Do you know where your installation media is?

This was inspired by a Twitter comment and subsequent DMs, but I’m not going to name names. You know who you are… 🙂

Let me ask you some questions.

  • Do you have an archive of all your OS installation media?
  • Do you have an archive of all your software versions?
  • Do you have an archive of the patches you’ve downloaded over the years, along with any supporting tools?

If you answer “No” to any of those questions, you probably need to rethink your approach to managing your software.

Why?

You never know when there will be a catastrophic event and you will need to rebuild something. If you don’t have the exact software, you might not be able to get your system up and running again.

Don’t even get me started on build automation and/or documentation…

But I only use the latest software, so I can download it again!

I’m tempted to scream, “Liar!”

Every company I’ve worked for over the last 25+ years has had a mix of products, including some out of support old crap they try not to talk about. If they say they don’t, they are either a new startup, or they are lying.

But I can contact the vendor and get the media!

Can you? Do you know that? In the past I’ve had to open service requests to get old versions of the Oracle database software, and I’ve never been told no yet, but that’s a big risk to take. There is nothing to stop a vendor from hitting the delete key and making it impossible for you to get a copy of that software from them in future.

This is especially important if you are running old versions of products that are out of support.

When should I purge my archive?

I’m tempted to say never, but lets put a few ground rules in place.

  • A piece of software can only be removed if it is not used in your company anymore.
  • That includes offsite backups that might need the software if a rebuild were needed to allow you to restore/recover the backup. Some places keep old backups for several years, so this could be a long time.
  • For vendors, only when you can 100% guarantee the last of your customers has stopped using that version of the software. 100% guarantee. That probably means never.

Vendors: But we can rebuild that version using our build process!

Shut up. You need to keep all your build artefacts. You can’t guarantee that several years later your build process will be able to build exactly what you need. I know you kid yourself you can, but I think you are probably wrong. Just keep the bloody build artefacts.

What do I do?

I’m sure what I do is not perfect, but it’s pretty good. At work I have all the software we use. For each product version there is a directory containing the base installation media, along with sub-directories for all the patches we’ve downloaded, which includes any supporting tools. In the case of Oracle database software that will include the latest version of OPatch and tools like the PreUpgrade.jar etc.

Conclusion

It is your responsibility to keep hold of all your installation media and patches. If you don’t and a vendor won’t/can’t give you a download, you only have yourself to blame.

I don’t agree with vendors ever deleting old versions of their software, but you have to protect yourself against them potentially doing that.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Don’t ask me to send you old copies of stuff. It is illegal to do that, and I may not have what you are looking for anyway…

PPS. I reserve the right to post a, “I’ve messed up”, post next week when something happens and I don’t have the software. But at least I’ve tried… 🙂

Video : Instance Caging to Manage CPU Usage

In today’s video we’ll discuss instance caging to manage CPU usage. This can be useful when we are trying to consolidate multiple instances on a single server.

This video is based on the following article.

The star of today’s video is the beard belonging to Victor Torres. I feel totally inadequate with my patchy stubble… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Packer by HashiCorp : First Steps

A few days ago I wrote about some Vagrant Box Drama I was having. Martin Bach replied saying I should build my own Vagrant boxes. I’ve built Vagrant boxes manually before, as shown here.

The manual process is just boring, so I’ve tended to use other people’s Vagrant boxes, like “bento/oracle-8”, but then you are at the mercy of what they decide to include/exclude in their box. Martin replied again saying,

“Actually I thought the same until I finally managed to get around automating the whole lots with Packer and Ansible. Works like a dream now and with minimum effort”

Martin Bach

So that kind-of shamed me into taking a look at Packer. 🙂

I’d seen Packer before, but had not really spent any time playing with it, because I didn’t plan on being in the business of maintaining Vagrant box images. Recent events made me revisit that decision a little.

So over the weekend I spent some time playing with Packer. Packer can build all sorts of images, including Vagrant boxes (VirtualBox, VMware, Hyper-V etc.) and images for Cloud providers such as AWS, Azure and Oracle Cloud. I focused on trying to build a Vagrant box for Oracle Linux 8.2 + UEK, and only for a VirtualBox provider, as that’s what I needed.

The Packer docs are “functional”, but not that useful in my opinion. I got a lot more value from Google and digging around other people’s GitHub builds. As usual, you never find quite what you’re looking for, but there are pieces of interest, and ideas you can play with. I was kind-of hoping I could fork someone else’s repository and go from there, but it didn’t work out that way…

It was surprisingly easy to get something up and running. The biggest issue is time. You are doing a Kickstart installation for each test. Even for minimal installations that takes a while to complete, before you get to the point where you are testing your new “tweak”. If you can muscle your way through the boredom, you quickly get to something kind-of useful.

Eventually I got to something I was happy with and tested a bunch of my Vagrant builds against it, and it all seemed fine, so I then uploaded it to Vagrant Cloud.

I’ve already made some changes and uploaded a new version. 🙂

You will see a couple of older manually built boxes of mine under oraclebase. I’ll probably end up deleting those as they are possibly confusing, and definitely not maintained.

I’ve also altered all my OL8 Vagrant builds to use this box now.

You will also see a new sub-directory called “packer”. I think you can guess what’s in there. If I start to do more with this I may move it to its own repository, but for now this is fine.

I’m not really sure what else I will do with Packer from here. I will probably do an Oracle Linux 7 build, which will be very similar to what I already have. This first image is pretty large, as I’ve not paid much attention to reducing it’s size. I’ve looked at what some other builds do, and I’m not sure I agree with some of the stuff they remove. I’m sure I will alter my opinion on this over time.

I’m making no promises about these boxes. That same way I make no promised about any of my GitHub stuff. It’s stuff I’m playing around with, and I will mostly try to keep it up to date, but I’m not an expert and it’s not my job to maintain this. It’s just something that is useful for me, and if you like it, great. If not, there are lots of other places to look for inspiration. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Video : Simple Oracle Document Access (SODA) for SQLcl

In today’s video we give a demonstration of Simple Oracle Document Access (SODA) for SQLcl. SODA is a feature of Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS),
but this allows to access the document store directly from SQLcl.

This video is based on the following article.

You might find these useful.

The star of today’s video is Kris Rice, who’s essentially singing “dot com” underwater. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Video : Simple Oracle Document Access (SODA) for PL/SQL

In today’s video we give a demonstration of Simple Oracle Document Access (SODA) for PL/SQL. SODA is a feature of Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS),
but this PL/SQL interface for SODA was introduced in Oracle Database 18c.

The video is based on this article.

You might find these useful.

The star of today’s video is the son of Dan Iverson. Dan, not his son, is an Oracle ACE focusing on PeopleSoft and Oracle Cloud Architect. He’s also in Army National Guard, which means he’s already prepared for the zombie apocalypse! 🙂

Cheers

Tim…