Website Broken Links (Mostly Not Oracle-Related)

In a recent twitter exchange someone asked if I scan for broken links, oh if you only knew, and the answer is yes. I don’t do it all the time as the results can be rather depressing, and I am OCD enough to force myself to fix them. I also get people notifying me of them, which is very welcome, so I am always trying to keep on top of this stuff. Based on that exchange I thought it was about time, so I logged on the and started a new scan.

As usual, the number of internal broken links were low. I had a couple of typos in links that are now corrected.

Typically I am greeted by hundreds of broken links to Oracle documentation, but thankfully this time that was pretty good. Only about 30, many of which were to ORDS docs.

Probably the biggest offenders this time were:

  • Google : They dropped the Picassa URLs, so lots of blog posts had to be amended.
  • Twitter. Now it’s not actually Twitter’s fault, but there were a lot of twitter accounts in the blog comments that no longer exist. I’m not even talking about those that are obvious people trying to promote their brand, but regular users too. I didn’t realise ditching your Twitter account was such a big thing.
  • URL Shortners : Either the URL shortener reference no longer exists, the thing it points to no longer exists, or a retweet has chopped off the URL, so it is just junk.

I’ve been pretty merciless with some of this stuff. Rather than wasting a whole weekend, it’s only taken about 2 hours to get things ship-shape.



MobaXterm 10.0

See Updates!

MobaXterm 10.0 was released a couple of days ago. As well as the usual bug fixes there are a number of enhancements and a new flatter look and feel.

Downloads and changelog in the usual places.

Happy upgrading!



Update: McAfee is listing this as containing the “Artemis!10A4D2BC47D8” trojan. I’ve backed out to 9.4 and contacted Mobatek, who tell me it’s a false positive. I’ve spoken to others who say their AV lists it as good. I’m going to try and contact McAfee to get them to sort their listing.

Update 2: My company have filed a potential false-positive with McAfee.

Update 3: Mobatek have pulled this version until they can work out this false positive with McAfee, then reissue it later.

The Great Wall

I went to see The Great Wall last night.


The critics gave it a hard time. The reviews aren’t great. It’s a really cool film!

OK, it doesn’t have the best story. The character development isn’t great. The progression of Matt Damon’s character is quite clumsy. I see the flaws in all that, but my gosh what visuals!

If you are going to watch this film I would suggest watching it on the biggest screen you can find. I watched it on an IMAX 3D and it was amazing. The use of colour was out of this world. Visually it was like all the best bits of House of Flying Daggers and Hero, mixed with a bit of video game feel and a real-life version of animation. It was just spectacular.

As I mentioned, Matt Damon’s character was not my favourite. In a way I would have preferred him not to be in it. I know what he was meant to represent in the film, but I found it a distraction. The real lead character was Tian Jing (Commander Lin Mae), who is fearless, beautiful and totally kick-ass as leader of the Crane Corps. Watching the Crane Corps on a big screen, especially on 3D, is enough to make you lose your dinner! According to IMDB she is in the new Kong film too. I hope they’ve given her a decent role, not just some crappy love interest.

China has some seriously spectacular scenery. If you’ve watched any of the Chinese epics that have been released over the last 15 years you will know what I mean.

So disconnect your brain, sit back and bask in all visual glory!



Oracle Upgrade/Migration : What method are you using?

I tweeted a couple of days ago about an important upgrade/migration I was doing yesterday. I was moving a smallish, but high profile, database from Oracle 11g on HP-UX Itanium to Oracle 12c on Oracle Linux inside a VMware VM. Almost immediately Joey D’Antoni came back with the question, “What method are you using?” I thought it might be worth writing a little something about the decision process.

When you are deciding how to upgrade and/or migrate a database there are a few things to consider:

  • Platform : Prior to Oracle 10g, if you wanted to change platforms, you didn’t have much of a choice, it was exp/imp only. As well as introducing data pump, Oracle 10g introduced the ability to convert datafiles and image copy backups using the RMAN CONVERT command. This meant transportable tablespaces were a valid option for platform migration, with or without upgrades.
  • Size : Above a certain size, waiting for an expdp/impdp is not practical. You are going to want to minimise downtime.
  • Allowable Downtime : Despite what the marketing people would have us believe, not all databases have to be 24×7. You should always try to minimise downtime, but it is not always necessary to eliminate it completely. If downtime is an issue there are options, but they may involve additional effort and cost.
  • Money : You can do almost anything if you are willing to throw time and money at it.
  • Junk : When you take a look at a database that has gone through successive upgrades, you can often see the lingering signs of old crap and bad decisions that will haunt you forever. It is really nice if you can start fresh and correct some of the mistakes of the past.

Not everyone has the luxury of large amounts of downtime, so what can you do to minimise downtime? Here are a few options, each having their own pros and cons, as well as restrictions depending on if your focus is migration, upgrade or both. It’s not an exhaustive list. 🙂

  • Transportable tablespaces, or transportable database, reduce migration time to about the time it takes to copy the files between servers. Depending on your storage tech, this could be a very short time indeed. The nice thing about this is it can be used across platforms and between versions, so an “upgrade” using TTS can be really quick. I used this for a Solaris to Oracle Linux move about a year ago.
  • You can use backups to restore a database to a new location, then keep recovering it using archived redo logs until the changeover time. Then ship the final archived redo logs, recovery the new database and you’re done. You could do the same thing with incrementally updated image copy backups. This is more about migration than upgrade.
  • When you are reading the previous point, you are probably thinking that sounds similar to Data Guard, and you could use this to switch machines and/or perform a rolling upgrade. If you are using standard edition, you could use Dbvisit Standby. Either way, the migration could be as quick as a switchover.
  • You can do an RMAN DUPLICATE to switch servers. It’s not going to upgrade your database, but you can use this to move it, then upgrade later.
  • You can replicate between the old and new system until your changeover point. You might use something like Golden Gate or Dbvisit Replicate to do this.
  • You can use the good old expdp/impdp. It’s probably going to be slow, and require a lot of downtime, but it’s logically simple.

There are lots of variations on a theme. The important point is you pick what’s right for you.

So what did I pick for this upgrade/migration? It was good old expdp/impdp. Why?

  • The database was relatively small.
  • The downtime involved was acceptable. It’s mostly accessed during the day and I started the process stupidly early to minimise the effect on the users.
  • It allowed me to clean up a lot of crap in the process. The database was about 18 years old and had been through previous upgrades and server migrations. It was bearing the scars of those and I wanted to clean it all up.
  • It allowed me to both upgrade and migrate in a single step, so it was logically very simple.

As always, there is not a *best* solution. You have to pick what is right for you and the constraints you are working with.

How did it go? Fine. We had already gone through the process in a Dev and Test environment, and I had done a run through on the new production kit also, so I knew it would work and I also had accurate timings, which made it easier to sell it to the decision makers.

Happy days!



PS. We will inevitably have some firefighting to do, as people always forget about the odd interface or application that connects to the system once in a blue moon. The old instance is turned off, so we should find out if anything has been forgotten pretty quick! 🙂

Oracle : Sad Times

During my Oracle’s Cloud Licensing Change : Be Warned! post I said, “It’s getting really hard to remain an Oracle fanboy these days!”

Since then I’ve heard a number of stories of customers being contacted and told they need to double their licensing for systems on the cloud. This is for existing systems that were “fully licensed” before 23rd January 2017. I’ve also heard of a number of big companies that have now made policy changes to avoid Oracle in future. One person contacted me to say their company has now declared Oracle a “Sunset Platform”.

  • I like playing with Oracle tech. I’ve spent the last 21+ years doing it.
  • I like learning new stuff and writing about it.
  • I like interacting with the Oracle community and helping people.
  • I like interacting with the techies in Oracle, as I think their hearts are in the right place.
  • I can’t understand why the business side of Oracle are constantly sabotaging themselves. Every time you oversell a product/service that doesn’t live up to the hype, people believe you less the next time. Every time you piss off your existing customers, they start looking for alternatives, of which there are plenty these days! It’s not like new customers are flooding in, so why turn away your existing customers?

I’ve turned off comments as this is not a call to arms. It’s just how I’ve been feeling over the last few days, having read through your messages that typically begin with, “Please don’t mention my name!”, or, “Please don’t mention my company name!” It’s a really sad time!



PS. Once again, I’m *not* saying a policy update overrides your contract. I’m just mentioning how I feel about the contents in the private messages I’m receiving from people!

SQL Server : Back to School

In my current role about a third of the databases I look after are on SQL Server. The University as a whole has more SQL Server than Oracle, but most of the key systems are on Oracle and that is what my department work on.

I’ve been working with SQL Server since version 7.x, but it has never been a primary focus of mine. As a result, I am an “adequate” SQL Server DBA, but if I ever come to you asking for a job as a SQL Server DBA, press that button on your desk that opens the trap-door under my feet. 🙂

A couple of days ago I had a message from a colleague in another team, asking me if I could take a look at a performance problem on a SQL Server database that sits under SCCM. Cue panic, cold sweats, paranoia, fear of being “found out” etc. 🙂 A few seconds later I gathered myself and thought, what would I do if this were an Oracle database? With that safety blanket firmly in hand, I plugged through the process like I would on Oracle (turn it off and on again 🙂 ) and a bit later everything was OK. It was a little bit random, but we got there.

Yesterday I got another call about the same system. A little better prepared this time, we walked through some stuff and I think we have a better understanding of the issues now. It’s not so much a SQL Server problem as a SCCM problem, in my opinion that is. 🙂

Anyway, during the process I was repeatedly asking Uncle-Google about stuff and regularly came across information by Thomas LaRock, either directly or by people quoting or pointing to his material. I was already aware of Thomas after being introduced to him online a long time ago by Jeff Smith, when he pointed out that Thomas became a Microsoft MVP on April 1st, the same day of the year I became an Oracle ACE. 🙂

So this overly long and random post is basically saying, “Thanks Thomas for putting out quality material on the interwebs!”, and if you are a SQL Server DBA, check out his blog! 🙂



OUG Ireland 2017 : See You There!

I’m speaking at this years OUG Ireland event! (agenda)

I booked my flights a little later this year, so the flights are super-expensive, about £38 return. 🙂 I’ve also booked a night in the Holiday Inn. That’s right, I’m staying for both days this year! 🙂

Both my sessions are on the first day, so I will have the second day to relax and mingle. 🙂

See you there!



Oracle Cloud : 17 Months Later

I had a couple of comments on a previous email from an Oracle salesperson. In response to one of them I linked to my Oracle Cloud : First Impressions post. His reply to that was,

@ Tim. You are referring to a review from August 28, 2015? Facts from 17 months ago-Seriously? #OracleCloud has changed *significantly* in 17 months. Suggest you relook/re-evaluate your research.

So here is the update of the stuff I said 17-ish months ago and the state of things as I see them now. Remember, this was a direct challenge from an Oracle salesperson.

Oracle Cloud : Look and Feel

At the time I was pretty positive about this. At first there were some inconsistencies in the navigation menus. They later made some changes to make things more consistent and I reflected that in my article in an update.

My biggest problem at the time was how slow the interface for Oracle Public Cloud was. Well, 17 months later it is still slow. Sometimes taking 30+ seconds to respond when you click a tab. I’ve heard people say, “It’s your internet connection!”, before. Nope! Same at work (a University with a scarily fast internet connection), home and at Oracle HQ. 🙂 In comparison the Azure or AWS the Oracle Public Cloud interface feels slow and unresponsive.

Oracle Cloud : Ease of Use

I was also pretty positive about this in my initial review. Same here really.

My major gripe was with the firewall interface. If you access this via a service like DBaaS, it does limit the view of the rules to that service now, which makes it more usable. Before you could only edit them from the Compute > Network section, so you saw all the rules for all your services. That was a nightmare.

You still can’t edit the rules, with the exception of enable/disable. I don’t like this. It feels like someone has put a wrapper over basic firewall commands, rather than thinking how a user might like to use this interface. Don’t get me wrong, the firewall interface is better than it was, but it still feels like a botch-job to me.

A quote from someone who shall remain nameless,

My router at home has a better firewall interface than Oracle Public Cloud.

Remember, I’m not talking about the security of the firewall. I’m talking about the interface here!

DBaaS Specifically

No multiplexed redo logs. That was the case 17 months ago. That’s the case today. I don’t consider an instance without multiplexed redo logs fit for anything but playing. It is an Oracle recommendation to multiplex redo logs. See here.

Oracle recommends that you multiplex your redo log files. The loss of the log file data can be catastrophic if recovery is required. Note that when you multiplex the redo log, the database must increase the amount of I/O that it performs. Depending on your configuration, this may impact overall database performance.

So before you use DBaaS for anything other than messing about, multiplex those logs.

Management Fragmentation. That was the case 17 months ago. That’s the case today. Some of the service management is done in the main cloud interface. Some is, or can be, done in the DBaaS Monitor application, which has improved, but I’m still not really a fan. For other tasks you jump across to [DBConsole – 11g | DB Express -12c]. This is still a fragmented approach to management and doesn’t feel like a consistent DBaaS offering to me.

Firewall. I’ve mentioned this before. There have been improvements in this area, but I still don’t like it. DBaaS still builds a bunch of disabled public rules which you would be insane to enable. I can only imagine that they are there for inspiration. As mentioned previously, you can’t edit them. So my comment from 17 months ago stands. Do it properly or don’t bother.

Access to Management Interfaces. My original point was, because of the fragmentation of the management interface explained above, some of the management functionality is not available until you define firewall rules to access it. This is because of a design choice. It felt wrong then. It feels wrong now.

Access to OS. This is very much *my opinion* and I’m sure many others will not agree. I feel like a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, which Database as a Service (DBaaS) is a part, should separate you from certain bits of the infrastructure. I originally thought access to the OS and therefore the Oracle installation was a good thing. As I started using the system it felt too much like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). I would prefer a fully managed service, which Oracle are going to offer at some point in the future. Like I said, just my opinion of what PaaS and IaaS are… So my opinion remains unchanged since the original post. Please don’t comment about Schema Service or Exadata Express as exampled of fully managed services. I don’t need to get into another fight!

Oracle Database Cloud Service – Virtual Image. I thought it was a waste of time when I tried it. I still think it’s a waste of time. If I’ve got to do everything myself, it’s not DBaaS. Get rid of this option and make me use IaaS.


That article from 17-ish months ago is still pretty much on the button today.

Oracle Public Cloud has certainly changed a lot over that time, but most of the points I raised all that time ago have not been addressed, or at least not to my satisfaction.

These issue were raised in that original blog, directly using a private feedback space set up for Oracle ACEs, and in some cases directly with PMs. I believe I’ve done everything I can as a self-proclaimed fanboy to get this stuff sorted.

I’m sure, based on my previous post about the cloud licensing policy change, some people will see this as me angling for a fight, but I’m really not. I had no intention of writing this post until I was directly challenged to do so by this sales guy. If he had taken the time to check his facts before issuing this challenge, I guess he would have kept his gob shut!