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Behind the scenes at Oracle on Linux Installfests the world over, from their principal organizer
No matter where you go, it is always the people you meet along the way that make the difference.
I was first introduced to the concept of a Linux Installfest while browsing the site of my friends over at LUGOD. I thought that with a little bit of tweaking, OTN could host a similar event. After much planning and promotion, the first Oracle on Linux Installfest was held at OpenWorld in San Francisco in 2003 during the OTN After Hours event. With a little bit of help from our friends at Red Hat and from Werner Puschitzthe unofficial king of Oracle on Red Hat installsit was a huge success.
Ah, but would it work at a LinuxWorld, where there were not as many Oracle users? The answer turned out to be "yes": thanks to some really good German Oracle SCs, we proved that penguins do fly with Oracle on SUSE at LinuxWorld Frankfurt. With those two events under my belt, my journey into the always LIVE never DULL world of Installfests was underway. Next stop: LinuxWorld New York, in January 2004.
Launching at LinuxWorld New York
New York City is a nice place to visit, but there are better times to do it than the 21st of January when it is cold, windy, and snowy. But inside the Javits Center, things were heating up. This was going to be our first Installfest were we had both Red Hat and SUSE serving as software sponsors at the same time. I had recently converted my laptop to Linux, and was getting tired of the misinformed naysayers who were fond of saying that Linux was going to fragment like the Unices did before it. So with this particular Installfest we pulled together a top-notch team of community experts to prove once and for all that the different flavors of linux did work well together, and that Oracle runs great on them all. Here were the highlights:
Welcome to Melbourne, Mate
Halfway through April I received an email from Leigh Warren, who heads up Oracle's APAC Linux Business Unit. He had heard about the Installfest I was planning for OpenWorld Shanghai and wanted to know if we could do the same at Oracle OpenWorld in Melbourne. I told him that because that show is locally run and that the HQ events team would not be there to support it, we had decided to focus on Shanghai especially due to the focus on Asianux. Now, if you had ever met Leigh, you would know that he does not easily take "no" for an answer. It wasn't much longer before I received another email from him asking, "Exactly what kind of logistics would you need?"
In the end, Leigh proved to be not only persuasive but also very resourceful in pulling together a team from across Oracle to handle registration, marketing, venue, and cocktails, not to mention hooking up with the local Red Hat team and getting them to send some guys and a box full of RHEL3 ES software.
By July 6, we were ready. There were over 100 attendees watching the install on the big screen, with close to 30 walking away with Oracle Database 10g and RHEL3 installed on their own laptops (the most to date at a single Installfest). This was also the first time we used the Oracle By Example install guides, which really helped out given the number of people who were attempting to do the install on their own laptops. It was like having an extra pair of hands, especially for those self starters.
Werner's 10g on Red Hat Linux install guide came in handy for those doing the install on Fedora, as well as for those who had forgotten to make sure they had at least 400MB in their /tmp directory or had failed to create at least 1GB of swap space.
What surprised me the most about the Installfest in Melbourne was how well and how quickly a cross-functional team pulled together, given the fact that most of them had not worked together before. It reminded me a lot of the Linux community in general.
One of the things that I always look for when we do these type of events is how targeted the audience is. It was good to see three developers from the local Road Transportation Authority walk away with Oracle 10g installed on their laptops. The bulk of those who had RSVP'd or signed the list to receive the install guides and resources were corporate developers who either already had Linux projects underway or were considering a new projecteven a developer from the customs service. (Which was amusing, considering that most of the software I had shipped for the event was still sitting in a Sydney customs house!) The local team had done a really good job of informing their partners and customers about the Installfest.
Checking Out the New Distro in Shanghai
Ever feel like you're a stranger in a strange land? The first time I visited Beijing was in 2003 for LinuxWorld; it was there that I first met Wenyun (also known as "Will"), team lead for the Linux engineers at Oracle's China Development Center, who took me under his wing and helped me navigate the side streets of Beijing and the Linux community in China. During that visit we also had lunch with the team from Red Flag and met the BeijingLUG and ever since, I had been looking for the ideal opportunity to engage that developer community with an Oracle on Linux message.
Will's team had been working on testing and certifying Oracle products on the new Asianux 1.0 kernel that was to be released in June, which would put it before Oracle OpenWorld Shanghai. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do an Oracle on Asianux Installfest. I was particularly excited about this one as it would be the first time we would be showing Oracle 10g running on Asianuxthe fruit of a partnership between Red Flag Software and Miracle Linuxfor which Oracle would soon be announcing support. Preparations were made over email, GAIM, and the occasional phone call in the dead of night. The friendship I had struck up with Will proved invaluable as I described the dynamics, logistics, and flow of the Installfest so that he could prepare his team, who would be crucial in making it happen. We also scheduled to do an initial dry run at the BeijingLUG to iron out the kinks before we got down to the Installfest in Shanghai. When it came down to the final show, things went extremely well.
After we got back to Beijing, I asked Will what exactly had been done differently to optimize Asianux to run Oracle, outside of the obvious enhanced local language support. He answered that probably the most important part was the extensive testing involved. His team had also built oranavi, which is a GUI installer that configures the Linux environment to run Oracle similar to the way orarun does for SUSE. Will also cited the fact that the Asianux kernel parameters were pre-populated for Oracle, even the ones for RAC. (So, you can skip Steps 7 & 8 in the generic "Configuring Linux for Oracle" install guide.)
SLES9 at San Francisco
The next stop in the Oracle on Linux Installfest Tour was LinuxWorld San Francisco 2004, just last July. We had around 70 attendees at the Installfest with about 20 people doing installs on their own laptopsthe most laptop installs we ever had at a LinuxWorld.
The highlight of the event was when the Linux engineering team demonstrated how to build a 2-node, RAC capable, Linux x86-64cluster using Opteron machines on loan from HP, which they built using code from their FireWire and OCFS version 2projects, with one node running RHEL and the other node SLES9. Once again, we had Red Hat and Novell/SUSE as joint software sponsors with Red Hat handing out RHEL3 AS and SUSE handing out their new SLES9 version with the 2.6 kernel which had just debuted at Linux World. Many thanks to Peter Knaggs, who whipped up an install guide for Oracle 10g on SLES 9 which takes into account the workaround due to the current Oracle installer expecting the UnitedLinux label (which thanks to SCO is no longer an option for SLES9). Now that SLES9 is officially production, the next version of the Oracle installer can take this discrepancy into accountbut until then, you'll need this guide.
Big thank you to Saar and Lance for helping out on the RedHat installs; if you follow these instructions and make sure the development tools package is selected under the OS package installation menu, it will install cleanly on RHEL3 AS or ES. Saar also talked about the new DVD sets that they developed together with Red Hat, SUSE and VMware, which allows you to get a complete enterprise Oracle on Linux environment up and running on VMware on top of an existing Windows machineperfect for people who want to kick the tires before making the move to Oracle on Linux.
One of the interesting things to note about this particular Installfest was the number of guys who installed Oracle Database 10g on Gentoo Linux. Most of the past Installfests included some guys installing on Debian, but this one had adventurers installing on Gentoo and Fedora 2 as well, which is probably indicative of the recent growth in popularity of Gentoo amongst the Linux developer community.
The greatest thing about attending any Installfest at LinuxWorld San Francisco is that you get to attend my second favorite Linux activity, the Linux Picn*x, which is put on by a bunch of Bay Area LUGs in a local park. OTN had sponsored the picnic again this year, and I got a chance to go hand out software and some 10g T-shirts; both were hot items and snapped up quickly. Oracle's Bill Ward, moonlighting as the president of PenLUG, was manning the registration table. If you are ever in Redwood Shores, you can drop in on PenLUG as they meet in the 100 building on campus.
To keep yourself informed about new Installfest events, peruse Installfest resources, or just to get involved in the Installfest community, bookmark and visit the Oracle-on-Linux Installation Menu often!
If you would like to host an Oracle on Linux Installfest in your local developer hotspot, please send me an email ( email@example.com), and as much possible we will try to facilitate your request.
Todd Trichler is an Oracle veteran of eight years, having worked in alliances, product management, and marketing. As Senior Principal Product Manager for OTN, he has been working closely with development to drive Oracle's engagements with JUGs, LUGs, PUGs and other members of the Java, Linux, and PHP technical communities.
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