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VMware: Oracle 11g

Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting

In this chapter, we are going to create a recipe for installing a streamlined Oracle 11g setup. The example in this chapter will make a perfect laptop/notebook demo platform, as it should run in a minimal demo machine (e.g. decent single-core CPU with >= 1.5 GB memory). However, if we do not follow such a recipe, Oracle 11g by default can very easily swamp a laptop/notebook. Remember, it is an enterprise level database that happens to also function on lesser hardware. So we should not just run the Oracle installer and accept a starter database (i.e. accept all default choices by just pressing next repeatedly). We need to fine tune our selections so that we are assured that we can use the Oracle 11g VMware image built on such low-end equipment; otherwise, demos may possibly run too slowly to be useful.


Since we are assuming with this example that it is for demo purposes on a laptop or notebook, we can also assume that the host operating system (Windows, Linux, or whatever) is already up and running. By this I mean that, unlike a new server, the host machine has its operating system already installed. Thus, in this chapters example we will primarily focus on the following steps:

  • Host Setup (Chapter 4)

    • Optimize BIOS Settings

    • Operating System Tuning

    • Host Default Settings

    • Virtual Network Settings

  • Guest Setup (Chapter 5)

    • Virtual Machine Creation

    • Operating System Install

    • Operating System Tuning

  • Oracle Setup

    • Oracle Software Installation

    • Oracle Database Creation

    • Post Install Tasks (e.g. auto-start)

The only step we will be missing here is the host operating system install under Host Setup tasks.

Host Setup

Back in Chapter 3, we discussed that the host machine is the center of your virtual universe and that all tuning attempts made here would benefit all hosted virtual machines. Therefore, a simple change might yield spectacular results since all virtual machines would benefit in a cumulative fashion. With a laptop/notebook, you get one additional bang for the buck since the hardware is so minimal. Basically, a single disk machine with limited memory will benefit most notably from such efforts and, for demos, this can often make or break the engagement.

We will start with optimizing the BIOS. On the following page is a screen snapshot from the main menu of the very common Phoenix-Award BIOS (Figure 1).

Figure 1:  Phoenix-Award BIOS screen

The two sections we should visit, which are the ones that contain settings which provide best bang for the buck, are the Advanced BIOS Features and Advanced Chipset Features. You will typically find the following options to set:

  • Virtualization Technology

  • Virus warning

  • CPU level 1 cache

  • CPU level 2 cache

  • APIC mode

  • Hyper-Threading

  • HDD S.M.A.R.T. capability

  • System BIOS cacheable

  • Video BIOS cacheable

  • Video BIOS shadowing

  • Video RAM cacheable

Of course, no two BIOS menus and screens are the same, but just look for similar items. The good news is that even though you may already have your host operating system installed, these changes will take effect on the next reboot without requiring any OS changes. So it is quite safe and easy to make such BIOS optimizations.

Optimizing the host operating system is next. While you may be satisfied with your systems current performance, adding VMware, a second operating system and an Oracle 11g database could well change things. However, changing the recommended Windows registry settings using the freeware program on the DVD to change the default settings to those shown on the next page (Figure 2) can often yield significant positive results. Plus, like the BIOS settings, these recommendations should not interfere with or negatively impact anything else on your system. Also like those BIOS settings, these changes will not take effect until the next reboot. The only potentially negative side effect could be disabling 8 dot 3 name creation since some older Windows programs could rely upon this. But I have yet to find anything that old in my Windows repertoire anymore. So you should be fine.

Figure 2:  Windows Registry Settings

Remember back in Chapter 3 I said not to install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on a minimal server we might construct to serve as our host operating system and hypervisor. Well, in this scenario the system will almost undoubtedly have both already installed and possibly several anti-spyware programs at that. A very critical step here is to exclude your VMware default location for virtual machines from both manual and automatic scans. Since I have set mine to be C:\Virtual Images, I need to exclude that location in Norton anti-virus as shown in Figure 3. And remember, best to do so both for automatic, nonstop monitoring and for default manual scans.

Figure 3:  Anti-virus Settings

You also need to make similar exclusions in any and all anti-spyware programs such as Webroot Spy Sweeper, PC Tools Spyware Doctor, AVG Anti-Spyware, Spyware Terminator, Spyware Blaster and a host of other similar programs. Remember that, unlike anti-virus programs where you run just one, people often run more than one anti-spyware program. 

One last host operating system adjustment that I find makes a difference, especially on notebooks/laptops, is to exclude your VMware network adapters from Windows firewall protection. I have illustrated doing so using the standard Windows Firewall software (Figure 4, next page), but you might be using a different firewall program such as those from Zone Alarm, Kerio or Sygate. The performance gain here will be minimal, but such firewall settings can sometimes interfere with VMware client to host communications with an example being between database applications and the Oracle listener. So it is worth the time and effort to set this.

Figure 4:  Windows Firewall Preferred Settings

The final step is to verify your Windows Services settings, i.e. which services start automatically vs. disabled vs. manual, as shown below in Figure 5. It is best to be very careful here as some of these settings can cause instability or negative side effects. Make sure you only turn off those services you are 100% sure that you will not need for something else on that laptop/notebook.

Figure 5:  Windows Services Settings

Your host system should now be fairly well optimized for running VMware.

This is an excerpt from
Oracle on VMWare: Expert tips for database virtualization by Rampant TechPress.


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