Which version of Oracle Linux should I pick for Oracle server product installations?


linux-tuxOracle certifies many of their latest products for installation on Oracle Linux 6 and 7, so I guess the obvious question is, which should you pick?

I tend to have a dual approach to this. I always use the latest versions of everything for my play kit, but I tend to be a little conservative for production deployments, preferring to use the OS version the product was developed against. I’ve noticed Oracle Cloud and some VM templates are still using Oracle Linux 6, which makes me think Oracle are being a little conservative too.

We were lucky enough to get some time with Wim Coekaerts during the ACE Director briefing at Oracle OpenWorld 2015. During Wim’s session I asked this very question and (to paraphrase his response) he said, the products are written on Oracle Linux 6, so that’s a safe bet. The products are certified and supported on Oracle Linux 7, so you are fine to choose that, but it doesn’t really matter if you prefer to stick with Oracle Linux 6.

You might be asking yourself, why would I stick with such an old distribution? If you are using Oracle Linux you should be using Oracle’s kernel (currently UEK3), so even if the main distribution is older, you are still getting the latest and greatest kernel updates. This is very different to RHEL, where the kernel functionality is essentially fixed when the distribution is released, then just patched for critical updates. For a database or application server, the kernel is the important thing. You’re not bothered about having the latest version of Firefox on the server. :)

Oracle Linux 6 is supported until 2021, so there is no hurry to get rid of it any time soon. If you are doing new installations, the likelihood is your hardware replacement cycle will kick in before Oracle Linux 6 is out of date. If virtualized, you will probably rebuild your VMs as part of your application software updates within this time-scale also. :)

So in conclusion, don’t be afraid to make the jump to Oracle Linux 7, but equally, don’t be afraid to stick with Oracle Linux 6… Neither choice is a bad one in this case.



PS. For non-Oracle installations, there may be other more pressing reasons to jump to version 7. I’ve intentionally avoided mentioning systemd and firewalld. I don’t have time for that war. :)

Fedora 23 and Oracle 11gR2/12cR1


A few months ago I mentioned doing some Fedora 22 installations. At the time I did some pre-emptive installations on the Alpha release of Fedora 23 also.

Now the final release of Fedora 23 is out, I’ve run through the articles again to make sure things are all ship-shape.

It’s pretty much as it was before, with the nice bonus that the “MATE Desktop” package group has been fixed. Happy days! :)

As always, installations of Oracle server products on Fedora are not a great idea, as explained here.

If you do like playing with this stuff, knock yourself out… :)



The Eternal Newbie


It’s been over a decade since I first heard Tom Kyte talking about Project Marvel, which eventually became Application Express (APEX). Since then I’ve “used” just about every version of APEX. I use the term “used” very loosely, because I typically use APEX for a few days to get a job done, then never touch it again for months. By the time I come back, I pretty much have to start the learning process from the beginning again.

This is a perfect example of the “Eternal Newbie”. I could quite legitimately put 10+ years experience of APEX (including previous names) on my CV and it wouldn’t be a lie, but in reality I’m only about as good as any PL/SQL developer that’s been playing with APEX for a week.

It’s not that APEX is difficult, quite the contrary, but the process of getting good at anything takes time and repetition. You’ve probably heard the variations on “10,000 hours to become an expert” saying. It doesn’t matter that it’s not true or accurate. What matters is it highlights the need for time, repetition and constantly striving to improve. A little plodding once in a while does not count for experience in my book.

As an example of this, on Friday I was trying to get something to work with a Shuttle control in APEX 5.0.2. I found a couple of great examples on Dmitri‘s and Denes blogs, which (I thought) got me 90% of the way to what I wanted to achieve, but the last 10% took me half of Friday, then the whole of Saturday evening. If I was actually any good at this stuff it would have probably taken me 2 mins. What’s more, if I was good, I would have probably realised Dmitri and Denes’ examples actually got me to 99.9% of what I was trying to achieve, but my inexperience meant I kept shooting myself in the foot. After all that time playing and reading, I felt like a master of Shuttle controls in APEX, but if I don’t look at APEX for a week I’m going to be totally screwed. I have some knowledge now, but it will take repetition to make it stick, and based on past experience, that’s not going to happen. :)

I did a video a few months ago about the term “Senior” in relation to IT jobs. My recent fumblings with APEX made me think about this subject again.

With my 10+ years of APEX experience, I’m obviously a “Senior APEX Developer”. Just remind me, how do I alter a breadcrumb? :)



APEX 5.0.2 : Let’s get patching!


APEX 5.0.2 was released just before OOW15. Today is my first day back to work, so I’ve started to patch some stuff. We were already on APEX 5.0.1 across the board, so we didn’t need to do any full installations, just patches.

SO far, so good. No problems in any Dev or Test databases. I expect a pretty quick roll-out across the board.



Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : It’s a Wrap


I’m back home from Oracle OpenWorld 2015. My overall feeling for this year was evolution, not revolution. We got newer versions of some products, like APEX, WebLogic, SOA Suite and Oracle Forms, just before the conference. We got previews of new versions of products, like Oracle Database 12cR2 during the conference, which we might get next year.

Of course, there was a heavy emphasis on cloud, but the difference between this year and previous years was some of the product are now generally available (GA), so it’s possible to trial or buy them. In previous years, you could only use some of the cloud products if you were “special”.

Not surprisingly, Oracle are trying to ease the migration from on premise to cloud with hybrid options, like their private cloud offering. I expect this is pretty much the way OpenWorld will be for the next few years until the cloud vision is complete, or something else comes along.

Many thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for getting me across to San Francisco again. Thanks for the invites to the EMEA group presentation and the Oracle SQL Panel session. Both were good fun. Also, a big thanks to everyone who took the time to speak with me during the week. It is this aspect of any conference that I enjoy the most.

Here is a list of posts during the trip.



Update: You can see a random video of some footage from OOW15 here.

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : The Journey Home


I was awake at 04:30, about 15 minutes before my alarm and wake-up call. That reduced the levels of panic normally associated with such an early start. I dropped off my key-card with the guy on the hotel check-out and got into the waiting car and off I went.

I think this was the first time I’ve ever left San Francisco via the domestic terminal. Getting the bags checked in and doing security was pretty straight forward, so I sat down with about 90 minutes spare before the flight.

The flight to Newark was event free, but the guy on the arrival gate at Newark was a complete dick. As we walked through, he said, “Welcome to Boston”, which I can only assume was meant to be a joke. Yeah. Great joke. Idiot!

When I originally booked the flight I had a choice of a 1, 2 or 3 hour layover. Having had a couple of bad experiences at Newark before, I opted for the 3 hour layover. As it turned out, our arrival gate was right next door to the departure gate, so I found myself wishing I had picked the 1 hour layover. Of course, the later planes may not have been so conveniently located, so better safe than sorry.

The flight time from Newark to Birmingham was mercifully short. So short in fact we had to wait for a gate to become free to disembark on the Birmingham end.

After a quick taxi ride, I was home…



Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Thursday


Thursday is always an odd day at OpenWorld. The exhibition hall and demo grounds are closed, people start to drift off during the morning and some people party too hard the evening before. :)

Moscone South was really quiet, but there were still enough people to distract me from going to sessions. :) I headed off to get lunch with Martin Klier and John Kelly, which was good fun. I also spent a long time talking with Zahid Anwar, before meeting up with Heli and heading back to the hotel.

It was a short day, but it marked the end of OOW15 for me. I’ve got a very early start tomorrow for the journey home…



Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Wednesday


Wednesday started early. I was invited over to breakfast with the Dbvisit crew, which was a great start to the day. I met Arjen years ago and the Dbvisit team have continued to be good people ever since. It’s always good when I get to meet up with them!

After breakfast I headed over to the OTN Lounge and just parked there for a big chunk of the day. Having the lounge in the main concourse of Moscone South is great as there is a constant flow of people to meet, but it does mean that someone like me who likes to chat will get stuck there for hours. :) Every time I meant to leave, someone interesting would come along. As a result I missed all the sessions I was meant to go to. :)

At about 16:00 I walked over to the “Optimizing SQL for Performance and Maintainability” session. The panel was made up of Mohamed Zait, John Clarke, Connor Mcdonald and me, with Gerard Laker keeping the show running. The quality of the other panelists and the fact I was the only non-Oracle person made it a little daunting. Looking out on the audience didn’t help much either, as there was a who’s who of people you really don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of. :) I think collectively, we handled the questions pretty well, but I left the hard ones to the clever people. :) I like to think I represented the average-Joe DBA/Developer. Connor and I hung around for a while after the session to continue answering questions.

From there, it was across to the Bloggers Meetup, which was a great opportunity to hook up with all the people I had not already seen during the week so far. I got to have a good chat with Robyn Sands, who said some nice things about my comments during the panel session, which was a relief. Not surprisingly, I also got to film a few more “.com” clips. :)

As people started to leave for the Appreciation Event, I planned to head back to the hotel to crash, but I was easily persuaded to go for a curry with Jeff Smith, Scott Spendolini, Mike Hichwa, Kris Rice, Colm Divilly and Todd Trichler.

After that, it was back to the hotel to reflect on another rather random, but enjoyable, day…



Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Tuesday


The day started in the normal way, with a quick blog post about the previous day and a visit to the gym.

The original plan for the day was to hit the demo grounds again. I popped into OakTable World for the quick chat with a few folks and ended up staying for quite while. I watched some of the Ted-style talks, specifically Tim Gorman, Jonathan Lewis and Martin Klier. I then got chatting to some folks outside, before heading back in to see Gwen Shapira do a session on Kafka.

Whilst I was there I got to film a few “.com” clips for my videos, with funniest setup being Tanel Poder. He saw me filming some other folks and just launched in, not knowing what was going on and struck a pose. It took a bit of prompting before he realised he had to say something. You’ve got to love the enthusiasm. :)

GrahamWoodI got to admire Connor’s t-shirt and most importantly, I got to meet up with my dad!

From there I headed off to the demo grounds, where I inevitably ended up at the SQL Developer stand, speaking to Kris Rice and who turns up but Connor McDonald. :)

From the demo grounds I went to grab some food with Connor, then I headed back to the hotel to crash out.

It was a good day, which goes to prove my point, you’ve just got to go with the flow when you are at OOW. Plans are good, but don’t worry if they don’t work out.



Oracle OpenWorld 2015 : Monday


Monday started with a trip to the gym, where I met Scott Spendolini. At the end on the session, we were sitting on bikes next to each other chatting, whilst peddling at an incredibly slow rate. After getting cleaned up, we headed over to Lori’s Diner and ate more calories than be burned at the gym. :)

From there we headed down to the conference. I spent some time chatting to folks at the OTN Lounge, where I met one of my former colleagues Ian MacDonald. He had just come out of an Oracle Forms 12c session and I had a bunch of questions to ask also, so we headed down to the demo grounds to find the Oracle Forms stand, where then spent ages talking to Michael Ferrante about life, the universe and everything Forms related. :)

As I mentioned the other day, the installation and configuration of Forms and Reports has changed in 12c. During my first run through I noticed the Web Tier that links everything together was present in the domain, but not configured during the process. I was curious if I had done something wrong, if it was expected behaviour or if it was an implied statement of direction. I guess the web tier is surplus to requirements for many people if they are fronting their infrastructure with a reverse proxy or a load balancer. It turned out to be expected behaviour, and we discussed the configuration of the web tier, which is very simple. Just amend a couple of files and copy them to the “moduleconf” directory under the OHS instance. Happy days.

We also got a demo of the installation of the Forms Builder on Windows, which no longer needs a WebLogic installation, making it a much smaller footprint for developer machines. Our developers still use Forms 10g Builder. We then take the finished forms, move them to the server and recompile to 11gR2. It’s a pain, but simpler than putting Forms Builder 11gR2 on their PCs. If we can move to 12c Forms, they should be able to use the latest builder again. :)

From there I moved on to the SQL Developer demo stand, where I got to speak to Kris Rice and Jeff Smith, who are always good value. While I was there Jagjeet Singh, Sanjay Kumar and Baljeet Bhasin came up to say hello to me, which was really nice. Of course, I filmed them doing a group “.com”… :)

After that it I did a tour of the exhibition stands looking for things of interest. I used the GoPro to film a walk around some of the exhibition. I’ll see if I can make a little montage out of that…

Next, I went back to the OTN Lounge and spoke to a whole bunch of people, and filmed a load of “.com” cameos for forthcoming YouTube videos. :)

Then it was the weary walk back to the hotel, where I crashed for the night.

I think tomorrow may well be another demo grounds day…