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Posted May 13, 2009

VMware and Oracle Setup Examples

By Steve Callan

Virtualizing hardware is the latest rage when it comes to cost savings and getting the most bang for your buck out of your hardware investment. You may hear someone talk about turning a p-machine into a v-machine, and that can mean a physical machine has a virtual machine software application installed on it or that a physical machine has been altogether replaced by a virtual machine incarnation. A single p-machine can host several environments, or v-machines.

Under the ARCHITECTURE category at Oracle Technology Network, you can see a link to Virtualization. The definition of virtualization shown there is “the process of abstracting computing resources such that multiple operating systems and application images can share a single physical server, bringing significant cost-of-ownership and manageability benefits.”

Oracle Corporation is deep into supporting virtualization. Not only does Oracle provide its own VM, but it also provides quite a few templates. In the E-Delivery area, selecting the Oracle VM Templates product pack for x86 32 bit platforms, there are 13 templates to choose from. The first one shown is the “Oracle VM Templates for Oracle Database Media Pack for x86 (32 bit)” pack. This template provides two disk images: one for Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.2 and one for Oracle RDBMS version The 11g version of this setup on OEL 5.2 is also available.

Oracle’s E-Delivery options for OEL and the RDBMS

We’ll come back to this installation option in a subsequent article. The rest of this article covers creating the same environment (or something similar) using a different VM software approach. The virtual machine software used here on out is from VMware. There are two versions of the software you can download to support what we’re doing here. They are VMware Server™ and VMware Workstation. What’s the difference between the versions? One of the more significant differences is the cost. The server version is free, while the workstation version is a bit less than $200. The workstation version comes with a 30-day free trial, and both support running multiple operating systems on a PC.

I won’t cover the installation of VMware Workstation, but once it is installed, you’re immediately ready to start installing a completely different operating system within your PC’s environment. On my old ThinkPad T42 loaded with a whopping 2GB of RAM, I’ve installed Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition R2 and Oracle Enterprise Linux, with each OS running its own version of Oracle. I’ve also done this on a new (early Christmas present) ThinkPad W500 dual core laptop with 4GB, and the results are even better.

The first alternate OS installed on the laptop was Windows Server 2003 (SE R2, and patched to SP2). You can get a trial version of this from Microsoft and it lasts 180 days. Microsoft offers a two disk (file, really) download where the larger file is 2003 Server Release 2 (the second disk is not needed). To be more precise, what you download from Microsoft is an IMG file. The file needs to be converted into an ISO file and burned to a CD. Have several extra CDs on hand, so you can experiment with what it takes to make a proper disk with the CD creator program you’re using.

This begs the question of how to convert an IMG file into ISO format. There are programs which will expand the contents of the IMG download, and those work fine if you were planning on installing a new OS outside of VMware. If your disk winds up with contents such as what is shown below, the VM console may not recognize the contents of the disk. VMware prompts you for the install disk and whether it is a physical drive or an image file.

Contents of a “normal” installation CD
Contents of a “normal” installation CD

The reason all of this matters is that VMware will try to boot from other sources (such as a non-existent network) if you don’t have an ISO image from which to boot the new OS. I used MagicISO to create an ISO disk/CD.

If you have problems getting Windows 2003 to install and you have another OS boot disk (such as XP for your current PC), you can try installing something else from Windows, and then use a “normal” setup/install disk where the contents are similar to what is shown above. Insert the normal disk, run setup.exe, and follow the prompts to obliterate the current OS with the new one.

Once you can boot from the OS (within the console), installing 2003 Server is straightforward and is no different than doing this on a physical server/machine.

Normal Windows logon screen after installation
Normal Windows logon screen after installation

Windows 2003 Server desktop
Windows 2003 Server desktop

If Windows 2003 Server is new to you, two things you’ll probably want to dump right away are Internet Explorer Enhanced Security and the shutdown event tracker. For the first, go to Control Panel>Add or Remove Programs>Add/Remove Windows Components and uncheck Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration. For the second, Start>Run>enter gpedit.msc to get to the Group Policy Object Editor. Once there, go to Administrative Templates>System and change the state of “Display Shutdown Event Tracker” to Disabled.

So now that we have 2003 Server up and running as a virtual machine, the world of Oracle is wide open with respect to installing whatever is certified to run on this OS. I chose Oracle9i because it involves some extra steps (it has to be patched to at least to meet the certification requirement for running on 2003 Server, and it requires an upgrade to OUI).

The download and installation of Oracle9i is simple, but may look a bit different if your history with Oracle started with 10g and above (using a jar file instead of an xml file, for one, plus how the installer looks). The OS you’re running in the VM console (the guest) can be set to access your host’s interface to the Internet. At this point, you can also use your CD-ROM drive if you already have the disks from Oracle or just want to make them anyway so as to save space within the VM (I allocated 20GB for storage and just over a 1GB for RAM).

The Oracle9i installation option I used was for software only. From there (per the README docs at OTN for this product), I installed the updated version of OUI needed to install the patch (the newer OUI, version went into the same ORACLE_HOME). The patch file is a JAR file, so it needs to be unzipped, and not to add more complexity about this step, you can simply use “unzip <name of the jar file> at a command prompt/DOS window. Once that is done, start OUI and install the patch. At this point, you have the minimum requirements to run Oracle9i on Windows 2003 Server.

This is where the recognition of the potential of what you have should start to sink in. Most home learning environments, and even those at work, are limited to one OS – the one that happens to be installed on your PC. With a server-level OS installed and available for your personal use, you can practice upgrades, patching, RMAN using a recovery catalog in a different instance, RMAN again where the recovery catalog lives in a newer version of Oracle, transportable tablespaces, and Oracle Heterogeneous Services, to name a few use cases.

Why limit yourself to just Oracle? Install SQL Server 2005 and create connections both ways. Or, if you are ready to expand beyond Oracle, all the reasons that make VMware attractive with this RDBMS apply to SQL Server as well.

In Closing

With VMware at your disposal, there is practically no reason you cannot gain experience on all of the major operating systems supported by Oracle. This applies to applications as well. One of the limitations about getting hands-on experience for E-Business Suite is that most home users do not have the hardware (i.e., a server) and OS to support its installation. There are hacks to get EBS running on Windows XP, but in the real world, that’s never going to happen. With VMware, you can at least get this running on Windows 2003 plus most, if not all, of the *NIX-based operating systems.

Once you have the basic environment of choice set up, patched and configured, take a snapshot of the environment. If you make a fatal or unrecoverable mistake, simply restore the snapshot. The only cost here is disk space. By virtualizing your environment, the entire world of Oracle is at your disposal.

» See All Articles by Columnist Steve Callan

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