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November 2002

Net.digest summarizes helpful technical discussions on the comp.sys.hp.mpe Internet newsgroup and 3000-L mailing list. Advice here is offered on a best-effort, Good Samaritan basis. Test these concepts for yourself before applying them to your HP 3000s.

Edited by John Burke

As promised, our normal technical programming returns after devoting last month’s column to ranting and raving about HP, Interex and HP World 2002. But before I get started, a quick update on the press exclusion fiasco at HP World.

Interex circulated a letter in early October apologizing for agreeing to exclude the press at HP’s behest from the roundtables, and promising not to do it again. But there is still no explanation from HP about why it asked to have the press excluded. Right after HP World I sent e-mails to a number of HP execs including the “Ask Carly” address requesting an explanation. Within a day I received my only reply. It came from Ann Livermore. She promised to pass on my request to HP PR for an answer. That was one month ago. Since then I’ve sent two follow up e-mails, but still no response. Come on HP, fess up.

Apparently energized by HP World, people posted a ton of off-topic and wildly off-topic postings this month. Therefore, I am going to concentrate on some short but important threads that may have been overlooked.

As always, I would like to hear from readers of net.digest and Hidden Value. Even negative comments are welcome. If you think I’m full of it or goofed, or a horse’s behind, let me know. If something from these columns helped you, let me know. You can reach me at john@burke-consulting.com.

Missing console messages

The problem: “We recently installed an N-class machine and have an interesting problem. We do not get any messages on the system console. No tape mounts, no TELLOPs, nothing. The system otherwise seems to be operating just fine. You can answer console messages, but the only way to see them is with the RECALL command. Does anyone have any ideas what is causing this?”

There is a software product that has been lurking around since Micro3000 days called EasyTime (docs.hp.com/mpeix/pdf/B1940-90005.pdf) that seems to cause more problems then it solves; mostly because few people have ever heard of it. Actually, it’s pretty cool but suffered from being a green screen application at a time when client-server GUIs were becoming all the rage. Today, if it doesn’t have a GUI or Web interface, many people will not even give a product a look.

What does Easytime do? Easytime can be used at the console by the system manager or operator or can be used from any session by any user (subject to security). With Easytime, you can manage files, spool files, jobs, sessions, perform full and partial backups, sort and display system information, use its extensive HELP facility and review messages and reply to requests from the system. It is this last item that causes all the trouble; i.e. causes console messages to go missing. Once Easytime is enabled, it traps these messages and they do not go to the console. This is what happened to the system manager who posted the question. Once he disabled Easytime, everything returned to normal.

The early history of the HP 3000

As the 3000’s 30th anniversary hits this month, this posting seems most timely. I had forgotten about this until someone posted it on 3000-L: Chris Edler’s paper on the early years of the HP 3000. It is described as “a fascinating history of Hewlett-Packard’s HP 3000 project — from the very first design specs, through early testing, a catastrophic recall, and through the final delivery of the first production-quality HP 3000 system.” It is particularly fascinating now that HP has decided to put the HP 3000 out to pasture. Read the article at http://www.3kassociates.com/papers/hp3000_history.html.

Moving files to other systems

This thread started out with the following question, “Does anyone have a workable method for compressing a file on a HP 3000 and uncompressing it on a Windows box?”

Craig Lalley suggested LZW, available at www.allegro.com/software/hp3000/lzw.html. Lalley noted that he has also successfully used PKZIP, courtesy of Neil Harvey & Associates, and available at http://www.3kassociates.com/index_software.html.

Porter extraordinaire Lars Appel, who first gave us Samba, added that “zip and unzip from InfoZIP are available for MPE/iX as well. If they don’t have the download for MPE/iX on their Web site (it is probably next to the HP-UX download), you can find a .tar.Z on the ‘Web Starter Kit 2.0 Beta’ page at www.editcorp.com/personal/lars_appel. Oh, and InfoZIP is also available for Windows, of course. It is the freeware counterpart of shareware/commercial tools like PKZIP or WinZIP.”

Finally, Jeff Woods chimed in with “An ‘all-MPE’ solution would be to use the command

:xeq tar.hpbin.sys ‘cvzf ./TARZFILE /SYS/PUB/SOMEFILE ./MYFILE’

In this command, ‘cvzf’ breaks down to

c – create

v — verbose (list files archived)

z — compress (ala ‘.Z’ used by ‘compress’)

f — archive filename (used to specify the tarfilename)

“The filename arguments to tar will all be interpreted from a POSIX perspective, so I find it least confusing to simply use the ‘escaped syntax’ when dealing with HPBIN.SYS utilities from the CI’s command line. From the POSIX shell it’s simpler to use because that’s the environment for which the syntax is optimized.

“When sending this type of file to an environment with long filenames, I’d rename it something ending in ‘.tar.Z’ to follow the usual conventions. If you do so, WinZip will recognize that it’s compressed, open it and ask if you want to open the enclosed tar archive. It’s very painless.

“In addition to .zip and other PC-oriented file extensions, WinZip recognizes and handles .tar .tar.Z .taz .tar.gz .tgz and other file formats and related filename extensions. Note that .taz is an alias for ..tar.Z and .tgz is short for .tar.gz (for environments that only support 8.3 filenames).”

Thanks to Jeff for that comprehensive posting. Of course, if you are moving files from the HP 3000 to Unix or Linux, then compressed ‘tar’, combined with FTP, are probably the tools of choice for multiple and/or large files. For a handful of small files, straight FTP will probably do the trick. Migrating IMAGE databases to other platforms has become something of a cottage industry with a number of ISV offerings either already available or in the works. If there is interest, I will do a future story on the available options.

New version of 7.5 manual only available online

In a posting to 3000-L from Jeff Vance: “In an effort to keep you informed, please note that the MPE/iX System Software Maintenance Manual (SSMM), for MPE/iX Release 7.5, has been revised to incorporate some minor release version numbers. In order to provide easier access to this manual as well as faster updates and searching technology, we have decided to offer this manual in an on-line format only. If your business needs require a hard copy version of this document, one can easily be printed from the on-line version.

“The new part number for this manual is 30216-90344 and is only available on the hp.docs.com Web site. HP will not reprint the hardcopy due to the very minor changes at this time. Please refer to www.docs.hp.com/mpeix/pdf/30216-90344.pdf in order to download and print a copy of this manual.”

As a practical matter, something like this is not a big deal any more. When I’ve taught the Managing Patches seminar at recent HP e3000 Solutions Symposiums I’ve highly recommended printing selected pages from the PDF of the SSMM for any specific task. For example, creating a customized workbook for applying a PowerPatch lessens the possibility of error caused by flipping through the SSMM while performing the task.

Everything you wanted to know about file codes

Every now and then a question comes up about file code mnemonics. What you may have missed is that Stan Sieler has been the unofficial keeper of file code mnemonics, both HP and third party, since the early days of MPE XL. Stan and others observed that file code mnemonics were handled in more than one location within the OS.

Furthermore, third party vendors were starting to use specific file codes to mean something to their applications or utilities. This led in some cases to contradictions and in other cases to situations where one command recognized a particular mnemonic, while another command did not. For more information than you probably want, go to www.allegro.com and look for FMTFCODE.

Passive mode and FTP

A user writes: “I’m trying to FTP from my N-Class 220 to an NT box, but it consistently fails. We tried the same FTP using Reflection FTP. If we check the box ‘USE PASSIVE MODE’ under the ‘Advanced’ tab of the ‘Properties’ screen, the FTP will work. What is PASSIVE MODE and how can I use it on my HP e3000?”

Jeff Kell provided a nice explanation of passive mode: “You very likely have a firewall issue. Normally FTP uses a command channel (client to host port 21) and a data channel (host port 20 to client) for actual transfers. This requires some firewall symmetry in configuration to allow outbound connections to port 21 (the easy part) but allows inbound connections FROM outside on port 20 (the hard part, as ideally you only want to permit them when there is a matching command channel open to the same host). Passive mode sneaks around this and doesn’t require a ‘matching hole’ in your firewall. Passive mode was relatively obscure until the advent of the Web browser, which generally uses passive mode by default (to avoid firewall issues).”

It turns out passive mode is a relatively recent enhancement to MPE/iX’s FTP that is available in the patches FTPGD92A (MPE/iX 6.5) and FTPGD93A (MPE/iX 7.0). Neither requires an UPDATE, just a restore of files from a tape created by Patch/iX. Thus adding this enhancement is a simple, non-disruptive process creating no downtime.

There is no FTP patch listed for MPE/iX 7.5, so hopefully this enhancement made the mainline release (if you have a 7.5 system, just go into FTP.ARPA.SYS, issue the HELP command and look for the “passive” command to see if you have this capability). FTP has undergone a number of enhancements and bug fixes over the last two years, so you should try to make sure you are on the latest patch for your version of MPE/iX.

Patch/iX versioning

In early October, I posted the following to 3000-L: “I don’t know when this was changed, but note that the Patch/iX download page at the ITRC no longer tells you the current version of Patch/iX for your OS version. What this means in practice is you now need to download Patch/iX every time you want to use it — unless of course you like living life dangerously. Bummer. The laziness of someone at HP now causes the customer to potentially waste 10-15 minutes or so every time he wants to apply a patch.”

Several people suggested viewing the timestamps to determine if a new version is available. However, that soon proved a waste of time, since the distributions showed a much more recent timestamp than the actual release. I wrote a feedback note to the ITRC — and got a reply that did not address my complaint, and then proceeded to give wrong information about Patch/iX. Chalk it up to one more deficiency in the ITRC.

Sendmail and WebWise available for 7.0

From Mark Bixby: “The Sendmail A.01.00 and WebWise A.03.00 versions currently shipping in 7.5 mainline FOS are now available as 7.0 beta FOS patches SMLGDT8A and WBWGDT7A. Please open a Response Center call if you would like to receive these beta patches. Please also read the patch text in WBWGDT7A carefully before installation as there are migration considerations when updating from older versions of Apache and WebWise.”

Also from Mark: “Sendmail was discussed during SIGMPE at HP World last week, and due to popular demand I am going to investigate issuing a patch to officially make Sendmail available to customers still on 6.5.”

It may be too late, but towards the end of October, Mark reported that “A submit window for 7.0 PowerPatch 2 will be closing next month, and the 7.0 Sendmail patch SMLGDT8(A) is currently NOT eligible because it is still in BT beta status. If you would like to see Sendmail get included in 7.0PP2, then SMLGDT8(A) needs more customers to install it so it can achieve GR status and thus make it into PP2. The code in this patch is identical to what is currently shipping in 7.5.”


Many of us went through a time change at the end of October from Daylight Savings to Standard. For most of us, it was an uneventful experience. However, if you had a multi-processor A500 on 7.0 PP1, it may have been anything but uneventful. Consider this posting and the response from Bill Cadier:

First, from the customer: “I’m at the office Sunday morning because of a SYSTEM ABORT 1047 SUBSYS 101 and SYSTEM HALT 7, $0417 that occurred suspiciously close (27 minutes in ‘time correction’) to our setting the clock (from TIMEZONE=E2:00 to E1:00). I had to power off/on to boot. We have an A500-200 on MPE/iX 7.0 PP1.”

Bill Cadier: “An SA1047 is a page absence trap while interrupts are disabled. There is a GR patch MPEMXA0A that resolves such an abort seen to occur on A500s after either SETCLOCK is run or the SHOWCLKS Telesup utility is run. The patch text reads:

‘SA1047 or SA818 can occur on multiprocessor A500s when interrupts are inappropriately left disabled in the EIEM. This problem can be seen in various ways, including running the SHOWCLKS utility, which can trigger an SA1047, and in some cases, SA818s have been seen after using the :SETCLOCK command.’

“The patch is available for download at the ITRC.”

If I were the person “at the office Sunday morning,” I’d be screaming now. I checked the ITRC and it appears the patch first made an appearance this summer. The question I have for HP is why wasn’t the critical nature of this patch publicized in a general fashion, since many people were going to be doing the very thing that could lead to an SA at the end of October? Why was nothing said at HP World?

I find this very disturbing. Since mid-summer I have received dozens of pieces of marketing material about various aspects of migration and how I can spend my money on HP and its partners. It would have been nice to receive a warning about this system vulnerability. Come to think of it, nice has nothing to do with it. HP should have notified everyone — period.

John Burke is the founder of Burke Consulting and Technology Solutions (www.burke-consulting.com), which specializes in system management, consulting and outsourcing. John has over 25 years experience in systems, operations and development, is co-chair of SIGMPE, and has been writing regularly about HP e3000 issues for over 10 years. You can reach him at john@burke-consulting.com.

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