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OpenMPE drops a tea leaf to read, ripple

Is it go-time for OpenMPE? That go could mean time to get to the group's goals, or time to go into the community's shadows. Late last week we saw a tea leaf to read about the taciturn group.

The 3000 NewsWire contributed $500 toward the OpenMPE source code license, and our check was cashed last week. It has been in OpenMPE treasurer Matt Perdue's office since mid-March. We don't need any formal receipt for contributing, in contrast to what you may read in the group's March minutes. Despite the fact that several of our sponsor partners have paid for licenses on their own, it just looked like OpenMPE needed the help. Any receipt would be just another to-do item.

Based on our tea-leaf-read of Perdue's remarks in the Community Meet gathering last fall, the source code costs $10,000 or more. I've probably written three times that many words covering the group's meetings, desires and dreams, drives for membership and annual elections, since 2002. Enough writing that one board member figured I'd been a director already. Not the best place for this editor to sit, frankly. I want to report to help the community decide.

That OpenMPE copy of the source code for MPE/iX is unimportant to the many 3000 sites who rely on one of the seven other licensees who hold it. OpenMPE holds a more unique resource, more ready to share but still offline. No, I'm not talking about Invent3k, the public access development server and programs. Another contribution is in the wings, and it isn't offered by another entity or penned up by a secret license.

If you've read this far, or much of my 30,000 words prior to this, you know that unique resource is the Contributed Software Library. This collection of user-written 3000 utilities was gathered by the Interex user group, but it went underground when Interex went under in 2005.

This year there's a limited edition of these programs in Perdue's office, according to former board member Paul Edwards. He also noted that the full collection of CSL programs remains in the stewardship of long-serving Interex volunteer Chuck Shimada. Edwards has sent Perdue a yearly edition dated from just before HP canceled its 3000 plans.

I have some CSL program tapes. Chuck Shimada has the complete collection. I sent Matt what I had and he copied them. He is supposed to put them on [his] system. He sent back my tapes and docs. He also sent me a set of CDs.

Edwards went to to note that some of the CSL's programs have been under scrutiny since Interex shut its doors. One popular program was written by Boeing's 3000 experts, moons ago. Boeing's potential license concerns about BOUNCER, which kicks off idle users of 3000s, have been part of the CSL lore since the collection gained stealth mode in '05.

I read the OpenMPE tea leaves closely, and I haven't seen a report of any communication with the Boeing contributors to unleash BOUNCER. There are administrative details along with technical tasks to accomplish. BOUNCER is something useful. Edwards says he knows of sites still using CSL programs.

If the CSL is too wooly a project to mount and open up -- ready as it is to be a resource -- I must wonder what might become of Invent3k or the MPE/iX source code in OpenMPE's hands. I continue to hope for the best.

None of this is designed to put anybody on the spot. No, my desires with this report are to drill down on the state of the CSL and its release. From this chair, the CSL looks like the most real, most unique, and least restricted resource OpenMPE has on its treasurer's server. Speedware and Client Systems have posted no such collection, but they do have a raft of Jazz programs online. Jazz, Invent3k and the source code are restricted by agreements with HP.

Watching the tea leaf of our modest check clear our accounts may be a ripple in the OpenMPE waters.

When it comes to OpenMPE, the NewsWire can afford to be more patient than some of the 3000 community. We fish for news all the time -- and so watch the surface of the water for a ripple. Consider this 600-plus words another cast into those waters. If you're read this far, you might be hoping to catch something too.