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Installation Guidelines

As stated in the introduction to this chapter, installation of Oracle is a complex topic. And though Oracle has automated the process to a large extent, if you donít have your ducks in a row before you start, your success is doubtful. Therefore, this section will cover Oracle installation on NT, UNIX, and Linux, and attempt to point out the pitfalls that might trip you up on the path to a proper installation. Note, however, that the product is growing and changing with each release, so this information cannot, nor is it intended to, replace the installation guides provided by Oracle. Instead, this section is intended to provide general guidelines for the DBA who is facing installation or upgrade of the Oracle products.

Generic Installation Issues

In any installation, whether it is on W2K, NT, UNIX, or Linux, there are certain items that must be addressed. These include:

* Disk space availability

* DBA account setup

* Training

* File layout

* Tablespace layout

* Database-specific topics

       We will cover these topics in turn and, hopefully, in doing so provide the DBA with the information to arrive at logical answers to installation questions that may arise.

Disk Space Availability

More installations are probably messed up due to disk space availability than any other cause. Disk fragmentation doesnít seem to be a problem under UNIX or NT, however I do suggest you defragment any NT system that has been in operation for extended periods of time prior to the Oracle installation unless you are installing to fresh disks. With most modern systems, disk space is allocated dynamically. This means that as a file needs space, it is granted space wherever it is available on a disk. On active systems, where files are created, updated, and deleted or moved to different disks, this results in fragmentation. This can result in problems for the DBA on NT systems since most arenít provided with a disk defragmentation tool.

The Oracle DBA Account 

Other than the ADMINISTRATOR on NT, or the ROOT or SUPERUSER account on UNIX, the Oracle DBA account, usually called ORACLE, will be one of the most powerful accounts on the system. This is required due to the Oracle system being more like an operating system than just a set of executables. In order to start up and shut down, create the required files, and allow global sharing of the kernel and perhaps the tools, the Oracle DBA account needs much broader privileges than a normal user account. The account must have the privilege to create directories, files, and other system objects, as well as the ability to place objects in shared memory.

The second-largest contributor to a bad install experience is an underprivileged Oracle DBA account. The account must be set up as stated in the installation documentation for the install to be successful. After the installation, some adjustment of account privileges can be done if the system administrator really doesnít want an account outside of his or her realm of control to have such broad privileges, but no adjustments can be made until the install is complete. In most cases, however, the privileges removed by an overzealous system administrator will have to be periodically reinstated for code relinks, special file work, and, of course, upgrades. This will soon convince most system administrators to set them and leave them. After all, if someone canít be trusted with the required privileges to do his or her job, should the person be trusted with the job in the first place? It is advised that the Oracle DBA be sent to at least an introductory course in system administration so as to know what not to do with the privileges. A course in system tuning is also advised.

Training 

It has been said that success in a new venture usually depends on three things: training, training, and training. This is especially true in the realm of the Oracle DBA. Oracle Corporation, and many third-party vendors, offer numerous classes at locations across the United States and Europe. There are also many sources for computer-based training (CBT), as well as online resources such as the RevealNet, Inc. Oracle Administrator (which I helped to author and a part of which can be downloaded from the company Web site). These classes are Oracle-specific and address issues that DBAs, developers, and managers need to be aware of and take into account. With most Oracle purchases you can negotiate training units, or TUs. Use them; they are worth their weight in gold. While there have been a few successful seat-of-the-pants Oracle installations, most end up in trouble.

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