Installing Enterprise Linux on an Oracle VM 2.1.2 server

I recently built on a spare machine at home an instance of Oracle VM 2.1.2. The machine isn't the most ideal, a Celeron 2.4ghz Dell Desktop with 1.5 GB RAM. But its enough to get me up and running before I get a more powerful machine to host the images. I'm very familiar with the VMWare server virtualization, i've been using VMWare server 1 and 2 for a few years on my server machine (Dual CPU, 8GB RAM, 2.5TB of RAID5 disk.) but Oracle VM was very new.

I went initially down the road of using a template to create my virtual machine, however there are just too many install time decisions that I would have to go back and change that I thought I would install a new OS from scratch using an ISO.

Oracle VM is different in the way VMWare seems to work, it actually modifies the OS somewhat and therefore building a new OS from the install kits isn't quite as simple. Firstly Oracle VM's run in two modes;

  • Fully Virtualized Also known as hardware virtualized machines (HVM's), the unmodified guest operating system runs on the virtual machine. It traps and emulates every I/O and hardware instruction. To apply the fully virtualized mode, you must have either an Intel processor with Virtualization Technology (VT) extension, or an AMD processor with Secure Virtual Machine (SVM) extension (also called AMD-V) available on the host.
  • Paravirtualized (PV) The guest operating system is recompiled before being installed on a virtual machine. Also, the virtual machine does not need to trap privileged instructions. Trapping is a method used to handle unexpected, or unallowable conditions, which is time-consuming and can impact operating system performance. Without trapping privileged instructions, the paravirtualized operating system runs at near native speed.

Now i'm using only a Celeron so my only option is PV mode. I chose to download the .ISO for Enterprise Linux release 5 update 3 and Oracle VM needs to access the files via a mount. BY default the documentation talks about using NFS. So the steps to getting the NFS share working were;

  1. Copy the .iso into the /OVS/iso_pool/ directory on the Oracle VM server. I did this by placing the ISO file on a web server on my network and getting using wget, e.g. wget http://webserver/ovm/oel_r5u3.iso
  2. Create a directory in which to mount the ISO, mkdir /OVS/iso_pool/oelr5u3
  3. Mount the ISO into that directory, mount -o loop,ro /OVS/iso_pool/oel_r5u3.iso /OVS/iso_pool/oelr5u3
  4. Then export this mount to NFS, exportfs *:/OVS/iso_pool/oelr5u3
  5. NFS server also needs to be started! service nfs start

Now I had also installed Oracle VM Manager on my VMWare hosted Enterprise Linux server which hosts my WebLogic Server and Portal environment. From here I then created my virtual machine.

  1. Selected Create from installation media
  2. Chose my server pool and then selected "Paravirtualized" which then required the path to the NFS mount which in my instance is, nfs:ovm:/OVS/iso_pool/oelr5u3
  3. Then I could setup my VM parameters, name, OS, cores, RAM etc. Due to my poor little desktop I only gave the VM 512mb RAM which should be enough to get the OS installed and configured. Hopefully more RAM will be available soon when I find a better platform.

I then created the VM and the next step was to walk through the installation process. Here is where I got a little stuck. Oracle VM uses VNC to allow you to remotely access the console which was currently sat waiting for me to install Linux. There are two main options to doing this;

  1. Access the console locally using Firefox on the Linux machine that Oracle VM Manager is running on. To do this you need to install the ovm-console RPM.

    • Download the console RPM from
    • Install this RPM as root on the Oracle VM Manager server. rpm -ivh ovm-console-1.0.0-2.i386.rpm
    • Restart Firefox and navigate to to your newly created virtual machine and select the "console" icon, this should launch a window with VNC running so you can now connect.

  2. The other method is to access remotely using IE on Windows. This requires you install a TightVNC package.

    • Again head to and download the TightVNC RPM.
    • Install as root on the machine running Oracle VM Manager, rpm -ivh tightvnc-java-1.3.9-3.noarch.rpm
    • Now access Oracle VM Manager remotely using IE and you can launch the console

After all this I then realized that I bet I could just access that VNC service using a regular VNC client, so I fired up vncviewer on my Windows machine and gave the Oracle VM Server hostname. I didn't specify a port nor a desktop number, but just the host. Fantastic! This for me was a simple way to remotely connect to the server.

The last hurdle was right after I had selected the keyboard layout, the Linux installer complained of being unable to access the NFS share for the install files. Unsure what was causing this I stopped the firewall running on the Oracle VM Server;

service iptables stop

And went back to the installer via VNC and it continued fine and I was able to install Linux! My next step is to now install the database on this VM, there is an excellent guide here for both Oracle VM, Enterprise Linux and the DB. I'll be following this and I might blog up some comments if I struggle on anything. I intend to expose 2 IDE disks from the Oracle VM server through to the guest OS and have the database ASM use them as a mirror of disks for storing the DB... fingers crossed!


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Simon Thorpe, senior consultant at Oracle, blogs about simple and useful tips when working with Oracle technology.


« April 2014