Cloning a VM on ESX Server 3.0.1

I’ve had time this week to get familiar with our test server environment which is a rather old Dell server running VMWare ESX Server 3.0.1. After creating a new VM and getting a base linux OS configured, I wanted to clone it for later use. I’ve used VMWare Workstation and VMWare Server before and the cloning process there is very simple–just copy. On ESX Server, there are a couple more steps required and then some other steps that are optional, but make life easier in the long run.

Here is the process I followed to perform a clone. It worked well and I was successful in getting my cloned VM running. I didn’t find a process describing exactly what I did, so I thought I’d post it (mostly so I can find it later when I forget what I did). I did find a similar process for a slightly older version and most of this post comes from that process with a few exceptions. Continue reading “Cloning a VM on ESX Server 3.0.1”

Paying the bills

As some of you already know, I’ve recently changed jobs. I now work at Piocon in Chicagoland. Our office is currently in Naperville (pretty close to my house). I’m a Practice Manager and will be working with a couple of other fine technologists (read some of their good stuff at SingleQuery) leading efforts in the Enterprise Solutions Architecture (ESA) practice.

I’d like to keep most things here technical, so pardon this interruption. I’m still available for consulting, so contact me at dannorris(at)dannorris(dot)com if you would like to engage me or one of my team members. Please update your address books if you have my old contact information in there. As you’ve read, I’ll be at OOW (shaping up to be a busy week already!) and I’m also going to be participating heavily in pre-conference activities for Collaborate 08 as one of the IOUG DBA track managers, so you can count on seeing me there as well.

Call for speakers: Collab 08 and Hotsos Symposium

The spring (in the US) conferences on my hot list are always Collaborate and the Hotsos Symposium. While I’ve never been to the Hotsos Symposium (due to budget constraints), I’ve always wanted to attend. All in the past couple of weeks, both events have opened their respective calls for speakers. See the links: IOUG call for speakers (Collaborate08), OAUG call for speakers (Collaborate08), and Hotsos Symposium call for speakers.


I would highly encourage you to consider presenting. As anyone who’s heard me present recently, I close almost all of my sessions with a plug for becoming a presenter (if I haven’t run short on time). Presenting a technical topic or case study can be a lot of work, but it is also very rewarding both professionally and economically (free conference pass!). While some employers aren’t keen on sending their staffers to conferences all-expenses-paid, the negotiation gets a lot easier when you cut 50% off the total budget by snagging a free pass.

Besides the fun and rewarding experience of presenting your knowledge to others, you also become recognized as the authority on something and many times, follow up questions trickle in for weeks or months later (as people download your session materials). These follow ups can often lead to friendships and (if you’re in consulting) additional business. There’s also the great opportunity to meet or reunite with many people you know from the Oracleosphere online from places like Oracle-L, OracleBlogs, OraNA.Info, and OTN Forums. I learn as much or more from talking with individual conference attendees as I do from attending technical sessions.

Anyhoo, it’s a great time and you meet lots of great people (like me!). Not to mention, there’s usually a pretty nice “appreciation event” (read party) at the major conferences too.


I’ll look forward to seeing you…at the lectern with a microphone!

Oracle 11g dbhome broken…oh, wait, nevermind.

I’ve been doing a lot of testing with Oracle Database 11g lately and I’m a big fan of using oraenv to set the environment. For many releases, it seemed that Oracle had completely ignored oraenv and dbhome, but they’ve made some changes in 11g that aren’t quite so helpful it seems. I’ll probably file an SR on this stuff soon, but it’s easy to fix.

The issue I encountered was that the dbhome script (which is called by oraenv to determine the ORACLE_HOME for a given ORACLE_SID) failed to return the proper ORACLE_HOME in some cases. After reading dbhome (it’s less than 100 lines long), I realized that the issue was…

Oh, nevermind. I started writing this from memory of one of the beta versions and when I went to check (right where I left off typing in the previous paragraph), I found that the issue had been fixed in the production release. So, apparently that bug did get fixed.

To summarize, the bug in dbhome in beta 5 was particularly interesting since it only came up when the first character in your ORACLE_SID name became a special metacharacter when preceded by a backslash (\). So, everything was going along fine until I created an instance named “rac11g1” and then dbhome failed to work, which also caused in oraenv becoming ineffective. All fixed now, nevermind. Kudos to Oracle for improving the oraenv and dbhome scripts in 11g to now also look for the ORACLE_BASE setting. As many of you have noted or will find out, ORACLE_BASE is becoming increasingly important to Oracle installations.

OpenWorld 2007 News: The Big Party & Session Listings

OOW2007 logoI wasn’t sure how to top last year’s Elton John show. (By the way, I was also partial to AC/DShe at last year’s show.) However, for my tastes, I think they may have topped it with this year’s lineup.

On top of the news about the appreciation event, there’s also news on the session list for OOW. I’ve got session S291026 during the regular conference and also two more sessions during IOUG’s Forum program on Sunday as well (these will likely be added to session planner later).

Please do plan to attend the Sunday program. As I’ve been more involved in this year’s Sunday program, I think it will be one of the best yet. I’d love to have a chat about anything related to Oracle Database Identity Management, or SCUBA diving, so let me know if you’re going to be there on Sunday (or post a comment here) and we’ll try to meet up onsite in SF!

I’ll post more on Sunday’s schedule as soon as it is made public.

Passwords, or just semi-secret passphrase?

As my friend Matt Topper posted (only because he begged me to let him post first–I can’t stand seeing grown men cry), we’ve both experienced a number of cases lately where we’ve been disappointed by security practices we’ve observed. My personal pet peeve is when I call my cell phone provider and they attempt to verify my identity by asking for the password on the account. Now, I know what they’re asking for and I do have an online password that I use when visiting the website, but I instead tell them that I don’t know the password. They are just as happy to verify me by the last four numbers in my SSN (which is another rant for another day). Anyway, I comply and as soon as I’ve been “verified” by this method, they read me the password on the account.

My primary gripe is not so much that they read me the password (which is stupid and wrong), but that they *could* read me the password. Why oh why is the password stored in any way that is retrievable? As Matt pointed out, there are almost countless, very well-documented ways to store passwords such that they are safe and non-retrievable (by the customer service reps or anyone else). I am not completely insensitive to the company’s issue when someone like my mother calls up because she forgot her password and just wants them to reminder her what it is. However, I think it is silly that she had to call them–the “forgot password” link should verify identity and allow her to reset the password on the spot or email a validation link to her unique email address.

So, my point is that there are many, many ways to protect me and my information, but it’s extremely frustrating to have to deal with vendors that just haven’t caught up with the last 30+ years of low-hanging fruit. If anyone from Sprint PCS IT is listening, please, oh my God please, fix this.

OpenWorld 07 QuickConnect

Join Me at Oracle OpenWorld Connect!Oracle OpenWorld has been on my mind lately as I just got confirmed acceptance of my regular conference session presentation late last week. Today, I created my QuickConnect card. I have seen other posts about this card thingy, but I didn’t realize how interesting it is (or at least it may be) until I got to check it out first-hand. My card is to the left. Please feel free to contact me and set up a time to meet! I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.

Oracle Clusterware & Fencing

I was just catching up on my reading and found an excellent post on Kirk McGowan’s blog discussing Oracle Clusterware’s fencing mechanisms. As Kirk details, there are many theories regarding the effectiveness and safety of Oracle’s fencing approach and he provides his usual no-nonsense responses to those theories.

Incase you are lost, a little background may helpful. Fencing (generally speaking) is a mechanism employed by clusterware software to force one or more nodes out of a cluster in the event of a problem. The problems can be, and usually are, serious ones and if fencing algorithms weren’t included, it is likely that most clusters would implode and be very unstable. There are many different approaches to fencing. Some vendors provide I/O fencing which works with the storage to stop any I/O from the node being evicted from the cluster and therefore, prevents corruption to the cluster filesystem and/or database files residing in non-filesystem storage (like ASM or RAW). Oracle performs fencing at the node-level and it uses a modified algorithm known as STONITH (Shoot The Other Node In The Head). As Kirk explains, since there are not easily-accessible APIs to do remote power-off for other cluster nodes, Oracle Clusterware instead uses node suicide where instead of kicking the other node out of the cluster, it removes itself by rebooting. Presumably, when the node restarts, if there is some persistent failure, the node won’t be able to rejoin the cluster and administrator intervention will be required to resolve the problem.

Anyway, Kirk’s treatment of the topic is great and I learned a lot (as I often do when listening to Kirk). Thanks for a great article (and your usual wit) Kirk!

Oracle OpenWorld, IOUG, and New Job (oh my!)

I’ve been MIA for a while as I’ve had a number of events all happening at the same time. They say when it rains, it pours, and the last 2 weeks or so have been pouring!

First, I’ve been busy working with the IOUG to help coordinate some sessions for the IOUG Forum event on Sunday (November 11) at Oracle OpenWorld. I’m going to be involved with two sessions that day, first will be a repeat of the “High Availability Options for Oracle Database” session and the second is a co-presentation with my friend Matt Topper titled “Is That Really You? Prove It!” detailing some of the new features available in the Bharosa product set acquired recently by Oracle. During the regular conference, I’ll be presenting an updated “RAC For Beginners: The Basics” session (not sure when yet).

I’ve also been invited to join the IOUG SIG Council. This is a group within the IOUG that is focused on advancing and developing the various IOUG Special Interest Groups and a great team of people to to work with. Judi Hotspillner and Michelle Malcher lead this group and I’m excited about joining and becoming more active in the IOUG.

Last week, I was also informed that I’ll be one of the three IOUG DBA Track Managers for the Collaborate 08 conference in April 2008. Of course, my work will be long over by the time April rolls around as the track managers are responsible for reviewing and selecting presentations to fill the session slots at the conference. Watch for the call for presentations on the IOUG website in the next few months.

I’ve been busy with transition duties as well since I’m leaving IT Convergence for another opportunity. Don’t worry–I’m still going to be lurking in the usual places and working on Oracle-related things. More about my new gig once I get started there in another week or two. Stay tuned. Obviously, this move and the period leading up to such a decision make for a busy time even when there’s nothing much else going on. So, now that the choice is made, I’m looking forward to writing a bit more often than I have recently (which shouldn’t be too hard!).