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Install Oracle for BTM 382 (and how to run Oracle without installing it)

In BTM 382 Database Management, we use Oracle, the world’s most popular enterprise DBMS. I strongly recommend that for this course you install Oracle on your own computer, for the following reaons:

  • The project and one of the homework assignments will involve extensive use of Oracle. Without installing it on your own computer, it will be very difficult to succeed in these exercises and contribute effectively to your team project.
  • For the sake of your learning, if you really want to know Oracle, the installation procedure is an important part of the learning experience.
  • At the end of this class, you should all be able to add your knowledge of Oracle on your CVs. Beyond just knowing how to write Oracle SQL queries, it would be good to be able to specify that you also know how to install Oracle and set up databases.

That said, after explaining how to install Oracle, I provide a couple ways to run Oracle without actually installing it, each of which has some disadvantages.

How to install Oracle

There are two components to Oracle: the DBMS itself (called “Oracle Database”) and a graphical user interface called “SQL Developer”. (Note that the textbook uses a command-line interface that comes with the Oracle Database; I don’t recommend this.) Once you’ve installed Oracle Database and Oracle SQL Developer, you need to establish connections in SQL Developer to give yourself a suitable workspace. Here I present this installation and configuration in three steps.

1. Install Oracle Database (Windows and Linux only)

You can install Oracle Database 11g XE Express Edition (the free version of Oracle). You can download it either from the course website (64-bit Windows, 384 MB, BTM 382 password required) or directly from Oracle for other versions (registration required). Here are some important notes:

  • During installation, you will be asked to enter a password. REMEMBER THIS PASSWORD! If you forget it, then you will have no choice but to completely uninstall and then reinstall Oracle. A low security password is perfectly fine if you are only using Oracle locally on your own computer.
  • Current versions of Oracle Database do not run on Apple OS X (welcome to the business computing world). To run it on an Apple computer, you must run Windows on your computer either using Boot Camp (recommended) or a virtual machine like Virtualbox or Parallels. You can see complete instructions in one of the tutorials linked below.
    • Most BTM 382 students should have access to a free version of Windows in MyConcordia | Software and Applications | DreamSpark Premium | Popular.

2. Install Oracle SQL Developer (Windows and Linux only)

After installing Oracle Database, you can then install Oracle SQL Developer (also free). You can download it either from the course website (64-bit Windows, 373 MB, BTM 382 password required) or directly from Oracle for other versions (registration required). Here are some important notes:

  • If you download SQL Developer yourself from Oracle, I recommend that you choose the version that includes the JDK. That avoids a lot of of potential problems with Java.
  • Oracle SQL Developer is a Java application. It does not require installation; it only requires you to unzip the file and then find and run sqldeveloper64.exe. That’s it.
  • Oracle SQL Developer does not work unless you have installed Oracle Database (see previous step), and it is running.
  • Although there is an Apple OS X version of Oracle SQL Developer, it assumes that you are connecting to an Oracle Database on another computer (since Oracle Database doesn’t run on OS X). So, don’t choose the OS X version of SQL Developer; rather, choose the same operating system version for which you installed Oracle Database in the previous step.

3. Configure a dedicated user account for Oracle SQL Developer

Finally, after installing Oracle SQL Developer, you will probably want to create a dedicated user account with a dedicated connection as explained in the following video.

Other tutorials for installing Oracle Database and SQL Developer (including Mac)

In addition to the instructions above, here are some tutorials for installing Oracle:

How to run Oracle without installing it

There are at least two free “online” versions of Oracle that let you run Oracle without actually installing it. (Oracle also has a cloud version, but it ain’t cheap–I won’t cover it here.) Althouth easy to get started, neither of these options lets you save your work in a persistent database; they only let you play around with SQL scripts.

SQL Fiddle

SQL Fiddle is without a doubt the easiest way to run SQL queries. It works not only for Oracle, but for many other major DBMSs, and so it’s a great way to dabble with and compare different SQL versions without the hassle of having to install them or dealing with virtual machines and incompatible operating systems. so, be sure to select Oracle (specifically, “Oracle 11g R2”) as the database in the top left drop-down box as shown here:

However, SQL Fiddle only supports very small databases, and so would not work for the project for this class. However, it is great for learning and quick tests. A good video tutorial is available on YouTube (though the tutorial isn’t specific to Oracle).

Oracle Live SQL

In 2016, Oracle launched Oracle Live SQL, a free, online version of Oracle. To use it, you need to sign up for a (free) Oracle account. Jeff Smith (Oracle SQL Developer guru) has an introductory article to the service.

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