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January 2018

What to do when there's no HP patch

PatchesPatches and workarounds will be a continuing part of the 3000 manager's life, even here in the second decade of the 3000's Afterlife. You can get patches if you want 'em. You may want a workaround instead.

A custom workaround is a more reliable repair for something that's not operating correctly inside MPE. The very last round of patches which HP built were not tested to HP's standard. By now there's no more HP work for new repairs.

Some independent support providers know the 3000 as well as anyone left at HP. Some of the biggest and best-connected vendors have a license for MPE/iX source code, because a patch isn't what most customers want. Such a thing has to be tested, and a lot of production 3000s are under lockdown today. Changes are not welcome.

Enter the indie patching potential for MPE/iX. Binary patches are much more of a possibility when source code is in the hands of a support company. There were seven licensees who got MPE/iX source back in 2010. Working with a support firm that's got source is one step closer to a custom patch.

The path to patching can be tricky for some owners. "MPE folks are very reluctant to patch," said Donna Hofmeister, former OpenMPE board member. "The HP-UX folks are often desperate to patch."

Continue reading "What to do when there's no HP patch" »

Locating patches is now a personal search

PatchworkTen years ago the threads between MPE/iX patches and Hewlett-Packard were intact. The vendor stopped developing the fixes and additions to a 3000's abilities. But owners were assured that the software would be ready for download. A call to HP's Response Center would continue to connect customers and patches.

None of those facts are true by now. Some support providers say there's not enough HP left in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise support to even know what a 3000 does. The 3000 experts who still track such things concur. Donna Hofmeister, former OpenMPE director, said "No one can get MPE patches from HPE now. There's simply no organization left to handle such a request."

In 2008 one significant patch issue involved beta release software. HP was clinging to its established testing practice, one that limited beta tests to current HP support customers. OpenMPE wanted to close that gap and become a force for good to get 3000s patched.

CEO Rene Woc of Adager proposed that OpenMPE administer the beta testing of patches caught in HP's logjam. The HP support customers were not taking a bite of the new bytes. Meanwhile, OpenMPE had pan-community service in its essential charter. Hofmeister said OpenMPE could speak for the thousands of sites which couldn't access beta patches for tests.

If it weren’t for OpenMPE, all the companies coming individually to HP for support beyond end-of-life wouldn’t have a collective voice. It’s OpenMPE that’s uniting these voices.

Spin the world forward 10 years and HP has indeed stopped issuing all patches. The software is available from other sources, however. Devoted owners and consultants are breaking the rules by sharing their patches—but only because HP broke a promise. HP tried for awhile to clear out beta patches. This week we heard some went into general release "because they had at least one customer who installed them without ill effect."

Even after more than a decade, there's still a forum where a customer can ask about patches: the 3000 mailing list. The transactions happen in private. Responsible support companies cannot say they'll distribute HP software.

Ask around, Hofmeister said, to find out who has HP's patches. There's a more reliable way to get repairs, though.

Fine-tune: Policing logins, telnet on 3000s

How can I set up a time constraint to a particular login, or group of logins, onto the HP 3000?

If you do not have a security product, you could create a UDC using OPTION LOGON, which would check the system time (for example, < 6:00am OR > 7:00pm), then ECHO a warning to the user, and then issue BYE. You might want to include the OPTION NOBREAK as well.

How can I restrict inbound telnet by IP address?

You can limit incoming telnets to your machine by using the INETDSEC.NET.SYS file. If you haven’t made use of this file previously, there’s a sample file — INSECSMP.NET.SYS — that you can copy to INETDSEC.NET.SYS and make changes from there. You will also need to link it with the Posix name using this command:

NEWLINK /usr/adm/inetd.sec, INETDSEC.NET.SYS

Details are in HP's Configuring and Managing MPE/iX Internet Services manual.

How can I dynamically control hardware compression on my DDS drives?

The name of the command file is devctrl.mpexl.telesup. An example:

xeq devctrl.mpexl.telesup 38;compression=disable

The help command “help devctrl.mpexl.telesup” will display the parameters. 

The full syntax must be entered on a single line:

DEVCTRL.MPEXL.TELESUP dev=(ldev) eject=(enable/disable/nochange)
compression=(enable/disable/nochange) load=(online/offline/nochange)

HPE's latest-to-exit CEO leaves for phone TV

Whitman-smartphoneMeg Whitman, who led HP from an acquisition-hungry behemoth to a company split in two, is heading to work making short television. Good Morning Silicon Valley reports that she's going to lead NewTV — a name is considered to be tentative— with Jeffrey Katzenberg of the movie and TV production world. Both served on the board of Disney. The story sounds like Whitman wants a job changing the cultural landscape, or at least screens on smartphones.

NewTV has some pretty ambitious thoughts on the video industry, the kinds of which you would expect to hear from a startup backed by some industry bigwigs who are used to getting things done their way.

According to a report from Variety, Whitman will lead a company that “aims to revolutionize entertainment with short-form premium content customized for mobile consumption.” The basic idea of NewTV is create video programming like 10-minute-long shows that are produced with techniques, and money, that usually go into traditional broadcast programs.

How NewTV will do this, and with what kinds of partners will it work, remain to be seen. Whitman is said to be planning on getting into more fundraising efforts for the company. According to Variety, Whitman said, "We’re going to be recruiting the very best talent, and in a few more months we’ll have to more to say on this.”

Whitman leaves her HPE job, and chairmanship of the board, at the end of next week. It's not her fault the company went from being able to send an MPE patch in 2011 to being an enterprise without contact to 3000s in any material way—is it?

In 2012 she said that HP would be locked out of a huge segment of the population in many countries if it didn't have a smartphone by 2017. She was correct about that. Investments in mobile entertainment are so much more fun than operating enterprise IT. Whitman says the new job is a return to her startup roots, referring to eBay. She was different than the three CEOs who came before her, according to CBS News. "It hired director Meg Whitman as a CEO replacement for fired Leo Apotheker, a main scapegoat originally hired to replace fired Mark Hurd, who was hired to replace fired Carly Fiorina."

And so Whitman is the first HP CEO to resign peacefully in this century. Lew Platt left the company on his own terms in 1999 after almost doubling the company's revenues during his seven-year tenure.

Continue reading "HPE's latest-to-exit CEO leaves for phone TV" »

Still meeting after all of these years

Sig-BAR-ribbonA personable community was one of the big reasons the HP 3000 got its own publication. The HP Unix community was more reticent during the 1980s, holding just a few meetings. HP 3000 owners and managers were a social bunch. It led to the founding of the HP Chronicle, where I first met the devotees and experts about MPE/iX. There were SIG meets, RUG conferences, Birds of a Feather gatherings, and national Interex conference attendance that felt almost automatic for awhile. Gathering in person isn't automatic for anyone now that social networks rule our roost.

There's still some desire to meet and share what we know, in person, however. Dave Wiseman is inquiring about gathering users in California this summer.

Wiseman, the founder of HP 3000 vendor Millware and an MPE veteran since the system's most nascent days, floated the idea of a "3000 Revival" in Europe in 2014. Wiseman was the chairman of SIG BAR, the informal after-hours gossip and news sessions held in conference bars. Stories swapped during the 1990s went on until all hours. I'd drift off into a light doze in a lounge chair after hours at a conference, listening all day, and then get snapped awake by something I hadn't heard. It's possible that a 2018 meeting could deliver something we hadn't heard in a long time.

Wiseman-alligatorWiseman will be in the US this June. (The picture at right comes from the 1980s, when he hauled around a floaty alligator at an HP conference hosted in Nashville). But that gator pool toy design is still in use, along with HP 3000s.) He described what a revival can amount to. The last time, he called the event an HP3000 SIG BAR meeting.

Continue reading "Still meeting after all of these years" »

Friday Fine-tune: How to add disks and redesign HP 3000 volume sets

Disk-drive-platter-hp3000I am in serious need of some hardware and hardware setup redesign. Essentially, we have 30GB of disk all in the system volume set and want to add 20GB more and go to multiple volume sets. How do I do this?

This checklist can be used to add new disks and completely redesign the volume sets:

1. Perform two full system backups and verify each.
2. Create a new sysgen tape.
3. Check the new sysgen tape with CHECKSLT.
4. Copy @[email protected] to a separate tape and verify.
5. Verify all disk drives configured and working properly.
6. Create a BULDACCT job for each new volume set with just the accounts destined for that volume set.
7. Verify that a current full BULDACCT exists on tape.
8. Shut down the system.
9. Restart the system.
10. From the ISL prompt, INSTALL.
11. In VOLUTIL, scratch all drives except for ldev 1.
12. In VOLUTIL, do "NEWVOL volset:member# ldev# 100 100" for each volume in the system volume set (other than ldev 1).
13. In VOLUTIL, do "NEWSET volset member# ldev# 100 100" for the master volume for each new set.
14. In VOLUTIL, do "NEWVOL volset:member# ldev# 100 100" for each volume in each new
15. Restore SYS account files with ;KEEP;SHOW;OLDDATE options.
16. Stream all BULDACCT jobs to create accounts structure.
17. Restore all files with ;KEEP;SHOW;OLDDATE options.
18. Spot-verify applications.
19. Once everything appears OK, run a BULDACCT.
20. Perform a full system backup.

Continue reading "Friday Fine-tune: How to add disks and redesign HP 3000 volume sets" »

VerraDyne adds new 3000 migration savvy

Legacy Migration VerraDyneThe HP 3000 has journeyed on the migration path for more than 16 years. The journey's length hasn't kept the community from gaining new resources give an MPE/iX datacenter a fresh home, though. VerraDyne takes a bow this year with an offer of skills and service rooted in 3000 transitions. The Transition Era isn't over yet, and Windows remains the most likely destination for the remaining journeys.

In-house application suites make up the biggest part of the homesteading HP 3000s. Business Development VP Bruce McRitchie said his MPE experience began in an era before MPE/XL ran the servers at McCloud-Bishop while other partners worked at System House during the 1980s.

In those days the transitions came off of Wang and DEC systems, he said, as well as making changes for HP 3000 customers. The work in those days was called a conversion more often than a migration. In the years since, replacing an in-house solution with a package was a common choice for migrations. Package replacements have their challenges, though. McRitchie reminds us that custom modifications can make replacement a weak choice, and often a business must change its operations to meet the capabilities of a package. There's sometimes data conversions, too.

In contrast, the VerraDyne migration solution is a native implementation to a target environment with no emulation, middleware, or any black box approach. ADO or ODBC enables database access when a VerraDyne project is complete, usually anywhere from three months to a year from code turnover to return to client. Microsoft's .NET platform is a solution that's worked at prior migrations. But there's also been projects where COBOL II has been moved to Fujitsu or AcuCobol.

Continue reading "VerraDyne adds new 3000 migration savvy" »

Emulation or iron meets Classic 3000 needs

A few weeks ago the 3000 community was polled for a legendary box. One of the most senior editions of Classic 3000s, a Series 42, came up on the Cypress Technology Wanted to Buy list. The 42 was the first 3000 to be adopted in widespread swaths of the business world. It's not easy to imagine what a serious computing manager would need from a Series 42, considering the server was introduced 35 years ago.

Series 42 setupThese Classic 3000s, the pre-RISC generation, sparked enough business to lead HP to create the Precision RISC architecture that was first realized with its Unix server. The HP 9000 hit the Hewlett-Packard customer base and 3000 owners more than a year before the 3000's RISC servers shipped. Without the success of the Classic 3000s, though, nobody could have bought such a replacement Unix server for MPE V. Applications drive platform decisions, and creating RISC had a sting embedded for the less-popular MPE. Unix apps and databases had more vendors.

That need for a Series 42 seems specific, as if there's a component inside that can fulfill a requirement. But if it's a need for an MPE V system, an emulator for the Classic 3000s continues to rise. Last week the volunteers who've created an MPE V simulator announced a new version. The seventh release of the HP 3000 Series III simulator is now available from the Computer History Simulation Project (SIMH) site.

The SIMH software will not replace a production HP 3000 that's still serving in the field, or even be able to step in for an archival 3000. That's a job for the Stromasys Charon HPA virtualized server. But the SIMH software includes a preconfigured MPE-V/R disc image. MPE V isn't a license-protected product like MPE/iX.

Continue reading "Emulation or iron meets Classic 3000 needs " »

Disaster Recovery Optimization Techniques

Newswire Classic

Editor's Note: The 3000s still in service continue to require disaster recovery processes and plans. Here's a primer on crafting what's needed.

By Gilles Schipper
Newswire Homesteading Editor

While working with a customer on the design and implementation of disaster recovery (DR) plan for their large HP 3000 system, it became apparent that the mechanics of its implementation had room for improvement.

In this specific example, the customer has a production N-Class HP 3000 in its primary location and a backup HP 3000 Series 969 system in a secondary location several hundred miles removed from the primary.

The process of implementing the DR was more manual-intensive than it needed to be. As an aside, it was completed entirely from a remote location — thanks to the Internet, VPNs and the use of the HP Secure Web Console on the 969.

One of the most labor-intensive aspects of the DR exercise was to rebuild the IO configuration of the DR machine (the 969) from the full backup tape of the production N-Class machine, which included an integrated system load tape (SLT) as part of the backup.

The ability to integrate the SLT on the same tape as the full backup is very convenient. It results in a simplified recovery procedure as well as the assurance that the SLT to be used will be as current as possible.

Continue reading "Disaster Recovery Optimization Techniques" »

Rootstock acquires ERP vendor Kenandy

Rootstock logoThe world of cloud-based ERP got a rumble today when Rootstock acquired competitor Kenandy. The Support Group is a MANMAN-ERP service firm that's got a Kenandy migration in its resume by this year, after moving Disston Tools off MANMAN and onto Kenandy. Support Group president Terry Floyd said the combination of the two leading cloud ERP companies looks like good news for the market.

"They're scaling up to get new business," he said, after sending us the tip about the connection of the firms. He compared the acquisition to the period in the 1990s when Computer Associates absorbed ASK Computer and MANMAN.

"After CA bought MANMAN, they kept on putting out releases and putting money into the company," Floyd said. "Salesforce must be behind this acquisition in some way."

Kenandy and Rootstock's software is built upon Salesforce and its Force platform and toolsets. A thorough article on the Diginomica website says that the deal was a result of a set of opportunities around a mega-deal and a key leader for a new unit at Kenandy. The plans to combine forces for the vendors include keeping development in play for both Rootstock and Kenandy products.

The Diginomica reporting by Brian Sommer says that Kenandy has a significant number of software engineers and a strong financial executive. "It's the talent [at Kenandy] that makes the deal fortuitous," Sommer wrote, "as Rootstock was ramping up for a lot expensive and time-consuming recruiting activity." Rootsource, by taking on the vendor with a product that's replaced a 3000 at a discrete manufacturer, "is of more consequence to Salesforce."

Vendors like the Support Group seem likely to benefit from the acquisition. By Sommer's reckoning, Salesforce might not have known which vendor among its network of ERP partners to call for manufacturing prospects. "Now one call will [send] the right response and product onto the prospect."

ERP mergers don't always have this level of synergy. When Oracle bought JD Edwards/Peoplesoft, there was friction and disconnect between the organizations. Floyd said that as a result of the Kenandy acquisition, "There may be new business for us." Companies like the Support Group supply the front-line experience to migrate 3000 manufacturers to a cloud platform.

Continue reading "Rootstock acquires ERP vendor Kenandy" »

Searching and finding in MPE/iX with MPEX

Searching ManIt's a world where it's ever-harder to find files of value. This week a story aired on NPR about a hapless young man who mislaid a digital Bitcoin wallet. The currency that was worth pennies eight years ago when he bought it has soared into the $15,000 range. Alas, it's up to the Bitcoin owner to find their own money, since the blockchain currency has no means for recovery. Another owner in the UK a few years back, James Howells, lost millions on a hard drive he'd tossed out. A trip to the landfill to search for it didn't reward him, either.

Being able to locate what you need on your HP 3000 involves going beyond the limits of MPE/iX. Searches with the Vesoft utility deliver more results and faster than any native capabilities.

Terry Floyd of the Support Group suggested MPEX as a searching solution. "MPEX with wildcards and date parameters is what I use for search," he said, "for instance"  

%LISTF @[email protected]@(CREDATE>12/1/2017),3    


%PRINT @[email protected];SEARCH="Look for this"

Seeing MPEX come up as a solution for search reminded us of a great column from the Transition Era for the 3000. Steve Hammond wrote "Inside Vesoft" for us during that time when 3000s not only continued to hold data for organizations, but production-grade data, too.

Gonna find her, gonna find her, Well-ll-ll, searching
Yeah I’m goin’ searching, Searching every which a-way, yeh yeh

— The Coasters, 1957

By Steve Hammond

I have to admit it — I’m a bit of a pack rat. It drives my wife crazy and I’ve gotten better, but I still hold onto some things for sentimental reasons. I still have the program from the first game I ever saw my beloved Baltimore Colts play. On my desk is the second foul ball I ever caught (the first is on display in the bookcase). I have a mint condition Issue 1 of the HP Communicator — dated June 15, 1975 (inherited when our e3000 system manager retired). It tells that all support of MPE-B terminated that month, and the Planning Committee chairman of the HP 3000 Users Group was a gentleman from Walnut Creek named Bill Gates (okay, not that Bill Gates).

My problem is even when I know I have something, I just can’t find it. I had an item the Baseball Hall of Fame was interested in; they had no ticket stub from the 1979 World Series, which I had — seventh game no less. But it took me over two years before I literally stumbled across it.

I wish I could add some sort of easy search capabilities to my massive collection of junk like we have in MPEX.

The most commonly used is the search option in the PRINT command. But there are a couple of other ways to search that I’ve used over the years for different reasons, and we’ll look at those too.

Continue reading "Searching and finding in MPE/iX with MPEX" »

Friday Fine-tune: How to discover the creation date of a STORE tape

Newswire Classic

By John Burke

It is probably more and more likely that, as the years pass by, you will discover a STORE tape and wonder when it was created. Therefore it is a good idea to review how to do this. I started out writing “how to easily do this,” but realized there is nothing easy about it — since it is not well-documented and if you just want the creation date, you have to do a bit of a kludge to get it. Why not something better?

It turns out the ;LISTDIR option of RESTORE is the best you can do. But if you do not want a list of all the files on the tape, you need to feed the command the name of some dummy, non-existent file. ;LISTDIR will also display the command used to create the tape.

By the way, this only works with NMSTORE tapes. For example, when ;LISTDIR is used on a SYSDUMP tape that also stored files, you get something like this (note that even though you are using the RESTORE command, if it contains the ;LISTDIR option, nothing is actually restored):

:restore *t;dummy;listdir


FRI, DEC 31, 2004, 3:22 PM


WED, MAY 7, 2003, 7:06 AM



How to make a date that lasts on MPE/iX

January 1 calendar pageNow that it's 2018, there's less than 10 years remaining before HP's intrinsic for date handling on MPE/iX loses its senses. CALENDAR's upcoming problems have fixes. There's a DIY method that in-house application developers can use to make dates in 2028 read correctly, too.

The key to this DIY repair is to intercept a formatting intrinsic for CALENDAR.

CALENDAR returns two numbers: a "year" from 0 to 127 and a "day of year" from 1 to 366.
FMTCALENDAR takes those two numbers and turns it into a string like Monday, January 1, 1900.  It takes the "year" and adds it to 1900 and displays that. "In a sense," explains Allegro's Steve Cooper, "that's where things 'go wrong'."
If one intercepts FMTCALENDAR and replaces it with their own routine, it can say if the "year" is 0 to 50, then add 2028 to it, otherwise, add 1900 as it always did.  That would push the problem out another 50 years.
This interception task might be above your organization's pay grade. If that's true, there are 3000-focused companies that can help with that work. These kinds of repairs to applications are the beginning of life-extension for MPE/iX systems. There might be more to adjust, so it's a good idea to get some help while the community still has options for support.