Best Practices Road Map for Installing Oracle9i Database

May 22, 2002

Oracle offers the world's most advanced database for transaction processing, data warehousing, and content management in Oracle9i Database. Before you can reap the benefits of Oracle9i Database, however, you must successfully install it. Oracle Support Services (OSS) performs detailed root-cause analysis on the install issues reported by customers and documents the results in a knowledgebase to ensure that the information is shared. This article provides installation best practices to help you quickly and easily install Oracle9i Database.

Review the Documentation

Before installing Oracle9i Database, review these installation documents:

  • Oracle9i Installation Guide. Contains Oracle9i Database installation planning, preinstallation requirements, installation, and postinstallation information.

  • Oracle9i Release Notes. Contains last-minute information not included in the Oracle9i Installation Guide. The information usually includes platform-specific operating system requirements.

These documents are located in several places, including the Oracle9i Database CD-ROMs. To access these documents, mount disk 1 of the Oracle9i Database CD-ROM and use your Web browser to open the index.htm file. You can also find these documents online at the Oracle Documentation Center (docs.oracle.com) and the Oracle Technology Network (otn.oracle.com/docs/).

Verify System Requirements

Almost half of the Oracle9i Database installation issues raised to OSS are due to improper allocation of operating system resources. Here are the most common operating system resource problems and how to prevent them.

Not enough swap/paging space. On UNIX systems, Oracle recommends that the swap/paging space should be approximately two to three times larger than physical memory. If the system has several gigabytes of physical memory, you can reduce the percentage, but the amount of swap/paging space should never be less than the amount of physical memory.

Not enough temporary disk space. On UNIX systems, Oracle recommends a minimum of 400MB of free space in the /tmp file system. If this is not possible, set the environment variable TEMP to point to a directory that has at least 400MB of free disk space. In most cases, it is also a good idea to verify that the /tmp file system uses a physical disk drive rather than RAM. (Run the command df -k /tmp to confirm that that the /tmp file system does not use a device of "swap.")

Kernel parameter values set too low. On Solaris and HP-UX systems, the kernel parameter SHMMAX and SEMMNS values are often set too low. Refer to the Oracle9i Installation Guide, Oracle9i Quick Installation Procedure, and Oracle9i Release Notes for platform-specific details. Set the SHMMAX value to 1GB or higher than the size of the Shared Global Area (SGA). Set the SEMMNS value to 500 semaphores or higher than twice the value of the init.ora PROCESSES parameter. On HP-UX systems, set the MAXDSIZ value to at least 512MB.

Windows installation not done by local "Administrator." On Microsoft Windows systems, you should install Oracle9i by using a local Windows Administrator account. Remote installations are not supported on Windows platforms. Note that a user with "admin" privileges is not the same as the Administrator account and is typically missing privileges required to complete an Oracle9i Database installation.

Maintain the OraInventory

On UNIX systems, the Oracle inventory (oraInventory) is similar to the Windows registry. The oraInventory contains a list of all installed Oracle products, where they are installed, which product options are installed, and other information. To determine the location of the oraInventory, view the contents of the /var/opt/oracle/oraInst.loc (/etc/oraInst.loc on some platforms) file. If the oraInventory is missing or does not match the installed software, then problems can occur when you attempt to add a new product, upgrade, migrate, or apply a patchset. You should always back up the oraInventory (along with the ORACLE_HOME) immediately before making any modifications to Oracle software.

Know How to Change the CD-ROMs

On UNIX systems, customers have reported problems changing CD-ROMs during a multidisk installation. Nearly all of these problems fall into one of two categories:

  • The first disk could not be unmounted because it was being used

  • The second (or subsequent) disk was not recognized because an automounter (automountd) that changed the mount point was running

For Oracle9i Database installations, Oracle recommends you run the installer (runInstaller) from a directory not on the CD-ROM. If you run the installer from the CD-ROM, then you must change to a non-CD-ROM directory before you unmount the disk. If the shell window does not display the operating system prompt after you start the installer, press RETURN once or twice in the shell window (not the installer window) to display it.

On operating systems that use an automounter, the CD-ROM mount point changes each time the CD-ROM is changed. You must enter the new mount point into the installer in order to continue the installation. Alternatively, you can use the mount point /cdrom/ cdrom0 for each disk. Solaris maintains this mount point as a symbolic link to the actual mount point.

Know How to Use an X Server

On UNIX systems, many customers have reported they have problems starting or using the installer (runInstaller). Many of these problems fall into one of three categories:

  • The installer is not running in an environment that supports X Server

  • The X Server is not configured properly

  • There are vendor bugs in the PC X Server application

Regardless of the method of installation, an X Server is required to install Oracle9i Database. Before you attempt an installation of Oracle9i Database, you should run the "xclock" program to verify that the operating system is properly configured to run X programs. To run an X program, the environment variable DISPLAY must be set to the IP address of the local workstation, which is not necessarily the same as the target system where the Oracle software is being installed. The string ":0.0" should be placed at the end of the IP address. If the DISPLAY environment variable is set correctly but the xclock program does not run, contact the local system administrator, the operating system vendor, or the X Server vendor.

Oracle9i Installation Summary

Before starting an installation, review the installation documentation, verify operating system requirements, maintain the oraInventory, know how to change CD-ROMs, and know how to use an available X Server. Following these best practices helps ensure a quick and successful Oracle9i Database installation.

About the Author

Ankit has more than six years experience as a Senior ORACLE DBA, Database Architect in the Financial industry. Ankit has been managing the database infrastructure and technologies for the Deutsche Bank's online banking division in Latin America. Ankit's extensive expertise includes Oracle8i Database design, development, administration, and Performance tuning of large Data Warehouses, web-based, CRM and mission critical applications. Along with Oracle, Ankit has broad technical expertise in SIEBEL, Java, Weblogic, XML, and Data Warehousing on both Solaris and NT. Ankit can be reached at oracleguru@hotmail.com.

Ankit Patel, Vice President
Deutsche Bank, New York, NY








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