Best Practices Road Map for Installing Oracle9i Database

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
( and the Oracle Technology Network (

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

  • 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

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 [email protected].

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

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