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Oracle on linux – yes of course – but what linux?

There is a discussion from December 2008 what Linux (SLES vs. Red vHat vs. Oracle Enterprise Linux) to use for running oracle on Linux by Yann Neuhaus. You can read his post here.

After nearly one year i wanted to catch up the article and check if the pros and cons are still valid or if there changed anything.

SuSE Linux Enterprise Server

Pros according to the original post

  • Very large package repository
  • Centralized administration tool (YaST), allowing to solve a large part of the administration tasks: disk management (including Logical Volume Manager), User handling, Network configuration, and so on …
  • SLES is by default delivered with OCFS2, the Oracle Cluster Filessystem. This could be useful for Failover clusters (Clusterware) or for RAC (Real Application Clusters) deployment
  • Heartbeat is provided by SuSE as a Failover cluster technology. Even if not officially supported by Oracle, Heartbeat offers a quite interesting protection level for other services like FTP servers, WEB servers, aso …

Cons according to the original post

  • YAST uses it’s own configuration files, sometimes it overwrites self-made configurations
  • SLES is not (anymore) the preferred/development platform for Oracle

Additional notes by Ronny Egner

  • SLES10 supports 10gR2, 11g R1 and 11g R2; quite a lot of database versions supported (but not as much as Red Hat 4 does)
  • SLES 11 adds xen-based virtualization
  • No support of ADVM and ACFS for Oracle 11g R2 on SLES yet. Check here yourself.
  • Although OCFS2 OCFS2 “>is shipped with SLES the OCFS2 module need to be updated always
  • only virtualization using “Oracle VM” supported by Oracle

Red Hat

Pros according to the original post

  • On Red Hat 4, Oracle supports 9iR2, 10gR1, 10gR2 and 11gR1, which is not possible on SLES distributions
  • Satellite Server centralized update and package management tool
  • Very fast updates or patches in case of any vulnerability. Sometimes RedHat provides daily new updates

Cons according to the original post

  • Distribution has generally not the most recent available packages versions included
  • Compared to SuSE, less software is included
  • Red Hat cluster is not really on the quality level we expected. Some issues in the Oracle start stop procedures have been identified in Red Cluster 5 making the cohabitation of two Oracle instances in parallel on the same cluster impossible
  • In parallel we had the “opportunity” to test the support for the Red Hat Cluster technology and we had to admit that it was far from our expectations
  • Unfortunately OCFS2 must be separately loaded and installed (through rpm) on Red Hat (directly included into SLES)

Additional notes by Ronny Egner

  • On Red Hat 4 Oracle also supports 11g R2 (in addition to already supported 9iR2,10gR1,10gR2,11gR1) –> most complete database version support in all distributions
  • larger installed server base
  • packages shipped with Red Hat 5 increased
  • most important tools and packages ship with Red Hat 5
  • missing packages can be compiled manually or downloaded as pre-compiled packages from the internet
  • Virtualization support (xen-based) added in Red Hat 5
  • like SuSE ADVM and ACFS shipped with Oracle 11g Release 2 are not supported with Red Hat 4 (but are supported with Red Hat 5)
  • OCFS2 needs to be updated anyway…. so no real advantage over SLES from my point of view. I doubt there will be much RAC installations with OCFS2 but i dont have any figures
  • only virtualization using “Oracle VM” supported by Oracle

Oracle Enterprise Linux (OEL)

Pros according to the original post

  • Same advantages than Red Hat, plus :
    • Well configured for Oracle, favoured by Oracle and current development platform for Oracle. All in one
    • OCFS2 packages missing with Red Hat are already available, this makes Clusterware even more interesting
    • ASMLibs also directly available in OEL
    • Based on Red Hat (but with Oracle support, which could be a benefit compared to the Red Hat support)
    • Clusterware supported by Oracle as soon as OEL has been licensed. Clusterware come a serious competitor to Red Hat Cluster or Veritas cluster or even against pure Open Source solutions like Heartbeat and DRBD
  • Support/License pricing seems much cheaper

Cons according to the original post

  • Some extra (hardware provider) components could not be easily installed because this distribution is whether a Red Hat nor a SuSe and therefore unknown for some packages

Additional notes by Ronny Egner

  • Same notes as for Red Hat plus:
    • as indicated in the original post if there are problems with oracle in conjunction with linux operating system support progress is far more easy with OEL compared to SLES or Red Hat because oracle will support OEL as well
    • hardware support (drivers) for OEL are now widely available; fast support of newest OEL releases by vendors
    • public available yum server for installing packages over the internet (see here)

Summary given in the original post

For pure Oracle business, Oracle Enterprise Linux (and therefore “Clusterware for Free”) seems to be the most interesting choice and Trivadis is also convinced that this would be the right Linux to deploy for Oracle based business. However do not underestimate the current Linux situation in your environment, never change a running system, if you are fully happy on SLES, use SLES, the same for Red Hat. Another issue could be that other applications beside Oracle are not OEL certified, therefore a withdraw to RHEL could be necessary.

Summary by Ronny Egner as of October 2009

As of writing this review many arguments made by Yann Neuhaus are still valid.

Especially for running a singe database instance without ASM on linux all covered distributions are equally useable.

For running single instance with ASM or running a clustered database i would definitely use either Red Hat 4/5 or – even more preferred by me – OEL. SuSE works as well but installation is not as “smooth” (many small, time consuming problems) as in Red Hat or Oracle Enterprise Linux. In addition to that the “cool” new features shipping with Oracle 11g Release 2 (ADVM and ACFS) are only available with OEL 5 or Red Hat 5. In addition to that support for OEL made by oracle might speed up problem resolution and will decrease the number of different parties involved.

As pointed out by Yann Neuhaus application certification is still important but increased during 2009. But anyway: There might be still application which are only certified on SLES or Red Hat thus fording you to use SLES or Red Hat.

Summarizing my personal :
If you stick with single instance database you can use any Linux distribution. If you want advanced features like ADVM, ACFS or Clustering (“RAC”) use Oracle Enterprise Linux. For oracle database-based applications always use the certified Linux distribution; if this is SuSE – use it; even if it is Ubuntu – use it!

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