Collaborate 09: Don’t miss these sessions

Collaborate 09 starts on Sunday, May 3 (a few days from now!) in Orlando. I’ve been offline for several weeks (more on that later), but will be returning to the world of computers and technology in full force in Orlando. I’ve had a few inquiries about whether or not I’ll be at Collaborate, so I thought I’d resurrect my blog with a post about where I’ll be and some of the highlights I see at Collaborate 09.

First, where I’ll be presenting:

  • Monday, 10:45-11:45am, #301, “Avoiding Common RAC Problems”
  • Tuesday, 9:45am-12pm, #332, “Installing RAC From The Ground Up”
  • Wednesday, 9:45-10:45am, #121, “Troubleshooting Oracle Clusterware”

I’m also currently the President of the Oracle RAC Special Interest Group (RAC SIG). The RAC SIG is hosting several great sessions (I’m moderating a couple of these panels) at Collaborate 09 as well:

  • Sunday, 6-7:30pm, IOUG/SIG Welcome Reception (each SIG will have representatives there–this is open to all IOUG attendees)
  • Monday, 8-9am, RAC SIG Orientation
  • Tuesday, 12:15-1:15pm, RAC SIG Birds of a Feather
  • Tuesday, 4:30-5:30pm, RAC SIG Expert Panel
  • Wednesday, 4:30-5:30pm, RAC SIG Customer Panel (not in online scheduler at the moment, check again later)
  • Thursday, 8:30am-12pm, RAC Attack (University Session – Additional fee required)

The RAC SIG has also assembled this list of RAC-related sessions at Collaborate 09 to help you plan your conference agenda.

Be sure to set up your personal agenda using the agenda builder and add these sessions to your agenda. I think that if you have these in your agenda and details (like date or room assignments) change, you’ll be notified via email (not sure, but I think that’s how it works).

Also, you can follow @IOUG on Twitter (follow me too if you’d like) and that will help you find where the action is during the event next week. It’s going to be a great event and I look forward to seeing you there!

I bought my own server for $1.02 (USD!)

I’ve got a (always-growing) list of product, features or configurations that I’d like to experiment with, but sometimes they aren’t practical to test on my local virtual machines. So, I planned to roll a new virtual machine on the development ESX server that we had at my office. All was going along fine with the Linux installation (OEL5U2) screens until I got to the end where it starts actually installing. For whatever reason, our little server was sick (likely a storage problem) and it hung for hours.

Rather than debug the storage issue, I wanted to get on with my testing. I consulted my usual list of experts, and my friend Matt suggested that I spin up a machine in the Amazon EC2 cloud. I checked out the costs and it seemed fairly reasonable. VERY reasonable, actually. Since it was based on time (cost per hour the machine is running), I waited for a day or two until I could dedicate enough time to it and complete the testing in one sitting. Continue reading “I bought my own server for $1.02 (USD!)”

MSAD/OID/EUS/DB integration session room change, Weds at noon

My session scheduled for Wednesday at noon titled “Integrating Microsoft Active Directory and Oracle Internet Directory with Database Logins: Enterprise User Security” (S300044) has been moved to a larger room. It will now be in Marriott Salon 8, so if you were on the waiting list (there were quite a few of you!), you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a seat now as the room holds almost 900 people.

See you there–it should be a fun and informative session!

Corrupt download caused installation to hang, unzip lessons learned

I’m posting this because apparently it hasn’t happened to anyone else except me (heavens knows I searched for help!). The root cause certainly wasn’t obvious to me, so hopefully, this will help someone (maybe me, once I forget about it).

All I needed to do was install a default Oracle Database 11g R1 environment with a starter database for some experimentation. Seems simple.

I had archived a copy of linux_11gR1_database.zip from OTN, so I copied that to my Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 U1 virtual machine and unzipped it (no errors or warnings, mind you). I proceeded to launch the installer as the oracle user and it ran me through the 4-6 screens of questions, prerequisite checks, etc, then the summary screen and started installing. The progress bar on the first task (copying files or similar) quickly progressed to 38% and then stopped…forever (I waited an hour). Continue reading “Corrupt download caused installation to hang, unzip lessons learned”

IOUG RAC Attack!, Event Summary

As one of the organizers of the IOUG RAC Attack! event, I may have a slightly partial viewpoint, but I think the event overall went very well. The hands-on lab was especially popular and I think participants in the hands-on lab all got to learn at least a few new things. If you’ve been to Oracle Education training classes like I have, you know how it seems like you sometimes have to spend 5 days in training to get 1.5 days’ worth of material. With the hands-on lab at RAC Attack!, we provided guided exercises to demonstrate certain features and/or processes, but the whole day was more like “structured playtime” than particular labs that had to be completed. Continue reading “IOUG RAC Attack!, Event Summary”

Security can be basic

Sometimes I think that people think of security, especially database security, as a domain for the highly-skilled consultant. However, sometimes it is the most basic little things that need attention and it doesn’t require a high-priced, highly skilled consultant to figure it out.

Case in point: I recently arrived at a new customer site to help them with some database issues. They have a development environment, test environment, production database, and a clone of production they use for reporting. To get started, they sent me the TNS entries for each of these four databases. I didn’t have any usernames or passwords, so I was still in a holding pattern. Since I was using instantclient, I didn’t have tnsping, but I still wanted to verify that the TNS entries were created properly and that I had connectivity. So, I thought I’d just use scott/tiger to test and expected the ORA-01017 (invalid username/password) error.

I tried development, ORA-01017 which confirmed that the TNS entry was correct, but there was no scott/tiger account (or at least the password wasn’t tiger). Tried the test database, same result. The reporting database, same result. (You can see the punchline coming, right?) I tried the production database and, wouldn’t you know it, I got connected using the scott/tiger account! I was so shocked I think I let out a little yelp of disbelief.

So, for all the DBAs tuned in: here’s a quick and easy way to make things better (maybe still insufficient, but at least safER than now). Lock all the accounts that are not in use or that you can’t confirm are in use. If you need a hint: alter user scott account lock;. If you still don’t get it, then prepare your resume :). If you can’t confirm that the account is needed, lock it. When someone complains, unlock it (yes, it’s that easy). If they go to your boss to complain, explain that you did what you did in the name of database and data security (which is true) and you’ll generally avoid punishment.

If you aren’t sure whether the account is one of Oracle’s built-in, default accounts, consult Pete Finnigan’s lists. For more information, check out Project Lockdown, Oracle 11g Database Security Guide, and Pete Finnigan’s list of whitepapers and presentations. You can’t mention Oracle Security without a link to Mary Ann Davidson’s blog which is both informative and often entertaining.

Feel free to submit your horror story in comments. This same scenario happens all the time, but this time just seemed too silly to keep it a secret. No, I won’t tell you who the customer was :).

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.

Oracle Database 11g Launch

db 11g logoToday, July 11th, was the launch of Oracle Database 11g. From a technologist’s point of view, it’s a somewhat anticlimactic day since you can’t actually get your hands on the bits yet. However, there was some technical information posted on OTN and a nice overview presentation that was webcast online live from New York City.

I’ve got a lengthy article prepared on some of my favorite features of 11g, but I’m not sure if I can post it yet. I need to sort out what information they’ve made public and which parts haven’t been disclosed yet. My company and I are participating in the 11g beta program, so I want to be sure I don’t let the cat out of the bag too soon with respect to some of the new features that may not have yet been disclosed. In fact, as we’re reminded often, some of the features we tested may not be in the final product if they aren’t ready or mature enough.

So, watch for an article from me either here or on OTN in the next week or two after I make sure it’s properly censored. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read the whitepapers on OTN.