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March 2005

Number 108 (Update of Volume 9, Issue 5)

OpenMPE gains two new directors

New voices will join the OpenMPE board of directors this month, after a three-week-long election added Chuck Ciesinski and gave Mathew Perdue a chance to serve the future of MPE/iX. All winners will serve two-year terms.

Ciesinski, a two-time candidate for the Interex user group board of directors, led the field of first-time OpenMPE candidates in the voting. The group’s incumbent directors who were running for another term -- Paul Edwards, Birket Foster and Alan Tibbetts -- all won new terms.

Foster, the group’s chairman, will begin his second full two-year term. No other founding director of OpenMPE - the group started operations in 2002, and Foster has served since the first meeting - has returned for another term of volunteer service. Edwards and Tibbetts each ran for full terms this year, after stepping in during 2004 to fill resigned board posts.

A 2005 board resignation, from former treasurer Ron Horner, left the group with another director’s slot to fill by appointment. Perdue, who operates an HP 3000 support and consulting business and launched a new ISP management app for MPE, won the appointment to the board.

OpenMPE directors serve as unpaid volunteers and serve as an advocacy group and sounding board to HP’s virtual HP 3000 managers. The OpenMPE-HP talks take place under an informal Confidential Disclosure Agreement to encourage HP to discuss its plans candidly. At some time after June 30 this year, HP intends to announce its plans about licensing MPE/iX for development outside of HP’s labs. Last year OpenMPE mounted a campaign to raise funds for a “virtual lab” to take over the HP work, but failed to gain financial commitments from 100 HP 3000 customers.

Directors for the group are now Donna Garverick, John Wolff, Stephen Suraci, and John Burke, along with Edwards, Foster, Ciesinski, Tibbetts and Perdue. The election of the board was limited to OpenMPE’s members, who can join for free. More than 125 were eligible to vote. This year’s election drew twice as many candidates as board openings. The 3000 NewsWire’s Ron Seybold served as independent election overseer.

HP wants input on CI enhancements

Time is short to tell HP about how well it has designed spooler information improvements to the HP 3000’s Command Interpreter. The new volinfo and spoolinfo functions for the CI have been among the fastest improvements to emerge from HP’s development labs. Jeff Vance, the HP engineer who’s been the guru of the CI for many years, notified customers through the HP 3000 newsgroup and mailing list about the chance to comment on CI enhancements.

The customer and developer comments will need to arrive before the end of this week to have any impact at HP, Vance said. “At some point, probably in a month or so, the specs will need to be frozen,” he said. Customers can post their comments to the 3000 newsgroup, or e-mail Vance directly at jeff.vance@hp.com. Vance posted a message that shows what spoolinfo’s HELP text might look like. Customers with a greater interest can get a spreadsheet from Vance which has a bit more detail and maps the spoolinfo items to their corresponding AIFSPFGET items.

Full text of the help text messages with proper formatting is available from HP’s Jazz Web server:

For volinfo: http://jazz.external.hp.com/private/volinfoHelp.txt

For spoolinfo: http://jazz.external.hp.com/private/spoolinfoHelp.txt

These CI improvements ranked as numbers 11 and 15 in the 2004 balloting for HP 3000 system improvements. Network printing upgrades were the top vote getter in the 2004 survey of 3000 customers.

IBM shows HP an example of IP sharing

HP’s latest SIB responses for the 3000 -- the list of items it agreed to work on for customers -- includes source trees and build scripts for open source parts of MPE/iX like Samba. But HP’s intellectual property inside MPE/iX remains in limbo until the company decides on future licenses. In the meantime, IBM is showing the way on unlocking intellectual property. The company has released more than 500 patents in a commons, a means to permit open source developers to use IBM’s patents in open source software.

“We will increasingly use patents to encourage and protect global innovation and interoperability through open standards, and we urge others to do so as well,” said Dr. John E. Kelly, IBM’s senior VP of Technology and Intellectual Property.

IBM “pledged” patented technologies to open source that cover a wide range of technologies, from databases to networking, software development and interfacing. This patented technology can be used for open source software, which IBM defined as “any computer software program whose source code is published and available for inspection and use by anyone, and is made available under a license agreement that permits recipients to copy, modify and distribute the program’s source code without payment of fees or royalties.” For a full list of the IBM patents it placed in a commons, download the PDF file.

HP has leaned toward negotiating royalties rather than filing lawsuits over patents during the past year. The HP 3000’s operating system code will likely need an exception that leans even further toward a commons approach -- or it may fall outside the budgets of a 3000 development community scrapping for resources this year.

Fiorina gets cut from World Bank prospects

After losing her HP job last month, former CEO Carly Fiorina got some consideration for the top job at the World Bank, but lost out on a nomination for the job. The bank’s prospective candidate list grew as wide as rock singer Bono, who has a history of fundraising for underdeveloped nations. President George Bush nominated US Defense Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz for the job over Fiorina. Rumors about Fiorina’s future in politics preceded her dismissal last month as HP’s CEO and chairman.

HP’s current chairman, Patricia Dunn, told HP shareholders at the company’s annual meeting last week the search for a replacement CEO “is well under way, that we’re pleased with our progress and that we are where we expected and wanted to be at this juncture,” according to an Associated Press report. Analysts have been predicting a lengthy search for an executive who must lead a $90 billion company with a game plan drafted by a predecessor.

Interex, HP head into expo competition

As Interex was scheduled to roll out the session details this week for this summer’s HP World conference and expo, the user group could see its largest sponsor of the show ramp up booth sales for the HP Technology Forum. HP’s conference will debut one month after HP World, including an expo hall where a few HP 3000-related sponsors have already booked space.

Interex officials continue to report that HP is supporting HP World with speakers and sponsorship money, although the latter resource has been pared back from prior years. Association conference and expo producer SmithBucklin is handling the expo for the new HP show, including an interactive show floor map on the Web to help vendors choose booth space. Interex has had its own interactive Web-based show floor map for several years.

The Compaq and Digital-based Encompass user group is taking the lead in session planning for the HP conference. Speaker proposals for the HP Forum were due March 21. A Frequently-Asked Questions file on the new HP conference is at http://www.hptechnologyforum.com/faqs.jsp. (You can find the exhibitor map on the left-hand navigation panel; it loads a Java app.)

The latest data on the HP World conference, including a keynote by HP executive VP Ann Livermore -- who some say is a candidate for HP’s next CEO -- can be found on the Interex Web site.

Making note of TRACERT’s delays

HP 3000 users have their own version of the helpful networking trace tool TRACERT, software which is a staple on any open system. But using TRACERT on an MPE/iX system will deliver trace information more slowly than a TRACERT from, say, Windows servers. The reason is that HP coded TRACERT according to the standard for the 3000, according to HP support engineer James Hofmeister.

The issue came up when a customer tried to use TRACERT’s response time as a way to benchmark performance through their HP 3000’s firewall. Bad idea, said Hofmeister:

“The TRACERT on the 3000 is slow,” he said in an Internet message. “The implementation is more ‘standard’ than is typically used with the TRACERT implementations on PCs.”

“Do not use the performance of TRACERT as an indicator of performance through your firewall. Ping would be a more accurate measure.”

Hofmeister offered more details on what makes those 3000 traces look slower:


Another IMAGE bug can cause corruption

While HP continues to work on a fix for a LargeFile dataset bug in TurboIMAGE - a story we have on our March issue’s front page -- there’s been another corruption bug waiting for HP 3000 customers running under MPE/iX 6.0. Adager has developed a workaround for this bug, and CEO Rene Woc reports that a couple of customers a week run into the problem:

“There’s a known data corruption problem on 6.0 when ALTERCHKPTSTAT is not enabled on all your disc volume sets. This data corruption will cause broken chains, as well as data loss, on your IMAGE databases.

“In the MPE/iX 6.0 Communicator on page 216 there is an article on Transaction Manager. On page 219 within the article there is a section entitled Checkpoint Improvement which describes 2 new commands in Volutil for showing and setting this new feature.

By default this option is DISABLED when you install 6.0.

The two commands are:

showchkptstat <volset-name>

alterchkptstat <volset-name> ENABLE|DISABLE

You should make sure ALTERCHKPTSTAT is ENABLED on all your disc volume sets (system volume as well as any user volumes).

A key paragraph on page 220 then states:

“Since this solution remembers the dirty page ranges in a data structure associated with each open file, it can’t affect files that were open before giving this request (ENABLE). However, it will come into effect for the files that were open (for the first time) after giving the request. So the best way to enable or disable the Checkpoint Improvement is to reboot the machine after giving the command. The following URL has a write-up on this topic:


“The check point improvement code operates by keeping a bit map of the portions of a file that changed so only those portions need to be posted by transaction management. (that’s the very simple explanation :)

“This option doesn’t exist in 6.5. The bit map method does not scale well with > 4GB files, so it was removed.”


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