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Handling kernel upgrades with Ansible prior to an Oracle installation

As part of the process of setting up VMs in the cloud for use with the Oracle database it is frequently necessary to update the systems to the latest and greatest, and hopefully more secure packages before the Oracle installation can begin. In a similar way I regularly upgrade the (cloud-vendor provided) base image when building a custom image using Packer. This demands for an automated process in my opinion, and Ansible is the right tool for me.

I may have mentioned once or twice that a Spacewalk powered (or equivalent) local repository is best for consistency. You may want to consider using it to ensure all systems are upgraded to the same packages. Applying the same package updates in production as you did in test (after successful regression testing of course) makes testing in lower-tier environments so much more meaningful ;)

About the oracle database and compiling and linking.

This blogpost is about how the oracle database executable created or changed during installation and patching. I take linux for the examples, because that is the version that I am almost uniquely working with. I think the linux operating is where the vast majority of linux installations are installed on, and therefore an explanation with linux is helpful to most of the people.

The first thing to understand is the oracle executable is a dynamically linked executable. This is easy to see when you execute the ‘ldd’ utility against the oracle executable:

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure: using Network Security Groups and the caveat with the subnet’s default security list

This is going to be one of these posts I’m mainly writing to myself, in the hope that a) I don’t forget about that topic too soon and b) someone might have the same question and doesn’t want to spin up an environment to find out.

Broadly speaking Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (and some other cloud providers) give you 2 different means of securing the Virtual Cloud Network at the VCN level:

Upgrading oraclelinux-release-el7 might trigger an upgrade to UEK Release 6

While building a demo environment for an upcoming presentation I noticed an upgrade from UEK 5 to UEK 6 on my Oracle Linux 7 VM. As it turned out, the kernel change has been triggered by an upgrade of oraclelinux-release-el7 RPM. I am a great fan of Oracle’s UEK and the team behind it, so this is a welcome change for me. It might however meet you unprepared, which is why I put this little article together.

Whether or not the contents of my article applies to you depends on your yum configuration, and the source of your packages.

Ingest format performance with UUID using CockroachDB

Recently, I have been working with customers that have been concerned about the performance of various UUID formats. Other products have various performance characteristics for inserting, generating and presenting UUID data.

For this blog, I ran a quick series of tests using jmeter insert data along with some simple SQL tests to generate UUID values. Hopefully, this will be helpful to better your understanding of UUID with CockroachDB.

UUID formats

Cockroach DB has four different ways data can be formatted for use with the UUID data type.

String format
'63616665-6630-3064-6465-616462656564'

Curly Brace format
'{63616665-6630-3064-6465-616462656564}'

Introducing Packer: building Vagrant base boxes hands-free

I have referred to Packer in some of my cloud-related presentations as an example of a tool for creating immutable infrastructure. In addition to the cloud, Packer supports a great many other build targets as well. Since I work with VirtualBox and Vagrant a lot, Packer’s ability to create Vagrant base boxes is super awesome. Combined with local box versioning I can build new Vagrant systems in almost no time. More importantly though, I can simply kick the process off, grab a coffee, and when I’m back, enjoy a new build of my Oracle Linux Vagrant base box.

Using Grafana Loki to be able to search and view all logs

This post is about how to make your log files being aggregated in a single place and easy searchable via a convenient web interface.

Using wallets with dbca in Oracle 19c

One of the features I haven’t seen blogged about is the option to provide SYS and SYSTEM passwords (among other parameters) to dbca via a wallet. This is documented in chapter 2 of the Database Administration Guide 19c.

[oracle@server1 ~]$ dbca -silent -createDatabase -help
...
        [-useWalletForDBCredentials  Specify true to load database credentials from wallet]
            -dbCredentialsWalletLocation 
...

I was curious how to use this feature as it might provide slightly better security when deploying new databases via dbca. It turned out it wasn’t too hard in the end, and I decided to briefly put my efforts into this short article.

Installing Virtualbox Guest Additions for Oracle Linux 8.2

Since I can never remember how to install Virtualbox Guest Additions I thought I’d write it down. Maybe it’ll save you a few minutes; I know it will save me a lot of time ;)

For this post I used the latest versions at the time of writing:

  • Virtualbox 6.1.10 for Linux (my host is running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS)
  • Oracle Linux 8.2 (V996906-01.iso)

The VM was installed using the “minimal-environment” group and booted into UEK 6. I believe this change came with Oracle Linux (OL) 8.2 and I seem to remember OL 8.1 used the Red Hat Compatible Kernel (RHCK) by default. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, it’s just an observation. I am going to stick with UEK 6 in my lab, instructions are different from using RHCK.

Oracle Autonomous Linux: cron’d ksplice and yum updates

By Franck Pachot

.
Oracle Enterprise Linux (OEL) is a Linux distribution which is binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). However, unlike RHEL, OEL is open source, free to download, free to use, free to distribute, free to update and gets free bug fixes. And there are more frequent updates in OEL than in CentOS, the free base of RHEL. You can pay a subscription for additional support and features (like Ksplice or Dtrace) in OEL. It can run the same kernel as RHEL but also provides, still for free, the ‘unbreakable kernel’ (UEK) which is still compatible with RHEL but enhanced with optimizations, recommended especially when running Oracle products.