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PRIMOS® and the Year 2000

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PRIMOS and The Year 2000 Overview

Customers running older PRIMOS systems may have experienced problems since 2000. It's not too late to fix these concerns; we still provide the solution.

The Issue:

The big question: "Will PRIMOS work properly with dates after 31 December 1999"?

The answer: With your current revision of PRIMOS, as it stands, no. But there's a solution!

The good news: Computronics has put together a "Year 2000 tool kit" of utilities and patches that will enable a wide variety of PRIMOS revisions to work properly in the year 2000 time period. We have been studying this matter for months and have found the issues and come up with ways to work around them. So you _won't_ need to pull the plug on the Prime when the date rolls over to 2000. More on this later...

What will happen if you do nothing at all? Two sets of problems come up. First of all, most versions of PRIMOS will roll the date over from 31 December 1999 to 01 January 2000 properly. Some older versions roll over to a date of "01/01/00", which is right, but some utilities display this date wrong, perhaps as a date like "January 1, 19100". But this is not true in all utilities nor in as many places in more recent versions of PRIMOS. Such problems vary a great deal by revision.

Then a number of things start to break. The spooler prints incorrect dates, as do various other utilities. DSM stops working. The second issue, which can be even more serious, is that the VCP clock information is not sent properly to the system when booting, and virtually all version of PRIMOS will take a VCP date of "01/01/00" and set the date in PRIMOS itself to "01/01/28". This will happen again on each reboot. So even with a properly set VCP clock, the PRIMOS date will be wrong.

Year 2000 Solutions:

Now for the big question. What do you do about these problems? One option is to upgrade to a later version of PRIMOS. ComputerVision Services has announced two special patch releases of PRIMOS for revision 23.4 and 24.0. Many Prime users have contacted Computronics and expressed concern with this option. For people not on CVSI maintenance, upgrade price may be a question. But for all users, there are always concerns about the impact of a PRIMOS upgrade. Some sites are on older revisions, such as 22.1 or 23.2 because of variety of reasons:

Perhaps they are running applications that were never migrated or tested at later releases of PRIMOS. In some cases, the applications or other subsystems were written by companies that are out of business or individuals that are no longer available. Some sites have smaller systems and don't want to run a later version of PRIMOS due to the performance impact on their system. In add- ition to these reasons, some sites that are already on release 23.4 or 24.0 do not have the resources to deal with a PRIMOS change; the people who "knew the Prime" just aren't around any more. (Or if they are still around, their memory isn't what it used to be ;-)

So, what is the alternative? Computronics is pleased to announce the "Year 2000 Toolkit for Prime Systems". This is a set of libraries and patches that will resolve or work around the problems that have been found in various revisions of PRIMOS. These patches will solve the bulk of the problems, including serious ones such as the VCP clock problem mentioned above. It does this by actually patching your current version of PRIMOS, so you are not upgrading PRIMOS! Fixes are even available for older programs, such as the pre-revision 21 spooler!

Application Issues:

What things are not fixed? YOUR APPLICATIONS! If you have not resolved applications issues, this toolkit is NOT going to help you. You will need to make sure that all of your applications utilize a four digit year, or that they do date comparisons properly if you will be using two digit years. That is, if you are going to continue to use a two digit year, your applications will need to be designed so that they know that 12/31/99 is less than 01/01/00.

The Computronics toolkit can help with testing your applications! The toolkit includes a mode that you can set for selected users to enable them to execute programs with a different date than the system date. Thus from that user's point of view the date is now a new date that you specify.

For your testing purposes, keep in mind that there are a number of considerations in doing this on a production system, as you will have other programs using the correct date, and so potentially you will have mixed dates in files. Thus the testing can itself cause problems in some applications; just make sure you are using test files and copies of databases before undergoing such tests. (This is a concern for anyone performing year 2000 testing, on any system).

What is Supported by the Toolkit?:

What PRIMOS revisions are supported by the Year 2000 Toolkit? Revision 20.2, 21.0, 22.1, 23.2, 23.3, 23.4 and 24.0, as well as the various "dot" releases. You tell Computronics your exact version number and they will ship you a toolkit tailored for that exact version. There are _no_ plans to support very old revisions such as revision 19 or 20.0; such changes are feasible, but we do not think there is enough demand to warrant the additional work.

Will _everything_ be fixed? Again, you will need to deal with application issues. Also, the toolkit is designed to fix the bigger problems, and not every possible issue, particularly at older versions of PRIMOS. The problems that are not addressed will be of a cosmetic nature, in the way some utilities display dates. They will not be issues that impact the system in a serious way.

Can I try the Toolkit? Sure! You don't have to take Computronics word that it works. Computronics will offer a single 30 day trial to any prospective customer. The 30 days begins when you install the toolkit. This will enable you to give it a test drive in advance of the magic 1 January 2000 date so that you can see how it works for yourself!

And remember, no hardware changes, no new PRIMOS revisions to install, no "Hardware Audit" to be done!

Price and Warranty:

What will the toolkit cost? Pricing varies, in a range of US $1500 to US$5000 for a single system license. This price will depend on the cpu model that you are using, and the revision of PRIMOS that you are running. The licensing is "tied" to a specific cpu, but multiple cpu discounts are available. Please contact Computronics with your CPU model and PRIMOS revision. See the detailed pricing at the end of this document.

Is there a warranty?

Computronics warrants that the Year 2000 Toolkit will fix the PRIMOS related date issues, and also Computronics will work with you to resolve anything that might have been missed. But Computronics can't guarantee that every last problem in every last routine has been fixed. And so the warranty for the Toolkit is limited to Computronics fixing any problems with the Toolkit or you will get your money back. No consequential damages and all of that stuff; you know the fine print... And, once again, YOU will need to look at any year 2000 impacts in your applications.

Installation help? Maintenance of your Prime hardware?

Computronics will provide unlimited telephone support for the Toolkit. Just call with questions or if you want somone to "talk you through" the installation.

Prime/Information® Issues:

What about related products? Computronics is ready to work with you to discuss other issues. Certain commonly used products have already been evaluated for year 2000 issues. One of these products is Prime/Information. PI will _not_ work properly after the year 2000. In fact, the DATE() function returns a negative number for the internal date that corresponds to 1 January 1900. The DATE command displays the year as 1900, as does the TIMEDATE() function. There is good news for users of Prime/Information, however. The Ardent Corporation that maintains Prime/Information has produced patches for selected versions of Prime/Information, including these special releases: 8.4.r4, 8.1.4.r12, 8.0.r26, and 7.0.4.r3.

Computronics has heard from several customers that Ardent is telling users that they _must_ upgrade PRIMOS for the Year 2000. This is simply not true. Ardent is merely saying this because of a joint marketing arrangement between CVSI and Ardent. In fact, Ardent knows that it is not true, since Computronics had already discussed the Year 2000 Toolkit with Ardent back in February 1998.

So please get the facts: Computronics is happy to offer a free trial of the Toolkit! Plus the Toolkit provides a way for you to run tests by varying the date for selected users in a test mode; this is something you can't do with PRIMOS, of course. And CVSI is not offering you a free trial. So we are not asking you to take our word for it; we're giving you a chance to try it out.

By the way, if you have source code for all of your Prime/Information programs, you will not need the Prime/Information upgrade from Ardent at all. A simple change to your programs will resolve the Year 2000 problems. Note again that this _only_ applies if you have source code to your programs to make this simple change. Contact Computronics for details, if this is your situation.

Other Products:

What about users of Henco's INFO database? Again, there is good news. Computronics has run a series of tests on a system running the Year 2000 Toolkit and the Henco INFO programs ran just fine, treating all years as four digits and handling a year of 2000 properly. This is true when 4 digit years are input. However, the $TODAY function will not work properly, and user input of 6 digit dates will not treat the year 2000 properly. Contact Computronics for patches to INFO that have been developed to address these issues. By the way, the product that has historically been known as Henco INFO is now Doric's INFO. The product was sold, and more details are available by contacting Computronics...

What about other programs and products? Computronics is not in a position to test every piece of software out there, and certainly not your applications. But consulting services are available to run tests with you, to run tests on Computronics' system, or just to work with you as this critical year 2000 time approaches.

What about Computronics Software Products?:

Who is Computronics? Well, one of the most popular software products ever written for Prime 50-series systems is PEEK, written, sold and maintained by Computronics. Another popular product is LPR, to enable the Prime to use TCP/IP based printing to Unix or NT hosts. LPD to enable the Prime to _be_ an LPD compliant print server. Zip for PRIMOS to enable Prime 50-series systems to create and work with pkzip compatible archives. And there are other products including Log-Time for system resource accounting, Usage Accounting, Network, the HP Laserjet printer driver, various FORMS drivers.

Since 1993 Computronics has developed many Unix products, such as Peek for Unix and ZIP for Unix. All Computronics utilities mentioned in this section are year 2000 compliant. If you are under maintenance for these products, new year 2000 compatible releases are avail- able for these products at no charge. If you are not under maintenance, appropriate releases will be available at special prices. Call Computronics for details.

As so many of the Prime users have new personnel that may not be real familiar with the software on their systems, below is a list of all Computronics product names so that you can determine if you are running any of these products: PEEK, AMLC Status, CPL To Shell Convertor, Log-Time, Login Security Trail, Network, Password Expiration, PrintMaster, Remote Print Handler, SoftWire, Status Line Message, Usage Accounting, ZIP, Printer Drivers for HP Laserjet and others, LPR, LPD, SNA, DPTX, and FORMS terminal drivers... If you believe you may be running any of these products, contact the people at Computronics for details about Year 2000 versions of the products.

What will happen if I do nothing?

Often people ask what will happen to a Prime if no Y2K Compliance work is done. The answer depends on the PRIMOS revision in use. Here is a simple test to run on your system:

Shut down all the way to the "CP1>" prompt.

Reset the date via the "setime" command at this prompt. Here is a command to use:
se -010100 -09001

This will set the date to 01 January 2000 and 9:00am. Use the exact command, including the "1" at the end of the time.

Now, boot the system using "bootp" or "boot 14114".

When the system comes up, what date is shown as processes login? Is it 01 Jan 28? If so, this is a bug that is fixed by the Toolkit.

Try the date command, particularly "date -cal". Does it show "January 1, 2000"? If not, this is fixed by the Toolkit.

Try an LD command with a date, for example "ld -after 1/1/2000". If the system doesn't accept this command, you need a fix. This same problem also affects other programs. Do you have any CPL programs that use dates? Those will also fail without the Toolkit.

Try printing with the spooler that you use. Does it print properly? Is the banner page and dates formatted right? These issues are also fixed with the Toolkit.

These are just some of the major issues corrected by the Toolkit. There are many other smaller problems that are fixed. In addition, a very popular feature is that the Toolkit lets you alter the date for selected users. Thus you can leave the system date alone and tell the Toolkit to set a date of 01 Jan 2000 or perhaps 29 Feb 2000 for a selected user, and then that user can run programs and test Y2K compliance of your applications. This has been a very popular feature.

Finally, don't forget that the Toolkit installs completely in under 1/2 an hour, and that includes loading the tape and reading the manual. Think of how long a PRIMOS upgrade takes, even if it is a late revision of PRIMOS.

Ask Computronics if you have specific questions about your revision of PRIMOS.

How to Get The Toolkit:

Contact Computronics for information on the "Year 2000 Toolkit for Prime Systems". You should know your PRIMOS revision and CPU model before calling. Use the commands "status system" and "status hdwr" to get these items of information.

4N165 Wood Dale Road
Addison, Illinois 60101 USA

updated 1998-March-23, 1998-July-31, 1998-August-21, 1998-December-17 and 1999-October-10.

Copyright © 1999 Computronics. All rights reserved.

Peek ® is a trademark of Computronics. Prime®, PRIMOS®, and Prime 50 Series (tm) are trademarks of CVSI, Inc. All other brand and product names contained here are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

Year 2000 Toolkit for Prime Systems: Pricing

                       PRIMOS Revision
CPU Model     20.2/21.0/22.0     22.1       23.2/23.3/23.4/24.0
---------     --------------     ----       -------------------
2xxx,4050         $2000          $2000            $1500
9xxx              $4000          $3500            $3000
6xxx              $5000          $4500            $4000

Above pricing for a single CPU in US$. Consulting service available for additional fees. Software shipment will require a signed license agreeement.