ODA | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easy Made Easier - X-Windows

By: Perley Mears | Principal Sales Consultant
    In previous posts in this series, I highlighted some tips for making the deployment of an Oracle Database Appliance using the Appliance Manager Configurator even easier. In order to use the Appliance Manager Configurator, you have to have a windowing environment. If you are deploying your Oracle Database Appliance through the ILOM RKVM capability, or by directly connecting a monitor, keyboard and mouse, you use the "startx" command to start up a simple X-Windows session. You can also start a VNC Server, see end of this post for more detail, allowing you to connect to the Oracle Database Appliance public network for a remote GUI interface. The basic look and functionality of the windowing environment, regardless of which of the above ways you are connecting, is the same. This windowing environment does have some quirks that may cause frustration if you haven't used it before, so let me give you some tips.

    First off, keep in mind that in order to interact with a window, like typing commands, the window must have focus. For this window manager, that means the mouse cursor must be within the window. You will notice in the first screen shot that the text cursor highlight, the rectangular block at the command line in the terminal window, is white, because the mouse cursor, in this case an X, is at the edge of the screen shot, half off the screen, but clearly not in the terminal window.

    You can see in this screen shot that the text cursor highlight is now black, which means that this window has focus and when you type it will show up on that command line. The mouse cursor in this case is both a white arrow and a funny bracket, as seen in the middle of the terminal window. Since I am referring to the terminal window, you will see that by default, it is off the screen. Even moving the terminal window further up will not allow the full window to be visible. Kinda makes it tough to see everything going on, so it makes sense to re-size the window. This is another tricky bit, as shrinking the window involves some dexterous mouse handling. To re-size, move the mouse cursor into the right hand upper corner block, the one that looks like 3 nested blocks, and hold down the left mouse button. Let's move to the next screen shot to continue the re-sizing.

    Below you see that a grid shows up to help guide re-sizing, and in the upper left corner of the screen is a small window showing the size of the window being re-sized. Now, in order to shorten the window, make sure you move the mouse cursor up to the top edge of the window, as seen in this screen shot. From there, you can move the mouse cursor downward, with the terminal window re-sizing as you go. While resizing the terminal window may not be as important for running the oakcli command to start the Appliance Manager Configurator, I use this windowing environment for most of my command line work. Why? Because it buffers whatever scrolls off the screen, so I can go back and see what may whip by.

    In this case, I ran an ifconfig -a, and with all the ethernet ports and bonds set up, the result scrolls beyond the window limits. Here again, the standard functionality is implemented in a way less familiar to many folks used to current OSes like Solaris, Linux, Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. In order to scroll up and down through the text in the terminal window, put the mouse cursor in the left hand scroll bar, and then use the right and left mouse button to scroll up and down. No need to move the mouse cursor, or to try dragging the scroll bar. There are many times when I want some information that has scrolled off the screen, so being able to scroll back through it helps a lot.

    Now, let's say you want to have more than one terminal window open, so you can do something in one based on content in another, or while something else is running. That's were the menu comes in. Click the left mouse button while the mouse cursor is in the background, and you get the windowing menu. Not a lot of options, and mostly what you would expect, like window managament items (resize, iconize, kill, delete, etc). There is the Xterm item for opening another terminal window. And if remembering to make sure the mouse cursor is in the window you want to interact with before you start typing is driving you crazy, the Focus/Unfocus items allow you to lock/unlock focus to a particular window. Of course this might drive you crazy when you try to do something in another window and forget to unlock the focus. :-)

    It's been quite a number of years since I used this type windowing environment, so I had to clear a cobweb or two off of some far corners of my mind when I got some hands on time with the Oracle Database Appliance. If nothing else, this post will be something I can refer back to should my skills get rusty again.

    I mentioned starting a VNC Server on the ODA to make remote GUI access a little easier. It's pretty simple, and keep in mind that it needs to be done after any reboots. Use the following command :

# /usr/bin/vncserver :1

    This will start up a VNC session on display 1, which means that when you fire up your VNC client, make sure it points to port 5901 on the Oracle Database Appliance's public IP address.

    This has been the third post in my series 'Easy Made Easier', and I hope you have found the tips useful.

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