Stars at elbow and foot…

It is quite likely that you don’t recognise the ‘stars at elbow and foot’ quote that begins this blog entry.

It’s from a bloody awful film called “Solaris”. Years ago, I nodded off in it several times before finally snoring my way through the last 40 minutes (apparently). I doubt anyone else made it completely through the movie, either, so sparkling bits of dialogue such as this blog’s title are likely to have gone under the radar, I fear…

But anyway: the film happens to have a name that readers of this blog are likely to recognise, albeit in a different context: Solaris.

It’s a fine operating system (and we’ll have no comments here about ‘slow-laris’ and the like) and one I use daily in my real-life production DBA job. Usually, it runs Oracle databases on it beautifully -as you might expect, given the O/S and RDBMS are both coming from the one vendor.

In keeping with my recent run of scripts to help automate various Oracle RDBMS installations onto a variety of Linux distros, therefore, I thought I’d do one for Solaris x86 (i.e., the Intel-flavour of Solaris, rather than the Sparc one).

I had to come up with a name for the script, as usual; and Mr. Clooney seemed the obvious one. The clooney automation script is therefore available for download here or here.

Just one word of warning, though: 12c only installs on Solaris 11.3 if there is around 8GB RAM available. In a 4GB virtual machine, I got  an ORA-27122 Unable to protect memory error instead. 11gR2 installs OK in 4GB, but 12c is a hungrier beast and your hardware budget needs to expand accordingly!

There will be is an article showing what I did, to whom and when …sometime late next week.

Oracle on Red Hat [et al]

JamesTKirkSo my little spate of re-written ‘pre-installer’ scripts, designed to semi-automate the process of installing Oracle on various distros, has triggered quite a bit of email… including a lot saying “what about Red Hat?”

Now my standard response to that question for quite some time has been “use Churchill” -which leverages the Red Hat-alike platform to automatically create standalone, RAC and Data Guard environments. But it’s been mentioned to me on more than one occasion that Churchill can be considered overkill: “I only wanted a simple single-instance setup, not ASM, not RAC,” as one correspondent put it.

And there’s also the fact that Churchill only works for Red Hat 5.x and 6.x, and we’re now up to 7.2… so what’s a RHCSL user to do if she wants to use the latest and greatest version of the distro?

Point taken.

I’ve therefore created a new automation script for Oracle on Red Hat 7 (and on CentOS 7, Scientific Linux 7 and Oracle Enterprise Linux 7, of course, since they are all binary clones of the original Red Hat).

As ever, I needed a catchy name -and as all those distros are what I’ve long been calling “Enterprise Class” distros, something with an Enterprise theme seemed appropriate… and since I grew up with interminable repeats of the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, James Tiberius Kirk immediately sprang to mind.

The relevant article can be found here, and you can beam up the kirk shell script from here or here.

Call that “simplification”?!

I stumbled across this tonight.

I find it funny. You download and install an RPM as a “remarkably easy way” to get all the Oracle prerequisites done for you.

Except that you’re stuck with a user hard-coded to be “oracle”; you have to create your own “target location for the downloaded files” (i.e., where do you stick your Oracle software files?); your installation might flag some prerequisite failures which “you should investigate“; and “if necessary, you can (as root) edit the file /etc/sysctl.conf to specify a [kernel parameter] setting manually“. And of course you need to be running the “right” distro in the first place.

I sometimes get asked, ‘why bother with your distro pre-install scripts when RPMs are available to do it all anyway’. That article explains why, rather nicely.

Oracle on Manjaro

article-2358321-0004AFAA00000190-934_634x460Of all the ‘niche’ distros out there, none is (probably) niche-er than Arch: its build-it-yourself approach means it’s a hard slog getting a working system. I gave up trying many moons ago to be honest, as far as a practicable desktop O/S was concerned -but I retained my respect for it as a tightly-constructed, efficient and very up-to-date distro (it uses a rolling-release model, which brings some danger of instability but also means you’re pretty much guaranteed to be using the latest version of anything).

Happy was I, therefore, to discover Manjaro -a distro that is derived from Arch, though which is independent of it and uses its own software repositories but nevertheless inherits the rolling-release approach. Crucially, Manjaro makes O/S installation a piece of cake: a nice GUI interface leads you through the process in straightforward, logical steps. In one sense, then, it’s Arch done for noobs …and I like it accordingly. It comes in all the usual desktop environment flavours, but I rather like its lean, minimalist Xfce version.

The naming is interesting, of course: “manjaro” made me think of Esperanto (curious fact: the only Esperanto I ever committed to memory is la hundoj estas en la mangochambro …the dogs are in the dining room). But “manjaro” has nothing to do with a verb for eating, in whatever language you care to think. It’s actually an homage to Mount Kilimanjaro, which the lead developer climbed once upon a time.

Now… bear with me on this, please. But Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania. Tanzania was founded in 1964 as a union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Dizwell has always enjoyed the letter ‘z’… And who was the most famous Zanzibarian pretty much ever… why Freddie Mercury, of course.

A man with an extraordinary voice and great musical talent, and one of the few “popular artists” of the last half-century I genuinely admire and actually enthuse about. (I was put in mind of him particularly as a result of the recent death of David Bowie, with whom Mercury collaborated, of course). Can you believe he died almost 25 years ago? I remember it as if it were yesterday. And my landlord used to be his personal assistant. I could have met him, if only I’d known who the hell he was, back in 1987. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. Damn.

Anyway… does Manjaro run Oracle, I hear you ask? Yes, of course, I reply …otherwise I wouldn’t bother mentioning it here! A script and article will be coming shortly is available from here.

Oracle on Suse

quattroI mentioned a day or two ago that I had taken a fresh look at openSUSE Leap 42 (weird name, perhaps, but if you were moving from version 13 to version 42, you’d call it a leap too!)

Naturally, the first question that pops into my head when I’m looking at an unfamiliar distro is: does it run Oracle?

And if it turns out that it does, my built-in reluctance to type too much means I will swiftly want to knock together a pre-installer script that takes the tedium out of getting all the Oracle prerequisites sorted for me. The result is then usually called some catchy name or other and posted for all to enjoy.

So it has proved in this case: my quatro script is now available for download (here or here), making 11g or 12c installs on openSUSE relatively painless.

There’s also an article explaining what you do with it and when.

I am not usually inclined to think of leather-clad Rock goddesses when coming up with script names, but I’m afraid that “SUSE” and “Suzi” are just too strong a homophone for my brain, which is accordingly incapable of not thinking of the latter whenever the former is mentioned. So there it is: feel free to call your openSUSE server “devilsgate”, if you like.

Install Oracle on Fedora 23+

humphrey-bogart-03I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to love Fedora 23 as a distro. It’s installer is a disorganised mess; its default desktop is as ugly as sin; it’s been infected by systemd; its default Gnome text editor is unusable (that’s Gnome’s fault, not Fedora’s… but still. And how exactly do you screw up a text editor, for Heaven’s sake?!) But it’s undeniably a substantial part of the Linux universe, so being able to install Oracle onto it relatively painlessly will perhaps be of benefit to some.

Having recently taken a fresh look at my ‘how do you do it on Debian’ scripts, I have accordingly re-worked my scripts for semi-automating the install of Oracle onto Fedora 23. That link is to the article describing how it all works; if you just want the automation script itself, that’s here.

The script is called Bogart because he was the most appealing fedora-wearing cultural icon I could think of.

Install it, Sam.

Looking at Suse

leap421cropSuse Linux was the first Linux distro I ever paid money for -back in the days of version 7.2 …which Wikipedia tells me means I’m remembering the way things were 15 years ago! In between then and now, Suse underwent several changes of ownership that seemed to render it less than a safe bet, became a rather peculiar distro that did things in ways no other distro ever did and basically became a pain in the neck to use. It seldom ran Oracle properly. I gave up on it, basically.

But how things have changed! First, the openSuse project spent considerable energies between 2005 and 2014 (the date when version 13.2 was released) making openSuse a workable, more standard distro, though it still had its quirks. Additionally, the relationship between openSuse and Suse Enterprise Linux (SLES) remained much like Fedora’s to Red Hat Enterprise… plausibly similar, and certainly a family resemblance, but fundamentally quite different.

Then, back in November 2015, openSuse Leap 42.1 was released, which was based on Suse Enterprise source code, meaning that OpenSuse is now to SLES as CentOS is to Red Hat Enterprise: pretty much binary clones, in other words. This makes (for me) openSuse a much more interesting distro to experiment with -and, since SLES is one of the few Enterprise-class distros that Oracle actually supports, it’s quite likely that Oracle will run relatively painlessly on it (and so it has proved, actually -though I hasten to point out that Oracle most definitely does NOT support running its software on any openSuse version at all).

If you haven’t paid openSuse much attention in the past couple of years, therefore, it’s worth a fresh look. By default, you get a functional KDE desktop, a stack-load of packages (to the point where little needs adding post-install), a 4.1 kernel, lots of stability, slightly stale packages (much as CentOS isn’t exactly cutting edge) and an excellent aesthetic (i.e., it looks nice!)

Happy Birthday to Me

It often happens around this time of the year: a new birthday, a new desire to clean house and start afresh.

This year, I’ve decided to revert to using WordPress as my blog tool of choice; Dokuwiki has inherent limitations and a degree of inflexibility which has become tiring of late.

Of course, the question of how one transfers content between Dokuwiki and WordPress rears its ugly head. Short answer: no such mechanism exists, and therefore it’s a matter of hand-crafting content replacement. Which is a lengthy and tedious process.

For now, I’ve decided to leave all the old Blog posts where they are: the link to the Blog Archive lets you visit the old Dokuwiki environment and there are now links there to let you get back here easily enough from there when you’re done.

Articles will come over to the new WordPress site, if I think they’re still relevant. If not, the Article Archive menu item will again point back to the old Dokuwiki site.

Clear as mud? Then let us begin…


I can’t say I’ve ever used Debian for long, but it has always proved itself a worthy contender in any distro comparison I’ve ever run -largely because it’s stable, has an enormous number of packages available to it and has its own quasi-minimalist graphical charm. If it lacks some of the bells and whistles of the more glamorous distros (many of which, such as Ubuntu -and from there Mint- are actually derived from Debian), it is nevertheless a strong contender.

How lucky we are that Ian Murdock saw fit to create it (and then go on to champion open source software in various other ways after that), back in 1993. And what a shock it was to read on New Year’s morning that he’d been found dead on 28th December.

The terrible news prompted me to look at my old Gladstone script for installing Oracle on various non-standard Linux distros and discovered that the last version of Debian I had it working for was 6.0.6, which dates it to around September 2012. I thought the least I could do is to bring it a bit more up-to-date than that.

So I’m releasing a new pre-installer script, called murdock, extricated from the ancient ruins of Gladstone and made functional once more. It prepares a Debian 8.2 64-bit system that has a functioning Internet connection for running either Oracle 11g or 12c. It doesn’t work for any other distro, nor any other bit-ness. (An alternative download location is here).

I’ll knock together some better instructions at some point soon, but basically download it, run it, supply the root password and sit back to watch everything get configured appropriately. Then download the Oracle software and run it. It will fail nearly all its prerequisites checks, of course. Ignore them all. It will then error during the linking phase: but murdock has anticipated that and created a fix-up script in the oracle user’s Documents directory: so run that script, click [Retry] in the Oracle installer, and everything will work correctly thereafter.

(Update: the ‘better instructions’ are now an article available here.)

I’ve tested it on both,, and, using the Gnome, Cinnamon, MATE and KDE desktop environments. Gnome has some dialog problems that make the installer non-functional unless invoked remotely (i.e., use ssh -X to make a remote connection to the server and run the installer from the remote PC). And has a compilation error that can’t be easily fixed, meaning that Oracle Text indexes can’t work. Otherwise, all works as expected.

I don’t run single-node Oracle much these days. I don’t run anything that’s not on Windows or Solaris come to that. But Open Source in general, and Debian specifically, has given me so much, it seemed to be at least something I could do by way of paying it back a little. Any issues with it, let me know…