Number 52 (Update
of Volume 5, Issue 9)
cutting patches for 6.5
any major operating system release, MPE/iX 6.5 has some bugs in its
initial version. The version was written to satisfy the needs of some
of the most performance-hungry customers in the HP 3000 community, so
its flaws are getting some prompt attention. Within a month or so of
release, 6.5 already has patches, items that will be collected at
some point for a PowerPatch of the release. Healthcare entities like
HMOs are finding the problems, since they're among the first to
illuminating interchange over the Internet showed a handful of
patches either in place or being written to squash bugs that came up
once 6.5 started shipping. Rich Holloway of Providence Health Plans
reported on four bugs, and Bill Cadier of the Commercial Systems
Division Escalation Team reported on the patches available to fix
them -- some still in development.
"We would find the system would hang when doing fairly
heavy processing," Holloway said. "This was caused by two
memory management issues. Both issues have been resolved and a
general patch has been released. One patch resolves both."
Cadier said that MPELX75 (which supersedes and includes MPELX66)
Holloway said while using Robelle's Suprtool to create a self
describing file under 6.5, "we found the file end of limit would
be a negative number. This was caused by a file I/O error. This too
has been resolved and a general patch released." HP's Cadier
said patch MPELX71 fixes the problem.
Cadier had just begun work on another patch, MPELX86, to fix
another problem, "when an FCONTROL 2 and FCONTROL 6 that
basically tells the system to take the information in memory and
write it to disk." Holloway reported. "What it's supposed
to do is take a block of records, write it to disk, then get the next
block. The problem is that the start for the block always goes back
to the start. Example, let's say there are 8 blocks of 100 records to
be written. It takes the first 100 records and writes them, then it
takes the first 100 and the second 100 and writes them, then it takes
the first 100, the second 100 and third 100 and writes them. By the
time it gets down the first 100 has been written 8 times."
Holloway also outlined a fourth bug that deals with disk
mirroring and number of spindles. "What happens is there is a
PQUAD table, or table in PQUAD, or at least something to that affect
that is used by mirroring. The more spindles you have and the more
writes you have causes the use of this table to be increased to its
limit. If the limit is hit gracefully, all that happens is mirrored
partners are lost. If the limit is not hit gracefully, it will cause
a system abort with an Abort 1101. We currently have about 250
spindles and are testing the patch now." HP said the official
patch ID for the PQUAD problem will be MPELX84.
Holloway also said his site "had system halts when we
installed 6.5, and increased our 997 to 12 processors from 8 and 16Gb
of memory from 4Gb. The added processors and memory were removed but
6.5 left on, and the box is running our production fine. HP has come
up with different memory and processors and will attempt the hardware
upgrade this evening."
Cadier summarized the patch activity on the 6.5 release by
saying that "MPELX66, MPELX71 and MPELX75 are all general
released now, and I believe will also be on 6.5 PowerPatch 1. MPELX84
and MPELX86 will are yet to be done, so I cannot say with certainty
that they will be general released in time to get on to PP1. If not
then certainly PP2."
doesn't have an announced date for the 6.5 PowerPatch 1, although a
few customers report they've been told it will be available in the
fall. Individual patches which are in general release are available
immediately through the HP Response Center.
Customers await 6.5 PowerPatch,
but not HBOC
3000 managers are a cautious lot, applying new releases of the
operating system only when a first round of patches have been
collected into what's known as a PowerPatch. But early reports show
that one of the leading application suppliers for the 3000 is
prodding customers into early adoption of the latest 6.5 MPE/iX.
HBOC's Payor Solutions Group sent letters to all Amisys customers
that said the company would not be supporting the 6.0 release of the
operating system for its sites beyond October 1, according to several
customers. Officially, Amisys hasn't even been released for 6.0.
first reported on HBOC's haste in getting onto the 6.5 release in our
April FlashPaper, noting the company wanted to move all of its
customers to the MPE version that many in HP were calling "The
Amisys Release." 6.5 benefits from the expansion of many system
limits, especially those that limited files to 4Gb. But the backwards
compatibility of COBOL applications between MPE 5.5 -- the version
most Amisys sites are using -- and 6.5 is in question. The compiler
was updated in 6.5 to generate code that takes advantage of new
64-bit millicode routines.
a few 3000 sites are already running successfully on 6.5, nearly all
of the customer base is waiting, as usual, for the first PowerPatch
release of the operating system. The software is a by-request, or
pull release, meaning HP's not sending it automatically to its entire
installed base to give it the widest test base. Amisys customers have
been told their supplier won't be supporting the 6.0 version of
MPE/iX, and the sites are expected to migrate from 5.5 directly to a
least one customer noted that in the past HBOC took months to catch
its application up to the 5.5 release for its customer base -- and
now appears to be on the other end of the adoption curve with 6.5.
Configure Apache easier with a GUI
administrators using the Apache server on HP 3000s can look forward
to easier administration of Apache, using Windows software called
Comanche. The Apache Web server has a good deal of its power invested
in its rich configurations, but keeping them tuned can be challenging
for users new to Web server administration. HP's Mark Bixby, the
engineer who ported the Apache server to MPE, reports that Comanche
looks like a good candidate for helping out on the HP 3000:
"Based on what I read about Comanche at
http://www.comanche.org, you should be able to install Comanche under
MSWin and then access your e3000 Apache config files via Samba,"
Bixby posted. "I haven't personally tried this, though."
Comanche is free software supported via the open source community,
the same kind of support structure that Apache enjoyed on its way to
HP-supported status on the 3000.
HP World meetings for Maestro and Web
Although the conference is still weeks away, HP World
volunteers are already announcing meetings to be held around the many
roundtables, keynotes and seminars set for Sept. 9-14. Maestro users
running systems under MPE/iX (and now supported by ROC Software) are
among those invited to the The Maestro Birds of a Feather (BOF)
meeting Sept. 12 from noon to 1 PM. As it's a lunchtime meeting,
Interex will be providing "a tasty box lunch," according to
the BOF organizer Keith Olson of Advanced Computing environments.
"The Maestro BOF is an opportunity for users of Maestro (aka
Tivoli Workload Scheduler) to get together and discuss job scheduling
techniques, bugs, enhancements, releases, and vendor relationships.
The BOF is an informal technical users meeting. In that spirit,
representatives of the vendors, Tivoli Systems and ROC Software, are
welcome. This will be the third year in a row for a Maestro BOF at
HPWorld, and we are looking forward to getting together
Another lunchtime meeting takes place on the following day as
the SIGWeb special interest group gathers from noon to 2 PM. SIGWeb
co-chair Michael Gueterman of Easy Does It Technologies says that the
meeting will include "'four or five ten minute talks' Some
potential topics that have been [considered for discussion] are Web
Servers: Apache/iX, WebWise; Web Application Servers: PHP, AutoBahn
II, Powerhouse Web, Web Dimension, ASP and ColdFusion; JSP Java
Servers; Scripting and Integration through perl, CGI and XML; and
simple steps for getting a Web server environment up and
No, 6.5 doesn't need 4Gb of memory
at e3000 North American distributor Client Systems, "Geek at
Large" Chris Gauthier has weighed in with more information about
what a site needs to get the latest operating system up and running.
In his "Support Call of the Day" posting at the 3kworld.com
site, Gauthier elaborates on a topic first brought up on the 3000-L
mailing list, and covered in John Burke's net.digest column -- how
much memory 6.5 demands. Gauthier, who supports HP's resellers,
"Some of my customers have been led to believe that you
need at least 4Gb of memory to run MPE/iX 6.5. This is absolutely not
true. Most of the current installed base of HP e3000 machines will
not even recognize beyond 3.84 Gb of memory (the absolute
mathematical limit of a 32-bit processor). Just because your current
machine can't go beyond 3.840Gb of memory does NOT mean that you
can't take advantage of moving to MPE/iX 6.5."
"For your own reference, the following machines are
supported with these absolute minimums with MPE/iX 6.5. (While these
minimums are not recommended for performance reasons, the system will
physically function with them nonetheless.)
32-48Mb (32Mb is the minimum required as of MPE/iX 5.0)
Original 939: 64 Mb (orig. 939 sold with this minimum.)
939s, 929s, 959s & later: 128 Mb (orig. sold with this
256Mb (orig. sold with this minimum.)
990/992: 128 Mb (orig. sold with this minimum.)
991/995: 256 Mb (orig. sold with this minimum.)
256 Mb (orig. sold with this minimum.)
997: 256 Mb
Gauthier added that the only HP e3000 systems supporting more
than the 3.84Gb of memory as of July 2000 were the 929/030s,
939/030s, all 979s, 989s and 997s. Gauthier regularly posts such high
technical wonders on the 3kworld.com site, like general memory module
loading rules for Series 9x7 boxes.
PowerHouse Web demands more open security
many moons of waiting for Cognos to release its Web development
suite, PowerHouse customers are finding out what software writers
have known for years: Posix implementation on the e3000 can have its
quirks. In one message posted to the PowerHouse mailing list, a
customer complained that his Posix files always seemed to have
security problems when working with PowerHouse Web. Dennis Barnes
"I am experimenting with PowerHouse Web 2.29D on MPE/iX
and constantly have to modify the security on files in the Posix name
space. Every time I compile a QUICK screen, or FTP a file from my PC
to the HP 3000, the file security is such that the PowerHouse Web
Dispatcher is denied access to the file. The Dispatcher is not
running from the account where my application resides.
"Being brand new to the Posix side of things, I don't
know if this is possible, but the question is: Can I somehow avoid
these constant security problems with my Posix files?"
the same day, Cognos product manager Bob Deskin offered an
explanation about why the PowerHouse Dispatcher was complaining:
"PowerHouse Web on MPE/iX is an interesting mix. The
Dispatcher and PHCGI programs are Posix, but the PowerHouse Web
Server is MPE/iX. QUICK screens (actually PH Web screens) are MPE/iX
files. If the user and account from which you run the Dispatcher (and
therefore the PowerHouse Web Server) has access to these files, there
should not be a problem. This in itself has nothing to do with Posix.
This would be the same as any user getting access to files in another
account. You'll have to open up your MPE security to those
"As for FTPing a file, it is not uncommon to have to
change the permissions once the file arrives. I'm not a Posix expert,
but it may depend whether the file is pulled to the HP 3000 or pushed
from the PC."
No need to wait for IA-64 systems
early July HP began to brief some journalists about its plans to
migrate from the current PA-RISC architecture to the newer IA-64
designs, but the activity looked like it was still years away from
reality. In one story that appeared on the CNET.com Web site, HP's
Duane Zitzner was quoted as saying HP expects its PA-RISC systems to
outsell IA-64 systems for the next five years.
Zitzner was quoted accurately, then his comments explain why few
people in the HP 3000 division seem to think of IA-64 as anything but
a future. In one interview after another, lab experts and general
managers praised the new architecture, but pointed out that it had
little to do with meeting customer demands for performance. Now we
seem to know why: the stuff won't be ready for datacenter-level
performance for years.
one analyst thought these delays might be a problem, we think they're
a blessing in disguise. There's nothing so broken in PA-RISC that it
needs to be replaced. And if its successor is still on the drawing
board, that lets the 3000 lab focus. Considering how tough it is to
staff development labs, nobody's engineering effort needs the
distraction of having to build more than one version of a system at a
time. IA-64 looks like it's going to have about a 10-year history of
being a future at HP, considering that it was first announced in
1994. (Of course, back then, HP was calling it Tahoe, and then
Merced, and so on.) Since HP has four more generations of processors
in the wings for the PA-RISC line after the PA-8500 rolls out next
spring, it looks like IA-64 might have more impact on PowerPoint
slides than in any HP 3000 for the next five years. But like HP,
we're just guessing on when it will be ready.