Vale, Owen

Typical, really.

You pay over AU$2500 to ship your cat from Australia to the UK. Within three weeks (i.e., early May), he’s suffering from “water works problems” and several expensive trips to the vet later and with an alarmingly large amount of hand-waving and “probablies” from the vet in question, we settle on a diagnosis of cystitis: he gets a couple of antibiotic injections and some tablets to mash in his food. Problem apparently solved.

And then last Monday, he began hissing and growling for no apparent reason (which is most unlike him), and he starts walking really slowly, slightly tentatively and with a sort-of hunched back. He is immediately taken to the emergency vet who, in similarly vague manner, suggests maybe he fell off something when jumping and has hurt his back. He gets an anti-inflammatory injection and is let go with an injunction to return the next day.

Next morning, he is clearly no better. Indeed, if anything, he looks rather worse. And it is noted that despite making five visits to the litter tray, nothing of any sort is coming out. Back to the emergency vet.

Now it is possible you’ve never heard a cat scream. I mean, literally, scream. But when that vet decided to have a good old squeeze of Owen’s nether regions, that is indeed what I heard. We joked that there’d be no other animals in her waiting room, but by God there was really nothing to joke about. The emergency vet’s efforts did, however, result in the ejection of three drops of feline urine… and a tiny, almost invisible ‘pellet’ of “stuff” that she (having more skin in the game than I would have!) squidged on the table top with her finger-tip …and declared this was a “plug” from a blocked urethra and we’d have to take him immediately to her ‘head office’ practice, 15 minutes up the road.

Poor Owen therefore gets re-boxed, put into the car boot, and taken to this other vet. A wetter blanket I have yet to meet, however. He started by saying that Owen would have to be hospitalized, anaesthetized and have his ‘bits’ forcibly catheterized and cleaned out. Fine: how much? Er, er, well, er, hang on… and he disappeared. For about 10 minutes. Oh, well, er, yeah, maybe £1000. To start with. Could well be more. How much more? Er, Well, Dunno, It Depends.

Well, ToH and I look at each other and say, we simply don’t want to pay that much. We love him dearly, but he’s already cost us about £1250 (allowing for variable AU->GBP conversion rates). Isn’t there something cheaper we could try? Er, well, er, let me ask my boss. And he disappears. For another 15 minutes or so. No, he says on his return: there isn’t. Fine, we say: in that case, how much to euthanase the little fellow. Oh, er, well… hand waving aplenty… let me just type some stuff in the computer. About five minutes elapse: he must be the world’s worst keyboard user. Er, well… let me ask my boss. And he disappears for another five minutes.

It’s at this point I say to ToH, even if he comes back and tells us we can have three cats euthanased for free, I’m not letting that bloke put my cat down. So we pack him back into his carrier box… and he’s clearly feeling even worse than he was first thing in the morning. With what I fear was a fairly curt dismissal, I informed the vet when he finally returned that we’d be going elsewhere for a second opinion (though we didn’t want a second opinion: we knew what was coming. We just wanted someone with empathy -and competence- to do it).

So, another trip in the boot to a completely different vet, who is female and going off duty. Hopes weren’t high when I explained the situation and she said a little abruptly, ‘yeah, £1000 sounds about right’, but she swiftly moved on from that to explain why there were no shortcuts available -and that even if we paid our £1000, a couple of days after coming out of being catheterized, there was absolutely nothing to stop Owen blocking up again a few days later. Indeed, it’s common for cats to do so. The prognosis was negative, as they say… but at least I had a half-decent communicator explaining it to me now. When I asked her about euthanasia, she also didn’t skip a beat: three seconds of typing and a quote was instantly provided.

Well, you get the drift: even if we’d paid a fortune, nothing was guaranteed that Owen wouldn’t be screaming in agony shortly afterwards, repeatedly. Putting him to sleep was clearly the kindest option, never mind the finances -and, at the point we were discussing this, the poor guy was lying down in the bottom of his carry-box and punting himself around with his rear legs, trying to find some position that wasn’t agony. And here was a kindly, empathetic person able to do the deed.

So it was done, and they did it beautifully and we stroked him throughout the procedure and it was as sad as you’d imagine it to be.

We only knew him a short time: he was a rescue cat and we saved him from imminent destruction. But he was a real, big, fluffy personality, and I will miss him. And, of course, there’s the thought that if we hadn’t treated him like baggage and carted him half-way around the world as a personal possession, he’d still be alive and happily squeaking, as was his wont. (Apparently, stress does this to male cats. Travelling by Qantas to the UK is stressful even for humans, as I well know; God knows what it is like for a cat). So there’s some guilt.

Harper, his feline friend and tumbling partner is, thankfully, doing well. Indeed, he seems to be relishing being the one and only king of this particular all-new domain. Which is nice and a bonus. But nothing takes away the two hours of pointless agony we put Owen through.

Sometimes, I hate having cats.

Mostly, however, I don’t. 🙂

Elementary OS & 12cR2

Last of the Ubuntu-based distros to be tested with the new Younes Fix, Elementary OS is one of my least favourite distros, but still manages (somehow!) tenth place on Distrowatch‘s ranking list. It has inched up a version increment, too, since I first wrote about it and now stands at version 0.4.1, instead of 0.4. Like all the other distros posted about today, it now copes with a 12c Release 2 install via Atlas well:

Zorin & Oracle 12cR2

Another tip to the Younes Fix: Oracle 12cR2 runs fine on the latest release of Zorin:

Zorin bumped its version up from 12.0 to 12.1 way back in February 2017: this is the first time I used the newer version to test Atlas on, since Zorin isn’t exactly on my radar as a daily driver of Linux usage! On the other hand, it’s currently listed 9th-most popular distro, according to Distrowatch. Happily, therefore, all is well with both Atlas and Oracle 12cR2 on the newer platform, as you can see.


Peppermint & Oracle 12cR2

Thanks to the Younes Fix, Oracle 12c Release 2 installs nicely on Peppermint, one of the more niche Linux distros Atlas works on!

I hadn’t noticed that Peppermint itself has had a version increment: it’s now up to version 8 (from the original 7.something). Happily, Atlas makes light work of even the new version:

As it turns out, Peppermint 8 was released back in May 2017. I was rather distracted at the time, which is why I missed it.

I can’t say it’s an improvement on version 7: visually, it’s now pretty ghastly out-of-the-box. It also seems to have tumbled down the distrowatch popularity listings: Atlas’ criterion for including a distro or not was that it had to be in the top 20 of distrowatch’s listing. It was back in December 2016 when Atlas was first devised; right now it’s sitting at 28th on the list and going downwards…

Caught Up – Atlas Fixed!

I claim absolutely no credit for this, but a reader called Younes El-karama has been in touch to offer additions to the fixup script which Atlas sometimes creates when preparing for Oracle 12cR2 installations onto assorted distros, such as Ubuntu, Mint, Peppermint and so on.

Younes originally did this specifically to make Atlas work properly for 12cR2 on Linux Mint. I am not entirely sure if he realised, however, that his work actually makes Atlas function properly for 12cR2 on any Ubuntu-based distro… but he’s clearly a smart guy, so I suspect he did 🙂

The short version is, anyway, that thanks to Younes, the list of which distros can have Atlas help get 12c Release 2 running on them, which I mentioned in a previous post, now looks like this:

Debian 8.2+ ............................ Works fine
Linux Mint 18+ ......................... Works fine
Mint Debian Edition 2+ ................. Works fine
Red Hat ES 7.0+ ........................ Works fine
Scientific Linux 7.0+ .................. Works fine
CentOS 7.0+ ............................ Works fine
OpenSuse Leap 42+ ...................... Works fine
Antergos  2016.11+ ..................... Works fine
elementary OS 0.4+ ..................... Works fine
Mageia 5+ .............................. Works fine
Korora 25+ ............................. Works fine
Zorin Core 12 .......................... Works fine
Ubuntu 16+ ............................. Works fine
Manjaro 15+ ............................ Works fine 
Fedora 23+ ............................. Works fine (*)
Peppermint Linux 7+ .................... Works fine
GeckoLinux Static 422+ ................. Works fine
Chapeau Linux 24+ ...................... Works fine
PCLinuxOS 2016+ ........................ Works fine

That is, Atlas works fine on getting 12c Release 2 installed on all its target distros. There’s just one exception, indicated by that asterisk: Fedora 26 wasn’t around at the time I prepared the original list …and it still doesn’t work as yet. Younes’ fix doesn’t help there, since Oracle 12c R1 and R2 both compile fine on it, but then fail to create a database. The Younes Fix as I’ve taken to calling it, on the other hand, solves a compilation problem that bedevilled all Ubuntu-based distros when trying to compile Oracle 12c Release 2 binaries.

To be clear, the Oracle 12c Release 2 linking phase still fails on all the Ubuntu-based distros, but Atlas knows this will happen and therefore creates a script in your oracle user’s Documents directory, just as it has always done. The Younes Fix, however, means that the script contains more lines in it than before. It’s those extra lines which make a 12c R2 installation possible:

So, my abundant thanks to Younes, and he gets the appropriate credit at the top of the Atlas scripts. It is nice to see open source collaboration working so well! Atlas itself is now bumped to version 1.5 in consequence; the new version is automatically downloaded when you do the standard Atlas stuff:

wget -O
chmod +x

Everything else remains as was described in the original documentation for the relevant distros (Ubuntu, Zorin, Elementary OS, Peppermint and Mint).

Fedora 26 arrives…

Fedora 26 has just been released (I downloaded it even before Distrowatch mentioned it was available, so for once my timing was impeccable!) The release notes are available here, explaining what has changed since the previous version. Combining that with the other changes listed here and here, I have to say that most of the changes seem under-the-hood kind of stuff -though the increment in gcc version sounds like it could be trouble, and the default wallpaper is surprising in its bland twee-ness! The icon for the file manager turns blue, as well. Don’t get too excited!!

As usual, the main question in my mind when a new version hits the streets is: does it work with Atlas (and hence Oracle 12cR1 and 12cR2)?

The news on that is both good and bad: the good news is that the linking stage completes entirely without error (meaning that a software-only install works fine). But the bad news -really bad!- is that when the installer tries to create a database… nothing happens. Even if you try and launch the Database Configuration Assistant manually (type: dbca), it pops up its splash screen and then just sits there doing nothing. No errors are either reported or logged, though. The thing simply sits there idle, for no apparent reason.

So, I expect you could do a software-only install and then create a database using good old SQL*Plus and the ‘create database…’ command, but that’s obviously not the Atlas way of doing things… and I’ll therefore be working on this in the next day or two and, hopefully, get things running ‘properly’ once more; but I haven’t had a chance to try and diagnose this as yet, so I make no promises on that score!

Anyway: despite this failure to run Oracle, and with something approaching sheer recklessness, I nevertheless decided to do an in-place upgrade of my existing Fedora 25 desktop. It’s easy enough to do. First, I made sure everything on my version 25 PC was up-to-date:

sudo dnf upgrade --refresh

Next, I had to allow DNF to do system upgrades by installing a plugin that gives it the necessary functionality:

sudo dnf install dnf-plugin-system-upgrade

After that, just check that an in-place upgrade is actually possible:

sudo dnf system-upgrade download --refresh --releasever=26

If that reports unresolvable dependencies, then the upgrade won’t actually take place (unless you add the –allowerasing option, but then you will lose some software that’s already been installed, which may or may not be acceptable. I had to agree to lose my installation of the Chromium browser, for example: no great hardship these days, as I generally use Vivaldi, though as it turns out, it re-installs a more up-to-date version in its place anyway). But otherwise, it will download a lot of software (2.6GB in my case) and get your PC in a state ready to upgrade. Before finishing things off, best you take a backup of everything you care about: the next command is the point of no return:

sudo dnf system-upgrade reboot

…which actually does the business (and starts off with a reboot, so that the upgrade process takes place essentially in a command line-only environment). My upgrade took a while (my Internet connection is not great at the moment), but otherwise went well. All my apps appear to be running normally afterwards, too… so, no harm done (that I can tell!)

Password-less Samba on Fedora 25

I recently needed to allow a Windows server to access some files which were stored on my Fedora 25 PC. I could have used NFS, but for reasons passeth understanding, I decided to do it with Samba instead -and immediately discovered that my knowledge (or, rather, recollection) of Samba is a bit rusty these days! Sharing stuff is relatively easy to do… but doing it in the context of a PC that uses a firewall and SELinux was definitely not trivial.

So, on the grounds that Fedora 25 has 2 more days of life in it yet; and recognising that I need to remember this stuff from time to time, I wrote the inevitable short piece on the subject.

Understand, I’m not trying to be subtle about it: I wanted anyone to be able to do anything in the Samba network share, without being asked for usernames or passwords. This isn’t the sort of configuration you are likely to want in any production setting I can think of, but for a home network under my total and sole control, I figured it would do!

In any case, the new short article is here.

Atlas and Mint 18.2

It is obviously the season for assorted Linux distros to release new versions. Like busses, you wait a long time with nothing much happening -and then four or more come along at once!

On July 2nd, it was the turn of Linux Mint to release a new version, code-named Sonya, numbered 18.2.

It’s based on Ubuntu 16.04, which means it suffers from the usual problems that beset any Ubuntu-based distro when trying to install Oracle 12c Release 2… basically, nothing works at all! However, installing and using 12c Release 1 is fine.

Nothing about Atlas therefore has changed: it can be used as-is to achieve simpler 12cR1 installs on the new distro version:

Incidentally, I am still trying to work out what is going wrong with Ubuntu (and Ubuntu-based!) distros and 12c Release 2. I am not having much luck tracking it down, though. If anyone has input they’d care to offer, I’m all ears!