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June 2001

HP invents public development 3000 host

New Invent3K server offers online resource for community’s programmers

HP’s e3000 division (CSY) opened the doors on a virtual lab for the server’s development community last month, as the company put a high-end computer on the Internet for the public to use for free.

The computer, which CSY has dubbed the Invent3K server, is meant to provide an HP 3000 computer resource for developers and customers who want to create software and test programs. CSY engineer Mark Bixby said Invent3K provides a place for programmers to work on ports to MPE/iX, among other uses.

“Anybody can register to obtain a logon account to gain access to this machine via the Internet,” Bixby said in announcing the resource, “in order to port new open-source applications, develop new closed-source applications, or just test-drive HP software.”

The server, located outside the HP corporate firewall for security purposes, is an HP e3000 989/400 with 4Gb of RAM and running MPE/iX 6.5 PowerPatch 2. A full suite of HP 3000 subsys products is installed, along with the Gnu Compiler Collection and other popular open-source applications.

“The intent of the machine is to help spur the invention of new MPE apps,” Bixby said, “and we do not want to limit the types of apps that may be created.” Customers who sign up for an account on the Invent3K system are only forbidden to directly use the machine to conduct business, “for example, setting up an e-commerce Web site using WebWise on the machine and selling stuff, or using sendmail on the machine to do commercial mailings,” Bixby explained.

Users who sign up at the Web site jazz.external.hp.com/pads can develop their own business software on the machine, which they can then transfer to their own HP 3000s and conduct business from their own machine — either by executing that software or reselling the software they’ve invented to other people. While the Invent3K server doesn’t replace any current developer partner programs, HP is even willing to let third-party firms install demo copies of their products on the server. “Because this is an openly shared machine, it would be the responsibility of the ISV to secure their software in such a way to prevent unauthorized copying and usage on other machines,” Bixby said.

The HP engineer described initial response as “enthusiastic,” and several developers have already posted ports on the system. Mark Wonsil of 4M Enterprises finished a port of text2pdf, a simple, small C program that reads text from the standard input and creates a PDF stream as output. Details on using text2pdf are at invent3k.external.hp.com/~MGR.WONSIL/text2pdf.html, Wonsil’s development area on the server.

An open area for porting to the HP 3000 was among the goals the CSY labs had in its spring meetings this year.

CSY R&D chief Dave Wilde said HP has been “looking at how to get things onto the platform faster, in ways that are usable and sustainable to our customers. We’ve been thinking of putting a system outside the HP firewall as a test machine for things, to make it easier for people who don’t have a system at their disposal with all the right tools on it.”

A new 2.0.9 version of Samba recently came online at the main Samba Web site, and HP engineer Lars Appel suggested the Invent3k server will be a good place to port the version to MPE/iX. “It looks like the new Invent3K porting system is having a very good start,” he said.

Appel reported that he used “the Samba 2.0.7 source code diffs from www.sambaix.com, and it seems that 2.0.9 also builds successfully on MPE/iX. I have not spent time on extensive testing or packaging new binaries. With the advent of the Invent3K porting system, it could probably be done by someone else who volunteers.”

The Enhydra 3.1 Web application server is also installed on the Invent3K server, to give customers a way to test using the software without doing installation on their own systems.

IBM appeared to follow the CSY move a few weeks after Invent3K went online, opening up a public server for Linux developers and users to access over the Internet.


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