Monday Jan 19, 2015

The Easiest Way to Install Oracle Database on Mac OS X

tl;dr Your OS X applications can connect to Oracle Database as if it was running natively on OS X if you simply run Oracle Database in a VirtualBox VM with port forwarding enabled (easy).

To work backwards through the installation process: in the Network window of the VirtualBox GUI, I enable a NAT Network adapter.

Then, under Networking -> Advanced -> Port Forwarding, I create a TCP rule with Host IP and both the Host and Guest Port fields set to the port number that the Oracle network listener in the VM is using: the Oracle default is 1521. I leave the Guest IP field blank.

I click OK twice, dismissing the "The current port forwarding rules are not valid. None of the host or guest port values may be set to zero." dialog

Start the VM. If the DB is set to start during OS boot, you don't even need to log in.

Update: If you have Oracle Database 12c you can use the new EM Express console for DB management and monitoring. Just enable port forwarding for port 5500 and then browse (from OS X) to https://localhost:5500/em. See this article by Gerald Venzl.

Update: If you want to access the database from a second, NAT-configured VM, simply configure the DB VM's port forwarding as described in this article. In your second VM, use an Oracle connect string like "". The IP address to use is the VirtualBox gateway, see Configuring the address of a NAT network interface in the VIrtualBox documentation.

The Client

Connecting to the database from OS X tools and clients uses the same forms of Oracle connect string as if the database was native on OS X. For example, using the "Easy Connect" hostname/service_name form, I can simply use 'localhost' as if the database was on OS X:

cjones@mac:~$ sqlplus cj/welcome@localhost/orcl

SQL*Plus: Release Production on Mon Jan 19 09:20:38 2015

Copyright (c) 1982, 2013, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Connected to:
Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition Release - 64bit Production
With the Partitioning, OLAP, Advanced Analytics and Real Application Testing options


Here I was using SQL*Plus from the free, easy to install Instant Client bundle. Download the Oracle Instant Client Basic, SDK and SQL*Plus ZIP files. Unzip them, create the two symbolic links given in the install instructions, and set DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH to the Instant Client directory.

The Instant Client can be used, among other things, for building PHP, Python, Node.js and other language drivers. With each of these you would use exactly the same connect string to connect to the database.

Prebuilt VMs

There are prebuilt VMs with Oracle Database already installed, such as the Database App Development VM. Download and import it into VirtualBox.

The Database

It's easy to install your own Oracle Database "XE" Express Edition database for development. After the XE RPM is installed on Oracle Linux 5 and 6, run its simple configuration script to set up the administration passwords, the listener port (default is 1521), and whether to autostart during boot. Install XE by following the ten steps in Chapter 4 of The Underground PHP and Oracle Manual or check the official instructions.

Alternately you could install the Enterprise Edition for free ("only for the purpose of developing, testing, prototyping, and demonstrating" - read the click-through license). There are various scripts on the web to autostart at machine boot.

The OS

If you need an OS, Oracle Linux is free from our public yum server. Download the ISO, create a new VirtualBox VM and tell it where to find the ISO. Boot and follow the install prompts.


VirtualBox is free from and runs on OS X, Windows, Linux and Solaris.

The only "trick" to using VirtualBox is to remember the magic cursor-releasing key, e.g. the Left Command Key on OS X. This key is useful if/when you haven't installed the VirtualBox "Guest Additions" into the VM and clicking into the VM window captures the cursor. The specific key combination is shown as a reminder on the bottom right of the containing VirtualBox VM window. Pressing it returns cursor control to the host OS. Luckily, once you install the "Guest Additions" the cursor is automatically released when you mouse out of the VM window.

Thursday Mar 21, 2013

Python cx_Oracle and Oracle 11g DRCP Connection Pooling

The topic of Oracle 11g DRCP connection pooling in Python cx_Oracle came up twice this week for me. DRCP is a database tier connection pooling solution which is great for applications run in multiple processes. There is a whitepaper on DRCP that covers a lot of background and talks about configuration. This whitepaper is ostensibly about PHP but is good reading for all DRCP users.

The first DRCP and cx_Oracle scenario I dealt with was a question about mod_python.

To cut a long story short, I created a handler and requested it 1000 times via Apache's 'ab' tool. In my first script, and despite having increased the default pool parameters, there were a high number of NUM_WAITS. Also NUM_AUTHENTICATIONS was high. Performance wasn't the best. Querying V$CPOOL_CC_STATS showed:

------------ ------------ ---------- ---------- ---------- -------------------
HR.CJDEMO1           1000        992          8        478                1000

At least the session information in each DRCP server was reused (shown via a high NUM_HITS).

Results were better after fixing the script to look like:

from mod_python import apache
import cx_Oracle
import datetime

# Example: Oracle 11g DRCP with cx_Oracle and mod_python

# These pool params are suitable for Apache Pre-fork MPM
mypool = cx_Oracle.SessionPool(user='hr', password='welcome',
         dsn='localhost/orcl:pooled', min=1, max=2, increment=1)

def handler(req):
    global mypool

    req.content_type = 'text/html'
    n =
    req.write (str(n) + "<br>");

    db = cx_Oracle.connect(user='hr', password='welcome',
            dsn='localhost/orcl:pooled', pool=mypool, cclass="CJDEMO1",

    cur = db.cursor()
    cur.execute('select * from locations')
    resultset = cur.fetchall()
    for result in resultset:
        for item in result:
            req.write (str(item) + " ")
        req.write ("<br>")

    return apache.OK

The 'ab' benchmark on this script ran much faster and the stats from V$CPOOL_CC_STATS looked much better. The number of authentications was right down about to about 1 per Apache (ie. mod_python) process:

------------ ------------ ---------- ---------- ---------- -------------------
HR.CJDEMO1           1000        977         23         13                  26

The NUM_HITS was high again, because the DRCP purity was ATTR_PURITY_SELF. If I hadn't wanted session information to be reused each time the handler was executed, I could have set the purity to ATTR_PURITY_NEW. If I'd done this then NUM_HITS would have been low and NUM_MISSES would have been high.

If you're testing this yourself, before restarting the DRCP pool don't forget to shutdown Apache to close all DB connections. Otherwise restarting the pool will block. Also, if you're interpreting your own V$CPOOL_CC_STATS stats don't forget to account for the DRCP "dedicated optimization" that retains an association between clients (mod_python processes) and the DB. The whitepaper previously mentioned discusses this.

The second place where DRCP and python came up this week was on the cx_Oracle mail list. David Stanek posed a question. He was seeing application processes blocking while waiting for a DRCP pooled server to execute a query. My variant of David's script is

import os
import time
import cx_Oracle

# Example: Sub-optimal connection pooling with Oracle 11g DRCP and cx_Oracle

def do_connection():
    print 'Starting do_connection ' + str(os.getpid())
    con = cx_Oracle.connect(user=user, password=pw, dsn=dsn, cclass="CJDEMO2",
    cur = con.cursor()
    print 'Querying ' + str(os.getpid())
    cur.execute("select to_char(systimestamp) from dual")
    print cur.fetchall()
    print 'Sleeping ' + str(os.getpid())
    print 'Finishing do_connection ' + str(os.getpid())
user = 'hr'
pw = 'welcome'
dsn = 'localhost/orcl:pooled'
for x in range(100):
    pid = os.fork()
    if not pid:

This script forks off a bunch of processes - more than the number of pooled DRCP servers (see MAXSIZE in the DBA_CPOOL_INFO view). The first few processes grab a DRCP server from the pool and do their query. But they don't release the DRCP server back to the DRCP pool until after the sleep() when the process ends. The other forked processes are blocked waiting for those DRCP servers to become available. This isn't optimal pool sharing.

My suggestion was to use an explicit cx_Oracle session pool like

import os
import time
import cx_Oracle

# Example: Connection pooling with Oracle 11g DRCP and cx_Oracle
def do_connection():
    print 'Starting do_connection ' + str(os.getpid())
    mypool = cx_Oracle.SessionPool(user=user,password=pw,dsn=dsn,min=1,max=2,increment=1)
    con = cx_Oracle.connect(user=user, password=pw,
          dsn=dsn, pool = mypool, cclass="CJDEMO3", purity=cx_Oracle.ATTR_PURITY_SELF)
    cur = con.cursor()
    print 'Querying ' + str(os.getpid())
    cur.execute("select to_char(systimestamp) from dual")
    print cur.fetchall()
    print 'Sleeping ' + str(os.getpid())
    print 'Finishing do_connection ' + str(os.getpid())

user = 'hr'
pw = 'welcome'
dsn = 'localhost/orcl:pooled'
for x in range(100):
    pid = os.fork()
    if not pid:

The mypool.release(con) call releases the DRCP server back to the DRCP pool prior to the sleep. When this second script is run, there is a smoothness to the output. The queries happen sequentially without noticeably being blocked.

Like with any shared resource, it is recommended to release DRCP pooled servers back to the pool when they are no longer needed by the application.

Update August 2014: Oracle submitted a cx_Oracle patch which Anthony has merged but not yet released. This patch now allows to work efficiently. For the fork scenario the non-explicit session pool solution in is likely to be better than, since it does fewer DRCP requests. For the mod_python example, continuing to use a session pool as shown in can minimize the number of authentications, which helps scalability.

Tuesday Dec 11, 2012

Excitement! Updated Underground PHP and Oracle Manual is Available for Download

We're thrilled to have a major update of the free Underground PHP and Oracle Manual released on OTN.

The Underground PHP and Oracle Manual is designed to bridge the gap between the many PHP scripting language and the many Oracle Database books available. It contains unique material about PHP's OCI8 extension for Oracle Database, and about other components in the PHP-Oracle ecosystem. It shows PHP developers how to use PHP and Oracle together, efficiently and easily.

The book has been completely refreshed. It has been updated for Oracle XE 11g and the latest PHP OCI8 extension. There are new chapters about using PHP with Oracle TimesTen, NetBeans and Oracle Tuxedo. There is also a new chapter about installing PHP on Oracle Solaris. The book now clocks in at 347 pages of great content.

Acknowledgements are due to all those who have helped with this and previous editions of the book. Thanks to the product teams that assisted with brand new content. In particular Craig Mohrman contributed the chapter about PHP on Solaris. Jeffry Rubinoff contributed the base text for the chapter on PHP and NetBeans.


Tourists looking out over an Opal mine
I'm a Product Manager in Server Technologies, working on scripting languages and developer-access.
Links: OTN Node.js Developer Center
OTN PHP Developer Center
Book: Free PHP Oracle book

Blaine Carter
Dan McGhan


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