Getting the Quiz Machine to Pay Out – talking to your database from a shell script

I was in the pub the other day with my mate Simon. It’s surprising just how many of my posts have their genesis in such a setting. For the benefit of any prospective employers ( and my Mum), I put this down to the company and the mental stimulation of working out just exactly how you collect your winnings from the Quiz Machine.
For anyone who does not have first-hand experience of English Pub Quiz machines, the trick is either to a) get the barman to pay you from the till or b) have about your person a rather large hammer.

Fortunately, the hammer wasn’t required on this particular occasion, which is just as well as neither of us had brought one ( it’s not really that kind of pub). The reason for our lack of success eventually became apparent. After a conversational odyssey through the Bedfordshire countryside (the vicissitudes of Luton Town) via Table Mountain (England’s prospects for the World Cup), Simon – definitely the brains of the operation in Quiz Machine terms – confessed to wrestling with one of those perennial problems that are an occupational hazard of the Database Specialist’s art.

Yes, as well as being a bit of a whizz on the Science and Nature stuff, Simon is a long-time Teradata expert. Continue reading

Mostly Painless – Upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04

I’m still not quite sure how, but I’ve managed to acquire a second laptop. It’s been sat there for a while, happily running Ubuntu 9.10 but not really doing too much else, so when the opportunity to migrate to the latest and greatest Ubuntu version came along, it just seemed like a good idea to re-christen it “Gullible Guinea Pig” and introduce it to “Lucid Lynx”. Continue reading

Troubleshooting Oracle 10g XE Installation on Ubuntu

You’ve followed the instructions, everythings working fine. You shutdown your machine and go for a celebratory pint / cup of tea / curry.
Then, when you next start your machine, Oracle doesn’t want to know. What’s going on ?
To be honest, I don’t know. What I do know is that there are some steps you can take to at least attempt to diagnose your problem.

Before I go any further, I’d like to dedicate this post to Wayne.
He found himself in this position. After much head scratching between the two of us, he managed to find and resolve his problem.

Whilst a hardened veteran in computing terms, Wayne was new to both Linux and Oracle. From the mails I’ve received regarding this post, there seem to be a number of people in a similar position to him. Therefore, this post is written with these interpid souls in mind and I’ve tried to take time out to explain why we’re doing stuff at each step.


It’s now quite a while since I posted this and some people have contributed some really useful comments. These include solutions that they found to various problems, which are additional to the ones in this post. So, if you’re still having problems, check out the comments as well. MestreLion’s tip about sudo chmod -t /var/tmp/.oracle seems to be a particularly good example of this.

One other point worth mentioning is that Oracle 11gXE is now available. Many of the issues in this post are still relevant. However, if you’d like to know how to install the latest XE on Ubuntu or Mint, here are the instructions
Continue reading

Tunneling X over SSH on Ubuntu 9.10

“Just a second”, you’re thinking, “I thought this blog was supposed to be about Oracle stuff ?”
This is true…broadly speaking. However, I’ve spent a fair chunk of the last week playing with Ubuntu 9.10 server working up to putting Oracle on it. This particular mini-adventure will come in handy when I come to do the actual install as Oracle uses a graphical interface as it’s main installation tool.

So, this tuneling X over SSH sounds pretty impressive. Tuneling itself sounds very technical, a fact augmented by the inclusion of a TLA in the phrase. And the X just serves to make it sound rather mysterious and exciting.

As is so often the case in such matters, the truth is rather more prosaic. Continue reading

Essaying a sashay with Samba

Just in case either of my kids are reading this, don’t panic. I’ve not suddenly decided to break the habit of a lifetime and indulge in a bit of Dad Dancing. No, this is a vain attempt to improve my geek-cred, rather than my street-cred. As promised in my last post, this is a wander through my adventures in configuring Samba to share files from my shiny new Ubuntu 9.10 Server installation.
Continue reading

Installing Ubuntu Server and SSH setup

It is said that the Devil makes work for idle hands. I’ve got a week off. I know, I’ll have a crack at setting up an Ubuntu server on a desktop PC.
Note to self – I really must get a life. Apparently they can be quite useful.

Right now, however, it’s probably a good idea to set out what I’m trying to achieve here.

This server is just something for me to play around with at home. I don’t need to worry too much about large amounts of traffic.
I want to keep my holiday snaps and my music on it so I can access them from the other machines in my house.

I also want to install Oracle 11g on it at some point, so I have somewhere to play with an up-to-date version of Oracle.
As 11g tends to get a bit sniffy if it’s got a GB or less of physical memory to play with, I need to make sure that the host machine has enough memory to accommodate it.

I’ll post about the Samba setup and Oracle installation separately. For now, I want to concentrate on the initial Server installation and SSH setup. Continue reading