HPE OpenVMS Hobbyist license program is closing

Frank McConnell fmc at reanimators.org
Wed Mar 11 19:38:42 CDT 2020

On Mar 11, 2020, at 8:08, Al Kossow via cctalk wrote (after Ethan O'Toole
I think):
>> Years ago us SGI hobbyists were able to talk to SGI about this and a huge problem SGI had with any kind of hobbyist
>> license for IRIX or turning it free is it's fully of licensed 3rd party stuff. But maybe now that's it's expired, or all
>> the companies things were licensed from are gone.
> Release of Classic HP3000 died for the same reason from the same company.

And yet, classic-3000 MPE (V/R, V/P, V/E) does not involve licensed third
party stuff.  At least I think it does not, I think the OS is uniquely
developed by HP(E).

MPE/iX does, I know I’ve been told that it includes a Streams
implementation from Mentat which I understand was licensed on a
per-copy royalty basis.  That makes a zero-price license (even more of)
a money-losing proposition.  

It also makes release of classic-3000 MPE dangerous in that people may
assume that the release applies to MPE/iX as well, and that could leave
HP liable for additional per-copy royalties in future.

I think MPE/iX is not quite like OpenVMS in that there is no per-installation
authorization key for the OS.  The OS does check a machine ID in "stable
storage" that is expected to indicate that the machine is an HP3000 (as
opposed to an HP9000), and there are some other features that I believe
indicate the class of HP3000 and I think MPE/iX and add-on software may
check this for other purposes too.  

Which means that if the companies and people who are due per-copy royalties
get the idea that they can goose that revenue stream through legal threats,
HP(E) maybe can't provide a very good guesstimate of how many additional
copies (for which royalties have not been paid) are out there.  There might
be some arguments made that the payment should be based on manufacturing 
counts of PA-RISC HP3000s and HP9000s.  It could get expensive.

Well, that's my guess of why then-HP didn't want to go there, and I don't
think HPE today would think any differently.  There may yet be a revenue
stream from MPE/iX licenses as its paying users upgrade to newer hardware
and the Stromasys emulator.

> HP has no motivation to spend time/money to release this. Also, the only way CHM
> was able to release what we did (HP1000, 68K 9000 and Apollo) was having
> us release it only for non-commercial research/hobby purposes.

That was well done.  I just wish y'all had got FOCUS 9000 included in that.
Earlier than 68K and maybe HP didn’t have the bits any more but I think
some folks have some bits.  May be AT&T-encumbered but no more so than the
68K 9000 bits.

-Frank McConnell

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