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Print-Exclusive Robelle is extending its bedrock 3000 data tool to popular migration targets. When HP 3000 companies consider moving to other environments, Robelle has opened up options for any who need Suprtool to stay in place. The creators of the key data management solution are releasing SuprtoolOpen, revamped to run on Linux and Windows environments.

Up to now, Suprtool was available only for HP's MPE/iX and HP-UX servers. HP told customers during the previous decade that Suprtool was responsible for a large share of migrations to HP's Unix instead of Windows, or other Intel-based environments such as Linux. The software has been a key element in the multi-channel commerce solutions from Escalate/Ecometry, among others.

It’s all about the Endians. Big Endian software runs on HP’s PA-RISC and Itanium, and that’s been the focus for Suprtool. The alternative is Little Endian environments such as the Intel Xeon line. Robelle has completed the engineering if people want Windows. But so far more of them want to go to Linux on Intel from a 3000 environment, if they have a need for a Little Endian version. Suprtool lead developer Neil Armstrong said the Linux-Intel interest drove SuprtoolOpen.

"We have been getting requests for platforms and Linux x86 has been the most prevalent." Armstrong said. "There are requests for Windows but the database requests are more varied and not areas where we have solutions as yet, so our tendency is to help provide solutions that we have. So the Eloquence database plus Windows will likely be a target for us. I've not seen much of a demand for Linux/Big Endian machines. We could have provided that nearly a year ago, but all the attention has been x86 Linux."

While Suprtool is moving to other environments, Armstrong said much of the Linux side development is done on VMWare virtual machines. A good deal of the code remains in SPL, "and converted using SPLASH and the SPL to C option that I've been using for some time," Armstrong said. "This has allowed me to focus on re-writing libraries bit by bit and still have a working core of Suprtool."

Robelle is dividing the project into two halves, with a Big Endian version and a Little Endian version. Currently for BigE, the company is looking at Unix environments from IBM (AIX) and Sun in terms of providing actual downloads.

"For LittleE the biggest interest is X86 Linux and the like," Armstrong said. "Windows is not yet part of the plans completely, but if we have some Eloquence customers that are going that way we will look at supporting them." Robelle is currently running and building more test suites on Linux distros Ubuntu, RHEL and SUSE, for the Little Endian Version.

"Part of this is writing new code in such a way as to reduce endian-ness," Armstrong said. "Also, writing higher-level code where possible makes each platform I test on easier with each iteration.

The Open version of the tool works exactly as it does on MPE/iX and HP-UX. Customers have been running with a Full Native C code version for two years on Itanium, so this revamp is an extension of that effort. Armstrong said the work has opened the way for streamlining the code that supports the tool's internals.

"The actual interesting part is that I've actually been reducing a lot of code for this project, Armstrong said.  "As a case in point, Suprtool has used some routines that were written by Fred White and was part of the Coercion engine that converted from display to long to double integer and so on. This is an incredibly dense piece of code that we've been using for longer than I care to remember, which has now been replaced."