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- Report of GEC Managers' Meeting 11 April 1985
- Report of the Prime General Meeting on 17-18 April 1985
IBM's mainline batch operating system, became the production batch operating system at RAL on Monday 22 April. There have been no major problems with the changeover from MVT, partly due to the fact that the Operations staff and the users have for some time been able to use the MVS Trial Service in order to gain experience and overcome problems.
Now that MVS is carrying the production workload we shall begin a tuning exercise on the system. Data management, using ASM2, will start in June. Details of the functions of ASM2 can be found in the RAL MVS Conversion Guide, Users are reminded that their data sets must be catalogued.
MVT will be shut down as soon as possible after a full Graphics service is available under MVS.
Margaret Curtis, MVS Project Manager, Central Computing Division
Systems Software News
MVS went into production on 22 April.
The restrictions on CMS logon passwords have been increased. New passwords are now subject to the following constraints:
- None of the nine most recently used passwords can be re-used.
- The password cannot be the same as, or contain, your CMS identifier.
- The password cannot be the same as, or contain, the reverse of your CMS identifier.
- The password must contain six or more characters. at least two of which must be different.
- Common personal names are not regarded as sufficiently obscure and are not allowed.
You ought to change your password regularly and if it is still the same as your userid you should change it immediately. Do this by issuing the command 'DIRM PW' and replying to the prompts.
It may not be widely known that there is a version of the PROLOG language available in CMS, This is a product from the University of Waterloo in Canada and is executed via a PROLOG EXEC, HELP PROLOG gives some details but the full manual is in PROLOG LISTING on USDOC 193. A new version of PROLOG (14) has just arrived and will be installed by the time you read this.
The NEWS EXEC has been changed so that NEWS (LATEST records the time as well as date of the last news seen. However, since according to one well known reader of FORUM very few people read the news, this may not be of much interest. Why not try putting
EXEC NEWS ( SUMMARY LATEST
into your PROFILE EXEC and watch it do wonders for your knowledge of the system?
Here is a selection of other recent changes to CMS:
- You can have up to 4,000 members in a TXTLIB.
- Data-set names used with OSCOPY don't need dots to be replaced by spaces.
- WHOIS shows you a user's distribution code.
- You can see the status of your reader files on the last 5 nights with RDRSTAT.
- You can use PR6670 to print the current file on the IBM 6670 from within XEDIT, HELP, PEEK, REVIEW and NOTE.
- Finally, that all singing and dancing EXEC from SLAC:CERN called GIME (ugh!), which is RLINK, TDISK and OSDISK rolled into one, is on the way and may be in production by the time you read this.
Tim Pett, System Group, Central Computing Division
Report of the Central Computer Representatives' Meeting
The Central Computing Representatives Meeting on April 22nd was attended by 36 people. It was a lively and useful meeting and this report covers some of the questions raised and provides the considered answers.
We are still concerned that the attendance is low compared with the number of invitations sent out. If we are missing something which you feel would improve the meeting please contact either Dr P J Negus (Chairman) or Dr R Maybury (Secretary).
The morning session consisted of a short report from the chairman followed by talks from four members of Central Computing Division.
Central Computing Division Report, B W Davies
This report covered the following subjects:
- The finance available for Central Computing for the year 85/86.
- The implications of the funds available on the plans for capital expenditure.
- The trends in the use of the central computers over the year 84/85.
The finance falls short of that expected when planning for the coming year in the autumn of 1984. At that time items were marked as essential or desirable and it was expected that the funding would cover all the essential items. The current position is that the following items, all marked essential are covered.
- Outstanding payment for the Atlas-10.
- Comms Front-end to replace the 1270s.
- Extra paging
However one essential item is not covered.
- Controller and 5 G-bytes of disk space.
The trends over the last year which stood out most strongly were:
- Paging Rates. These have doubled
- CPU use during prime shift. The maximum is 100% of the capacity and the average use has increased from 65%, to 85%.
- Active CMS userids. The number of active CMS userids during any week has increased from 700 to 850.
- Simultaneous, active logged on users. The average has increased from 70 to 115 and the maximum from 100 to 160.
The bids we have for the use of the computer this year leave us short of the income agreed as necessary to run the computer and provide the capital necessary for upgrades. Therefore there can be no question of free time when the bids are exhausted. Instead boards will need to purchase extra time if they wish to continue to use the central computers. If such purchases bring us up to the level of income agreed we will be able to reconsider our strategy.
Strategy for Documentation, J J C Hutchinson
It is proposed that we change the way we provide documentation. At present we have large manuals, which are very hard to update when they get out-of-date. The proposal is briefly as follows.
Documents produced at RAL wil1 be short, will cover one topic and will be issued independently. Each document will be kept online and this version will be kept up-to-date. An online system on CMS will enable users to browse the Index of documents by topic or keyword, browse any document and print it (either locally, or centrally on a high quality laser printer). We would also like to provide the ability for non-CMS users to issue enquiries to this system via FTP/MAIL
New users will be given a binder, a basic set of documents and information on all documents available and how to obtain copies of them. Documents (apart from the basic set for new users) will not be issued to users: the onus will be on the users to obtain copies of the documents they want, via the online system or through the documentation office. They will be able to build up a tailor-made manual to suit their own requirements. An index, with a summary for each document, will be sent regularly (annual1y) to all users. A suggested list of documents (including suppliers' manuals) for various app1ications will be available on-line and wil1 be sent out with the index. New and updated documents will be advertised in FORUM and in NEWS.
Each document will have a standard layout and will fit into an overall scheme, and because consistency between the documents is so important, one editor will have overall charge of the system and the final decision on what documents are provided.
- How soon will the new documentation be available?
- We will start with material prepared for the IBM New Users Course. This will be modified to make it into basic documentation for general users and then put up on USDOC. We should be able to start releasing this material by the beginning of June.
- What progress is there on updating the HELP system?
- We are starting work on the HELP INFO MENU which we believe is the most urgent case. This covers topical information not directly related to commands. We would expect old NEWS files which still contain relevant information to be moved to this menu.
- At the same time as updating the text the preparatory work is being done to make the files usable by a front-end to HELP which is being developed at CERN.
- What about manuals to assist with fault finding or resolving programming errors?
- Although we recogise the usefulness of such documents we do not have the effort to produce them at present. They require a different type of expertise from other documentation and the people with this expertise are fully occupied with the advisory service.
- Could acronyms be documented? The jargon in use with respect to computing is very confusing.
- A simple document could be produced and we accept that it is worth doing.
Terminal Access to the IBMs, P M Girard
Three categories of terminals can be connected to the IBM via the X25 network: (1) ASCII (2) 3270 (3) Emulated 3270.
Category (2) can be connected only from a VM system which runs CMS-PAD. The others can be connected via any network PAD (Packet Assembler Disassembler). An emulated 3270 is essentially an ASCII terminal which can be switched automatically into 3270 mode after call set-up.
A Job-status facility for jobs running in the RAL MVS system is available at network address RUCS. TSO is accessible at address RUC or RUCP.
There continue to be serious hardware problems on the link between the IBM and the network via the Memorex 1270. These are believed to be responsible for most losses of contact and for some of the periods of poor response.
The CIFER-3270 terminal is reliable and provides all the full-screen functionality needed by most users. Its main deficiencies are its limited speed and the fact that a network break can leave it hanging in 3270 mode, from which the user must then extricate it manually.
Name Registration Scheme, P E Bryant
This was a general outline of the Name Registration Scheme. Individual sites will he responsible for their own conventions within the framework of the scheme. At RAL the current scheme will be carried over into the short form of the name with the addition of a dot after RL. For example RUB will become RL.IB.
- Why is a full stop necessary between the RL and the IB of RL.IB?
- We must now distinguish between the site (RL) and the entity (IB) to conform to the hierarchy standards.
- Will this imply a change to CMS names files?
- Eventually, after an overlap period, all names files will have to he changed
- Is the use of two characters for the entity likely to prove a serious limitation?
- Two characters are sufficient for the change-over period. We are not bound to this limit for all time.
- Why choose UK for the top level when the ISO standard is GB?
- This mistake was made because people were unaware that a standard existed. Since ISO have decided on GB it may be necessary for NRS to change.
- Can all machines have guest accounts so that other people can log in and find out who uses the machine?
- Free accounts are being removed due to the activities of individuals who have abused such facilities.
This is a small sample of the issues raised In the afternoon meeting.
- How are CMS AUs controlled? The reply to the 'SAM' command tells us we have zero AUs yet we are continuing to use CMS.
- CMS AUs are still controlled by VM although we are aiming to unify CMS and MVS accounting, Category Representatives control the allocations to accounts as they have done for several years.
- Can we have a freeze on all system changes? The last few years have seen the move from ELECTRIC to CMS followed by major changes within CMS. PLANT has been replaced by XPLANT and EXEC by EXEC-2 and finally REXX, Users are now going through the change from MVT to MVS and need a period of stability to enable them to get on with their work. Users are not computer experts but need the computers for their work.
- This question was raised by J Garret of Bristol and received solid support from user representatives at the meeting.
- We do sympathise very strongly with this point of view and hope that users understand that we do not lightly embark on changes. In order to maintain support it is necessary to keep up-to-date with manufacturers' software. Not all changes have forced users to take any action. As an example the older EXEC processors are still supported so that no-one has been forced to change to REXX. Other changes are made in response to requests from users. (We are currently investigating the feasibility of implementing the SLAC Batch System).
- We still have some way to go to complete the current changes. The M860 has yet to be brought into service and we must implement graphics under MVS, After this we do expect a degree of stability.
- I am sure that this is not the last word on this subject. The editor will be delighted to hear from YOU on this or any other subject.
- Why do we have to learn about TSO? Is it planned to have a CMS interface for ACF2 and SAM?
- The problem is that CMS and MVS do not talk to each other. The PAD EXEC does provide a route to TSO from within a CMS session. The RLICS service allows one command and then terminates the session. It does not require the user to log on to TSO, and in fact the user should not try to do so. If there are any practical steps we can take to simplify life for our users then we will be happy to discuss this further.
- There was a discussion on how to make users more aware of NEWS.
- The options are:
- Insert a call to NEWS in STANPROF. (This would probably be the SUMMARY option.)
- Modify the basic Profile issued to new users.
- Leave things as they are.
- The meeting agreed that something should be done but was divided on the best course of action. A change to STANPROF would not suit those users who have already taken action to get the latest news. The simplest course of action is to modify the basic Profile and start new users off along the right lines.
Bob Maybury, User Support and Marketing Group, Central Computing Division
Report of the VAX (VMS) User Group Meeting held on Thursday 4 March 1985
The meeting was as usual well attended with 15 sites represented. Much discussion centred on the status of the X25 networking software distributed by DEC. The meeting welcomed the news that the JNT was to organise a joint meeting of users and suppliers of the software. (This meeting is reported elsewhere in this issue. Ed.) All sites present at the meeting had received VAXCVMS) Version 4.0 and most had received PS1 3.0. DEC reported a delay in the distribution of FTP Version 4.0 due to unavailability of manuals.
Paul Kummer gave a useful introduction to the subject of ETHERNET and John Barlow gave a very interesting presentation on 370 emulators connected to VAX hosts.
Paul Thompson, Head, User Support & Marketing
VAX (VMS) Networking Users' Joint Meeting
A joint meeting of VAX (VMS) networking users from all sections of the academic community together with manufacturers' representatives was held on Thursday 28 March, 1985, at ULCC. The holding of this meeting had been prompted by general concern within the user community over the support and development of the JNT-sponsored coloured book software and had been intended to be a one-off event. However, the absence of any representatives from the software development teams and delays with the latest release of the software meant that the original terms of reference of the meeting, to resolve the current problems and to make firm recommendations regarding future development, could not be met.
It had been decided, despite these restrictions, to hold a meeting in order to establish contact among the different groups concerned and to hold a further meeting at a later date after users had had an opportunity to try out the new software release.
The meeting was chaired by Brian Leigh of the JNT. He outlined the meeting's terms of reference. It was decided to include all VAX (VMS) networking products committed to international standard protocols in addition to the coloured book' software.
The DEC representatives reported on the current status of the VAX 'X25' software products i.e. PSI ('X25') from DEC and the 'coloured book' software written by UWIST St Andrews and now distributed and supported by DEC. The latest version of PSI to run with VMS version 4 had now been delivered and the next version had already been sent for field testing! Nobody had yet received the new release of the 'coloured book' software. DEC explained that this software had been field tested and sent for distribution in February. There had been problems within DEC with the preparation of the documentation for the 'coloured book' software which accounted for the delay.
Concern was expressed that PSI had not been run in field test with the coloured book software to check interworking with non VAX (VMS) (e.g. IBM) systems. Past experiences had demonstrated that many problems came to light when these products were run under heavy load and when interworking with other network software implementations. It was clear from the limited testing that had so far been possible at RAL, using a special pre-release copy of the coloured book software, that this new software release would be no exception.
It had been hoped that DEC would have designated one of the VAX systems at RAL as a field test site. For some reason that had not been possible for this release. DEC were encouraged to make arrangements as soon as possible with RAL to set up a field test system to check networking between VAX (VMS) and other systems on the JANET network.
User reaction to the new software release was limited to the results of preliminary testing at RAL where it was apparent that some serious and several minor problems existed with the new software. Other user comments were limited to the previous versions of the software but it was clear that many were still applicable to the new release.
Support for software outside the UK was discussed. DEC said that their subsidiaries in each country were independent organisations and were separately responsible for software support. DEC UK were unable to help with support problems in places such as CERN and DESY.
JTMP, the Job Transfer and Manipulation Protocol software, will be available with the next release of the 'coloured book' software in the late summer. JTMP will be marketed by DEC as a separate product incurring extra licence and support fees for those sites which want it.
The current status of Cambridge Ring developments was presented by the JNT and CAMTEC. The problems which had delayed the MACE project had now been overcome and the project was due for completion by the end of March. The MACE is a system front-end interface for connecting to Cambridge Rings. CAMTEC described their Unibus and Q-bus Ring interfaces for VAX and micro-VAX systems. Although the CAMTEC hardware may be available earlier it was clear that software at the user interface would not be available for general use before the end of this year.
The meeting concluded by making recommendations for the immediate future development of the VAX networking software. Firstly, support for VAX-cluster systems must be included; secondly, full NRS support should be provided; thirdly, PSI should move to the X25(1984) protocol; fourthly, support for a system as a TS29 host would be desirable and. fifthly, any future enhancements to network mail, apart from fixing bugs, should be undertaken using the international ('X400') mail protocol when that is finally adopted as a standard.
John MacAllister, Oxford University
Report of GEC Managers' Meeting 11 April 1985
The Meeting, held at RAL, was attended by 11 managers. The main points of interest were:-
- The Chairman summarised the plans for the future support of the GEC systems during the Five Year Forward Look. It is intended that software support will gradually be reduced to maintenance only after the introduction of GEC Version 4.15 (plus RAL modifications).
- Concern was expressed about the level of support provided by GEC Engineering, and the apparent lack of working spares. This matter will be raised at the next liaison meeting.
- Mr Jim Diserens has now assumed responsibility for ensuring support is provided for Applications Group supported programs on the GEC systems. Any problems encountered should be reported directly to him at RAL.
- Software support contracts have now been arranged with Cardiff for WS editor support, Glasgow for Operator Documentation and Leicester Poly for CPROLOG, with arrangements well advanced for Bradford to provide testing facilities for PASCAL.
- Future GEC Meetings will combine the previous Managers' and Users' Meetings. The first of these will be held on 5/6 September, when, in addition to the normal discussions, presentations on PROLOG and the WS Editor will be given.
Geoff Lambert, ICF Section, Informatics Division
Report of the Prime General Meeting on 17-18 April 1985
This was the first meeting which attempted to combine the previous Managers and User Meetings. Business for Managers only, including their "private " meeting was dealt with on the afternoon of the 17th and the General Meeting, attended by 38 people, was all day on the 18th. The main points to arise from the General Meeting were:-
- The new format of meeting was successful and in future there will be two, possibly three, such meetings per year replacing the previous pattern of two Managers and two User Meetings. The next meeting will be at RAL on 8/9 October 1985.
- Recent hardware problems, particularly at RAL and UMIST, have caused difficulties for some users. Hopefully these problems have now been resolved.
- New Terms of Reference were agreed by the meeting and these will be forwarded to the RAL User Liaison Committee for approval.
- The Network Name Registration Scheme needs to be implemented for all the ICF machines and this is in hand.
- The complete set of Network Users Notes produced by Angus Goldfinch, who has now left SERC, are available from me if you have not already received a set.
- Old Newbury terminals have been declared unmaintainable because the firm providing the maintenance can no longer obtain new tubes. Where appropriate these terminals will be replaced by a modern device. The Newbury's will be offered to the current holders as a "gift" with no further financial commitment on SERC. If you have such a Newbury you will be contacted in the near future.
- There are also replacements available for old T4010 and Sigma .5600 terminals. Users / sites will be contacted in the near future on this replacement issue.
- The whole of the afternoon session was taken up with presentations and discussions with Prime. They gave talks on their recent restructuring, their UNIX offering (PRIMIX) and their plans for Ethernet implementation. Discussions were based on previously notified issues but other issues raised at the meeting will be answered in writing by Prime.
- The second afternoon of all future meetings will be taken up by various presentations. Suggestions for the October meeting include a progress report on the Single Users System Project, a JANET update, a progress report on the Bush Working Party and a talk on standard Graphics hardware for use with GKS.