PCLinuxOS is a bit of a weird distro, in that it is pretty much independent of any other: it’s not based or built on Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora or, indeed, anything else. It’s sui generis.
It accordingly comes with some surprises: it’s package management is based on rpm, but you use apt-get to install them, for example. It is also just about the only distro Atlas works on that does NOT use systemd for any of its initialization processes (which means that things like setting hostnames and auto-starting Oracle databases use mechanisms that Atlas has to use nowhere else). PCLinuxOS is surprisingly ‘old school’ when it comes to things like systemd. Not here, not now! Personally, I can’t help but feel that they’re on the losing side of history for that particular argument…
Distrowatch lists it 14th on its list of distros, though, so whatever its quirks, it’s reasonably popular. That’s perhaps because it has been around for a long time: it started life back in the early 2000s as a set of RPMs you could use to customize Mandrake Linux. In 2007, it became a distro in its own right, basically forking from Mandrake and Mandriva. From there, it ploughed its own furrow to become the unique distro we can experience today.
However, “unique” doesn’t necessarily mean “pleasant”! I find the distro’s default visual look rather ‘busy’ and ghastly and its cutesy audio prompts when you log in and out are just annoying. But it is what it is, and for the purposes of this article, it’s enough that Atlas (and Oracle 12c!) run fine on PCLinuxOS 2016 upwards.
As is the case with all Atlas/Oracle installs, your server needs to be built with at least 5GB RAM and at least a 40GB hard disk; you must additionally ensure you have installed wmctrl or xdotool before attempting to launch Atlas.
Please watch the generic Atlas videos here, here and here to get an idea of how Atlas works in general. The generic documentation (including those videos) are available from this page. Below are PCLinuxOS-specific notes.
2.0 What’s been tested?
- PCLinuxOS 2016 KDE
3.0 Operating System media
PCLinuxOS is available in various forms from the project’s download page (use the ‘Get PCLinuxOS’ tab). There are three versions to download, depending on what desktop environment you want to use and how much extra software you want thrown into the mix.
I downloaded and tested the KDE version only, together with the KDE “Full Monty” release (which is basically KDE plus the most hideous, over-wrought desktop you’ve ever seen in your life!)
4.0 Operating System installation issues
The PCLinuxOS installer is a fairly crude affair that requires nothing more than (mostly) clicking [Next]. Potentially the hardest job is working out the first boot menu! There are a lot of options:
You could boot into the live environment (i.e., run direct off the DVD), or copy to RAM and run off that: both are safe ways to explore the distro without actually installing anything -though both then offer an ‘install to hard disk’ option. But you can also directly opt to perform a traditional to-disk install (which is the option I’m going for in the above screenshot).
In all cases, you end up running the ‘Drakinstaller’ (the name gives away the Mandrake origins of this distro). It isn’t pretty:
…but I guess it’s functional enough for what it needs to do. Just click through, accepting all defaults -which include erasing your entire hard disk and turning it into a single, giant partition (which is fine for Atlas’ and Oracle’s needs).
There is a confusing bit part-way through, after the main OS files have been copied to disk:
It is not obvious (I think) that the password you’re being prompted for here is the bootloader’s password. Supplying a password here means that you can’t even boot your PC without supplying appropriate authentication. It’s not the same thing as supplying a root user’s password, though: so I suggest you leave it blank, unless you really do want the ‘don’t even boot’ level of protection it affords.
Curiously, it’s only after you’ve filled in that screen and rebooted your new server that you get prompted to supply the sort of information that most distros ask you up-front: your timezone, the root user’s password, details for a non-root user and so on. After that, you can immediately log on as the non-root user.
There is no need to install wmctrl or xdotool: wmctrl is already included by default, which is enough for Atlas to work. If you nevertheless wanted to install xdotool (which isn’t included by default), you are free to do so, of course. You would need to issue these commands to do it:
su - root apt-get install xdotool
Note that you have to su – root: PCLinuxOS doesn’t use sudo by default, so I’m afraid you need to know your root password and actually become the root user before being able to issue commands with super-user privileges.
I would also suggest taking the time to reduce the font-size of the default Konsole terminal font. It starts off enormous (for my tastes) and clunking it back down to something like 9-point makes for a happier viewing experience. From the terminal’s top menu, click Settings > Switch Profile > shell and then Settings > Edit Current Profile:
Pick a colour scheme and text size that suits you.
I should mention that in VirtualBox, I was able to scale the screen resolution up to Atlas-usable levels (better than about 1200 x 750) without the need to install any guest additions. However, my choice of screen resolutions was a bit limited:
All but the bottom two options on the list (and the 1024 x 768 default) are usable by Atlas, though, so no major harm arises from this lack of choice.
5.0 Running Atlas
Once your O/S is running at a reasonably high screen resolution and with your terminal set to look acceptably readable, you can download and run Atlas in the usual way:
wget http://bit.do/dizatlas -O atlas.sh chmod +x atlas.sh ./atlas.sh
Thereafter, just follow the prompts.
At one point, Atlas will spot that the PCLinuxOS installer doesn’t actually give you a chance to name your new server properly:
You get to type a new host name now: make it a fully-qualified one (i.e., with a domain name component attached). If you don’t have a proper domain name to use, make one up: the one you see me using in the screenshot (‘dizwell.home’) has no validity beyond the walls of my study, but works well enough in my home networking environment.
If you feel the need for a very long host/domain name combo, you will see your typing scroll onto the next line, over on the left-hand side of the screen. This is fine: so long as there are no spaces in anything you type, it will work, despite the ugly line wrapping. You’ll find that there’s no ability to backspace up to where you started typing, either: so if you make a mistake, just Ctrl+C to quit Atlas entirely, re-launch it and try typing it more accurately next time.
But if you can keep your hostnames short and sweet -and therefore on the one line-: even better!
Incidentally, if you just press [Enter] at the prompt, your PCLinuxOS server will forcibly be renamed to be “osrvr.test.lab” …so be sure to type your own name in if that seems a dumb sort of default to you!
You may see a message appear in the top left-hand corner of your terminal session after a new hostname has been specified, along the lines of ‘No protocol specified. Cannot open display’. This is just a side-effect of changing hostnames part-way through proceedings and can be ignored: it doesn’t prevent Atlas from doing all that it has to do.
6.0 Installing Oracle 12c
The Oracle installation starts by declaring that your system is inadequate:
This is standard fare from Oracle, who doesn’t really want their software running on anything apart from a couple of Enterprise-class distros. The message can, in any case, be ignored by simply clicking [Yes], to insist that you do want to continue.
After that… nothing alarming happens. You can keep clicking [Next] for the most part.
The installer sails through the linking phase without drama and the database creation process begins -and finishes- without a problem. When you are prompted to run the two root scripts, remember that you can’t just sudo them: you actually have to become root with a su – root and run them that way.
Because there were no linking errors, an atlas-postinstall.sh script gets created in the oracle user’s Documents directory by Atlas. This can be run once the linking phase is complete (or after the entire installation, including database creation, completes), if you would like to do so. Running it is entirely optional:
Since I am my own oracle user, that’s me travelling to my own Documents directory, where I find a file called atlas-postinstall.sh. Note that it has already been made executable by Atlas. Therefore, to run it, you just type the command shown:
When you do that, there is no indication given that anything has happened, but when you then go on to run SQL*Plus queries, you’ll find that the output is page- and line-size formatted sensibly (unlike what you’d get by default).
However, it’s entirely optional whether you run this script: there’s no requirement to do so.
Anyway: here’s the finished result on PCLinuxOS:
Note that in this screenshot you see me typing the command: sql. That is simply an alias to the actual command sqlplus / as sysdba (thus logging you on to the database as SYS). The alias is there for convenience -and also invokes rlwrap, so that you can scroll up and down through all the commands you might type at the SQL*Plus command line. The alias gives you a command line history, in other words. If you prefer not to have a command line history, just type the regular command. The choice is yours.
Here is the Full Monty version of the PCLinuxOS KDE distro running Oracle successfully, too: