Frank Knows his stuff was Re: What is this HP 9000/220?

From: Frank McConnell <>
Date: Sat Jan 3 01:52:43 1998 (Peter Prymmer) wrote:
> I am brimming with curiosity about the MPE OS: What is it like?

ObAdvocacy: <BIFF> K00L3R THAN L1NUX!!!! </BIFF>

It's stable like a rock, and doesn't need a lot of maintenance. You
want a system that can stay up for a year? Choose MPE.

> Having tried to glean some info from the HP web site I can only
> surmise that the target market is mid to large businesses and
> might be comparable to IBM AS/400 or Mainframe type computing
> environments. Am I right?

Yep, pretty much. Historically, 3000s have been aimed at
transaction-processing environments. There have been efforts to push
3000s into office automation roles but they really didn't stick, both
because PCs got cheap and because 3000s (particularly the classics)
really didn't do interactive character terminal I/O very well.

> If that is the case I am curious: does MPE run with ASCII or EBCDIC
> character sets?

ASCII. But there's some presumption (in many applications, including
some of the configuration tools) that you will be using an HP terminal
that supports block mode, which (approximately) lets the application
use the terminal's memory as a buffer for a form, so that the user
can do his editing in the terminal then transmit the completed form
to the 3000 in a fast block transfer.

> Does MPE support a UNIX like environment - even as an option?

If you're running MPE/iX, yes. :RUN SH.HPBIN.SYS and you will get a $

> What is the shell like?

The MPE command interpreter...well, I can't speak for the MPE/iX CI.
I haven't used it enough.

The classic MPE CI is not really like a Unix shell -- there are a
bunch of internal commands that look like they do their own filename
globbing depending on whether they handle filesets or not, there
aren't really pipes (instead there are "message files" which are
sort of record-structured FIFOs with disc-file backing store).

> What is the C compiler like?

For MPE/iX, it's available and seems to be a somewhat modern C compiler
for PA-RISC 1.0. GCC has also been ported to MPE/iX.

At Wollongong, we used a third-party C compiler that sometimes made me
wish SPL supported structure/record declarations. It was a slow compiler,
and it had a really conservative approach to addressing modes...though
I managed to find ways around some of its conservatism.

> Editors?

Well, you get EDIT/3000, which is a line-oriented editor that is
suitable for use on all manner of terminals, even the printing ones.

I believe someone ported MicroEMACS to MPE/iX a while back, and you
definitely get vi with it. There are also several third-party
editors, some in the Interex contributed software library (e.g. QUAD,
which includes a pseudo-screen editing mode) and some commercial
(e.g. Robelle's QEDIT, which lots of 3000 folks swear by).

> How long has it been on the market?

25 years.

-Frank McConnell
Received on Sat Jan 03 1998 - 01:52:43 GMT

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