(Update of Volume 7, Issue 3)
HP engineer joins OpenMPE Inc. board
Jeff Vance, the HP CSY engineer who helped HP explore the
prospects of an Open Source version of MPE/iX in the weeks leading up
to HP's 3000 support discontinuance announcement, has been named to
the board of directors of OpenMPE, Inc. The organization also elected
eight other directors Jan. 7-8 who were nominated in an open ballot
over the Internet, but the HP position was a write-in contest.
Jon Backus, a newly elected board member of the organization
devoted to keeping MPE/iX alive beyond HP's schedule for official
support of the operating system, reported that Vance had to get HP to
approve his involvement in OpenMPE, Inc. before he could accept the
"The HP employee who received the most write-in votes
was Jeff Vance. Jeff was contacted to see if it was a possibility. He
spoke with his management at HP to make sure it was acceptable. He
said they were "supportive of him being on the board" and
that he accepts the seat. While this should not be construed as a
commitment of any type from HP for the OpenMPE movement or any other
type of effort to extend the life of MPE, it is a display that HP is
willing to explore the options."
Vance posted some comments on the prospects of getting Open
Source processes to serve the needs of a mature operating system like
MPE with an installed base smaller than other Open Source
"One (of several issues) with Open Source MPE is that
there are much fewer eyeballs to notice problems with submittals. And
also fewer people to correct problems once spotted -- unlike Linux
and other popular Open Source projects."
On the other hand, Vance can see how having MPE source
available for companies to modify beyond HP's involvement has value
for customers dedicated to staying with their MPE applications.
"I see open source MPE as potentially the ultimate security
blanket or insurance policy for the end customer and for the ISVs
that depend on MPE," he said in a posting to the Internet.
"By that I mean, if you have write access to the source then you
have at least some chance of fixing bugs, adding features, etc. You
have the potential of doing these things, but not a
JDBC driver gets ROMAN8 capabilities
HP is still building patches for parts of MPE/iX, a service
that someone will have to take over in the years to come. But for now
the HP lab engineers are still polishing the parts of the operating
system, including the JDBC driver that's included. Roman8 encoding is
now supported for the JDBC driver with the patch commonly referred to
as HP JDBC DRIVER A.01.15. In order to use Roman8 encoding, the
Roman8 option needs to be passed through the URL. HP's notes on the
If the encoding option is not passed then the default
encoding is used.
Along with the driver classes, two Roman8 conversion classes
are provided with this package: ByteToCharRoman8.class and
For JDK 1.1.7, the conversion classes are to be added to the
CLASSPATH. For JDK 1.2.2 and above, the conversion classes are to be
added to the -Xbootclasspath."
New utility lets system consoles talk
Horner Consulting, a company that promises to support HP
3000s as long as customers are using them, has released software that
lets your system console talk to the 3000's SYSLOG utility. President
Ron Horner explains that "SYSLOG is a program that sends
messages to wherever you need them. HP 3000 system console messages
can only be displayed on the console, located near your HP 3000
system. Until now, there has never been a software solution to the
age-old question. "How can I read my HP console messages without
having to be at the system console?" LOGSENDR is your solution
to that question. LOGSENDR reads your HP 3000's console log files and
sends them to SYSLOG."
Horner suggests that Ecometry users can send console messages
to a specific logon. "This way there is no need to allow someone
access to what could be dangerous system commands." Other
customers using programs such as Hillary Software's Nightwatch can
send console messages to a server running Nightwatch. These kinds of
programs can then process the messages and send alerts if needed.
Sites with multiple systems can use LOGSENDR to send console
messages to a corporate IT center. "This way you can monitor
your off-site systems in the same way as your on-site systems,"
Horner said. "For users who audit their systems, console
messages can be sent to files for later examination." Horner
said customers can have LOGSENDR "for the non-budgetbreaking
price of $500 for an unlimited site license." More details are
at the company's Web site, horner.horner.home.mindspring.com.
HP's credit looks bad, according to Fortune
Fortune Magazine which unlike its rival Forbes didn't
put CEO Carly Fiorina on its cover a year ago published an
article saying that HP's credit status has slipped to the junk heap.
In the wake of the Enron meltdown that pummeled that Fortune 10
company into bankruptcy over its debt, Wall Street is looking for
earlier signs that a company might be on the ropes. The Fortune
article "Caught Off Balance" describes a company that had
the earliest data on the Enron debt troubles, bond-rating service
Egan-Jones. The service said that HP's ability to cover its debt has
slipped from 19 to 6.6 over the last 15 months. At a ratio of 1,
everything a company earns would have to go to paying its debt
While the Fortune article didn't predict that HP will be
turning into the next Enron, the radical change in debt at the
company HP once carried little long-term debt is
another example of changes at the supplier of HP 3000 hardware and
software. Egan-Jones president Sean Egan is quoted in the article as
saying of HP "Today it is hard to name any business where it's
the undisputed leader -- even its printer business is being
attacked." When customers consider what they might be losing in
the departure of the supplier from their 3000 community, the strength
of that supplier's finances must be taken into account. You can read
Egan's quotes in the Fortune article in context at the magazine's Web
Things you might miss most on HP-UX
Subscriber and careful reader Stan Sieler sent us a note
after our last Online Extra broadcast, commenting on the free C++
compiler for the HP 3000 we'd brought up in that issue. Sieler is a
3000 developer with plenty of time under his belt in the HP-UX
environment, the one HP is recommending most strongly for 3000
customers who choose to migrate.
Sieler noted that his company, Allegro Consultants, provides
support for the C++ compiler that's going to live on beyond HP's
support of the 3000, the GNU C++. You can get more details on the
support -- offered in a partnership of Allegro and DIS
International's Mark Klein, who ported the C++ compiler to the 3000
years ago -- by browsing to www.gccsupport.com. Allegro also
sells products for the HP-UX environment, so Sieler's comments on
using HP 9000s aren't based on a lack of experience. He told us what
he misses most about developing on and administering computers which
aren't HP 3000s:
"The things I miss the most on HP-UX / Linux:
- MPE's "PID" (extended PIN ... every process is
assigned a unique value, guaranteed not to be re-used during this
bootup) ...it allows applications to keep track if they've seen a
specific process before (or not). You can see kludges in HP-UX
because they don't have this concept.
- (controlled) ability to run privileged code outside of
the kernel. We don't use this all the time on MPE, but the lack of
it means that certain classes of enhancements/products can't be done
outside the HP-UX / Linux kernel."
There's even more to miss in HP-UX, according to another
Allegro developer. Gavin Scott has become an advocate of Linux as
opposed to HP-UX, and he offered these comments on the HP Unix
"It's a shock to have to go back to HP-UX from Linux
these days because most of the tools one takes for granted on Linux
just aren't there out-of-the-box on HP-UX and have to be acquired,
possibly built, and installed as needed. Having a full Linux install
is cool, because chances are if you read about some nifty tool
somewhere, you'll find that you already have it fully installed and
ready to go."
Linux: Where are the applications?
Linux is getting more scrutiny by the HP 3000 community after
HP's Nov. 14 announcement, but a rich bed of available applications
might not be this year's reason to migrate to the Open Source
environment. The author of our December article on Linux
distributions, Shawn Gordon, passed along this note on where IT
managers might find applications for a shift into Linux. Gordon's
company, thekompany.com, is building financial applications for the
Linux market. He warned us that Linux today will feel a lot like the
"Now the problem with Linux is that it's like the 3000,
utility-rich and application-poor. That is one of the things that I
am trying to solve with my company. That was why I mentioned sourceforge.com and freshmeat.net as resources --
they have pretty much everything that is available under the sun. For
almost anything you want, there is a project at some level of
work." As one example, you might check out the article on
available financial applications (it's dated from August) at freshmeat.net/articles/view/269.
New Powerhouse makes PDL from IMAGE
The latest version of Powerhouse for MPE/iX, 8.39,
reintroduces a feature from the 4GL's past: the ability to make a
Powerhouse dictionary from an IMAGE schema. Cognos' Bob Deskin
reported on the Powerhouse mailing list:
"The latest version of PowerHouse on MPE/iX, 8.39
introduces ITOP, a utility that will generate a PDL source file from
an IMAGE database. It's similar in operation to the old ITOQ that was
available in pre-PDL days."
Years ago Powerhouse administrators were able to create a
dictionary from an IMAGE root file, before Cognos switched to its PDL
format. The company is also looking at supporting some newer
features, too. A recent message on the mailing list asked if any
customers would find it useful to have Powerhouse support PostgreSQL,
the Open Source database that's been ported to the HP 3000.
A free FTP Client, cross-platform
Whisper Technology has released a free FTP client which
supports multiple platforms including the HP 3000, so customers who
are shifting resources to other environments can have a GUI client
that's consistent across all their computers, however long they may
be in service.
Graham Wooley of Whisper sent us this note:
"To help with your migration plans, Whisper Technology
are pleased to announce that FTP Surfer is now FREE.
"FTP Surfer is a professional FTP client featuring an
Internet Explorer style user interface including an address bar,
history, and favorites menu. Features include multiple server
connections, drag-and-drop, server file editing (using notepad),
smart reconnect for unreliable connections, find-in-files, HTTP
downloads, "execute FTP commands directly," and "Send
To" menu support.
"FTP Surfer supports Unix, NT, VMS and HPe3000 platforms
and is FREE (it incorporates a small banner ad for our Programmer
Studio editor). FTP Surfer is a complimentary solution to SAMBA, and
will help you manage files on your network.
You can download FTP Surfer from www.ftpsurfer.com."
CAMUS hosts manufacturing conference
HP 3000 sites using either MANMAN or eXegySys solutions, or
their own home-grown applications for ERP, can attend this year's
conference of CAMUS, the Computer Applications for Manufacturing User
Society. The four-day conference is May 19-22 in Denver at the Hyatt
Regency Tech Center www.techcenter.hyatt.com,
where CAMUS has set aside rooms at $109 a night. Early bird
registration ends Feb. 28 and is $850, or only $700 if you're a CAMUS
member. This conference doesn't focus exclusively on HP 3000
technologies, which might be a blessing if you're charged with trying
to move your HP 3000 ERP applications off to another platform. More
information is available at the CAMUS Web site, www.camus.org.