Sunday, August 01, 2010

Curse you Larry the CEO!

A bit after getting to my current shop, I requested some serious iron for my work and it was decided I would have a Linux box. The question came up as to which flavor, and after canvassing my networks we went with Ubuntu. I had never administered a Linux system before and had to learn the whole package installation procedure, which is so easy even I could learn it. The "apt" tool works beautifully 99% of the time, not only getting and installing the package of interest but also all its dependencies. The occasional exceptions were cases where either the package of interest didn't seem to be available from a package repository or the Ubuntu repositories were behind the version I needed. But in general, it was nice and painless.

Earlier this year, it was clear I needed an Oracle play space and the obvious place was my machine -- not only is it quite powerful, but then any blow-back from any misdeeds of mine would hit only the perpetrator. However, when our skilled Oracle expert contractor tried to install Oracle, not much luck -- Oracle apparently doesn't support Ubuntu well. So the decision was made to switch to Red Hat.

This did not go cleanly -- the admins were fighting with the reinstall most of the week (the RAID drive had protections on it that did not wish to go quietly) but finally the new system was configured on Friday. So on Saturday night, I declared to "Amanda, I know what we are going to do today! Install packages!".

Now, I've actually made a consistent habit here of logging all my installs, so I had a menu of what to try to install. Some quick Googling found some guides to using the different installation tools on Red Hat. So I started trying to install stuff. A few went cleanly, but that is definitely the rarity -- and the worst part is that R is proving to be a major headache.

The problem is trying to get all the dependencies to install, and R has a heap. The fact that many have "-devel" in the title can't make things easy. Worse, one package required "tetex-latex" is no longer supported by its creator. Despite configuring multiple repositories and trying to download some packages manually, I have made little headway so far. So from that standpoint, at the moment my system is "Busted!".

Now, I could blame our contractor, but how was he to know this would be so miserable (though the comment by someone at Red Hat support that this is the first time he'd heard of someone going from Ubuntu to Red Hat does give pause!)? I could also take umbrage with the Linux community, which seems to be a hydra of endless subvariants (Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise, CentOS, Fedora, Mandriva -- and I'm sure that's an incomplete list!). But, it's easiest to blame Oracle, who doesn't support Ubuntu, and if I'm going to do that I'll single out the face of Oracle. On the other hand, it's a bit pointless to hold anger over this against Mr. Ellison. He's a CEO; they don't do much.

8 comments:

Jonathan Badger said...

Yes, it should give you pause. I have no doubt that Oracle may have chosen Red Hat as its official Linux distro, but that was probably done a decade ago when Red Hat was the "standard", and users of Debian-based systems were the weirdos. Now things have changed; with the massive popularity of Ubuntu the Debian-based system (.deb, apt-get, etc.) has become the mainstream.

Noah said...

This "phylogenetic tree" gives you a good perspective on the number of Linux distributions out there, both extant and extinct. Linux distros

Keith Robison said...

I did find a magic set of repositories & have successfully installed R (and scala, which also did not install gently).

That tree of distributions is scary. Thanks!

phidias51 said...

I guess it's a little late in the game to mention this, but Amazon Web Services can be used to setup an Oracle installation. By using the cloud, you can access your data securely from different machines, and your collaborators can also have access to the machine. If you want to access it from a VPN, you can do that as well. The security is pretty decent (at least it meets Pfizer's and J&J's requirements). There are Amazon machine images that come with R pre-installed as well.

Anonymous said...

Keith, the answer is WinDOS server either in house at at Amazon.

Sheena said...

Was there a reason you couldn't dual boot your machine? ubuntu for everything you already use and Red Hat for Oracle?

Keith Robison said...

Dual boot means only one runs at a time, right? We really need either at a moment's notice, or perhaps both.

John Detterline said...

Keith there are literally thousands of distros out there! The newest one I saw was designed for security training and has every vunerability known. I work with Suse/Novell as my primary as they seem to take care of most of the "business" related items. The open source community is a marvel when you see how many are working together throughout the world, but it's situations like yours that highlight the need for commercial products. I do believe Oracle came up with their own Linux distro at one point. Unbreakable Linux I think it was called.