Kevin Kempf's Blog

July 1, 2009

Access Oracle ERP from Desktop Linux, Firefox 3.5 and Java 1.6

Filed under: Oracle — Tags: , , , , — kkempf @ 10:19 am

A little background may be in order….

When I came to my current employer 4 years ago, I started using Windows XP and had Linux in a separate boot partition. I quickly realized that this was cumbersome to switch around, and that I preferred to spend most of my time in the Linux Desktop. Wasn’t long before I relegated Windows to a VMWare VM under Linux (which is free now, from VMWare)

I only start my Windows XP virtual machine when I absolutely have to. These days, that’s pretty much limited to Discoverer Admin Desktop Client, weird things like remote registry manipulation, and some Excel (I’m a realist: Open Office Calc is good, but it’s not as good as Excel). When nearly all my Oracle servers are running Linux, it has some advantages:

* The commands are the same on my desktop as on the servers. This help keep my understanding of the tools I use sharp
* The terminal on Linux is really usable, and not as clumsy as things like Putty or Reflextion.
* X (used by the Oracle installer) is much easier; it just works right to my (X) desktop, with no modifications.
* Oracle 11i launches about 3x faster and is more responsive in Linux using native Java and Firefox than it does with IE with Jinitator.
* I don’t reboot except when I want to. My desktop is waiting for me in the morning, and there’s never a useless Windows update which costs me 10 minutes when what I really want to do is check backups or whatnot.

I run CentOS because it’s 100% binary compatible with Red Hat. I can’t bring myself to running Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux, just a personal thing, don’t understand why they had to reinvent the wheel there. Doesn’t look like it worked out so well for them, if you look at market share…

Anyway, the purpose of this post was to explain in detail how to setup a Linux desktop to run 11i, so I’ll go ahead and explain that now.

There’s a few pieces involved, and I’ll detail them and challenge you to give it a try. I’d love to hear your feedback/success if you give it a try; I think it makes me a better DBA in a Unix/Linux environment:

1. Install native Java as a profile option if you’re using Jinitiator now (see Adding Additional Java Plug-in Versions section of Doc 290807.1). What’s cool here, is everyone else can be using Jinitator, and you can be using Java…just change the profile option value ICX: Forms Launcher at a user level for you whatever the system value is, with a ?config=J16012 (or whatever you called it in the appsweb.cfg file)
2. Install the right/corresponding Java on your Desktop machine (most likely already there). It must be exactly the same!
3. Soft link the right Java version (from wherever you installed it, in my case it’s /usr/java) under your Mozilla plugins directory:
cd ~/.mozilla/plugins
ln -s /usr/java/jre1.6.0_12/plugin/i386/ns7/

That’s it… you should be able to get into the Apps now from Firefox! I should note, very clearly, that although I haven’t looked it up recently, this configuration is probably not technically supported (Firefox and Native Java 6 are, but Linux, I’m going to guess, is not). That said, it works, and if I did happen to hit an issue, I’d just use Windows until I resolved it.

Finally, I’d be lying if I said there was nothing I disliked about running Linux. My biggest complaints, day to day, are as follows:

* Whenever I update to a new kernel, I have to reboot and manually (we’re talking command prompt here) recompile the drivers for my NVIDIA video card and VMWare (so I can run Windows). This isn’t Linux’s fault, per se, NVIDIA has provided binaries for this, but not open sourced them. Therefore, I have to relink the drivers to the new kernel.
* Evolution (which replaces Outlook) is buggy, crashes my whole X desktop occasionally, is hard to tie to Exchange user listings (I need to talk to our Linux guru about this), doesn’t tie to my Blackberry as well, and simply isn’t as feature rich as Outlook
* Some “things” simply don’t work as well, or as simple, as in Windows. Codecs are required to play a DVD or even an MP3. Flash occasionally crashes Firefox.

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