A welcome enhancement to MPE systems introduced with MPE/iX 4.0
was support for network nameservers. This allows an HP3000 to
automatically "ask" a network nameserver for the correct
network address for a given system name. Nameservers operate by
their own network protocols, synchronize themselves automatically,
and automatically pass "queries" on to nameservers responsible
for the specified part of the network. In a network growing and
changing as fast as the Internet, this is the only way to keep
up with the changes and get accurate responses to name lookups.
And now, thanks to the volunteer efforts of Mark Bixby of Coast Community
College, your HP3000 can *be* a nameserver. Mark ported the public domain
"BIND" nameserver. It's only available for MPE/iX systems (not
classic HP3000s) but it's free and can be downloaded off the Internet. See
our main web page (www.3kassociates.com) for information on how to get it.
Now that you have a system's address, how do you (or your system)
get there? Internet "packets" are sent on their way
with merely a source network address, destination network address,
protocol number, and data. Each packet may pass through a thousand
machines before it gets to it's eventual destination, and the
rapid changes on the Internet and traffic congestion mean that
no two packets going from point A to point B necessarily take
the same route.
Just "routing" data packets around the Internet is quite
a task, and in fact involves some sophisticated software and Internet
standard protocols to get the job done. While this is not the
place to go into the routing algorityhms and protocols (especially
since the HP3000 doesn't implement them!) we'll just assure you
that there are many many systems out there whose job it is to
get packets from one place to another, implementing protocols
like "RIP", "EGP", "BGP", and several
others. Since your HP3000 doesn't support any of these, in order
for the HP3000 to communicate with the rest of the world, it basically
hands this task off to another system on your network. This utilizes
a feature called the "default route". All the complicated
Internet routing protocols require keeping (and frequently updating)
large network routing tables; systems that don't implement these
protocols often simply designate another system that does as their
"default route", sending all packets that it doesn't
know how to otherwise route to this system to forward on its behalf.
In the case of your local HP3000, you're going to need to set
up a "default" route (using NMMGR) that points to some
other system on your network that supports full packet routing;
this can be your router if it is capable, or a Unix system running
the "gated" program, or most commercial Internet providers
will provide you the address of such a system in their network
as part of your subscription. MPE/V and MPE/iX systems can both
designate default routes, and both are done in the same screen
though MPE/V requires some special codes to enter in the screen.
As shown in the accompanying illustration (figure 3), you designate
a default route by designating a "gateway" system in
NMMGR, and entering "@" for the list of reachable networks
for that gateway (for MPE/V the values are not as straightforward;
contact HP or myself for details if you need to do this). Once
this is accomplished, and you restart your network (or at least
:NETCONTROL UPDATE the routing information) your system can now
"reach out and touch someone." A note; if you don't
have the default route in place, you need to have individual routes
to any system or network you need to reach - not very practical
if you're connecting to the Internet. If you don't have a "route"
defined for a given network, you might see that machines (or at
least their message packets) can get to you, but your HP3000 can't
respond (no TCP/IP service can be started without some response
from the recipient, so though packets can get to you, if you can't
send them back then no TCP/IP based service can work). This can
well be an effective means of isolating your HP3000 from the world
as well; if you don't set up the "default route", no
outside networks can reach you.
Your HP3000 is now speaking the same language as the rest of the
computing world (TCP/IP) and knows how to reach any computer system
out there; now you just need to give it something to say and tell
it who you want it to talk to out there. This comes back to one
of the classic questions "Why would I want to connect to
the Internet; what would I do if I was connected?" The answer,
for the HP3000 at least, is multiple choice, and any (or all)
answers can be correct.
Telnet (Interactive host login access).
Telnet is the worldwide standard protocol for accessing computer
systems (interactively logging on and performing tasks) over a
network connection. The HP3000 can both act as a server (recipient
of telnet connections) and a client (thanks to the recent telnet
client developed and contributed by Dave Elward) where HP3000
users can connect to other computer systems that support telnet
access. The telnet client is free; you can get it from Jeff Kell's
ftp site (off the Internet) and probably from Interex's CSL as
well. That's the good news. The telnet server capability requires
special hardware in an HP DTC (distributed terminal controller).
In actuality you telnet to the DTC, which then lets you connect
to an HP3000 (or any other computer it's set up to talk to). Contact
HP for details on telnet servers for your HP3000. (Rumor has it
that HP is finally relenting, and plans to implement a telnet
server residing entirely on the HP3000 but I have no details on
Telnet clients are also readily available for almost all makes
and models of PCs, Macs, and workstations, including several public
domain (free) packages available (you guessed it; on the Internet).
Remember though, that if you're telnet'ing to an HP3000 and expect
to run all those nice applications on the HP3000 (like V/Plus
blockmode applications perhaps?) that you'll need a telnet client
that emulates HP terminals, and the only ones I've seen that do
this are the commercial clients like WRQ's, Unison-Tymlabs', and
FTP (File Transfer).
FTP is the Internet's file transfer protocol. It allows transfer
to and from FTP servers from FTP "clients". HP provides
both an FTP server and client for the HP3000 as part of their
ARPA Services package - which comes bundled with MPE/iX 5.0.
3k Associates provides the Office Extend an FTP client and server
for the HP3000, which among other things gives you much better security and
access controls, and also supports anonymous ftp (which HP's server currently
Again, FTP clients are available for most every hardware platform
you can think of, including public domain clients and some nice
commercial implementations with GUIs and drag/drop capability
for Macs or Windows users.
SMTP (Electronic Mail).
There are several electronic mail packages that will get you connected
to the Internet by going through another commercial network (like
MCI Mail or AT&T Mail) but only two that give you direct SMTP
capability for your HP3000; HPDesk with HPOpenmail or the NetMail/3000
FSC gateway, and the NetMail/3000 (standalone) mail system. HPDesk
with Openmail passes messages from the HP3000 to an HP9000 system
to handle SMTP, UUCP, or (optionally) X.400 mail transfer. NetMail/3000's
FSC gateway operates entirely on the HP3000 and provides SMTP
mail transfer for HPDesk users, and is also the only e-mail system
for the HP3000 that supports the MIME standard (multimedia enhancements
to SMTP that allow transport of binary attachments or 8-bit character
set messages to any other platform). NetMail/3000's standalone
system allows HP3000 users to send and receive Internet compatible
e-mail, and also includes a POP2 server (POP is another Internet
e-mail protocol for retrieving e-mail from a PC, Mac, or workstation
client). With POP2, you can use any POP2 compatible client to
manage your e-mail, while the HP3000 acts as a server accepting
and holding your messages until you retrieve them.
Contact HP for information on Openmail and 3k Associates for information
SMTP compatible mail packages or gateways are also available for
almost every computer platform on the market. POP2 clients (both
commercial and public domain) are also available for almost every
HTTP (World Wide Web Servers).
Almost anyone who has had exposure to the Internet is familiar with
the World Wide Web. Some even mistakenly refer to the Internet as
Not to be left out, there are several world wide web servers available
for the HP3000 platform. The first was a port of the freeware NCSA httpd
server back in 1994. Still available from several web servers on the Internet
(see our public domain software area on www.3kassociates.com for details) it does an
adequate job of serving up web (html) documents. Not very fast, nor with the
bells and whistles of other servers, it often serves as a "test drive"
server - something to show management that the 3000 can really be a web
server. After the initial thrill wears off though, you'll need to look into
other server options, as the NCSA server can be painfully slow and eats alot
of cpu cycles on your 3000. A better long-term choice might be the OpenMarket
server (sold by HP) which is 3 to 10 times faster and uses much fewer
resources on the system. It also has better logging options, some page
redirection capabilities (for example, as we do on our main www.3kassociates.com page,
if your browser supports frames, you automatically get a frame-enabled page),
and it's supported by someone (as opposed to the freeware options). There is
even a version of the server (supposedly) that supports secure (encrypted)
web transactions. The bad news is that support from OpenMarket has always
been spotty and rumor has it that they will stop supporting the HP3000 port
of their package altogether.
Another supported server option is the QWEBS server from QSS. This
server is unique in that it (1) doesn't require posix (or MPE/iX) and (2)
it can directly call HP3000 applications (even SL/XL routines). Also, since
QSS is a long-time committed HP3000 vendor, they're not likely to stop
supporting their product. (And at only about $500, it's a good deal anyway).
We should note that while all the web servers will allow you to execute
HP3000 applications, all the others only support posix/hfs files, which
usually means you'll need to write some C or perl code to work with them.
Finally, the newcomer to the HP3000 arena (but not to the web) is the
Apache web server, ported to the HP3000 by Mark Bixby. This server is the
most popular web server on the Internet (immensely popular on Unix
platforms) and has all the bells and whistles of the web-serving world. It's
also an efficient (resource wise) server, and though there is no
"official" support available, this server has alot of man-hour
resources behind it, and enhancements come out on a regular basis. (Since
Mark's port results were fed back to the people maintaining the official
releases, all subsequent releases should compile and run on the HP3000
without modification). It's only downsides are that (1) it's a posix
application, so be ready for some C or perl programming to integate your
in-house applications, and (2) it's shell scripts only function on MPE/iX
5.5 or later, so it's not an ideal choice for even 5.0 systems (and not a
choice at all for systems on releases earlier than that).
Gopher (Information retrieval protocol).
Gopher is an information retrieval protocol used to find resources
or information on the network. Information is presented to the
user as a simple menu, with each menu selection being either a
new piece of information (file) somewhere on the network, or a
pointer to a sub-menu. By traversing organized menus users can
easily find indexed information from around the world (gopher
allows each menu item to be on any computer system; local or remote).
The only publicly available commercial gopher server is available from
3k Associates. There is also a public domain gopher client available via
ftp from opus.admin.utc.edu or www.3kassociates.com.
Gopher clients (both commercial and public domain) are available
for many other platforms.
Finger (User lookup/simple query protocol).
Finger is a network protocol where a user can provide a simple
user name or search string and a server responds with the user's
information (name, phone#, mailbox name, etc.) or a response to
the query. A few (contributed) finger clients and servers are
available from the folks on the HP3000-L list on the Internet
as well as Interex's CSL. 3k Associates also provides a free finger
client as well, and bundles a finger server with NetMail/3000.
Finger servers and clients are also available for many platforms,
both as public domain programs and as part of commercial packages.
A Sample Configuration
Just to show you it can be done and doesn't have to cost a fortune,
I'll outline an actual configuration I set up to get our network
of HP3000s talking to the Internet. While this example doesn't
apply to everyone, I provide it as an example to show how easy
it can be.
First, the ingredients. A local area network (ethernet using coax
cable). A couple MPE/V HP3000s and an HP3000/917lx. A couple of
PCs on the network also, though only one is directly involved.
Figure 4 demonstrates the network.
The important piece here is that lowly PC running MS Windows and
NetManage's Chameleon TCP/IP for Windows. The PC happened to be
equipped with a 14,400 baud external modem. Chameleon lets this
PC perform all its normal tasks, while also managing a SLIP or
PPP link in the background. Not only this, but it also acts as
a simple router, routing TCP/IP traffic between any machines on
the local network and the Internet, and all this for $99 (actual
list price for their package is about $400 I believe, but I picked
up a copy at their booth at a trade show for $99). The package
also includes a telnet client, bind domain nameserver, network
news client, gopher client, ftp client and server, ping client,
finger client, POP2 compatible mailer, whois client, and many
other useful utilities.
To be honest, getting Chameleon configured to perform this routing
was not trivial, and in fairness they don't advertise the package
as a router (in fact, I appeared to have surprised their technical
support people when I got it working). Chameleon requires the
link be opened manually, which is no problem for full time Internet
connections, but can be a concern for part-time connections. Once
opened however, it routes nicely and automatically re-dials and
logs back in if the connection drops. There are several "tricks"
to get the link configured to operate correctly (like configuring
a separate network address for the link itself, among others)
as well as several requirements on the Internet service provider's
end (PPP compression options, routing table entries, and nameserver
Once Chameleon was up and running, I configured our 3000s to point
to it as their "default route" and entered it as a nameserver
on the 917 (in the RESLVCNF.NET.SYS file). Presto --- we're on-line.
Telnet on our 3000s can reach out anywhere in the world, and our
e-mail processes send and receive messages from all over. Reflection's
network software on our PCs can reach out to log into customer
sites for technical support, and our gopher and ftp servers are
available for public access; anytime, anywhere. *Note; for some of the
reasons mentioned we only used this configuration for a short time. As our
Internet useage became more demanding, we soon upgraded to a dedicated
router (a Telebit NetBlazer in fact) and our full-time dialup link is soon
to become a dedicated 56Kb frame relay link.
For those interested in higher-end solutions, dial-up routers
such as Compatible System's, Rockwell's NetHopper and Telebit's Netblazers
provide SLIP or PPP dial-on-demand access with the capability for higher
speed modems. Above that, dedicated routers from Cisco and others
can handle T1 data rates and above, with sophisticated filtering
and automated management capabilities.
By the way, shop around for Internet providers as well. Prices
range widely even in the same areas, and the quality of the links
as well as technical support can make a big difference in your
success on the 'net. A full-time dial-up PPP link to the Internet
in my neighborhood ranges from about $100 per month to over $300
per month with unlimited traffic and baud rates up to 56kb available.
Leased lines range from about $300 for 56k to around $2000 per month
for T1, and several thousand per month for T3 and higher.
The book "Connecting to the Internet" (ISBN:
1-56592-061-9) from O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. is a good
place to start if you're looking for a vendor in your area; find
it in your local computer bookstore, call them at (800) 998-9938,
or e-mail them on the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're interested
in using the Internet for your business, or just curious about
the possibilities, another title to look for is "Doing Business
on the Internet" (ISBN 0-442-01770-7) by Mary J. Cronin.
In any case, advice is free, and you can contact me on the 'net
or otherwise as well, and the HP3000-L mailing list is an invaluable
resource (email to email@example.com). See you on the 'net.
3k Associates technical support
Phone: (703) 569-9189 Fax: (703) 451-3720