MPE/iX Release 7.5

In September (2002), Hewlett-Packard released what in all likelihood is the final release of MPE: Release 7.5. Our feeling is that there won’t be enough sites that install or update to 7.5 that it will never reach the critical mass required to identify the problems that exist. Without this critical mass there won’t be enough patches developed for 7.5 to be considered a stable, production quality release. Quite the contrary in fact. With the HP/Compaq merger complete, and another 15,000 layoffs at HP still planned, the number of MPE engineers that will be available to create patches is unclear.

If you are considering updating to 7.0 or 7.5, keep in mind that we will support you on whatever release of MPE that you currently have installed on your system, for as long as you run it. Any decision to update should be made strictly on a business case, not just to be on the “latest and greatest.” That is, what feature exists in the next release that we need to have? What are the benefits? What are the risks? With that in mind, here is a review of some of the new features in Release 7.5.

Newer Hardware Supported

PA8700 Based A- and N-Class Machines, Fibre Channel Adapters, VA7100 and XP512 Disk Arrays via Fibre Channel, HP Surestore Disk System 2300 Most notable in this group is the Fibre Channel Adapters and the VA and XP disk arrays. The potential upside is significant I/O performance throughput compared to FWD-SCSI. This speed differential is mitigated by the fact the Fibre Channel adapters are PCI cards and are only supported in A-class and N-class systems. Running this combination of equipment, a Fibre Channel SAN in an MPE environment, will be a rare configuration indeed. “Rare combination” and “mission critical” typically are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

New Image/SQL Functionality

User Logging Limit Increase. The number of users that can access a single User Log process is increased from 1140 to 2851. This is a nice feature for databases with a large number of users if you are taking advantage of the Image Logging feature.

Most new features in 6.5 and 7.0 have been directly targeted at high-end systems, and these are no exception. Consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks of running a mission-critical system with new database code. And consider how many of the bugs will be identified and fixed prior to HP’s end of support.

LDEV 1 Supports more than 4GB of Disk Space

On the surface this sounds like a really nice feature. But the implementation chosen is fraught with potential pitfalls, especially with regards to backwards compatibility. I won’t include the details of how this was accomplished. But suffice it to say, the problem is with the ISL START program (i.e. the program you run when you enter START NORECOVERY), but they chose to “fix” it within MPE itself. The START program still is limited to the first 4GB of disk. Disk space is so inexpensive, and used 4GB disks are going to be available for quite some time to come, that I would not be concerned with “wasting” disk space by not utilizing all of the disk space when LDEV 1 is larger than 4GB.

Software Included in FOS

WebWise (Apache web server with encryption), Sendmail,, ODBC and JDBC. Sendmail is available as a freeware download today, even without upgrading to 7.5. Apache has been available for several years and WebWise has been a purchased product. ODBC is available on most HP 3000s already. There is no risk with these software items. The advantage is that they are included in the OS where before they were either products that were licensed separately or you had to download and install yourself.

You can read all about these and other features in Release 7.5 in the HP e3000 Communicator at

You will likely be running your system for quite some time to come. Long after HP has stopped maintaining MPE. Our recommendation is to stay on a stable, reliable release rather than updating to a new release of unknown quality of software, and an unknown quantity of future patches.