Category Archives: Comedy Errors

Some comic problems I discovered when I was installing Oracle and Oracle Financials.

Oracle Applications Comedy Errors

Fair’s fair, any application the size and complexity of Oracle Applications will have some bugs. But applications seems to do far better than most.

This section refers to the server size of Applications Comedy Errors. There’s another page for the client side.

  • To install a new application module, it seems that you have to add the original version you have plus all patches. Not just for your new module, but for all of them. (People that implement Application’s are not expected to make mistakes.)
  • The recommended sizes for your database extents are useful. However, if you follow the advice, some parts of the system won’t actually install.
  • Oracle helpfully supply a program that goes through the thousands of files that it installs and checks that they’re the right ones. We’ve found at least a dozen files that it claims shouldn’t be there but in fact should be.
  • After applying a patch, the shell script that starts the Concurrent Managers just vanished.
  • One of the bugs that we found was because Oracle had ‘forgotten’ to port a number of forms from one environment to the one we were using. The word ‘forgotten,’ despite being inverted commas, is the actual word used by Oracle support.

Oracle Server Comedy Errors

Oracle, the company, was founded back in the late seventies as a company that produced an SQL database. Its entire reputation has been built on this product and it is, therefore, no surprise that it is very good.

That’s not to say that there have been no problems…

  • To perform dodgy ‘system’ operations on a database, you need access to a user called ‘internal.’ In theory, you need to be in the UNIX ‘dba’ group to be able to connect. That is unless you belong to rather a lot of groups, in which case it doesn’t seem to work. (We’ve not actually called this through, so there may be a simple explanation.) (7.1)
  • When creating a new database, you have to run a file called ‘catalog.sql’ to finish the job. At the end of this file is the following message: ‘THIS IS THE END OF THIS FILE – IF I AM NOT HERE THEN RCS HAS TRUNCATED FILE‘ (7.3)
  • I’m not entirely sure that this counts, but an installation program that requires more resources than that product that it’s installing demands at least an honorable mention. (8i)

Oracle Support Comedy Errors

Don’t get me wrong. Oracle support analysts have a difficult job. Their products are large, complex beasts and you don’t necessarily expect an immediate response. These, however, I did not expect…

  • Having spent over a day with hourly contact with support, they ring back returning a voice-mail message left before managing speaking to a ‘real’ person. Twenty-seven hours apparently wasn’t enough for a correct response, either.
  • Two weeks of problems lead to a call to our sales manager. Obviously concerned, he went away to research the problem. He came back a day or two later. “This problem you’re having with you SCSI CD-ROM…,” he began. Good effort, wrong customer.
  • They asked us to download a patch from their web site, a mere 36Megs. This looked remarkably similar to a patch we’d received the previous week for another problem. Next they insisted that we needed the next version of the SmartClient software. They even sent someone out to install it for us. Naturally, this solution didn’t work. They ummed and arred for a while before declaring it a ‘bug’ and sending it off to the states to be fixed. This is the last I heard of this problem.

About Oracle Comedy Errors

Credit where it’s due

I am unable to criticise a suite of products the size and complexity of Oracle on my own. There are a number of people that need to me mentioned. Remind me if I missed you out!

People

Thanks to Anna Brabants who nearly created the term ‘Oracle Comedy Errors’ and certainly did an almost continuous stream of abuse (not all of it at Oracle).

And thanks to the rest of the project team, who invariable love Oracle products as much as I do.

Thanks to the people at Oracle support who no doubt have to put up with a lot, and offer much amusement if only after the event.

Sources

I’ve been on a number of projects that use Oracle, however most of the tales have come from the first two. On these I was a DBA and developer and ended up spending much time on the phone to Oracle support.

The first time, we were implementing Oracle Financials and Human Resources using a Sun UltraEnterprise 1 server and Compaq workstations.

The server was running Solaris 2.5, with Oracle Server 7.1.6, Oracle Applications 10.6.1 and an incredibly large number of patches.

The Compaq P166 clients ran Windows 95, with SmartClient Prod 15. Then Prod 15.1. And then with a number of ineffective patches… You get the idea.

The second time, we were implementing a bespoke client-server application. The Sun Ultra 1 (and later Ultra 2) server was running Solaris 2.5.1 (2.6) with Oracle Workgroup Server 7.3.

The Compaq P133 clients ran Windows NT 4 and connected to Oracle using OLE Objects through Microsoft Visual Basic 5.

Since then I’ve worked mainly as a developer (often doing data-loads) on Oracle 8. Any 8i critiques come from developing my 8i on Linux HOWTO.

Oracle Client Software Comedy Errors

Oracle Data Browser

Oracle Data Browser, part of the Discover 2000 suite, is one of the least amusing applications that Oracle supply. Not because it’s bad, but because it almost works…

  • Windows 95 has a ‘full screen drag’ feature (freely download-able from Microsoft‘s web site). If you load Data Browser you don’t. It suddenly stops working.
  • Now this is supposed to be a feature, but I’m not convinced. The word ‘Browser’ seems to indicate that it’s a read-only product. In fact a version comes with it that isn’t.

Oracle Data Query

Until we started really using SmartClient, we thought that Data Query, half of the Discoverer 2000 suite, was the lemon of the Oracle product library. That’s not to say that it’s good, just that after all that’s happened with Applications we’ve more or less forgotten a lot of the really annoying stuff. Lucky Oracle.

  • Data Query makes Windows 2.0 seem stable. Even in it’s 32-bit version.
  • It often magically moves the input focus to somewhere you don’t want.