Month: September 2007

Dirt Cheap Oracle step #2 of 6: Install Linux


Ok, I’ve got all the hardware I need (took a few minutes with a vacuum cleaner to carefully suck out as much of the dust that was caked in there), and hooked it all up. The computer starts up ok, but it needs an OS – the hard disk was wiped clean of all government secrets, as expected.

I downloaded Oracle Enterprise Linux release 5 from OTN [link]. I choose the x86 32 bit version, Release 5 Media Pack. It comes as five ISO images (ignoring the four Source ISOs), which I burned onto five CDs (just happened to have some blanks lying around).

Pop the first CD into the tray and hope nothing’s broken. It works! It’s alive!

Oracle Enterprise Linux welcomes me into its world and I recklessly accept all the defaults. It’s successfully detected all the hardware, and after the last CD has been inserted the transformation from boring ex-government PC into a shiny clean Linux box is complete.

A bit of a brush up on linux commands (Guide to Linux File Command Mastery), and now it’s play time!


Dirt Cheap Oracle step #1 of 6: The Machine


My main computer, used by my wife as well, runs XP and I want to remove Oracle from it because it takes too long to boot up, and Oracle can suffer when I run CPU-intensive applications on it.

In spite of my asking very nicely, none of my friends, family, in-laws, or colleagues had any old computers lying around they didn’t need, so I’ve done a bit of shopping around. An ad in the local paper pointed me to McLernon’s Supply & Demand, an auction house which sells heaps of old office furniture and computer equipment. They had just stacks of secondhand computers, mostly from DOLA (Department of Land Administration) (who, coincidentally, I once worked for), and I picked up a good PC for $99. It had 512MB of RAM so I also got a second half-gig for $50.

This is the hardware manifest:

  • 1 x Intel P4 2.0GHz, with 512MB RAM, 40GB HD, onboard video & network: $99.00
  • 1 x 512MB RAM: $50.00
  • Network cable: free (was in my box of computer junk, left over following an upgrade of my router)
  • DSL-G604T 4-port+wireless ADSL Router: $86.00 (secondhand via eBay)
  • Labour: free (me)

It’ll use my existing broadband to access the Internet. I’m on a $49.95/month plan from iiNet.

TOTAL COST: $235 upfront, plus the monthly broadband cost.

(not mentioned: a KVM switch, dirt cheap for $35, just for convenience while setting it up)

From here on in, there’ll be no further outlays; free software only!


Dirt Cheap Oracle

Seeing how Oracle XE and Linux is free, I want to see for just a minimum of outlay I could get a working database and web server running. I am also keen to give Linux a try; I’ve been a Windows user ever since my dad upgraded his computer from MS-DOS 3.3 to Windows 3.1, and while I’ve always worked for companies that used Unix I’ve never really had to learn much about it.

My goal is to get Linux up and running on the cheapest hardware I could find (free, if possible), and to run Oracle XE, the free version of the Oracle database, which includes Application Express. On the same machine I want to set up a web server to serve static web pages and streaming media.

My plan is as follows:

  1. Obtain a barebones machine to be the server. Must be free, or dirt cheap.
  2. Install Oracle Enterprise Linux on it.
  3. Install Oracle XE 10g R2.
  4. Upgrade Apex to version 3.0.
  5. Set up the router for external access.
  6. Migrate all Apex applications from the Win XP box.

In the next few posts I’ll describe how I went on all six points.


Which Apex am I logging into?

I’ve got two computers at home both running Apex, and when I log into Apex the page looks exactly the same – except for the IP address in the URL, which is just slightly different. If you’re forgetful like me it’s easy to confuse which machine I’m logged in to. Here’s a tip:

Login to apex_admin on each machine in turn and click Manage Service, then Messages. Then select a Custom Message for the Login Message and/or a System Message, and enter the name of the machine, or some other message that will remind you which machine it is. The message will be shown whenever you see the login screen, and when you login to Apex.

If you find the text isn’t visible enough, you can insert HTML into the message, e.g. <B>Development</B>.