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Friday, August 7, 2009

If you MUST install on Vista...

Over the past few weeks and months I've had the distinct pleasure of installing on my trusty Samsung laptop with Vista Business Edition an interesting variety of appps -- including Toad, Oracle Database 10g and 11g, Apex, OBIEE, DAC, Informatica, Application Server 10g (including the SOA Suite), JDeveloper 11g, various VPN clients, Active Perl... You name it.

Overall I think I can safely argue that the productivity I lost while chasing the ghosts of so many obscure install errors on Vista far exceeds the cost of an XP "downgrade" license -- and perhaps even rivals the cost of a Win2k3 Server license -- but that's another conversation. VMWare -- on Vista or even a Mac -- is a reasonable alternative but it certainly has its performance and productivity drawbacks, particularly on a laptop. Some hardcore Torvaldsians would say, "You should have bailed on Vista entirely and installed Linux!" Yes yes, perhaps I should have. But I didn't, and for many of us, uninstalling the OS on a machine supplied by our employer simply isn't an option.

Thanks to the collective intelligence of the extended Internet community of fellow Oracle techies, I have eventually been able to figure out pretty much all of my problems. In the process I've found that many of the solutions to Vista annoyances boil down to a few common lessons. I thought it might be helpful to share these lessons with you -- and ask that you give back to the Net's wisdom by contributing your own gems of Vista wisdom as well.

By far the biggest stumblings happened during installations. To be fair, once everything was up and running, things worked pretty well. In the six-plus months I've had my machine, I can count on one hand the number of times I needed to reboot during non-install working conditions. Take VMWare out of the picture and reboots are even more rare.

The lessons I have learned fall into three categories: General advice; what to do before OR during an installation; and what to do ONLY during an installation (and discontinue afterwards).

In general...

  • Always run command line window as Administrator (easiest just to get into the habit)
  • Observe error logs very carefully
  • Look for clues in the Event Viewer
  • Google well! Choose your search terms carefully - not too restrictive but not too expansive - I find that specific error messages are a good bet
  • Don't forget to search Metalink and Metalink3 as well
  • Breathe! Funny how quickly things clear up if you just relax a bit
  • Read the manual!

Before or during the install...

  • Check PATH and CLASSPATH settings - especially important for Java installs
  • Set Compatibility Mode to XP (or, for certain apps like Informatica, Win2k3) and/or run executables as Administrator - for installables as well as services (especially tricky when the install unpacks and calls executables throughout the process)
  • Install & configure Loopback Adapter for DHCP computers
  • Disable IPv6
  • Check Metalink and Metalink3 for Vista-related Notes or Patches -- e.g., 444112.1 - "Oracle Application Server 10g (10.1.3.x) - Installation Requirements for Microsoft Vista"
  • Read the manual!

Only during install (best to revert to original state afterwards, if you can)...

  • Turn off User Access Control
  • Turn off virus protection
  • Disconnect from the Internet (probably could also be solved by configuring the Loopback adapter, but this trick got me past one particularly intractable roadblockwithout going through the Loopback procedure so I feel compelled to mention it)
  • Read the manual! Though I guess you can't really revert to your original state once you've been enlightened -- or, at least, MOST of us can't

What other advice would you give? What would you amend?


Kaka said...

While people may have different views still good things should always be appreciated. Yours is a nice blog. Liked it!!!