Journey to the Center of the Earth…

Journey to the Center of the Earth is definitely a kids film, but don’t let that put you off because it’s quite enjoyable. I wasn’t that bothered about seeing the film itself. I was more interested to see the 3D stuff in action. Unfortunately when I got to the cinema I found out they were only showing the 2D version, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway.

It’s not overloaded with story. It’s like Disney World meets The Mummy, but even without the 3D effects it was fun. I’m guessing with the 3D stuff it will be quite cool. I’m not sure I can be bothered to go again and see the 3D version, so if anyone goes to see it, please tell me what the visuals were like… πŸ™‚



PS. The posters for Hellboy II: The Golden Army look really cool!

The Forbidden Kingdom…

I had great expectations for The Forbidden Kingdom because it stars Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Collin Chou (Seraph from The Matrix II & III), but I was a little disappointed. I’m not saying it was a bad film. Far from it. I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to any martial arts fan, but I wanted something extra. I thought the wire work was a little sloppy at times and some of the fight scenes lacked a little clarity. On the positive side, the visuals were stunning!

When judging martial arts films, one of my main criteria is whether it makes me want to train. The fact I came out of the cinema thinking I need to get to more Karate sessions means it probably did its job. πŸ™‚




I mentioned in a previous post I was speaking at the UKOUG DE SIG today. The talk itself went fine, but I had a bit of a scare before hand. I drove from work to the venue and managed to get lost, which is a little surprising as it was in Birmingham and I’ve lived in Birmingham for the last 20 years. Personally I blame my total reliance on SatNav… πŸ™‚ It takes me about 10 minutes to get setup, including starting virtual machines, and I arrived 15 minutes before my talk was scheduled. Too close for comfort!

I’d like to send a big thank you to Andrew Clarke for organising the event and letting me speak. It’s just a pity I couldn’t get a day off work to attend the whole event.



Google Calendar and GooSync…

I read Jake’s post this morning and it hit a raw nerve because I’m a bit slack on the Calendar front. I use the calendar on my phone, but don’t sync it to anything, so when I “misplaced” my phone yesterday morning I had lost everything… Fortunately I found my phone last night, but it made me realize I’m one incident away from being screwed.

As a result I decided to centralize my calendar on Google Calendar and use GooSync to synchronize my online and phone calendars.

Now as long as I don’t lose my phone on the same day Google go out of business, I’m probably safe… πŸ™‚



Desktop Virtualization Tools…

Some quick thoughts on the state of desktop virtualization tools…


If you’ve been checking out my RAC articles, you’ll have probably noticed I’m a bit of a VMware fan. I originally used VMware Workstation, but switched to the free VMware Server when it was released in 2006. I don’t have much cause to complain about VMware Server, but it’s always good to take a look at the competition to see if I’m missing out…

I guess before I start talking about virtualization, I should define what I mean by desktop virtualization. For me, “server” virtualization tools should install on the bare-bones hardware, like Oracle VM and VMware ESXi. I don’t want to waste resources on having a host OS running as well as my virtual machine. On the other hand, desktop virtualization tools should run on top of my host OS, so I can play about with other operating systems, but don’t have to dedicate my hardware to that task.

Vmware Server

Even though the name contains the word “Server”, I still think of this as a desktop virtualization tool as it installs on top of the host OS, not on the bare-bones hardware. That said, it’s the most server-like of the desktop virtualization tools I’ve used. It’s very stable and very feature rich. That’s a good point for someone like me, but may be off-putting to the more casual users.

I guess the standout feature for me is the ability to share disks between VMs. This makes RAC installations using ASM, OCFS2 and raw disks possible, which is a pretty big thing for me. Obviously, if you never do RAC installations using shared disks this is irrelevant.

I guess my only real gripe about this product is VMware are slow to add new OS support. I’ve been waiting for the final release of version 2.0 for a long time, so I still don’t have proper RHEL5 support. That said, I’ve not yet run into any problems running RHEL5 or any other OS, so I guess I’m being mega-picky considering it’s free. πŸ™‚

If you’re an Apple fan you are out of luck. VMware Server is a Linux and Windows tool only. That’s not as much of a limitation as it sounds since it’s supposed to be a server tool. VMware Fusion supports Macs, but it’s not free.


I got my current laptop about 1 year ago and it came with Windows Vista. I tried to use VMware Server on it and ran into a bunch of network related problems. I knew some people who were using ParallelsΒ on Apple Macs and I saw from the website it was compatible with Vista, so I spent some money and got a copy of it.

Parallels was easy to use and “did what it said on the tin”. I had no problems running Windows and Linux guests, but it wouldn’t let me share virtual disks between VMs and it cost money. The first point was a major issue for me. The second one wasn’t so bad, but a little annoying when I was used to using a free product. πŸ™‚

While using Parallels on my laptop I was still using VMware Server on my main Linux boxes. Not long after buying parallels I found a solution to my VMware Server on Vista networking issues, so I switched back to VMware Server and never launched Parallels again.

I guess Parallels trump card has been the support for Apple Macs, so you can use one tool for Windows, Linux and Mac.


This has been knocking on the door of VMware for some time. I guess two really big steps for Xen, as far as people like me are concerned, have been its inclusion in enterprise distributions, like RHEL5, and the introduction of Oracle VM. The enterprise linux distributions (Red Hat, SUSE etc.) approach is to run Xen on top of the Host operating system, making it look very much like a desktop tool. This is a bit unfair as it’s certainly got more to it than that, but that’s how it appears. Oracle’s approach with Oracle VM is to “remove” the host OS and allow it to be installed on bare-bones hardware. I say “remove” because it is still there, but it’s a very small footprint, not a complete kernel+tools installation. This is much the same as the approach used by VMware ESXi. The inclusion in heavyweight distributions like RHEL and its use by Oracle in Oracle VM send out a strong signal about the power of Xen.

As soon as I got my hands on CentOS 5, I gave Xen a try and was pleasantly surprised. It works well and has the “server clout” that some of the other tools lack. When chatting to some Red Hat staff about a year ago, the general consensus was Xen out-performs VMware for Linux VMs, but it a little slower than VMware for Windows VMs. I’m not sure if that position has altered since then and I certainly have no evidence to backup that statement. πŸ™‚

I guess the biggest issue for most people will be that Xen is only available on Linux. That’s fine as far as server virtualization is concerned, but it means it drops off the map where desktop virtualization is concerned because it’s still a MIcrosoft world out there.


Available for about 18 months, and acquired by Sun about 5 months ago, I only noticed VirtualBox a few weeks ago when I was looking through the “Add/Remove Applications” utility on Ubuntu 8. A bit of Googling and it turned out to be the current darling of desktop virtualization. Of course, now I know it exists I can’t go a day without noticing someone else writing about it. So today I thought I would give it a shot, which ultimately inspired this post.

I’ve done a test drive of Virtual Box Open Source Edition (OSE) on Ubuntu and it’s pretty sweet. The interface is very simple and it works fine. I can’t speak for the paid-for product, but the OSE edition has no pretensions of being a server virtualization product, so it lacks some of the things I hold dear, like shared disks. What’s more, looking through the forum, it is unlikely to add this type of functionality in the near future, as its quite rightly not considered a must-have for the desktop.

If you are thinking about running Oracle 11g on VirtualBox, you might want to read this post by Eddie Awad.

I guess the two big plus points in favor of Virtual Box are its free, and its available for Windows, Linux and Mac. Those two alone make it pretty compelling.


I know there’s a bunch of other virtualization tool out there, but I don’t consider any of them particularly mainstream. I know Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 could be considered a biggy, but I would never use a Windows only product like this because I’m not a Windows only guy. Call me biased, but it is my blog.

Update: Look at Qemu if you need non-x86 emulation, or coLinux if you only use Linux VMs. πŸ™‚


For the time being I will be sticking with VMware Server. The main reason for this is it allows me to do my RAC installations using shared disks. Added to that, I can share my VMs between my Linux and Windows boxes with no problems.

If you don’t need shared disks I would seriously consider VirtualBox because it’s simple, free and supports all the right platforms. Seems like the obvious choice for most people. πŸ™‚

I’m interested to know your feelings on these and other products. After all, I’m just speaking from my experience of them and it’s always good hear differing opinions.




Hancock was a bit of a surprise. It’s a story about a superhero who’s down on his luck and is looking for redemption. It was a genuinely funny movie that only descended into cornball cheese a couple of times. I knew nothing about the story before I went to the movie, so there were a couple of very unexpected bits.

It’s not the best story in the world, but it works pretty well for a dumbass blockbuster movie. I hope they don’t try to make it into a franchise because I don’t think we need another Superman. Come to think of it, I don’t think we need Superman at all. πŸ™‚



Case Sensitive Passwords in 11g…

This article is the last in the “Security: New Features” section of the OCP upgrade exam syllabus, which includes:

Just because these are the only security new features listed in the exam, don’t be fooled into thinking they are the only things you should care about. There are plenty more listed in the Security New Features section of the New Features Guide.

In addition to checking out the manuals, you might want to jump over to Pete Finnigan‘s site to check out some of his 11g security stuff.