Why every DBA should learn Slackware – Part 1

There is an old saying:  “”If you want to learn Debian, install Debian. If you want to learn Red Hat, install Fedora. If you want to learn Linux, install Slackware.” There is a truth to that statement.  It is one of the oldest distros, and I first saw it in about 1994 when it came on floppy disks.  A DBA for Oracle on AIX, I thought “Cool!  Unix on the PC.   I wonder if Oracle will run on it?”

Of course it wouldn’t.  Oracle didn’t run on any Linux at that time.  I was one of the original developers who downloaded Oracle 8.0.5 for Linux which installed perfectly.  Back then Oracle’s “installer” was just a tarball of an Oracle home.  But it worked.  If only the OUI worked so well now. 🙂

Back to Slackware.  We downloaded the ISO file from slackware.com and configured a Virtualbox VM.  Lets mount the ISO and boot into the installer:


Wait, what is this?  No pretty splash screen?  No GUI wizards?   1993 called and they want their CRTs back.  But if we read the screen, it tells exactly what to do:

  1. You can run memtest to test the RAM on your machine.  Given that I have had databases corrupted by bad memory, running memtest on a new server is probably a good idea.
  2. There is a bunch of kernel options that you can specify but I have no clue about those, so I will take the third option and…
  3. Just hit ENTER to take the default

Now we should see the actual installer, right?


Well it seems that we still have to read the screen before proceeding.  It seems that we have to partition our disks before actually installing.  Most other distros have a default partitioning scheme which may or may not meet your needs.  Slackware has none of that.;  Like the previous screen it does have handy instructions on how to setup your system.  Enter “root” to “login to the installer:

Wait?  You expected something else besides a command prompt?  Just keep reading the screen.  It tells you what to do.  Partition your disk using fdisk.  The nice thing is, it allows you to customize your disk layout before actually installing anything.  Have you ever tried to create a separate home partition in Ubuntu?

Besides, you are going to need to know fdisk if you install Oracle.  Might as well learn it here

Anyway, I created 4 partitions, on 10g for root, one 10g for /home, a 5g swap and a 5g for /var.  My VM is tiny and I won’t be running a database here.  If I were setting up partitions for an Oracle server, I would setup large partitions for for /u01, /var, etc.

finally, run setup.  If you messed up the partitions, exit and go back to fdisk to fix them.  You will need to make sure one of your partitions is Linux swap (type 82).  Now you get to see your fancy GUI installer:


1993 called and they wanted their NCURSES back.  But it works fine.  It is just as easy to install as any other distro and definitely easier to install than Windows (TM).

Well start setting up an Apache webserver to access an Oracle database in the next hopefully exciting instalment.

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