting question becomes — was this system ever configured to talk over Ethernet and TCP/IP or not? If all that you find is something call ‘dtslink’ — then there is some additional work to do. If you find ‘lan1’ then all that you should need to do is replace the IP address with <whatever> and start your network as Craig described. (Validating your network configuration is important.)
Finally, Karsten Holland of National Wine and Spirits offered confirmation of the value of the 3000 which Paul had acquired.
You have a very special new system to play with, unique in a lot of ways. One of the most profound things about the 3000 is its file handling. File labels carry a lot of information, including record length. Carriage returns, and line-feeds do not dictate your record size.
This is just one of the features that makes the HP 3000 valuable for transaction processing. Others include efficiency (a 400 MHz box could serve 300 users), database security (IMAGE has it’s own file-type “PRIV,” integrated with MPE, which implements security on database files at the system level). An excellent command-file shell that can be used online or in batch to link process steps together, (as well as a Posix shell and C compiler). A simple but effective screen handling system VPlus allows quick deployment for data entry, and integration with COBOL (or your language of preference) through intrinsic calls. The 3000 was (and is) a valuable component of many data processing centers around the world. (And will be missed in some.)
Feel free to call on me about any of these features, I’ll try and point you in the right direction too.