Installing Oracle VM Server

December 12, 2007 by Michael

As promised, i’d like to share some experience with installing the new “Oracle VM Server”.

The product isn’t as new as Oracle wants you to believe, it’s based on Xen 3.1.1 “with many, many performance enhancements done by our engineers”. We’ll see.

After unpacking our shiny new Dell (The rabat action was entitled “My First Server”, sweet… kind of), i booted of CD, left most settings on default and made my way to the non-graphical Installer. No surprises here, Oracles Xen Version runs on their own Linux distribution (“Oracle Unbreakable Linux / Enterprise Linux”) which itself is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (ok, tante isn’t wrong about re branding stuff and so…). It’s quickly said that the stuff is available without re branding in it’s original form but to many people it is important that these products are certified by Oracle.

Oracle VM comes in two packages, a server and a manager component, which needs to be installed on separate machines.

Oracle VM Manager runs on both Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 and 5. I set up a VMWare Server machine on my workstation for that as i didn’t want to ruin a near perfect desktop. Installation of the manager is simple with one little caveat: The script prompts for the oc4j admin password which is “oracle”. It doesn’t want to know a new one but the default.

VM Manager installs an OC4J, an Oracle XE Database and the manager app itself which is a J2EE app.

Within this thingy you define server pools and servers.

For the later you have to install one. Put in the disc, but the machine, accept a view defaults and you’re ready to go. I put two ethernet cards in our dell for accessing the server itself and the other for the virtual machines.

I had some weird problems configuring the ntp daemon, that was all.

My first experiment was to install a fully hardware virtualized Windows XP. Creating the vm, adding diskspace and so on with Oracle VM Manager is as easy as with any other tool like the ones from VMWare. One noteworthiness is that you need to import your iso files from any install media to the server. This was easily done via ftp. I loaded the machine with XP and for later, all 5 disks of Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.

I spend nearly a day to get the bridged networking with xp up and running. I learned a lot about networking under Xen (especially this page was useful) but in the end, the on and only reason why i couldn’t reach the Windows XP domU was the bastard firewall build into XP. Bummer!

XP runs reasonable fast within the hvm environment. The only thing that felt like ages was creating the virtual disk.

From within the manager application one is able to reach a VNC server running on the Oracle VM Server entitled console. You even see the bootscreens and so on from this VNC. I first saw this on the DOAG last month, it certainly didn’t work out of the box. The Oracle VM Manager application was missing the jar files with the Tight VNC applet.

Although the VNC server is reachable with any VNC client, it’s nice to start right from within the browser. To install the applet properly on the manager machine, do the following:

  1. Download the TightVNC rpm at the Oracle OVM RPM repository (also, there’s a plugin for linux clients)
  2. Install it with
    rpm -ivh tightvnc-java-1.3.9-1.noarch.rpm
  3. Go to the OVS homedirectory which is
    /opt/oc4j/j2ee/home/applications/OVS/webapp1/Class

    Make sure there is a file “VncViewer.jar”. Mine was there after installing the rpm.

  4. Sign the “VncViewer.jar” file with the following commands:
    /opt/oc4j/java/jdk1.5.0_11/bin/keytool -genkey -alias vncviewer -validity 365
    /opt/oc4j/java/jdk1.5.0_11/bin/jarsigner VncViewer.jar vncviewer
  5. Clean your browser cache and you’re ready to go.

The next step on the list was installing a paravirtualized Oracle Enterprise Linux. I hoped the templates at oracle.com were paravirtualized but no, they all are hvm templates. Why the heck? So this is where the fun starts and the next post takes place…

So far, i like the concept of Oracle VM Server. The software makes it easy to start with one server which acts as a virtualisation server, a server pool master and an utility server. If your needs grow, you throw some hardware in, define a new server in the manager application, add it to the pool and you’re done. From within the manager app, you can move the virtual machines around as you like. You certainly need to have for that to work some sort of shared storage available, but i don’t think that moving the /OVS tree of the first server to some kind of iSCSI or any other SAN is a big problem.

I know that Oracle builds their product upon Open Source but in this case, i think the package works great. Buying some relatively cheap server hardware, installing and configuring two products (Oracle VM Server and VM Manager) was far less expensive than a VMWare ESX3 test installation. Where Oracle fails is their Oracle Enterprise Linux, at least in some points. But as i said, in another post.

At one point a had a problem with the Manager App. Somehow my server pools went missing, i clicked around and finally found “Restore from Manager”. Hm, well… *click* and my virtual machines were gone. After searching awhile i found out that some configuration files for VMS exists under /etc /xen on the server but i guess they aren’t use. Any changes to them were ignored. All the vm starting, stopping and restarting is done from the manager app. So be careful when fiddling around with the config files on the server!

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