HP offers updates on MPE improvements
Response to ballot requests approves seven requests, delays
When a talking dog drops a few lines of a
Shakespearean sonnet, few would quibble about the omission. 3000
customers were taking the same view of HPs response to the
tactical items on this years HP 3000 Systems Improvement Ballot
(SIB). Like the talking dog, the concept of HP continuing to enhance
a server it no longer sells seemed a miracle more important than
which enhancements are left out.
HPs Jeff Vance, the engineer who acts as
spokesman for many lab-related decisions about the 3000s
future, posted a reply about the 2004 SIB late in May. HP decided to
go ahead with seven of the 18 customer requests from the tactical
part of the ballot. An eighth item is being partially fulfilled,
though HP announced no timetable for delivering any of the
improvements. Two other requests can be fulfilled with CI scripting
workarounds, HP said.
At this time we intend to fully or partially
implement seven out of the top 15 requested items, Vance said,
including the top two items: network printing
and FTP security enhancements.
Updates on the strategic section of the SIB
which asked for eight things like un-crippling the processors in the
A-Class and N-Class servers have been promised for the August
HP World show. We have incorporated the Strategic SIB items
into our business planning process and will give you an update at HP
World, Vance said.
Green light on green bar
The biggest project appears to be enhancements to
network printing on the server. HP said it is planning on
implementing a way to let MPE/iX network printing work with
non-HP printers. The language HP used to confirm its projects all
used the In plan term, but didnt add much detail
beyond restating the language of the SIB request.
Network printing upgrades were the top vote-getter in
the SIB tactical ballot, marked by 223 customers and partners this
spring. (The ballot results are online at the Interex Web site,
www.interex.org/ advocacy/survey/2004mpe_results.html.) First-rate
MPE/iX support for non-HP printers is already available to the market
through solutions such as RAC Consultings Printpath and
HPs efforts already look to be loaded with chances to fall shy
of the total support that third-party solutions already provide.
The networked printing request will be satisfied if
HP [does] no device status checking and reporting, failure
recovery, imbedded PCL sequences, or handling of CCTL
information. But HP was revisiting the request that customers
first asked for in the late 1990s. HP cited the third-party solutions
back then when it said it wouldnt make networked printing
inside MPE/iX any better. Improved network printing, by either a
third-party solution or HPs engineering, can eliminate the need
for DTC controllers, technology that is fading even faster than the
Other requests that got the HP green light were
improvements in FTP services; source trees and build scripts for open
source parts of MPE/iX like Samba; CI functions for device info,
spoolfile info and volume info; and partial approval of
providing a privileged program which reports the [SCSI drive]
Customers also asked for a way to update the drive
firmware on their 3000 disks, but HP said The updating aspect
of this item will be addressed as part of our business
decision-making to be announced at HP World.
FTP improvements will be more limited in scope than
some customers hoped for. We plan on a full implementation of
the ftpusers file and a partial implementation of the ftpaccess
file, Vance said in his reply. At this point, after a
brief investigation, we believe we can support the following features
controlled by ftpaccess: Noretrieve, log commands, log transfers,
deny option, and banner option. Noretrieve seems to be the most
desired ftpaccess feature.
HP will also build CI VOLINFO functions similar to
FINFO and JINFO.
Two requests for system-level CI variables can be
addressed through scripts that HP has made available to users on the
Internet. There is a script on Jazz which basically implements
this feature very closely to an earlier internal design, Vance
said, at jazz.external.hp.com/
src/scripts/sysvars.txt. Documentation is also available for the
script on the HP Jazz Web site.
Another script workaround delivers
the ability for the SHOWJOB command to see all jobs in a job queue,
the No. 9 request on the SIB ballot results. There is a script
on Jazz which we believe meets most users needs, Vance
said, at jazz.external.hp.com/src/scripts/showj.txt.
HP said it is still investigating the No. 8 request
to allow MPE/iX applications to send SCSI commands directly to SCSI
devices not supported by MPE/iX. We are currently investigating
this item to fully understand what the limits and restrictions are in
MPE so we can communicate these restrictions and validate that this
request, given the constraints, is still desired, Vance said in
No plans, or later updates
Gigabit LAN capability was the highest ranking
request that HP reported no plans to engineer. Customers
and advocates all agreed the project had little chance of earning a
green light, given the scope of engineering HP would have to dedicate
to the project. The 3000 will remain at 100-Base-T bandwidth for
HP also turned down requests to upgrade its Java
implementation for the 3000; create local CI variables; add a
filecode for Perl scripts so MPE/iX could automatically run the
scripts; and create ACDs for root, accounts and MPE group directories
for better security.