Trying Oracle on Linux in the Enterprise

How does Linux compare on a large scale to a well-proven commercial UNIX product?
First Test: Oracle

Oracle is certified on many Linux distributions. I had heard in a speech that Oracle is so keen on Linux that it even gives you Linux OS support to help you get up and running. I tested this and found it to be true. Outlined below is the exact script I ran to modify the kernel parameters and set up the environment on a new Linux box for Oracle. I found this all by Googling for the necessary information.

Overall, my main feedback on Oracle on Linux it's great. As my English colleagues like to say, "It does what it says on the tin". Once the sysadmin configures the box for Oracle, your DBA won't even know he's not running on UNIX--the systems are that similar. If you've ever seen Oracle on Windows, you know that Oracle administration is OS independent. I've seen first-hand that the following tasks/components are completely the same for Oracle on UNIX and Linux:

  • installation program

  • patching program

  • .profile

  • environment variables

  • initialization files

  • import and export commands

  • listener

  • startup and shutdown commands

  • backup mode (for hot or on-line backups)

Performance Results

I've imported copies of five of our databases to Oracle on Linux with no problems. Most of these were running on 8.1.6, so any hassles encountered actually had to do with going from Oracle 8 to Oracle 9 rather than going from UNIX to Linux. We've been running our first live database on Linux for a few months now, and performance on these new boxes is great.

Second Test: Linux & UNIX Playing Nicely

With Oracle now running on Linux, I needed to prove that all our infrastructure would still work. It did us no good to put our live databases on a server that couldn't be backed up, monitored, administered and cloned easily.

For backups, we use HP's DataProtector (formerly known as OmniBack), which runs as a server on UNIX and as clients on all of our Windows and UNIX servers. HP hasn't ported DP to Linux for the server; otherwise, I'd plan to manage all our backups from Linux. But HP does offer the DP client for Linux; it can be found on the UNIX DP CD, along with all the versions of UNIX. Most tasks for backups, including installing the client on a UNIX or Windows server, can be run from the GUI, but Linux isn't integrated smoothly yet.

As with many Linux jobs, though, the command line is the answer. Running the DP installation program and answering a few questions gave me an enterprise backup product that plays nicely with my existing setup. I'd say the learning curve here is miniscule.

The next priority for Linux connecting to our existing systems was monitoring. We use an excellent program called Big Brother to monitor our servers. It's free for non-commercial use, and I recommend it to everyone. Because UNIX shell scripting is my language of choice, I love how you can write a script to monitor anything and then plug that into Big Brother to report by way of a Web page. I knew the BB client would run on Linux, because I've already seen it run a BB server. All we had to do was download the program and follow the instructions to compile it once for each new hardware platform.

As before, configuring BB for Linux was exactly the same process as for UNIX. We now use BB to monitor network access, disk space usage, LVM status, Web servers, Oracle SQLplus connection, listener status and many other custom checks.

With availability monitoring covered by Big Brother, we wanted to get our new Linux boxes monitored for processor, disk, memory and swap in regard to performance. We could use standard UNIX tools such as sar, but we already standardised on HP Openview PerfView, which runs from a GUI and creates pretty graphs. We had to upgrade this product to a newer version to get it working with a Linux client, but there were no problems to report here either. This is an example, however, of where you need to decide whether you're going for maximum costs savings and installing open source everywhere. We already were paying enterprise prices for our old UNIX environment and, at least in the beginning, we didn't want to make huge changes and take on more risks. So we're still paying similar costs to have our Linux boxes monitored and backed up, because that's the solution we already have in place here.

Storage Area Network Integration

When it comes to SANs, Linux works, but not as easily and flexibly as HPUX. To use a new lun on HPUX, you simply need to type <ioscan> and <insf -e>. But with Linux, you either need to reboot or find the hostadapter, SCSI channel, ID number and lun number and then type:

echo "scsi add-single-device a b c d" > /proc/scsi/scsi 


a       hostadapter				0
b       SCSI channel on host adapter    	0
c       ID      				0
d       LUN     				0

I guess we're still at the early adopter stage, though, so these administration functions should be automated and simplified as time goes by. I believe QLogic has a better toolset, but so far I've only tried Emulex.

The rest of the nuts-n-bolts of Linux that needs to work with UNIX--things such as NFS, NIS, DNS, SSH simple sendmail and NTP--all worked wonderfully as well. Maybe I should have been satisfied with this, but I wanted to push to get as many of my UNIX tools to work on Linux as possible.



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Server cloning software

linuxles's picture

I have been using Mondo Rescue successfully for years to do live
cloning and backups of Linux Filesystems running on various types
of x86 based hardware (from homebuilt workstations to IBM Netfinity
and Dell PowerEdge Servers)...


Mondo Rescue for Dell Poweredge 2850

koschi's picture

hi linuxles,

we have a debian 3.1 linux running on a dell poweredge 2850 with a hp ultrium 448 tape drive. we are thinking of using mondo rescue for disaster recovery. do you have any experience with that?


Oracle on Linux

Max Leon's picture

We have been using oracle on linux for 4 years now, we develop gaming software and the volume that the system needs to handle during peak hours is hardly belivable.

When we decided to migrate from the commercial platform to linux as the host OS we experienced no less than 40% extra performance.

I have to say that fact that we handle almost 8000 bps of data transmition on the DB with a 32bit platform is quite amazing.

Oracle on Linux

Dan Gillgren's picture

I recently undertook a similar project, and I am amused by the similarity of my approach to yours.

We migrated from an oracle 8.1.5 on Sun Sparc Hardware (Solaris 2.6), through to 10g ( on a pair of HP DL380's (primary and standby config) running RH4AS.

The DL380 gave us the power of dual Intel Xeon processors. I also migrated the data to our SAN (IPStor) during this process, and run iSCSI between the oracle server and the SAN. The physical storage on the san is an array of 10k RPM SATA disks.

We ran in to a number of issues along the way, mainly to do with the lack of support RH3 has for the latest HP servers. So the call was made to go to RH4, even though it had just been released.

The end result for us has been fantastic. The users have noticed significant improvements in the response of applications and reporting. The age of the SUN boxes was making them a real liability, and I am glad to see the end of them.

My advice is to take professional advice before making a leap in to the linux platform for critical services. Other people have done it... I have done it... and I am damn happy with the end result.

Same comparison. Opposite conclusion.

Nordine's picture

We also compared HP-UX to Linux for our database-server.
Instead of comparing PA-RISC-processors with Intel Xeon-processor, we chose the Itanium2 64-bit processor. This processor can be used with HP-UX and Linux.
With the same level of support (3 years, 24/7), HP-UX was slightly cheaper (total cost for 3 years was about 15K EUR).
Because of other advantages (internal HP-UX knowhow, superb online cloning with Ignite-UX, reuse of earlier software investments like MirrorUX and Glance), we have decided to use HP-UX for our database-server.

Moving all business from HP-UX to Linux

Mimmus's picture

my company is a leader in providing Italian business information to the business world.
In latest two years, we are moving ALL business from HP-UX to Linux (Red Hat). Until now, only advantages....

Comparison does not adjust

Lgoulart's picture

Try compare SuSE SLES 9 with HPUX. Red Hat do not have maturity on system administration tools. SuSE is inpired on HPUX.

Re: Comparison does not adjust

linuxles's picture

I have to disagree with your comment. I personally do not find
SuSE's GUI tools to be more mature than RedHat's...

If you make any configuration changes with SuSE outside of Yast,
you can bet they won't be there after a reboot! Yast relies on a
database to store all of your changes, and as such you are forced
to make all of your changes through Yast. Comparatively with RedHat
I can make any and all changes via the GUI or CLI interchangeably.

Also note that opensource tools are typically distro agnostic and
usually don't rely on any one specific distro to work properly. If
you are more comfortable working with the GUI, then that's fine.
I prefer to have a choice...

i disagree

Anonymous's picture

we are using Suse e9 x86-64 for the oracle database that runs our relatively large public website (~6-8mi page views a day) and we also use if for our application servers and webservers. i make all my changes on the CLI and have never once used YAST (except maybe during the install).

when comparing Suse to RedHat (even though I'm not a big Novell fan...) Suse wins on cost and performance as well (for our apps anyways). plus they are quicker to the market with support for new hardware -- like x86-64.

just my $.02

Question about HPUX win #5

Anonymous's picture

Easy ... remote console access

What exactly does this mean? Are you referring to BIOS access?

re: Easy remote access

KevinC's picture

modern HPUX servers have GSP (Guardian Service Provider) which gives a ethernet connection to the harware at console level. Hardware errors, firmware, the lot. I've not found anything that's easier or better--in my opinion

HP Intel server there are lan

Anonymous's picture

HP Intel server there are lan console too ... with ssh and web interface

Serial Console?

RichardC's picture

Sounds like a hardware feature, though Linux does have serial console support which is an option. I think some BIOSes (on a particular older machine I had anyway) may have an option to output to the serial port too.

Oracle on Linux on zSeries

Chris Little's picture

We moved our child welfare Oracle database backend from HPUX 11i to Linux on the mainframe over a year ago. This is an absolutely mission critical database to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and supports over 600 concurrent users. Reliability has been unparalled for the hardware, operating system, and database. We are currently experiencing better uptime in our Linux environment than the HPUX boxes we still have in house. Our DBA's are just as happy (as happy as DBA's can be) as ever.

Linux & Oracle on small hardware

José Maria Oliveira Simões's picture

I'm a Linux advocate since I had an opportunity to put my hands on a machine with an operating system that could do multitasking. At that time I only could use MS-DOS and the XENIX 286 wasn’t an option (the price tag was too high). Because of the Microsoft, the hardware was required to be upgraded (more RAM, more Disk, more processor speed) due to the kernel “growing