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Community needs HP support users to test final FTP patch

A new patch to repair a broken command in FTP/iX needs testing now, but the 3000 community must now rely on HP support customers to test HP's lab work. The FTPHDK7A patch repairs the MGET command in the 3000's FTP file transfer program, the industry standard to move files between servers. But like a significant number of HP's 2007-08 lab projects, this patch is trapped in beta-test limbo.

HP's release policy remains unchanged about the patches it's created. Each one must be tested by 3000 owners before the vendor will release the patch to all 3000 sites, even the customers who don't use HP support. The beta-test limbo has seen a lot of patches check in, and far fewer checked out for public release. HP was supposed to be considering reducing the test requirements. But the vendor closed its lab without altering the policy.

OpenMPE has a list of unresolved 3000 issues like this one that HP left behind. MGET isn't critical unless a customer needs bulk transfer of many files in a directory. The bug also existed in last year's HP-UX version of FTP, according to Allegro's Donna Hofmeister. But the HP-UX version of this patch received the tests needed for a full HP release.

Even though HP now has only support division level engineers working on 3000 issues until 2011, nothing is different for the vendor. HP wants to avoid giving any supported customer an under-tested patch. But only HP's support customers can free up this beta-test software. HP won't let the full 3000 community do any beta testing — even after OpenMPE asked to set up a non-customer beta test team.

What's more, HP's engineering load was so heavy last year, the 3000 labs only had enough manpower to create MPE/iX 7.5 patches. FTPHDK7A is only crafted for this latest MPE/iX. At least half the 3000s today are running an earlier release. But even this 7.5-only software needs HP support customers to help the homesteaders.

"If you still have an HP software support contract and are willing to apply the patch -- for the good of the community, frankly -- please call the Response Center," said Hofmeister. Her husband James, who's in the HP's networking support center, discovered the bug last year. "In order for the patch to be General Released, more people need to request and install the patch. Be a good sport and place a call," Donna added.

Until the patch is sprung from beta jail, the GET command, one file at a time, will have to be workaround for FTP. HP had  better reasons for its exacting test process when the community of 3000 users was bigger and patches still rolled out of the lab. In 2009, the policy is a relic, outdated procedure designed to protect HP's liability rather than assist the full 3000 community.