7020977: What UNIX/Linux version is supported by this release of Micro Focus COBOL? Will the product run on unsupported UNIX/Linux versions?

The following web page shows Micro Focus product versions, and the general OS versions under which they are supported:

http://supportline.microfocus.com/prodavail.aspx

For more detail, on UNIX/Linux systems, there is a file named “env.txt” that is installed with each Micro Focus COBOL product. On disk, in the directory where the product is installed, there is a subdirectory named “docs”, and within that subdirectory, the file named “env.txt”. In other words, the file is:

$COBDIR/docs/env.txt

The “env.txt” file specifies the exact OS versions that Micro Focus used when producing and testing and certifying that particular Micro Focus product. More than one OS version is listed in the file, because certification testing is performed on more than one OS version.

Besides specifying OS versions, the file shows the commands used to reveal the OS versions. For example, the file may say:

Operating System----------------AIX 6.1.0.0 6100-00uname -sosleveloslevel -r

In the above, the OS version AIX 6.1.0.0 6100-00 is shown as being certified, and the commands:

uname -sosleveloslevel -r

were the commands used to reveal the OS version.

Searching through the env.txt file for the pattern

also certified on

will reveal additional certified OS versions. The env.txt file also specifies particular versions of C/C++, the system assembler “as”, the system linker “ld”, and Java versions.

During installation, when the “install” script is run, the contents of the env.txt file are displayed on the screen, and if the OS version on the machine is different than the OS versions in the env.txt file, the script displays warning messages.

The question often comes up, “What if my OS version is different than the versions in the env.txt file? To what extent is the product supported? What are the chances the product will work on a different OS?”

Strictly speaking the OS versions specified in the env.txt file are the only OS versions supported.

This does not mean Micro Focus would refuse any kind of support for running under different OS versions. For customers with active maintenance agreements, Micro Focus is always willing to talk on the phone or respond in writing, to answer technical questions and give advice for solving or working-around problems. But if a bug is discovered, so a patch or a fix must be released, Micro Focus will provide the fix only if the bug reproduces under a supported OS version.

For example: an end-user encounters a situation where the compiler doesn’t work correctly or the compiled code doesn’t run correctly. The end-user experiences the bug under an OS version not listed in the env.txt file. The end-user submits an example test case to demonstrate the bug. Micro Focus tests and discovers that the bug also reproduces under a certified OS version. Thus it is a Micro Focus bug (not caused by OS incompatibility), and Micro Focus will provide a fix. The fix will be included in the next scheduled release of the product, or in a “hotfix” applicable to a current version of the product.

As another example, an end-user discovers a bug, but the bug occurs only under an uncertified OS, and when tested under a certified OS, the bug disappears. In that case the OS is too different than the certified OS, the bug is caused by OS incompatibility, and Micro Focus is not obligated to provide a fix.

Micro Focus products on UNIX/Linux often work successfully on OS versions different than those specified in the env.txt file. This is especially true when the OS versions are relatively close together and not too different.

For example, Server Express v5.1 WrapPack 5 is certified under Red Hat 5.5, but an end-user intends to run it under Red Hat 5.6. The two OS versions are similar enough that few problems are expected, and it will probably work. However, it is not guaranteed. The OS versions in env.txt are the only versions Micro Focus actually tested, and the only versions under which Micro Focus guarantees the behavior. Nevertheless, the chances are good that it will work.

Bugs that are actually the fault of the Micro Focus product nearly always reproduce under supported OS versions as well as similar and related OS versions, so if you decide to run on an unsupported OS version, as long as it is not too different than a supported OS, bugs that you encounter will likely reproduce on the supported OS as well, and Micro Focus will be obligated to fix them.

OS vendors sometimes provide a measure of backward-compatibility, so software that ran on a prior level of the OS will also run on the newer OS level. For example, Solaris 10 may claim a certain amount of “binary backward compatibility” with Solaris 9. One reason Micro Focus products often run successfully on OS versions not appearing in the env.txt, is because of OS compatibility features.

The greater the difference between OS versions, the greater the risk. For example, Server Express v4.0 SP2 is certified under AIX 5.1. What are the chances it will work under AIX 6.1? Server Express v4.0 SP2 is several years old; it reached its “end of service” December 2008 according to this web page:

http://supportline.microfocus.com/prodavail.aspx

Also, the difference between AIX 5.1 and AIX 6.1 is substantial; there is a “major number” change between them (5 versus 6). The old Micro Focus product may initially appear to work under AIX 6.1, but there is substantial risk of undefined and unpredictable behavior.

Micro Focus products that have reached “end of service” are no longer supported, but again this does not mean Micro Focus will refuse to provide service of any kind. For customers with active maintenance, Micro Focus is always willing to take phone calls or respond in writing to answer technical questions and provide “advice and avoidance”. If a bug is discovered in an “end of service” product, and a test case is submitted capable of demonstrating the bug, Micro Focus will test to determine whether the bug reproduces also in the latest version, and if it does, Micro Focus will fix it in the next scheduled release of the latest version. “End of service” means only that Micro Focus will no longer create fixes for the older version.

Running on an OS version not specified in the env.txt file is a calculated risk. If the OS version is relatively close to an OS version specified in the env.txt file, the risk is low. But we recommend that customers test application code thoroughly before putting applications into production.

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