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RAL Computer User Liaison Committee
The RAL Computer User Liaison Committee met on Wednesday 10 December.
Reporting on Central Computing Division, Brian Davies drew attention to the substantial increase in throughput of the Atlas 10 achieved by RAL modifications in the operating system hypervisor area. This, coupled with the planned MVS local system to be run in the 3081 at nights and weekends, will help us cope with the increasing MVS workload.
Dr Davies outlined the financial situation for the mainframe service. In 85/6 revenue would cover running costs but would not provide all of the £1M needed to replace hardware in a reasonable timescale. CCD is talking to potential new users in an attempt to make up this shortfall.
On the hardware front the mainframes has performed reliably and the Masstor M860 is now in service but technical problems are delaying the introduction of the Amdahl 4705 communications processor.
Staff resignations continue at the rate of one every few weeks and although recruitment is in hand we are aware of gaps in our coverage which are apparent to users.
Mike Jane presented the Informatics Division report. He noted the appointment of Dr K F Hartley as Head of the Distributed Interactive Computing Group. This had resulted in restructuring of the rest of the group.
Dr Jane reported that the Bush Report on the Needs of Engineering Computing had not had a smooth ride through the Engineering Board and that views of the relevant subject committees were being sought.
The Prime upgrade programme is well under way and should ease the introduction of PRIMIX, Prime's Unix system. Software activities have concentrated on the implementation of NRS, fixing bugs in FTP, removal of the majority of SERC modifications from the PRIMOS kernel and beta-testing of PRIMIX.
On the GEC front, further hardware upgrades are unlikely. Software developments here too have concentrated on NRS and FTP. There are two new recruits in the GEC systems team and their training is progressing well.
On PERQs, the final release of PNX for the PERQI is currently on field trial. Distribution to all PERQ I users will take place after Christmas. PERQ2 users will receive PNX5 before Christmas. The X25 software is currently being updated to work with both these releases of PNX.
The SUN3 has superseded the SUN2 in the Common Base.
Ian Smith in his Network Executive/JNT report highlighted the fact that there had recently been network problems chiefly caused by interworking between GEC and RAL switch software. The transition to GEC software is almost complete and the problem of mixed software is declining.
A network NEWS facility is now available (call JANET. NEWS and login as NEWS with password NEWS). Dr Smith also noted that considerable progress has been made with DTI on the subject of a Licence for JANET.
As there had not been a recent Central Computer Representatives Meeting, Peter Negus reported instead on the meeting of Category Representatives. He noted that many of them were finding it hard to budget because the MVS AU is not a hard currency unit but is affected by the priority at which jobs are run. They were also finding the interface to the MVS allocation and control system too complex. CCD staff will look at both these problems in an attempt to make effective management of each Board's allocation easier for the Category Representatives.
From the Central Computer Site Users Meeting John Hart welcomed the introduction into service of the M860 cartridge store and felt that early discussion of the CMS minidisk management proposals had been useful. He also noted the progress on mainframe graphics but felt there was room for further improvement.
Dr Hart highlighted the need for an efficient, up-to-date, system of documentation. User Support now has a programme of work in the documentation area and will be seeking users views on the priority of items in the programme.
From the PRIME User Group Mr Dixon reported that their recent meeting had, as usual, been attended by more managers than users. He noted that in response to the Group's stated requirement for JTMP, Mike Jane was evaluating the Salford ISOCEPT offering. Mr Dixon reported that PRIME's hardware maintenance had improved generally but, in some specific cases, there was still concern.
Miss Mackinnon. who chairs the GEC User Group, noted that there was a requirement for JTMP from GEC users who required to use a variety of systems and did not wish to learn how to use each of them interactively.
Paul Thompson reported on the VAX (VMS) User Group Meeting (details elsewhere). The Group had expressed a clear need for RAL software support particularly in the GKS area and this will be pursued.
Paul Thompson, Head of User Support and Marketing, Central Computing Division
VAX (VMS) User Group
The VAX (VMS) User Group meeting at Garrick House on 10 December was attended by 26 members.
A new series of talks by members on their current work was begun by presentations about ISIS, Daresbury and Cambridge HEP.
Dr Hutton, RAL, representing the extra-UK collaborators within the VAX (VMS) Networking User Group, spoke about the Coloured Book Software problems encountered by extra-UK sites.
The afternoon presentations by Chris Osland on RAL Graphics policy and Keith Jeffery on databases aroused wide interest.
In discussion Dr Pett agreed to investigate the possibility of centralised licensing of software.
Dr Maybury asked that changes of identifiers used for the receipt of RAL Central Computer bulletins be sent to him - RM@RL.IB.
It was proposed that a larger meeting should be held at RAL in June 1986 to include SERC-supported VAX and micro-VAX users who are not normally part of this group. If this proves to be useful it could become an annual event.
This VUG meeting was the last that would be held at SERC's Garrick House, which is due to close in March 1986. The Group noted their appreciation of the service they have received.