Although the remains of the Interex user group have been doled out to creditors, the 3000 community is also getting its share of the assets which users helped create. The Interex HP 3000 Contributed Software Library has been available since late last spring, free to anybody with an 3000 terminal emulator. AICS Research has its free QCTerm for download to assist in your access to the CSL.
Tracy Johnson, one of the OpenMPE board members, collected all of the freeware from the CSL and hosted it on his HP 3000 back in May of 2008. These programs might represent some of the most significant assets for the community. It's tough to measure how much a program is worth if it saves you hours of development, or keeps a mission-critical enterprise running smoothly. But that value, collectively across hundreds of 3000 sites, is a lot greater than the $400,000 or less which the bankruptcy trustees distributed this month.
OpenMPE is at work on a different interface to get your freeware from the CSL. Matt Perdue of Hill Country Technologies is the hosting manager for the online assets of that user group. The organization, built entirely from volunteer help for the past seven years, is also at work on finalizing a licensing agreement for the Jazz freeware built and copyrighted by HP.
To be honest, some of the programs in the CSL were written more than 15 years ago. On the other hand, the community is still rife with applications for businesses written even farther into the past. On the HP 3000 the age of software is not always the most important arbiter of its value. 3K Associates also hosts a good share of the CSL on the company's Web site.
The open availability of the CSL freeware is a good example of a gift to the community. Anyone can use these programs, or employ their subroutines and modules to create newer, more customized utilities. (Brian Edminister of Applied Technologies suggested the latter in a blog reply over the weekend. He's got a great collection of MPE-capable open source utilities that will premeire this summer at his Web site. It could turn out to be a 21st Century CSL.)
The 3000 community grew strong on such utility software, from the commercial offerings such as Adager, Suprtool and database middleware to the contributions of a program like BOUNCER or REFEREE. (The latter makes any CSL program available for use on your current version of MPE/iX. You need to test these little gems on a crash and burn box.)
There are no complex legal agreements for using the CSL. Users developed these helper programs and brought them to Interex conferences — how retro! -- to be copied onto Swap Tapes. Eventually a CSL tape was created with the latest updates from a Swap Tape. Simple, easily employed, tools for those who knew how to take responsibility for themselves. Of course, that CSL was "an elegant weapon for a more civilized time," as Obi Wan said of his light saber.
Techology has raced forward since the 1990s, but it has also created a thicket of legal tangles and holding companies restraining freeware. Nobody is around to keep a CSL program from doing good work. Nobody's around anymore in HP's 3000 labs, either, but that's not true of HP's empire. It keeps up a holding company to ride herd on its freeware. You might say that being the overlord of overlooked tools is a less elegant fate, sad to say, than going out of business overnight like Interex did.