ambition and advancement

Years ago when I worked for Sun Microsystems I had the opportunity to talk with many of the executives. I was consistent in asking one question from all of them and the question threw everyone of them when I asked the question. It was a simple question….. “are you happy doing what you are doing”. Granted, it is a very personal question that I truly have no right to ask. The answers ranged from an indignant yes to an honest some days yes and some days I just want to grow potatoes. The question was one of those open ended questions that asked much more than the question. It asked about their general state of mind. It asked if they are a leader worth following. It asked if their job was something worthy to aspire to. It also asked if our relationship was at a point where I could ask the question. The ones who answered the question with indignation quickly communicated that I was below their status and had no right to talk to them as a peer. The ones who mulled the question over typically turned it back on me and asked if I was happy with my job. Some used the phrase job, some used the phrase what I am doing. The ones who used the phrase job quickly implied that I worked for them and that this was a business relationship. The ones that asked what I am doing usually followed up with two or three other questions and stopped me from asking more questions about them. Only one asked me how they could make it more fun and improve the group as well. I was willing to follow this person around the company and work in whatever group he managed. The only reason that I stopped working in his group was that he quickly became a VP and was in charge of a world wide group. Working for him would have required that I travel 20 out of 30 days and that makes it difficult to start a family. My wife and I agreed that it would be rich and rewarding financially but we would not be able to raise kids.

The second question that I typically asked was how they got to where they are. The stories that I got were very interesting. Some said that it was hard work and ambition. Others said that it was luck and picking the right projects. The ones that said luck were able to expand on the projects that they worked on and how it enabled them to take the next step. They could also name two or three key people that made them successful. The ones that said it was hard work could rarely name a person or two.

I am trying to apply these same tactics to the technologies that I am trying to learn and understand. Is there a project or customer that is using this that will drive me to a better understanding? Is there someone inside the company that I can turn to with questions to troubleshoot issues that I am having? Is this a project that is trivial or considerable and worthy of research.

Right now I am at the level of understanding all of the Oracle products and being able to ask the first question about all of them. I am at the level of being able to explain why something should be used and why it should not. I am at the level of being able to describe what resources are required to make something work and what questions need to be asked before they move to the next step. What I need to get is an understanding of the details, like how difficult a database upgrade is or how hard is it to import data from a different format. In this series of blog posts, I am hoping to document the learning process and detail the what, how, why, and deeper level details of the technology layer of Oracle products.


database upgrade

so for the past few days I have been playing with contentDB installation. It has been an eye opener. I am relatively new to Oracle (10 months now) and have little experience as a DBA. I have been a Unix admin, software developer, and system architect for a variety of companies. I was a Solaris expert from the early years and remember how difficult it was to install, configure, and upgrade Solaris (at the time called SunOS). I have played with Tomcat at a variety of jobs and even used the iPlanet/Sun Application Server. I am surprised to say that the Oracle suite of products suffers from the same problem that most public domain code and Linux installations suffer from; poor documentation and inadequate dependency checks.

I decided to install contentDB. To do this, I installed the database, version which is the full image that can be downloaded. I got the install working, the os with the right packages, and the accounts and kernel parameters correctly configured. I download and unzip the soa suite and find out that I need to upgrade the database to at least No problem, right? I didn’t initialize any data elements other than the sample database. The upgrade should go easy. WRONG! I downloaded the 800M+ bundle and unzipped it. I execute the runInstaller and watch as the messages go by. I assumed that it would halt the services and upgrade what was needed. It posts a message saying that I need to stop the services managed by the ORACLE_HOME that I have defined. It didn’t say what the processes were or how to see what was running. It just said that I needed to stop something and it was up to me to figure it out. I eventually figured out that I needed to stop the listener, the sql service, the enterprise manager, and the database. It seems like there would be a stopall command that would make this happen.

Once I got everything stopped, I started the upgrade package and it finishes without any warning. Since I only installed the demo tables I thought that I was finished and could connect to the database. WRONG! I forgot to upgrade the database once I upgraded the binary packages. It seems like the upgrade process should have done this for me or at least asked me if I wanted it done. It took me a few hours to figure this one out but I waded through the manuals and forums and got it working.

Now that I have the database upgraded to and OEM reports that it is the right version and everything is properly running. I started the runInstaller for the soa suite. This comes up with a few questions and starts checking for dependencies. I appreciate this but the error message that comes up is of little or no help. Some required prerequisite checks have failed…… What prereqs? A little more detail here would be helpful. A link to a web page? A list of failures?

Am I off base asking for a little more detail here? In the early days of Solaris, these were common error messages. It almost harkens back to Windows messages. “Error: You can’t do anything now” with a Reboot button. Ok, I was a little harsh on the error message, I actually do get an error message in the universal installer screen. It seems like the error window should drop me into the reporting 1 error, 1 requirements to be verified screen that lists the error. The error appears to be easily fixed, gcc-c++ is not found. Fortunately, I had to upgrade the gcc installation for my version of Red Hat Enterprise 4 so I have the iso already mounted. Once I got the prereqs resolved, it complains that there isn’t a ORABPEL schema on the database that I am using. I guess it is back to the manuals to figure out the schema elements that I need to install and configure.