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Linux Journal: Linux Maximus, Part 1: Gladiator-like Oracle Performance

Feb 25, 2002, 13:23 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bert Scalzo)
"As it does for many people today, the Linux movement enthralls me. I'm interested not only because I'm more of a UNIX-based DBA but also because of the amazing speed with which major vendors, such as HP, Compaq, Dell, IBM and Oracle, have embraced this open-source operating system. Last year Linux server sales accounted for approximately 30% of Compaq's, 13.7% of Dell's and 13.5% of IBM's total server sales, according to eWeek. Moreover, IBM spent a billion dollars on Linux development in 2001, after having ported Linux to all their hardware platforms in 2000. Furthermore, Intel's new 64-bit Itanium CPU lists only four supported operating systems: Windows, Linux, AIX and HP-UX. And let's not forget that Oracle released 9i on Linux months ahead of the Windows port. Then again, maybe I just like the underdog--I mean I'm writing this article on my AMD Athlon-based PC.

But no matter how fashionable Linux may be, that popularity does not automatically translate into nor does it guarantee performance. Even though Linux runs on everything from IBM 3/90s to Sun SPARC-based boxes, most people at this point are still probably running Linux on Intel-based server platforms. Now without sounding condescending, let me state that the PC architecture was never really intended to scale to the heights Linux makes possible. Thus we need to make sure that we squeeze every last drop of blood out of the turnip when we deploy an Intel based Linux server--especially for enterprise databases like DB2 and Oracle. Believe it or not, it's quite easy to get upwards of 1000% database improvement through proper Linux tuning and database configuration for Linux.

As with any scientific endeavor, in this article we will attempt to evaluate different tuning techniques by establishing a controlled environment where we can ascertain a baseline, identify all the changeable relevant variables, modify one variable at a time and obtain a reliable measurement of the effects for that one change. Wow, I haven't written techno-babble like this since I was a Physics student at Ohio State. In plain English, we must test one tuning concept at a time in order to accurately measure the observable effects of only that change."

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