Why is my VirtualBox VM not starting properly?

I’ve just wasted quite a bit of time trying to figure out why one of my VirtualBox VMs wasn’t starting properly, so I thought I would share the experience here in case anyone else has a similar issue…

It all started because I decided to fire up an OL6 VM, that I hadn’t used for a little while. It started up fine and I figured I should probably patch the OS and the VirtualBox Guest Additions. The first thing I did was a “yum update” to bring it up to OL6.4 and the the latest UEK2. Once that was complete I did a reboot and that is where the issue started. The VM booted in the normal fashion, but then hung at this point.


I was able to SSH to the VM, so I knew it wasn’t a complete disaster, but something was definitely wrong.

I tried an interactive startup, just to see if the main part of the startup was actually OK, as the white bar suggests. Sure enough, everything started as expected, then just hung after the last prompt.

Next, I started up in single user mode. That went fine, so I switched to full user mode using “init 3”. That was also went OK. Rather than doing “init 5” I just typed “startx”, which produced a big pile of garbage. So X was mangled, but I wasn’t getting kicked back to the prompt.

Before embarking on a mission to fix X I decided to upgrade the VirtualBox Guest Additions. That removed the old 4.2.6 version and installed the 4.2.10 version. Once complete I rebooted and everything worked fine. 🙂

Normally I try to keep my Linux kernels and VirtualBox Guest Additions up to date, but even when I’ve let VMs like this fall by the wayside I’ve not encountered this before.

Anyway, I can chalk that up to experience. 🙂



Oracle Forms and Reports Services 11gR2 on Oracle Linux 6…

Last year I wrote an article about the installation of Oracle Forms and Reports Services 11gR2 on Oracle Linux 5. I’ve now written the article for Oracle Forms and Reports Services 11gR2 on Oracle Linux 6. The latest patch of F&RS is certified for OL6, along with JDK6 and JDK7.

In addition to the installation articles, I’ve compiled a collection of random notes about post-installation configuration into a separate article. I keep adding to it every time I come across a new (for me) issue.

I’m hoping this will stop me falling into the trap I did with AS10g, where I didn’t write down any of this stuff, assuming I would remember it, only to find I couldn’t remember Jack a few years later. 🙂




UltraEdit for Linux/Mac v4.0 Beta II

Hot on the heels of the recent UltraEdit v19 release for Windows, comes the UltraEdit v4 Beta II release for Linux/Mac.

I’ve just started using it and so far so good. They usually progress through the betas pretty quick. I didn’t have time to install the beta I before this one dropped. 🙂



The problem with free and RSS…

The internet has been awash with people bemoaning the decision by Google to close Google Reader. Probably the next biggest talking point has been people asking what they can use to replace it when it’s gone. I’m planning on giving TheOldReader.com a test-drive, once I can get my feeds imported. 🙂

The problem with free

This highlights one of the problems with free stuff. It’s not (always) really free. Google spent a few years building stuff, some of which was pretty cool, and most of which was free, but sooner or later they needed to find a way to monetize this stuff. That’s one thing that never happened with Reader, so not surprisingly it joined the growing list of things that have been cleaned away to make room for the more profitable stuff. It’s a pity Google didn’t first ask people if they were willing to pay a fee to keep the service. Like many others, I would have been willing to pay for the privilege of retaining it.

The problem with RSS

It also suggests that RSS was never really that popular. It’s easy when you are a tech-blogger to think the whole world reads blogs and cares about RSS, but the truth is most people just don’t give a crap. I use RSS to keep on top of things going on in the industry. If I relied on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook I would miss out on loads of things because the UK timezone doesn’t really fit with the vast majority of publishing in my chosen profession. Also, the signal:noise ratio of my RSS feeds is much better than that of most social media channels I subscribe to. So being one of the vast minority of people that actually do care about RSS has left me in a bad situation.

I’m interested to hear any thoughts on ways of ridding myself of RSS, or any other tools you’ve seen that might help me out of my current predicament. 🙂



Update: I’ve decided on feedly.com for the moment.





Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) : The clue is in the name!

When you read the term “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO), the word “Total” is pretty important!

Here is a paraphrased conversation I had recently…

  • Person: Product X is free!
  • Myself and others: The staff training costs to enable the long term support of product X, are not free though. Added to that, these people still have to support products Y and Z, so you are adding to their workload. You might even have to add people to the existing team, so the TCO may be far from free.
  • Person: But the product is free!

You can see where this is going. 🙂

I love free software. I use it alot. There is loads of great free software out there. The problem is, many people focus so much on the price tag they forget to factor in what this really means in terms of total cost of ownership. Depending on the product and the company culture, the cost of training associated with a product shift may be more than the licensing costs of your existing products. As a result, you may see a short term increase in costs, followed by a reduction in costs over time. The point is, blindly saying “Product X is free!” is incredibly naive.

So next time you are discussing the cost of something, don’t forget the word “total” in TCO.



PS. The conversation was not about Oracle products, so this isn’t a case of me trying to justify Oracle license costs. 🙂

God Emperor of Dune…

God Emperor of Dune is the fourth book in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.

After the randomness of the previous book, this fourth one was a lot more on-the-money. There are a number of scenes in the book I really hooked into, including one I blogged about a few days ago. It’s far from perfect, but it kept me interested. Probably the worst part of the book was then ending, which was rather lackluster.

I’m looking forward to see if this direction continues into the next book.