Fine-Tune Friday: One 3000 and Two Factors
Wayback: When MPE would need no 3000s

2028 patching begins to emerge

Beechglen Communicator CoverBeechglen Development has announced a new 2028 patching service. The services are aimed at customers using Beechglen for HP 3000 and MPE/iX support. According a PDF document hosted at the Beechglen website, the software modifications to MPE/iX are authorized through the terms of the HP source code license that was granted to seven firms in 2011.

Several 3000 consulting and support providers have an ability to serve the community with revisions to extend 3000 date-handling beyond January 1, 2028. Several of them were on a CAMUS user group call last November. Beechglen is the first company to employ the date repair services through a set of patches. One question is whether the patches can be applied to any system, or must be customized in a per-system process.

The software alterations seem to include changes to MPE/iX, not just to applications and surround code hosted at a 3000 site. Doug Werth, director of technical services at Beechglen, said in a message to the 3000-L mailing list, "While it isn’t quite “MPE Forever” it does extend the HP 3000 lifespan by another 10 years."

The strategy was outlined as part of a document called the Beechglen Communicator, formatted and written to look like the Communicator tech documents HP sent to MPE/iX support customers through 2007. 

The Year >2027 patches have been developed as enhancements under the Beechglen Development Inc. MPE/iX Source Code Agreement with Hewlett-Packard. As provided in this agreement, these patches can only be provided as enhancements to MPE/iX systems covered under a support agreement from Beechglen Development Inc.

The three pages of technical explanation about the patches is followed by a list of third party software companies who have products "certified on Beechglen-patched MPE systems that their software is Y2028 compatible." Adager and Robelle products are listed as certified in the Beechglen document.

Adager is one of seven companies which hold an HP source code license for MPE/iX. Pivital Solutions is another, along with support companies Terix and Allegro, and three other software firms. The companies have a restriction in their use of MPE/iX. As the Beechglen document states, the alterations have to be in service to existing customers. HP released the code to keep 3000s in service, to the extent that the license holders have the technical ability to employ the source.

In 2008, as MPE/iX source licenses were discussed by HP and parties like OpenMPE, Adager's CEO Rene Woc noted a license to source is just the first step in fixing 3000s.

Having access to source though a license doesn't automatically make a license-holder a better provider of products and services, he said.

You cannot assume, even with good readers of source code, that the solutions will pop up. A lot of the problems we see these days are due to interactions between products. So the benefit for the customer would be based more on the troubleshooting skills that an organization can provide.

"Each system applying these patches should be evaluated for customer and third party code that calls the CALENDAR intrinsic directly," the Beechglen document says in an Application Considerations section.

We've reached out to Beechglen to learn what testing these Year >2027 patches have passed through from outside users and sites. HP distributed MPE/iX patches after its software had passed a beta test from more than one testing customer running a 3000. HP testing worked inside the realm of its own support customers, too. No one could beta test an HP patch unless they were already an HP support customer.

OpenMPE hoped to be a test organization for patches in the era after HP closed its labs. The project didn't emerge beyond the discussion phase, in part because there were no dedicated tech resources to do the testing.