RACing ahead with Oracle on VMware - Part 6

Friday Jan 6th 2006 by Tarry Singh
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Tarry Singh discusses the preparation and planning for the installation of a 2-node RHEL 4.2 Linux VMware for Oracle 10gR2 RAC. Also covered in the article are groundbreaking technologies like OCFS2 and ASMlib, and an overview the ESX Server in general.

Preparing for a 2-node Oracle 10gR2 RAC on RHEL 4.2 Linux with VMware

A Brief Pep talk: Year 2005 and Oracle RAC

The year 2005 has been a great year for the IT industry, mainly the Web but for databases too. Oracle had a very busy year with acquisitions and its continued support and contribution to Open Source Community (like membership on Eclipse Board, JDeveloper was released free).

To top it all, it has been a RAC year for Oracle. Oracle had just about a flat year in revenues and it was RAC that was the hero. So, you see RAC is getting more and more attention and is being adopted more rapidly than ever. I see RAC deployment, with help of Virtualization technologies such as ESX Server, only to soar higher in 2006.

In this article, we will go through the preparation and planning. We will take time to study the groundbreaking technologies like OCFS2 and ASMlib and breeze through the ESX Server in general.

Will VMware and RAC ever work in Production?

Will VMware and RAC ever work in production? An obvious question with a simple answer: YES! VMware came out with ESX Server for production and until ESX Server 2.5.x versions (which I use occasionally on my Regular blog and other Oracle blog to discuss such developments in more detail to illustrate its usefulness with Virtual Center Interface) no one even considered running Oracle RAC under VMware in production.

There were memory limitations (maximum 3.6 G for ESX 2.5), and only two virtual SMPs. Recently VMware announced its ESX Server 3 (which is already in Beta) and Virtual Center 2, which will cause the world to not only take notice and be totally blown away by its sheer capacity to accommodate real enterprise mainframe class software like Oracle RAC. Why? Just see for yourself; these are my favorite enhancements

  • 4-Way Virtual SMP
  • 16GB RAM for Virtual Machines!
  • Hot Virtual disk Adding
  • NAS / iSCSI support

I have not seen this, but VMotion support for Clustered Setups would top it all off! Imagine no downtime at all! How can you argue with that? You can have two 32G RAM and 4 CPU boxes and run a highly available Mission Critical Oracle RAC with enough money left to setup a mirrored SAN somewhere else and have an amazing 5-Nine score for the rest of your (business) life! Read more of those enhancements here .

So what all do I need for Linux and Oracle RAC on VMware?

Getting Linux

You can either get Centos (which is a complete rebuild from SRPMS of Red Hat Linux) for free here or get an evaluation version of RHEL 4.2 "Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS." Download them all and keep them as *.iso. You can just plug in the *.iso into your Vmware CD/DVD drive.

Getting Oracle 10gR2 Software

Get a free OTN subscription if you don't have one and then download the following

Getting OCFS2 for Oracle 10g Release 2

Download OCFS2 , learn more about this project here and don't forget to read the documentation. As you can see, you do not need to downgrade your kernel due to the availability of the these packages.

OCFS tools are a must too. The ocfs2console is an excellent and handy GUI utility. You can however, do everything via the command line interface if that suits you as well.

Getting Oracle ASMLib 2.0

Oracle recommends using ASMlib and we will go about getting those packages right away. We will be needing the ASM Library, tools and drivers.

Drivers for kernel Drivers for kernel 2.6.9-22.EL

Library and Tools

Getting Additional Tools

I mentioned in my first article about getting Putty, VNC or NoMachine ( I have some instructions for installing NoMachine here, although I still don't see any binaries for the RHEL4 version here ). These are handy tools to log on to the Virtual Machines directly. I personally find logging on via the VMware console or via the remote console (an application that you can download if you are using GSX Server or ESX Server) a little too slow.

Getting VMware

Although our intention is just to test and learn Oracle RAC, we will not exclude the possibility of using an underutilized PC/Laptop or even a Server, or putting those test servers in your test environment to some real use, by trying ESX Server on them. If you have bought a dual core AMD PC with 2Gig RAM, you might just be ready to give the ESX Server a spin.

Creating the Virtual Machines

The Architecture is pretty much the same as this picture, which we published in the third article. We will quickly go about creating a VM and then clone it, create a couple of disks and attach them to both of the VMs. We will use VMware Workstation 5.5.1 for this example. However, you can use GSX server or even ESX Server, if you have some servers rusting in your test environment. The setup on ESX might be a lot different from Workstation or GSX server, as everything is done on the bare metal and a lot of the terminologies change when you go about doing your work on an ESX platform. I call it a platform as it is more like a very thin layer of OS on the bare metal.

Creating VM

Step 1: Create new VM, Next:

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Step 2: Select the Custom option:

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Step 3: Select New Workstation:

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Step 4: Choose RHEL4:

Step 5: Name and location on your Host OS:

Step 6: Specify the amount of memory to use for this virtual machine:

Step 7: Networking. Create another NIC, with the host only option, later and don't choose for vmxnet option, as there is still no support for vmxnet. Keep the default vlance option.

Step 8: Select Lsilogic

Step 9: Create a primary disk with about 8-10G storage and later create another 1G (matching your addressed VRAM) *.vmdk disk for swap.

Step 10: Go with this default:

Cloning the machines

Step 1: After having setup and installed the OS (don't worry, we will go in a detailed installation in the next article) you can stop this OS and prepare for cloning. The setup should look like this:

Step 2: Right Click and choose Clone:

Step 3: You could have also picked a snapshot, but since we are just getting started, you can pick it up from current state.

Step 4: Select 'Create a full clone':

Step 5: Done. Note however that cloning is a smart choice to make but if you are comfortable with doing it the old-fashioned way, it is up to you.

Conclusion: In this article, we started preparing our work for Redhat / Centos 4.2 installation for Oracle 10g R2 RAC. We took a brief look at the ESX Server and the promise of running and managing a full-fledged clustered datacenter with just a handful servers! In the upcoming articles, I will attempt to illustrate a typical ESX setup as well. In the next article, we will install the OS and prepare it for Clusterware setup. (I will also try to push in some articles occasionally on general RAC performance testing and monitoring for the impatient.)

» See All Articles by Columnist Tarry Singh

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