Todd Trichler Linux

Installfest Confidential
by Todd Trichler

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 Puschitz—the unofficial king of Oracle on Red Hat installs—it 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:

  • Wim Coekaerts, who leads Oracle's Linux engineering team (see their GPL contributions and mission statement at, showed off a 2-node RAC-capable Linux cluster built by his team using code from their FireWire and OCFS projects. This setup would have been impressive in itself, even ignoring the fact that they did it with one node running Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the other running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
  • Donal Daly from Oracle's Migration Technology Group demonstrated how to use the Oracle Migration Workbench to automatically convert Microsoft SQL Server -based applications, complete with schema and stored procedures, to running on Oracle on Linux.
  • Richard Rendell, Rob Clevenger, and some members of the NYPHP user group demonstrated Oracle Application Server 10g running on Linux and the new PHP features in Oracle JDeveloper 10g .
  • Marc Sewtz from the Oracle HTML DB Development team put that product through its paces on SLES8.
  • Jeff, a LUG member from Colorado Linux Users & Enthusiasts (CLUE), was a little surprised when Kris Rice finished installing Oracle Database 10g on Fedora before he had finished installing Oracle9i Release2 on Debian. Before I get any flames about how AptGet Rocks, it should probably be noted that Oracle did a lot of work on cleaning up the database install for 10g and so Kris had an unfair advantage on that score!
By the end of this Installfest, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the various Linux distros play nicely together, and that Oracle rocks on Linux.

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 project—even 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 Asianux—the fruit of a partnership between Red Flag Software and Miracle Linux—for 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 laptops—the 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 account—but 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 machine—perfect 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 (, 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.

Installfest Melbourne

Preparing to install Asianux in Shanghai

San Francisco Installfest attendees in full focus mode
Asianux Makes Its Installfest Debut
by Katheryn Potterf

Linux has become an "unstoppable wave" across Asia. For the developer community in China, it is more like a tsunami, as anyone who attended the Asianux Installfest at Oracle OpenWorld in Shanghai (July 21, 2004) can tell you.

"I was surprised by the large turn-out," says Edward Wen, Strategic Alliance Manager for Red Flag Software, a Chinese software company. "It was late in the day, but the event still attracted a big audience. The involvement was high, and the people were very interested. They asked intelligent questions about Oracle Database 10g and Linux. Some even said this was their opportunity to migrate from NT to Linux."

Technologists stationed themselves around tables and installed Oracle 10g and Red Flag Linux on their laptops while the rest of the crowd intently watched the step-by-step implementation on a large screen. Experts from Oracle, Red Flag, and Miracle Linux were on hand to provide guidance. After the installation, which participants described as "surprisingly easy," there was an informal and lively question-and-answer session. Best of all, everyone who attended the Installfest received free Linux and Oracle Database 10g software.

Currently Asianux 1.0 is a core kernel jointly developed by two Asian software companies: Miracle Linux, based in Japan, and Red Flag Software, of China. Oracle formed a technology partnership with these two companies in December 2003, and a lot of the testing, certification and development takes place at the Oracle China Development Center (CDC) in Beijing, where Chinese and Japanese engineers have worked side by side to optimize Linux to run Oracle. Oracle supports Asianux in China and Japan in the same way that it supports the enterprise Linux versions of Red Hat and Novell/SUSE. The first line of support is handled by Oracle China Support, with more detailed 2nd line technical support being handled by the CDC, who also makes sure that Oracle's line of products are certified on Asianux. Asianux will form an integral part of Red Flag Linux DC Server 4.1 and Miracle Linux 3.0 distributions in China and Japan.

One of the attendees who installed Red Flag Linux DC Server 4.1 (Asianux Inside) on his laptop was Shen Xiao Lei, project manager from Shanghai Jiankun Information Technology Co., Ltd., a systems integrator, who commented, "I think Oracle runs most of its business on Linux, and I've always used Oracle but never used Linux, so I thought I should learn more about the installation of Linux, so I could install it for other customers."

What accounts for the popularity of Linux in China?

"It's open and it's supported by the government," said a project manager with AVIC Information Technology Co., an ERP provider based in Beijing, which already uses Oracle Database and Oracle JDeveloper.

The value of government backing in China cannot be underestimated. For one thing, it is easier for companies to get e-government projects if they run Linux. More and more enterprise customers such as banks, telecommunication companies, and post offices are also running their mission-critical applications on Asianux.

"Asianux will be dominant in Asia Pacific. The national governments of Japan, Korea, and China all support Linux," said Takashi Kodama, vice president of sales at Miracle Linux, adding that four companies from Singapore, Israel, Bangladesh, and Pakistan would like to become partners and join the Asianux program next year.

The next step, said Kodama, was to talk to hardware vendors to get them to pre-install Asianux. "Our goal is to get all the Windows customers. In three to five years, the OS will be a commodity item. Customers don't want to pay much for an OS, so Linux will be even more attractive."

The Asianux Installfest attendees, many of them OTN members, were enthusiastic about the way Asianux was optimized for Oracle. "Oracle Real Application Clusters is stable, reliable, and low-cost. Linux works well with Oracle," said Yang De-Ming, an application server administrator from Qin Huang Dao Chen Long Information Science Technologies, Ltd., in China's Hebei province. Song Ren-Hui, a DBA from the same firm, added, "I am very hopeful about the relationship between Oracle and my company." Distributions from Red Flag and Miracle Linux that are based on the Asianux kernel come ready to run Chinese, Japanese, and English out of the box, as well. This local language support is obviously very important to Asian customers.

The Oracle developer team also showed attendees how easy it is install Oracle HTML DB and Oracle JDeveloper. Some attendees signed up to receive installation guides for Java development, HTML DB, and other technical resources on Linux.

Kodama noted that the Installfest was the first event of its kind. "Most people think that Linux installation is difficult, but the Installfest has shown how easy it is to install Oracle 10g and Asianux. Linux is really good for the enterprise."