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Getting started with Oracle on Oracle Unbreakable Linux

As early as 1998, Oracle offered a Linux-supported version of its popular database software. Then in 2006, Oracle came out with its own enterprise-class Linux distribution, Oracle Unbreakable Linux. So what makes Oracle Linux different?

First, let's clarify exactly what Oracle Unbreakable Linux is and what it is not.

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Oracle Unbreakable Linux is similar to CentOS in that it's derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Oracle Unbreakable Linux is essentially RHEL without the Red Hat trademark, and with some fixes provided by Oracle. CentOS and Oracle Unbreakable Linux use the RHEL source code available under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) to create their products.

It should be noted that many of the folks that contribute to CentOS are not pleased with Red Hat, partly because of their pricing model and also because of all the bugs they find in RHEL. Furthermore, the CentOS camp feels that instead of using RHEL code for their product, Oracle is really modeling Oracle Unbreakable Linux after CentOS and stealing their code.

But while CentOS is completely free, Oracle Unbreakable Linux is not. Oracle Unbreakable Linux is a free distribution that comes with a subscription support program. And Oracle Unbreakable Linux support customers have access to the Oracle Management Pack for Linux at no additional charge as part of Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g, which is comprised of Oracle Management Server (OMS) and various management agents. Oracle Management Pack for Linux includes provisioning capabilities, patching, monitoring and administration capabilities via a Web-based interface.

Support is the biggest reason for deploying Oracle Unbreakable Linux, especially if an organization needs both Oracle database and Linux OS support. Support from a single vendor eliminates the fingerprinting around running Oracle on Linux operating systems. Oracle offers competitive subscription support plans to those of Red Hat, which has recently announced that it will no longer provide support to customers who defect by running Oracle's Linux products. For example, Oracle offers a $99/year subscription for online software updates only. The lowest price for RHEL support is $349, which includes web-based support. This is another key difference between the support models. Many Red Hat users have been annoyed at their expensive, inflexible subscription pricing and lack of alternatives such as online software updates.

Installing Oracle Unbreakable Linux and Oracle
If you decide that the single vendor support option is worth it and you choose to install both Oracle products, you should make certain that you are installing the right version of Linux for the correct version of Oracle you will be using -- and vice-versa. 32-bit Oracle will only run on 32-bit Linux and 64-bit Oracle will only run on 64-bit Linux. I would suggest that you perform a default RPM install as suggested by Oracle. This simplifies your installation though there are still some required packages which must be installed:

32-bit Oracle/Linux

  • compat-libstdc++-33
  • elfutils-libelf-devel
  • glibc-devel-2.5
  • gcc
  • gcc-c++
  • libaio-devel
  • libstdc++-devel
  • unixODBC
  • unixODBC-devel
  • sysstat

64-bit Oracle/Linux

  • compat-libstdc++-33-3.2.3
  • compat-libstdc++-33-3.2.3 (32 bit)
  • elfutils-libelf-devel-0.125
  • gcc-4.1.1
  • gcc-c++-4.1.1
  • glibc-devel-2.5
  • glibc-devel-2.5-12 (32 bit)
  • libaio-devel-0.3.106
  • libstdc++-devel 4.1.1
  • sysstat-7.0.0

When this is completed, create twogroups: oinstall & dba.
# /usr/sbin/groupadd dba
# usr/sbin/groupadd oinstall

Then, create two users: oracle and nobody. Nobody may already be created.
# /usr/sbin/useradd -m -g oinstall -G dba oracle
# /usr/sbin/useradd -m -g oinstall -G dba nobody

Make oinstall the primary group for oracle and the dba the secondary group.

Next, we'll perform some housecleaning in our directories: # mkdir -p /u01/app/oracle
# chown -R oracle:oinstall /u01/app
# chmod -R 775 /u01/app
 

At this point, we'll change some kernel parameters. If your numbers are higher, leave them alone (note that you do not have to reboot the systems to make them apply.)
kernel.shmall = 2097152
kernel.shmmax = 536870912
kernel.shmmni = 4096
kernel.sem = 250 32000 100 128
fs.file-max = 65536
net.ipv4.ip_local_port_range = 1024 65000
net.core.rmem_default=4194304
net.core.wmem_default=262144
net.core.rmem_max=4194304
net.core.wmem_max=262144
 

Disable Security-enhanced Linux (SELinux), or you may have problems with the GUI installer, that is unless you really are prepared for an installation with SELinux.

Now, we're ready to download Oracle.

When the download is completed and you have finished bringing the zip file over to your Linux server, unzip your file unzip linux_11gR1_database.zip and run the oracleinstaller: $ ./u01/runInstaller 
Starting Oracle Universal Installer... 
Checking installer requirements.…… 
 

The installation and configuration takes about an hour. I thought the install went smoothly, but I am far from considering myself an Oracle Unbreakable Linux convert. Oracle needs to start mending fences with the Linux community, as there are still too many people that are upset with the way this version of Linux was introduced. I suppose Larry Elison has a way about him that ruffles feathers very easily. Oracle Unbreakable Linux can be a viable alternative to RHEL particularly for cost conscious users of Oracle as long as they work with the Linux community and not against it.
About the author: Ken Milberg has worked for both large and small organizations and has held such diverse positions from CIO to Senior AIX Engineer. Currently, he is the president and managing consultant of Unix-Linux Solutions, a NY based IBM Business Partner. Ken also writes for IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems edition and for IBM developerWorks. He is also the founder and group leader of the NY Metro POWER-AIX/Linux Users Group.
 

This was first published in March 2008

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