Why Install Oracle 21c on OL8 via RPM?

Far too often in home lab situations, where there’s some interesting idea to be explored, efforts get derailed as a result of sinking too much time into the environment setup particularly when something like Oracle Database is involved. Maybe the the initial idea is to play with data migration or to investigate some new feature or just to brush up on skills, but whatever the scenario there’s a need for an environment and then, just like that, a week has passed and you’re just about ready having hunted down all the obscure errors and issues thrown up as the setup has progressed, when you get distracted by something else as the idea you wanted to work on has been crushed by the weight of getting things ready.

For reasons that I suspect are more related to Cloud automation than home labs, Oracle has managed to package up the install of the database on Linux (up to Enterprise Edition!) into an RPM that actually works. They’ve been trying to do this for a while and previous efforts were a mixed bag of results that were better regarded as interesting curiosities as opposed to real and useful things, but now the 21c release RPM seems to be both very real and actually useful, in certain circumstances anyway.

Oracle has used an RPM to prepare hosts for database installation for some time now but the main install via RPM was just not right or simply didn’t work first time and as it wasn’t something worth putting time into as you’d never want to install this way for real the RPM install just wasn’t a thing, but times have changed and whatever the reason behind the development the RPM database install now works to the point where it’s useful for home labs, demos, and other throwaway scenarios, making it far easier to setup an environment with a handful of commands; one for the pre-install RPM, one for the Database install RPM, and one for a basic database configuration the sets up a container database and a pluggable database.

The RPM based install is incredibly handy for setting up non-production, “throw away to the point of being ephemeral” style environments or for testing out automation but the lack of control over the installation rules this approach out for production or other long-living systems where you’d need to know what was going on under the hood or if there were any configuration elements you want to change at install time; in many ways the RPM install is a lot like using a managed database from a cloud provider where the internal workings have been abstracted away and some functionality lost or restricted, which can be ideal depending on the use case.

From the perspective of the home lab the RPM based install is perfect for rapidly setting up a system for testing and learning, as long as the topic under consideration isn’t “How to setup Oracle in Production”.

Links:
Oracle RPM installer can be found here: https://www.oracle.com/database/technologies/oracle21c-linux-downloads.html