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Oracle Linux 5 Update 7 Available…

Over the weekend Oracle Linux 5.7 was released, as noted here.

Upgrades follow the normal path. Do one of the following:

  • Boot from the DVD and upgrade that way.
  • Replace the “/etc/yum.repos.d/public-yum-el5.repo” file with the new version here, remembering to enable the appropriate entries.
  • Amend your existing “/etc/yum.repos.d/public-yum-el5.repo”, adding the following new entry.
    name=Oracle Linux $releasever - U7 - $basearch - base

If you picked either of the last two options, you can upgrade by issuing the “yum update” command when logged in as root.

I’ve upgraded a couple of VMs running Oracle and everything seems fine so far.



A day at Cisco’s labs and an introduction to the UCS

I recently had the immense pleasure of visiting Cisco’s labs at Bedfont Lakes for a day of intensive information exchange about their UCS offering. To summarise the day: I was impressed. Even more so by the fact that there is more to come, I’m assuming a few more blogs posts about UCS will get published here after I had some time to benchmark it.

I knew about UCS from a presentation at the UKOUG user group, but it didn’t occur at the time which potential is behind the technology. This potential is something Cisco sadly fail to make clear on their website-which is very good once you understand the UCS concept as it gives you many details about the individual components.

I should stress that I am not paid or otherwise financially motivated to write this article, it’s pure interest in technology that made me write this blog post. A piece of good technology should be mentioned, and this is what I would like to do.

What is the UCS anyway?

When I mentioned to friends that I was going to see Cisco to have a look at their blade server offering I got strange looks. Indeed, Cisco hasn’t been known as a manufacturer of blades before, it’s only recently (in industry terms) that they entered the market. However instead of providing YABE (yet another blade enclosure), they engineered it quite nicely.

If you like, the UCS is an appliance-like environment you can use for all sorts of workloads. It can be fitted in a standard 42” Rack and currently consists of these components (brackets contain product designations for further reading):

  • Two (clustered) Fabric Interconnects (UCS 6120 or 6140 series) for 20 or 40 10G ports, with each port configurable as either uplinks into the core network or server links down to UCS chassis. These ports carry both Ethernet and FCoE traffic from the UCS chassis
  • Two Fabric Extenders (UCS 2100 series), which go into the blade enclosure and provide connectivity up to the Fabric Interconnects. Each UCS 2104 fabric extender (FEX) provides 40Gb bandwidth  to the Interconnect, controlled by QoS policies
  • Blade enclosures (UCS 5100 series), which contain 8 half-width or 4 full width blades
  • Different models of half-width and full-width UCS B-series blades providing up to 512G RAM and 7500 series Intel Xeon processors
  • 10GE Adapters which are Converged Network Adapters (CNA). In other words they can do Fibre Channel over Ethernet and non-storage Ethernet traffic

The Fabric Interconnects can take extension modules with Fibre Channel to link to a FC switch, there is no new technology introduced and existing arrays can be used. Also, existing fibre channel solutions can be used for backups.

Another of the interesting features is the management software, called UCS Manager. It’s integrated into the Fabric Interconnect using a few gigabyte of flash storage. Not only is it used to manage a huge number of blades, it can also stage firmware for each component. At a suitable time, the firmware can be upgraded in a rolling fashion except for the Fabric Interconnect (obviously), though the fabric interconnects can take advantage of the clustering functionality to ensure that complete firmware upgrades can be undertaken with a system-wide outage.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet

What I was very keen to learn about was the adoption of FCoE in UCS. Ever since it has been released, the UCS uses FCoE for storage inside the system. I can image that this must have been difficult to sell, since FCoE was a very young standard at the time, and still probably is.

For those of you who don’t know FCoE, it’s broadly speaking FC payloads in Ethernet frames. Since Ethernet was never designed to work like Fibre Channel, certain amendments had to be made to the 802.x standards. The so-modified Ethernet is often referred to as Data Centre Ethernet (DCE) or Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE). In a way, FCoE competes with established Fibre Channel and emerging ones such as iSCSI or even SRP for the future storage solution. History has shown that Ethernet is very resilient and versatile, it might well win the battle for unified connection-if implemented correctly. And by unified I mean network and storage traffic. I was told that the next generation UCS will not have dedicated Fibre Channel ports in the Fabric switches, all ports are unified. All you need is a small SFP to attach a fibre cable or 10G Ethernet.

The fabric Interconnects in the current version use traditional but aggregated 8G/s Fibre Channel to go to the storage.

Nice features

UCS introduces the idea of a service profile. This is probably the biggest differentiator between it and other blade solutions. A blade in the enclosure can take any role and configuration you assign to it. It took me a little while to understand this, but an analogy helped: think of a blade as something configurable similar to a VM: before you can put something on it, you first have to define it. Amongst the things you set are boot order (SAN boot is highly recommended, we’ll see why shortly), which VSAN to use, which VNICs to use in which VLAN etc. Instead of having to provide the same information over and over again, it’s possible to define pools and templates to draw this information from.

Technicalities set aside, once you define a service profile (let’s assume a RAC node for example), you assign this profile to a blade that’s in the enclosure. A few seconds later, you’ll see the blade boot from the storage array and you are done. If the SAN LUNs don’t contain a bootable operating system, you can us eth KVM to create one.

Another nice thing I think is the use of 10G Ethernet throughout. The two switches do not operate in Spanning Tree Mode, which would limit the uplink speed to 10G (one path)

There is obviously more, but I think this blog post has become longer than it should be. I might blog more about the system at a later stage, but not after going to add this final section:


The question that immediately springs to mind is: how does it compare to Exadata? Is it Exadata competition? Well, probably no. UCS is a blade system but it doesn’t feature Infiniband or zero copy/iDB protocol. It doesn’t come with its own more or less directly attached storage subsystem. It can’t do smart scans, create storage indexes, or do other cell offloading. It can’t do EHCC: all these are exclusive to Exadata.

This can be either good or bad for you, and the answer is of course “it depends”. If your workload is highly geared towards DSS and warehousing in general, and you have the requirement to go through TB of data quickly, then Exadata probably is the answer.

If you are in need of consolidating say your SPARC hardware on x86, a trend I see a lot, then you may not need Exadata, and in fact you might be better off waiting for Exadata to mature some more if you are really after it. UCS scores many points by not breaking completely with traditional data centre operations: you still use a storage array you connect the blades to. This makes provisioning of a test database as simple as cloning the production LUNs. Admittedly you get a lot of throughput from IPoIB as Exadata uses it, but I would doubt that an RMAN duplicate from active database is faster than creating clone on the storage array. UCS also allows you to use storage level replication such as SRDF of Continuous Access (or whichever name other vendor give it)


In summary, UCS is a well-engineered blade system using many interesting technologies. I am especially looking forward to FCoE multi-hop, which should be available with UCS 2. Imagine the I/O bandwidth you could get with all these aggregated links!


Am I an expert on UCS? Nope, not by a long. So it could be that certain things described in this blog post might be inaccurate. If you like, use the comment option below to make me aware of these!

An introduction to collectl

Some of you may have seen on twitter that I was working on understanding collectl. So why did I start with this? First of all, I was after a tool that records a lot of information on a Linux box. It can also play information back, but this is out of scope of this introduction.

In the past I have used nmon to do similar things, and still love it for what it does. Especially in conjunction with the nmon-analyzer, an Excel plug in it can create very impressive reports. How does collectl compare?

Getting collectl

Getting collectl is quite easy-get it from sourceforge:

The project website including very good documentation is available from sourceforge as well, but uses a slightly different URL:

I suggest you get the archive-independent RPM and install it on your system. This is all you need to get started! The impatient could type “collectl” at the command prompt now to get some information. Let’s have a look at the output:

$ collectl
waiting for 1 second sample...
#cpu sys inter  ctxsw KBRead  Reads KBWrit Writes   KBIn  PktIn  KBOut  PktOut
1   0  1163  10496    113     14     18      4      8     55      5      19
0   0  1046  10544      0      0      2      3    164    195     30      60
0   0  1279  10603    144      9    746    148     20     67     11      19
3   0  1168  10615    144      9    414     69     14     69      5      20
1   0  1121  10416    362     28    225     19     11     71      8      35

The “ouch” has been caused by my CTRL-c to stop the execution.

Collectl is organised to work by subsystems, the standard option is to print CPU, disk and network subsystem, aggregated.

If you don’t know what information you are after, you could use the –all flag to display aggregated information across all subsystems. Be warned that you need a large screen for all that output! For even more output, add the –verbose flag to the –all option and you need a 22” screen at least. The verbose flag prints more output, as the name suggests. For the disk subsystem you can view the difference:

$ collectl -sd -i 5 --verbose
waiting for 5 second sample...

#KBRead RMerged  Reads SizeKB  KBWrite WMerged Writes SizeKB
162     136     10     15      187      30     19      9
109      24      9     11      566     118     23     24
$ collectl -sd -i 5
waiting for 5 second sample...
#KBRead  Reads KBWrit Writes
9865     73    190     23

Each subsystem can be queried individually, the default monitoring interval is 1 second. The man page for collectl lists the following subsystems:


b - buddy info (memory fragmentation)
c - CPU
d - Disk
f - NFS V3 Data
i - Inode and File System
j - Interrupts
l - Lustre
m - Memory
n - Networks
s - Sockets
t - TCP
x - Interconnect
y - Slabs (system object caches)

As the name suggests, these sub systems provide summary information. Summaries are ok for a first overview, but don’t forget that information is aggregated and detail is lost.

From an Oracle point of view I’d probably be most interested in the CPU, disk and memory usage. If you are using RAC, network usage can also be interesting.

Detailed subsystem information is available for these (again taken from the excellen manual page):

D - Disk
E - Environmental data (fan, power, temp),  via ipmitool
F - NFS Data
J - Interrupts
L - Lustre OST detail OR client Filesystem detail
N - Networks
T - 65 TCP counters only available in plot format
X - Interconnect
Y - Slabs (system object caches)
Z - Processes

You can combine subsystems, and you can combine detail and summary information. Bear in mind though that this becomes a lot of information for a putty session of gnome-terminal!

In interactive mode, you might want to consider the –home flag, which does a top-like refresh and prints real time information without scrolling: very neat!

But even with the –-home option, digesting all that information visually can be a bit daunting, which leads me to my next section.

Generating graphical output

While all the textual information is all nice and good, it is difficult to visualise. Collectl can help you with that as well. All you need to do is generate a file in tab format, which is as simple as adding the –P and –f options. Since you can’t be overwhelmed with the information gathered in a file (unlike on standard out), you could use the detail switches. If you have the luxury, create the file with the information in a directory expored via samba and analyse it with Excel or other utilities. It’s possible to use gnuplot as well, but I found that a bit lacking for interactive use. The collectl-utils provide a CGI script to analyse collectl files on the host which can be convenient. Here is an example for measuring CPU, memory and all disks with a monitoring interval of 15 seconds. The file will be in “Plot” format (-P) and goes to /export/collectl/plotfiles:

$ collectl -sdmn -i 15 -P -f /export/collectl/plotfiles

Note that you can’t use the verbose flag here, and you also shouldn’t use a file name with the –f switch!

The resulting file is called After renaming it to hostname-yyyymmdd.txt it can quite easily be imported using your favourite spreadsheet application. Imagine all the graphs you could produce with it! Also the header contains interesting information:

# Collectl:   V3.5.1-1  HiRes: 1  Options: -sdmn -i 15 -P -f /export/collectl/plotfiles
# Host:       node1 DaemonOpts:
# Distro:     Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5.5 (Tikanga)  Platform:
# Date:       20110805-142647  Secs: 1312550807 TZ: +0100
# SubSys:     dmn Options: z Interval: 1 NumCPUs: 16  NumBud: 0 Flags: i
# Filters:    NfsFilt:  EnvFilt:
# HZ:         100  Arch: x86_64-linux-thread-multi PageSize: 4096
# Cpu:        AuthenticAMD Speed(MHz): 2210.190 Cores: 4  Siblings: 4
# Kernel:     2.6.18-194.el5  Memory: 65990460 kB  Swap: 16809976 kB
# NumDisks:   173 DiskNames: c0d0 sda sdb sdc sdd sde sdf sdg sdh sdi sdj sdk sdl sdm sdn sdo sdp sdq sdr sds sdt sdu sdv sdw sdx sdy sdz sdaa sdab sdac sdad sdae sdaf sdag sdah sdai sdaj sdak sdal sdam sdan sdao sdap sdaq sdar sdas sdat sdau sdav sdaw sdax sday sdaz sdba sdbb sdbc sdbd sdbe sdbf sdbg sdbh sdbi sdbj sdbk sdbl sdbm sdbn sdbo sdbp sdbq sdbr sdbs sdbt sdbu sdbv sdbw sdbx sdby sdbz sdca sdcb sdcc sdcd sdce sdcf sdcg sdch sdci sdcj sdck sdcl sdcm sdcn sdco sdcp sdcq sdcr sdcs sdct sdcu sdcv sdcw sdcx sdcy sdcz sdda sddb sddc sddd sdde sddf sddg dm-0 dm-1 dm-2 dm-3 dm-4 dm-5 dm-6 dm-7 dm-8 dm-9 dm-10 dm-11 dm-12 dm-13 dm-14 dm-15 dm-16 dm-17 dm-18 dm-19 dm-20 dm-21 dm-22 dm-23 dm-24 dm-25 dm-26 dm-27 dm-28 dm-29 dm-30 dm-31 dm-32 dm-33 dm-34 dm-35 dm-36 dm-37 dm-38 dm-39 dm-40 dm-41 dm-42 dm-43 dm-44 dm-45 dm-46 dm-47 dm-48 dm-49 dm-50 dm-51 dm-52 dm-53 dm-54 dm-55 dm-56 dm-57 dm-58 dm-59 dm-60
# NumNets:    8 NetNames: lo: eth0: eth1: eth2: eth3: sit0: bond0: bond1:
# SCSI:       DA:0:00:00: ... DA:2:00:00:00

This should be enough to remind you of where you were running this test.

Run duration and interval

Use the –i flag to change the monitoring interval, this is the same as you’d do with SAR or iostat/vmstat and the like. You could then either use the –c option to count n samples, or alternatively use –R to run for n weeks, days, hours, minutes or seconds, each of which are abridged with their first letter. For example to run for 15 minutes with samples taken every 15 seconds, you’d say collectl –i 15 –R 15m.

Quick and dirty

If you need an interactive overview of what’s going on top-style, you can use the –top flag. This will print output very similar to the top command, but this time you have a lot more options to sort on. Use collectl –showtopops. This is so cool that I couldn’t help just listing the options here:

$ collectl --showtopopts
The following is a list of --top's sort types which apply to either
process or slab data.  In some cases you may be allowed to sort
by a field that is not part of the display if you so desire


vsz    virtual memory
rss    resident (physical) memory

syst   system time
usrt   user time
time   total time

rkb    KB read
wkb    KB written
iokb   total I/O KB

rkbc   KB read from pagecache
wkbc   KB written to pagecache
iokbc  total pagecacge I/O
ioall  total I/O KB (iokb+iokbc)

rsys   read system calls
wsys   write system calls
iosys  total system calls

iocncl Cancelled write bytes

Page Faults
majf   major page faults
minf   minor page faults
flt    total page faults

Miscellaneous (best when used with --procfilt)
cpu    cpu number
pid    process pid
thread total process threads (not counting main)


numobj    total number of slab objects
actobj    active slab objects
objsize   sizes of slab objects
numslab   number of slabs
objslab   number of objects in a slab
totsize   total memory sizes taken by slabs
totchg    change in memory sizes
totpct    percent change in memory sizes
name      slab names

Filtering information

Let’s say you are running multiple ASM disk groups in your system, but you are only interested in the performance of disk group DATA. The –sD flag will print all the information for all disks (LUNs) of the system. Collectl reports disks as the native devices and dm- devices. For multipathed devices you obviously want to look at the dm- device. You could use the multipath –ll command to map dm- device to WWIDs and your disks in the end. Let’s say you found out that the disks you need to look at are /dev/dm-{1,3,5,8} you could use the –dskfilt flag, which takes a perl regex. In my example, I could use the following command to check on those disks:

collectl -sD -c 1 --dskfilt "dm-(1\b|3\b|5\b|8\b)"
waiting for 1 second sample...

#          <---------reads---------><---------writes---------><--------averages--------> Pct
#Name       KBytes Merged  IOs Size  KBytes Merged  IOs Size  RWSize  QLen  Wait SvcTim Util
dm-1             0      0    0    0       0      0    0    0       0     0     0      0    0
dm-3             0      0    0    0       0      0    0    0       0     0     0      0    0
dm-5             0      0    0    0       0      0    1    1       0     0     0      0    0
dm-8             0      0    0    0       0      0    0    0       0     0     0      0    0

Note the “\b” boundary, which is my uneducated way to saying that the expression should match dm-1, but not 10, or anything else that extends beyond number one.

Additional filters you can apply can be found in the output of collectl –showsubopts as well as in section subsystem options in the manpage.


Used correctly, collectl is the swiss army knife for system monitoring, the level of detail which can be gathered is breathtaking. Thanks Mark Seger! And aplogies for all the good stuff I’ve been missing!

Linux takes a page from Solaris… pmap available on Linux.

Recently, there was a thread on an internal alias of old Sun guys.  The problem at hand was to track down a process that is consuming memory on Linux.  This is the type of problem that can be solved many ways (ps, top, etc…), but to my amazement someone mentioned that pmap could be used for Linux…. I guess I didn’t get the memo:)

About 6 months back I wrote a few entries that discussed Solaris tools for the Linux Guy in the posts:

Alternative opinions about Oracle Linux vs. RHEL…

Jay Weinshenker has written a couple of good posts in response to my recent post on Oracle Linux vs. RHEL.

I don’t agree 100% with his all his points, but I always think it’s good to hear different sides of the story and I certainly enjoyed reading them.



Which Linux do you pick for Oracle Installations?

There was an interesting thread on the OakTable mailing list the other day regarding the choice of Linux distros for Oracle installations. It was started by one member (the name has been withheld to protect the innocent :) ) who said,

“I cannot imagine (but want to understand) why anyone would pick RHEL5.6 for Oracle as opposed to the vastly superior OEL with the UEK.”

I must admit I’ve kinda forgotten that any distro apart from Oracle Linux (OL) exists as far as production installations of Oracle software are concerned.

Some of the reasons cited for people not to pick OL include:

  • The customer has a long relationship with Red Hat and doesn’t want to jump ship.
  • RHEL is the market leading enterprise Linux distro, so why switch to Oracle?
  • The customer doesn’t want to be too dependent on Oracle.
  • The customer has lots of non-Oracle servers running RHEL and doesn’t want a mix of RHEL and OL as it would complicate administration.
  • The customer uses some software that is certified against RHEL, but not OL.
  • The customer prefers Red Hat support over Oracle support. Wait. Red Hat and support in the same sentence. Give me a minute to stop laughing…
  • The customer is using VMware for Virtualization and the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) is not supported on VMware.

I guess every company and individual will have differing justifications for their choice of distro.

So why would you pick OL and Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) for Oracle installations?

  • You can run it for free if you don’t want OS support. Using OL without support doesn’t affect the support status of the products (DB, App Servers etc.) running on top of it.
  • It’s what Oracle use to write the Linux version of the products.
  • It’s what Exadata uses.
  • Oracle products are now certified against the OL + UEK before they are certified against the RHEL kernel.
  • UEK is typically a much more up to date version of the kernel than that shipped by RHEL and includes all the patches vital for optimum Oracle performance.
  • Single vendor, so no finger pointing over support issues (from Google+ comment).
  • It is the only enterprise Linux distro that supports kernel patching without reboots thanks to Oracle’s newly aquired Ksplice.

For more information you might want to read this whitepaper or watch this webcast.

If you are looking at things from a purely technical perspective, I guess you are going to pick OL and UEK. Of course, many of us don’t work in a world where technology is picked purely on its merits. :)



Update: Check out this post by Jay Weinshenker for a different angle on this issue.

Using Connection Manager to protect a database

I have known about Oracle’s connection manager for quite a while but never managed to use it in anger. In short there was no need to do so. Now however I have been asked to help in finding a solution to an interesting problem.

In summary, my customer is running DR and UAT in the same data centre. Now for technical reasons they rely on RMAN to refresh UAT, no array mirror splits on the SAN (which would be way faster!) possible. The requirement is to prevent an RMAN session with target=UAT and auxiliary=DR from overwriting the DR databases, all of which are RAC databases on 11.2.The architecture included 2 separate networks for the DR hosts and the UAT hosts. DR was on whereas UAT was on A gateway host with two NICs connects the two. Initially there was a firewall on the gateway host to prevent traffic from UAT to DR, but because of the way Oracle connections work this proved impossible (the firewall was a simple set of IPTABLES rules). After initial discussions I decided to look at connection manager more closely as that is hailed as a solution to Oracle connectivity and firewalls.

Thinking more closely about the problem I realised that the firewall + static routes approach might not be the best one. So I decided to perform a test which didn’t involve IPTABLES or custom routes, and rely on CMAN only to protect the database. A UAT refresh isn’t something that’s going to happen very frequently, which allows me to shut down CMAN, and thus prevent any communication between the two networks. This is easier than maintaining a firewall-remember the easiest way to do something is not to do it at all.

Overview of Connection Manager

For those of you who aren’t familiar with CMAN, here’s a short summary (based on the official Oracle documentation).

Configuration of Oracle Connection Manager (CMAN) allows the clients to connect through a firewall [I haven’t verified this yet, ed]. CMAN is an executable that allows clients to connect despite a firewall being in place between the client and server. CMAN is similar to the Listener in that it reads a configuration file [called CMAN.ora, ed], which contains an address that Oracle Connection Manager listens for incoming connections. CMAN starts similar to the Listener and will enter a LISTEN state.

This solution [to the firewall issue with TCP redirects, ed] will make the REDIRECT happen inside the firewall and the client will not see it; CMAN comports as a proxy service between the client and the real database listener.

Interestingly, Connection Manager is fully integrated into the FAN/FCF framework and equally suitable for UCP connection pools.

Technically speaking Oracle database instances require the initialisation parameters local_listener and remote_listener to be set. In RAC databases, this is usually the case out of the box, however, in addition to the SCAN, the remote_listener must include the CMAN listener as well-an example is provided in this document.

Installing Connection Manager

Connection Manager is now part of the Oracle client, and you can install it by choosing the “custom” option. From the list of selectable options, pick “Oracle Net Listener” and “Oracle Connection Manager”.

From there on it’s exactly the same as any other client installation.


A quick test with 2 separate networks reveals that the concept actually works. The following hosts are used:

  • cman           
  • cmandb      
  • client           

The networks in use are:

  • Public network:
  • Private network:

As you can see CMANDB is on a different network than the other hosts.

Connection manager has been installed on host “cman”, with IP The listener process has been configured to listen on port 1821. The corresponding cman.ora file has been configured as follows in $CLIENT_HOME/network/admin:

cman1 =

The file has been left in this minimalistic state deliberately. The only connection possible is to the database host. The cmon service must be allowed or otherwise the startup of the connection manager processes will fail.

The gateway host has 2 network interfaces, one for each network:

[root@cman ~]# ifconfig
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:16:3E:F2:34:56
inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
RX packets:1209 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:854 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:105895 (103.4 KiB)  TX bytes:147462 (144.0 KiB)

eth1      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:16:3E:52:4A:56
inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
RX packets:334 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:151 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:36425 (35.5 KiB)  TX bytes:22141 (21.6 KiB)

Its routing table is defined as follows:

[root@cman ~]# route -n
Kernel IP routing table
Destination     Gateway         Genmask         Flags Metric Ref    Use Iface   U     0      0        0 eth1   U     0      0        0 eth2   U     0      0        0 eth0     U     0      0        0 eth2
[root@cman ~]

Configuration on host “CMANDB”

Note that host is on the private network! The database CMANDB has its local and remote listener configured using the below entries in tnsnames.ora:

[oracle@cmandb admin]$ cat tnsnames.ora

[oracle@cmandb admin]$ cat tnsnames.ora


  • local listener is set to local_cmandb
  • remote listener is set to remote_cmandb
  • CMAN_LSNR is used for a test to verify that a connection to the CMAN listener is possible from this host

The host had only one network interface, connecting to the CMAN host:

[root@cmandb ~]# ifconfig
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:16:3E:12:14:51
inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
RX packets:627422 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:456584 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:2241758430 (2.0 GiB)  TX bytes:32751153 (31.2 MiB)

The only change to the system was the addition of a default gateway. Unfortunately the CMAN process cannot listen on more than one IP address:

# route add default gw eth0

The following routing table was in use during the testing:

[root@cmandb ~]# route -n
Kernel IP routing table
Destination     Gateway         Genmask         Flags Metric Ref    Use Iface   U     0      0        0 eth0     U     0      0        0 eth0         UG    0      0        0 eth0

After the database listener parameters have been changed to LOCAL_CMANDB and REMOTE_CMANDB, the alert log on the CMAN host recorded a number of service registrations. This is important as it allows Connection Manager to hand the connection request off to the database:

[oracle@cman trace]$ grep cmandb *
08-JUL-2011 10:19:55 * service_register * cmandb * 0
08-JUL-2011 10:25:28 * service_update * cmandb * 0
08-JUL-2011 10:35:28 * service_update * cmandb * 0
08-JUL-2011 11:15:10 * service_update * cmandb * 0
08-JUL-2011 11:15:28 * service_update * cmandb * 0
[oracle@cman trace]$

Additionally, the CMAN processes now know about the database service CMANDB:

CMCTL:cman1> show services
Services Summary...
Proxy service "cmgw" has 1 instance(s).
Instance "cman", status READY, has 2 handler(s) for this service...
"cmgw001" established:0 refused:0 current:0 max:256 state:ready

"cmgw000" established:0 refused:0 current:0 max:256 state:ready

Service "cmandb" has 1 instance(s).
Instance "cmandb", status READY, has 1 handler(s) for this service...
"DEDICATED" established:0 refused:0 state:ready
Service "cmandbXDB" has 1 instance(s).
Instance "cmandb", status READY, has 1 handler(s) for this service...
"D000" established:0 refused:0 current:0 max:1022 state:ready
Service "cmon" has 1 instance(s).
Instance "cman", status READY, has 1 handler(s) for this service...
"cmon" established:1 refused:0 current:1 max:4 state:ready

The command completed successfully.

Connectivity Test

With the setup completed it was time to perform a test from a third host on the (public) network. Its IP address is The below TNSnames entries were created:

[oracle@client admin]$ cat tnsnames.ora
(SERVICE_NAME = cmandb)

(SERVICE_NAME = cmandb)

The CMAN entry uses the Connection Manager gateway host to connect to database CMANDB, whereas the DIRECT entry tries to bypass the latter. A tnsping should show whether or not this is possible.

[oracle@client admin]$ tnsping direct
TNS Ping Utility for Linux: Version - Production on 08-JUL-2011 11:19:47

Copyright (c) 1997, 2009, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Used parameter files:

Used TNSNAMES adapter to resolve the alias


TNS-12543: TNS:destination host unreachable

[oracle@client admin]$ tnsping cman

TNS Ping Utility for Linux: Version - Production on 08-JUL-2011 10:53:27

Copyright (c) 1997, 2009, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Used parameter files:

Used TNSNAMES adapter to resolve the alias


OK (0 msec)

[oracle@client admin]$

Now that proves that a direct connection is impossible, and also that the connection manager’s listener is working. A tnsping doesn’t imply that a connection is possible though, this requires an end to end test with SQL*Plus:

[oracle@client admin]$ sqlplus system/xxx@cman

SQL*Plus: Release Production on Fri Jul 8 10:55:39 2011

Copyright (c) 1982, 2009, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Connected to:
Oracle Database 11g Enterprise Edition Release - 64bit Production
With the Partitioning, OLAP, Data Mining and Real Application Testing options

SQL> select instance_name,host_name from v$instance;


The successful connection is also recorded in the CMAN log file:

Fri Jul 08 10:55:39 2011

08-JUL-2011 10:55:39 * (CONNECT_DATA=(SERVICE_NAME=cmandb)(SERVER=DEDICATED)(CID=(PROGRAM=sqlplus@client)(HOST=client)(USER=oracle))) * (ADDRESS=(PROTOCOL=tcp)(HOST= * establish * cmandb * 0

(LOG_RECORD=(TIMESTAMP=08-JUL-2011 10:55:39)(EVENT=Ready)(CONN NO=0))

VirtualBox 4.0.10 Released…

VirtualBox 4.0.10 released. It’s a maintenance released with a number of bug fixes. Happy upgrading! :)



UltraEdit 2.2 for Mac/Linux released…

UltraEdit 2.2 has been released for Mac and Linux. There is Fedora 15 download now, which is good. It’s nice to see the continued progress of these versions.

If you are a Windows user, version 17.10 is out now for you guys.



Open VPN for the Road Warrior

As a consultant it is important to have a test lab, something which is your own, where you can play with new versions and concepts to your heart’s delight without disturbing anyone else. Or worse, causing problems for the customer. For this reason I like to have an Internet facing machine which I can connect to from anywhere. In case the corporate network doesn’t let you out, consider getting mobile broadband on a PAYG basis-it works a dream!

I have blogged about my system a number of times, with special emphasis on RHEL 5.x and 6.x. Unlike many other Oracle scientists I do not use Virtual Box or VMWare for virtualisation, but rather Xen. When I started looking at para-virtualisation I looked at Oracle VM but at the time it was lacking features I wanted such as iSCSI provided storage. OpenSuSE is a great distribution which offers a dom0 kernel out of the box, and this is what I went for. My lab can support a four node cluster plus two Grid Control domUs, which is more than enough for me to work with. And although it’s busy, it doesn’t make working with the machine impossible.

For a long time I was very happy with my machine, and SSH access was all I needed. But when moving to Vista/Windows 7 a problem became apparent: I could no longer use port-forwarding to access my samba server on my backup domU. Microsoft added some other software to listen on the required port so I started looking at OpenVPN as a solution. This article assumes that you are familiar with OpenVPN-if you are not then you might want to have a look at the documentation. The howto is a a great starting point:

Actually, the OpenVPN tutorial is just fantastic, and it is all you need to set your clients and server up. What it failed to explain is how to access your machines behind the gateway. My dom0 has a public IP address to which OpenVPN binds. This public IP is assigned to my first network bridge, br0. I have three more virtual bridges in the system, not related to a physical interface. VMWare calls such a network a “host only” network. I am using br1 as the public interface for my domUs, br2 is used as a private interconnect. The final one, br3 is either  the storage network for my iSCSI nodes or-for my systems it serves as an alternative interface to the HAIP resource.

So all in all a reasonable setup I think. The trouble is that I didn’t know how to access my database servers in the br1 subnet. This is another one of those tips that look so obvious, but took literally hours to work out. I am not concerned with the private networks br2 and br3, after all those are not meant to be used anyway. The simplified view on my network is shown in this figure:

The workstation is my laptop-obviously.The figure is not 100% correct-the device openVPN connections go to is called tun0, but it’s related to my br0 device.

First of all, I needed to allow communication from device tun0, to which openVPN listens to, to be forwarded to br1. The following iptables rules do exactly that:

# iptables -I FORWARD -i tun0 -o br1 ACCEPT
# iptables -I FORWARD -i br1 -o tun0 -j ACCEPT

Translated into English these 2 lines instruct the firewall to ACCEPT traffic into the FORWARD chain from device tun0 to br1. In other words route the packet to the internal network. The second line allows traffic from the internal network to traverse the tunnel device tun0.

With this in place, you can instruct openVPN to push routes to the client. In my case this is done in the configuration file used to start the openVPN daemon in server mode. My config file, server.conf, contains this line:

push “route″

When a client connects to the OpenVPN server, this route is automatically added to the local routing table with the correct gateway. Note that on Windows with UAC enabled you have to start OpenVPN as administrator or otherwise it won’t be able to initialise the TAP device properly.

Are we there yet? I’m afraid not.

This is only half the story as I found out the hard way. After what seems like endless troubleshooting routing tables (which were correct all the time!) I found that I had to set a default gateway on the domUs, pointing to the dom0’s address of br1. This is as simple as updating /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-ethx, and adding this line to it:


Either use your command line skills to add the default route or – like I did – bring the interface down and up again. Again, where gateway is the IP address of the br1 device on the dom0.

Hope this saves you a few hours of troubleshooting.