Log Buffer #71: A Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs

Posted in: Technical Track

Welcome to the 71st edition of Log Buffer, the weekly review of database blogs.

There were so many blogs covering this week’s Oracle Open World that I could have devoted this entire edition only to that. But that would not be fair to those other DBMSs, all of which are fine DBMSs in their own right, even if they don’t have massive once-a-year rallies in San Francisco. So, I’m going to try to give you what I think are the best of the OOW blogs. It’s still going to be an Oracle-heavy one, and I had to cut more than I wanted to (including all the Postgres stuff), but I’ll see to it that it all evens out eventually.

Let’s start the look at OOW on the AMIS Technology Blog with Lucas Jellema’s item on Sunday’s — or “Day 0’s” — events, which featured an address by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, looking back at the corporation on its 30th anniversary. “Along a long chain of personal memories and anecdotes he walked the 8000 or so audience. . . through the first years of Oracle Corporation. He was clearly enjoying reliving the memories and sharing them with at least the people who were there at the time – and to some extent also the rest of us. . . .  Next was another sketch by (part of) the cast of Saturday Night Live. However . . . at that point I decided to leave; their earlier birthday cake sketch had been disastrously unfunny.” Well Lucas, why would they change their style just for OOW?

Andrew Clarke was there, and I think he deserves the completely unofficial “Elby Award” for Best Overall Blog Coverage of OOW for his items at Radio Free Tooting. I suggest just going there and reading.

Andrew’s first post , dealing with “Day 0”, asks What’s the Story? Some excerpts: “Most of the event was devoted to Larry’s account of the history of Oracle’s thirty years. . . . Unfortunately the speech. . .turned into a recitation of people who joined the company over the years. . . . The rest of the session consisted of some slightly desperate sketches from the cast of Saturday Night Live.” (Oh come on, lay off ’em!) “Is there a big theme? Beats me. One of the Oracle people I spoke to last night said they all don’t know what’s going on. If there is a big announcement it will be just as much of a surprise to the employees as to the rest of us.”

On John’s Blog, the selfsame John Edwards Scott reviews the first day, including photos of some famous Oracle figures, one from Larry’s address, and one of some heavily-armed Oracle fembots (??).

Mark Rittman also looked back at the first days of OOW 2007, covering the ACE Dinner and the announcement of Oracle VM.

Mark also covers Larry’s Wednesday keynote address, with pics of his snazzy-looking stage show. (Apparently, it’s now mandatory for tech CEOs to wear mock-turtleneck shirts when doing keynotes and launches.) “The main themes of the keynote were the new Oracle VM product, virtualization, and pre-built integration packs between the new Fusion apps and the legacy ERP applications Oracle owns. For me the most interesting announcement was around the first Fusion applications, due in the first half of 2008. Three applications were announced; Sales Prospector, used for identifying sales opportunities; Sales References; and Sales Tools.”

Eddie Awad looked back on Tuesday at the previous two days of OOW with some photos of Oracle mavens, some quick audio clips, and a podcast interview with OTN’s Justin Kestelyn.

Nathalie Roman of iAdvise reviewed Tom Kyte’s appearance in the (very welcome, I’m sure) No-Slide Zone, a new programme at this year’s OOW. “Using different paper notes he mentioned and discussed the 11 different features which are now made available in 11g and explained which problems they solved. Every time he mentioned a feature and explained the usage and gain of it, he threw away the card which was a really fun way of presenting.”

Tom Kyte himself noted on Wednesday that the non-technical treehugger blog had someone at the conference, looking into its green-ness (or otherwise) and that of Oracle Corporation.

Back to Tooting Bec for Andrew Clarke’s Day-3 report, “Simply cowbell”. “A theme emerges. Oracle announced Oracle VM Server on Monday. Today in his keynote Jonathan Schwartz announced Sun xVM Server. Do two similar products make a trend? It will have to do.” Michael Dell made an appearance too. Andrew also has some thoughts on Larry’s keynote (and brief loss of cool).

Finally, on his Technical Notes and Articles of Interest, Ronald Bradford notes the presence of the MySQL booth at Oracle Open World, promoting the position of their DBMS as a complement to Oracle’s.

Oh, and Don Seiler was still in the dumps for not being there. Show him some love, people.

MySQL AB’s Zack Urlocker mentions on InfoWorld’s Open Sources blog that MySQL has begun its annual users survey. “We get lots of feedback from our users and customers and the survey is also another way to influence the roadmap and development priorities going forward. So let ‘er rip!”

Over on Slashdot, Brian “Krow” Aker, Director of Architecture for MySQL AB, is taking questions from readers; his answers are due to appear in the next few days. The current highest-moderated question: “Do you fear that Google’s upcoming code donation is going to make them a large stakeholder in the future of MySQL?”

Although it’s an older meme amongst MySQL blogs, the subject of feature wishlists is sure to arise in those /. questions. Daniel van Eeden offers his MySQL wishlist on Daniel’s nonsense talk. “3. Database locator. . . .  So you’ve got hundreds of servers and a multitude of databases. How to connect to the right server to reach the database you needed? Something like oracle TNS would be helpful here.”

Mark Atwood responded to that and another of Daniel’s wishes, and perhaps a couple wheels have been set in motion.

On the MySQL Performance Blog, Peter Zaitsev has another list: 10+ Ways to Crash or Overload MySQL. Writes Peter, “There are many ways to crash or otherwise made unavailable server with any MySQL version if you have access to it with normal privileges. . . . MySQL Security should be treated the following way – if you do not allow any access to MySQL Server you are reasonably secure. . . .The moment you give someone access to MySQL Server . . . it does ensure you can stop one from overtaking the server.”

On Hivelogic, Dan Benjamin posted a HOWTO on installing MySQL on Mac OS X, the build way.

By way of response, Mark Pilgrim of dive into mark gives us a slightly ranty HOWTO on installing MySQL on Ubuntu (the NSFW way). Excerpt: “[If] you’re impatient, or just feeling lucky, just shut . . . up and read through to the end. It’s not that complicated, and nobody cares about your l33t skillz anyway.” Surprisingly rude for something so simple. Seriously though — it is NSFW. But don’t take my word for it . . . well, maybe you should.

On the Dizwell Blog, Howard Rogers started something with an article in which he stated that Oracle could not be run on Linux Fedora 8. Pythian’s Raj Thukral responded with an item showing how you could install Oracle on Fedora 8, by tinkering with the Oracle installer. Howard disagreed with the approach, and finally, Andy Campbell replied with a comment in Howard’s item, showing an alternate way of working around the problem.

At David Litchfield’s Weblog is an item reporting an Oracle 11g/10g Installation Vulnerability. “During the installation of Oracle 11g and 10g all accounts . . . have their default passwords and only at the end of the install are the passwords changed. This means that there is a window of opportunity for an attacker to log into the database server during the install process.” Click through for the full story.

Tanel Poder found a similar chink in the Oracle wall: all your DBAs are SYSDBAs and can have full OS access.

While we’re on the business of installs, on Zen and the Art of Ruby Programming, Antonio Cangiano has a workaround to a problem with installing DB2 9.5 on Ubuntu 7.10.

Susan Visser of Build your Skill on DB2 points out the arrival of a free book — Getting Started with DB2 Express-C, and Jon Emmons of Life After Coffee announces that his new book on Oracle shell scripting is now available.

Getting back to that Oracle VM news — Matthew Aslett of 451 CAOS Theory deems the move Oracle’s virtual challenge to Windows and Red Hat. “To some extent it is a software appliance play: like Raw Iron without the iron. . . .  The target of Raw Iron was eradicating the layer of Microsoft Windows that stood between Oracle and its customers’ hardware. . . .  Oracle VM targets both Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. . . .  It’s no surprise to find that the product is a development of the Unbreakable Linux group within Oracle . . . because it further disrupts the relationship between customers and their operating system suppliers.”

Time for some SQL Server stuff. On Jeff’s SQL Server Blog, Jeff Smith points out that some SELECTs will never return 0 rows. “In SQL, the general rule of thumb is that the number of rows returned from a SELECT will be zero if your criteria did not match any data. However, there is an important exception to this rule: it does not apply when asking for aggregate calculations such as SUM(), MIN() or MAX(), without any grouping.” One of the comments: “It doesn’t make sense but still does make sense. I guess it takes a db logic to understand?”

Joe Healy of DevFish.net has a brief summary, some pictures, and links to slides from last weekend’s SQL Saturday in Orlando, Florida.

And on SimonS SQL Stuff, Simon Sabin looks at an SQL Server Myth about disk queue length, and compares I/O to buying Guinness at a pub.

Let us close with a couple more OOW items. No conference reportage is complete without compromising photos of DBAs. Doug Burns gives us “the money shot”, a nice pic of some DBAs dancing. He also has “the monkey shot”, with a nice pic of some lower primates he captured in the wild at OOW. For Doug, it’s all about the swag — the fuzzier, the better.

That’s all for this week. We have a couple hotshot bloggers handling Log Buffer for the next couple weeks. Sheeri Kritzer Cabral will publish LB #72 on The MySQL She-BA, and on the 30th Eddie Awad does #73. There are plenty of weeks between him and Daniel Krook in January, so please drop me a line if you’d like to take your place amongst the illustrious Log Buffer alumni.

Till next time, cheers!

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About the Author

Dave Edwards is the Communications Specialist for the Pythian Group.

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