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
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
10.2.0.4. 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
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
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
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 126.96.36.199 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).
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 188.8.131.52 patch (the newer OUI, version 184.108.40.206.0 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.
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.