||Y2K at JRML
Preparations for the Year 2000 at the James R. Macdonald Laboratory.
This page remains here merely as a curious historical artifact.
Don't be surprised when the links don't work!
FLASH: It's 0100 hrs on 01 January 2000 and we're still here!
(We told you so! :-)
Generally speaking, the JRM Lab has no systems critical to either
human safety or equipment protection that are sensitive to computer
clock functions. We therefore have little to fear from the so-called
"Millennium Bug". Nevertheless, we have looked into our systems in
some detail to guarantee smooth operation of the lab into the
Presented below is an outline of the Y2K status of all our major computer
systems and computer-driven facilities. Hyperlinks in this outline typically
point directly to the relevant Y2K statements made available by the
developers of the software or the manufacturers of the equipment.
Any systems not listed are systems with either no computer dependencies or
systems that are the responsibility of the University. Our 1950s vintage
Tandem van de Graaff, for instance, has no computer controls, and the
power used to run it is provided by KSU (literally, since the Tandem is
on the "old power" inner campus distribution net).
Computer Hardware and Operating Systems
- PDP-11 and RSX-11M
Digital transferred control of their PDP-11 and RSX properties to
Mentec in 1994.
The Linac control computer uses these systems running specialized Fortran programming.
RSX does not generally set the real-time clock correctly after
01 Jan 2000, but the effects are limited to convenience time-stamping functions.
These venerable components will likely be replaced by our new
Vista-derived system by
Spring 2000 anyway.
- MicroVaxes and VMS
verifies that there are no issues with our
-based systems. This is true of
Compaq Fortran as well. We
should thus have no problems with data acquisition or analysis.
- Motorola MVME Front-Ends and pSOS+
Motorola reports no problems with our data-acquisition front-end preprocessors.
They run the pSOS+ real-time OS, which is certified by
- Sun Servers and Solaris
The departmental unix system is the responsibility of the
Physics Computing Support Center. We rely on this system for
network connectivity and C language cross-compilations.
reports that both our Ultra 10s and our SparcStation 5s are compliant, and that
our current patch level of
will keep working.
- Intel-based PCs and Win32/NDS
There are generally no hardware issues with
Intel microprocessors and motherboards; there are issues with some older BIOSes.
Similarly, when run at the latest patch levels there should be no problem with
Windows NT Server,
Windows NT Workstation, or
Windows 95/98. The vast majority of our machines are running NT along with
Novell Directory Services.
We have checked the older machines running Win95 for specialized tasks to insure
their operation, and have spot-checked a representative sample of NT boxes. No
problems were found.
The following are the Lab's principal productivity applications. Their vendors report
that they have no significant Y2K risks.
Besides the above, we rely on the non-commercial VMS-based XSYS data-acquisition system.
Our extensive experience with this system and close communication with its author gives
us every confidence in its reliability.
This JRM Lab web site is hosted by the departmental unix system and should not experience
any difficulties. The online beamtime scheduling system was designed from the beginning
to be Y2K compliant.
While there are a great many embedded microprocessors in the lab, none of them have
any critical real-time, scheduled functions that might be affected by the Y2K rollover.
In almost all cases our safety and equipment protection systems continue to operate
independently of any computing failure.
The following areas of lab operations have systems with embedded controllers. The
manufacturers have confirmed their products' readiness via their web sites or via
private e-mail communications.
- Safety Systems
- Data Systems & Electronics
Some of our network bridges are obsolete or otherwise unsupported products,
but we do not believe that these bridges have any clock-dependent functions.
- Vacuum Systems
Our actual vacuum interlocks and protection systems are analog systems that
have been built in-house. So long as the data from the above devices is valid, they
will continue to function properly.
The liquid helium refrigerator and the cryogenics distribution system is monitored
and controlled by a computer program developed in-house. This program uses dates for
time-stamping and data archiving only, is thoroughly understood and has been checked
for Y2K anomalies.
- General Lab Support
Y2K Outside the JRM Lab
Obviously, we rely on a great many services from sources outside of our control.
Fortunately, Kansas State University and the State of Kansas have both been very
pro-active in resolving potential Y2K problems. The links below take you to the
central Y2K web sites for entities vaster than JRML.