Thursday, April 30, 2009

Discoverer CP4 is available again

Last updated: May 5, 2009
I am delighted to be able to let you know that CP4 (patch number 7595032) is no longer password protected and the issue with the non-English language versions (see below) has been resolved. You are therefore free and encouraged to apply this patch.

By the way, this patch has all of the updates from CP8 and many more.

Important Note:
Please note that if you are planning on installing CP4 that you will also need to install a patch for JDBC. I have made a comment on this in this posting and will post more information shortly.

Last updated: May 4, 2009
The latest information I have on this is as follows:

It was initially communicated that it only affected a small subset of customers as it was thought to only affect Japanese customers using Discoverer Plus. It was later discovered that some other locales were also affected.

Customer's were later updated with: Note: CP4 has temporarily been withdrawn due to a late breaking regression tracked in Bug 8477401 NLS: Discoverer Plus Always Runs In English Even If Japanese Locale Is Set'.

This can potentially affect all non-English locales. Oracle Support cannot provide a password or give access to the patch until the regression is corrected and the patch is re-uploaded to MetaLink. If you have have already downloaded the patch and use the English locale, then you should not be affected and can continue using the patch. This note will be updated when the updated patch is released.

Original Posting made: April 30, 2009
If you are vigilant and keep up with Oracle's cumulative patches and this blog (see here) you will be aware that CP4 (patch number 7595032) came out a couple of days ago.

Earlier today I noticed that it has now been password protected so I contacted Oracle. Here is what they told me:

CP4 has temporarily been password protected due to a late breaking regression tracked as bug number 8477401: Discoverer Plus Always Runs In English Even If Japanese Locale Is Set. This should only affect a small subset of customers. We are trying to get this password protection removed asap since it only affects a narrow band of customers.

Oracle plans to have this password protection removed quickly so it could even be removed before the information filters out too far. I will let you know when the password requirement has been lifted. If you are using English then you should go ahead and request the password as you won't be affected.

Please note that if you are planning on installing CP4 that you will also need to install a patch for JDBC. I have made a comment on this in this posting and will post more information shortly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Michael presenting at ODTUG Kaleidoscope

In June, I will be at the ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference between June 21 and June 25 in Monterey, California, where I will be presenting a paper entitled Maximize your investment in Discoverer. If you happen to be going please look me up. I will be presenting the same paper and also sitting as a panelist on the Business Intelligence / Data Warehousing Panel.

I am also scheduled to appear at the Baton Rouge Oracle Users Group meeting in July and have submitted a paper for Oracle Open World which is in October in San Francisco. I will provide more information on ODTUG, BROUG and Open World as the times draw closer.

For the eagle eyed among you, you will notice that originally this posting said that I was also going to be at the IOUG / OAUG Collaborate conference in Orlando next week. Unfortunately, something came up at the last minue which has prevented me from attending. This is the first time in 10 years of going to conferences that I have had to cancel an appearance like this. However, the good news is that Mike Durran from Oracle and Mark Rittman have agreed to step in and give my presentation for me. More on this to follow.

Michael is now a US citizen

Hi everyone
I thought I would let you all know that last Friday afternoon in Nashville I took the oath to become a citizen of the United States. This is such a privilege and honor for me and something I have been looking forward to for quite some time, ever since I first started coming here for business way back in 1994.

I emigrated to the United States in 1999 while working for Logitech as their world-wide manager of business intelligence. Within a few months of my arrival I met Darlene and we were married within the year and have been together ever since.

We moved to Tennesses 5 years ago when we formed Armstrong-Smith Consulting and bought ourselves a small ranch so that we could enjoy the fine weather and get away from the hustle and bustle of consulting when time would allow. If you would like to see a few photographs of our place you can find them here on the About Us page of our website.

Cumulative Patch 4 for

I am very pleased to announce that Oracle have released the eagerly awaited cumulative patch 4 for Discoverer (patch number 7595032). When compared to CP2, almost 80 bugs have been fixed including the bug that was preventing usres from logging in correctly after applying CP3 (see here).

So far this has been released for the following platforms:
  • Microsoft Windows 32-bit
  • Linux x86 (works for both 32 bit and 64 bit)
  • Sun Solaris (64-bit)
  • HP-UX PA-RISC (64-bit)
  • IBM AIX Based Systems (64-bit)

There is also a very important note inside the readme regarding installing an interim patch. Here is the necessary information:

Please apply the JDBC patch for bug 4398431(release patch needs to be applied to all Oracle Homes, i.e. Infrastructure home as well as all related midtier homes.


Then proceed with applying the current patch.

The following postings have been updated:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oracle buys Sun

If you haven't already heard, Oracle has announced (see here) that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Sun Microsystems (Sun).

My good friend Mark Rittman has a very good article on his blog (see here).

According to the Oracle press release:

The acquisition combines best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems. Oracle plans to engineer and deliver an integrated system—applications to disk—where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Customers benefit as their system integration costs go down while system performance, reliability and security go up.

So what do you make of it? Personally I think it's a great move and will only strengthen Oracle's hand when it comes to vying with Microsoft in the marketplace. I think it was a deal that was always going to happen as Sun's Java is a product that means an awful lot to Oracle as most of their products require it to run effectively.

Of course, this also means that Oracle will now own the Solaris brand of hardware. So if the deal does go through, and I don't see why it should not, you will then be able to get one-stop shopping for hardware and software from the same vendor.

Personally, I say this is a great deal for Oracle and an even greater deal for Oracle's customers.

Charles Phillips, President of Oracle, today said the following:

Oracle's ownership of two key Sun software assets, Java and Solaris, is expected to provide our customers with significant benefit. Java is one of the computer industry's best known brands and most widely deployed technologies. Oracle Fusion Middleware is built on top of Sun's Java language and software. Oracle can now ensure continued innovation and investment in Java technology for the benefit of customers and the Java community.

The Sun Solaris operating system is the leading platform for the Oracle database. With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle can optimize the Oracle database for some of the unique, high-end features of Solaris. Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms, and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships.

Our customers have been asking us to step up to a broader role to reduce complexity, risk, and cost by delivering a highly-optimized standards-based product stack. Oracle plans to deliver these benefits by offering a broad range of products, including servers and storage, with all the integrated pieces: hardware operating system, database, middleware and applications. We plan to preserve and enhance investments made by our customers, while we continue to work with our partners to provide customers with choice.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 2009 Patch Levels for Discoverer

Oracle is continually refining and upgrading Discoverer. Because of this refinement process, from time to time, Oracle periodically withdraws support for older releases. These are called obsolescence desupport documents and can be found on MetaLink.

I will summarize the major releases here, along with their patch and desupport numbers.
  • Discoverer 3.x - completely desupported. The terminal release was 3.1.36 for Administrator and Desktop and 3.3.62 for Plus and Viewer. You should migrate to Discoverer 10g Release 2 ( or as soon as you can. Note that there is no direct migration path from Discoverer 3.1 to Discoverer 10g Release 2, as you must migrate via The obsolescence desupport notice on MetaLink is document 162402.1.

  • Discoverer 4.x (stand-alone, not as part of E-Business Suite) - completely desupported. The terminal release was You should migrate to Discoverer 10g Release 2 ( or as soon as you can. The obsolescence desupport notice on MetaLink is document 231072.1.

  • Discoverer 4.x (with E-Business Suite) - desupported as of October 31, 2006. According to Oracle "since Discoverer 10g ( - now or is fully certified, we HIGHLY recommend implementing or migrating to this release". Extended Support (ES) will continue until October 31, 2009. You are advised to migrate to Discoverer 10g Release 2 as soon as possible. The obsolesence desupport notice for Discoverer 4i against E-Business Suite is MetaLink document 337576.1.

  • Discoverer 9iAS (9.0.2) - completely desupported as of July 1, 2008. The terminal release was You are urged to upgrade to Discoverer 10g Release 2 ( or as soon as you can. The obsolescence desupport notice for Discoverer 9iAS is MetaLink document 162403.1.

  • Discoverer 10g Release 1 (9.0.4) - ECS support was withdrawn December 31, 2006. The recommended release is (Application Server Extended Support will continue until December 31, 2009, however you should upgrade to Discoverer 10g Release 2 as soon as you can. The obsolescence desupport notice for Discoverer 10g Release 1 (9.0.4) is MetaLink document 295948.1.

  • Discoverer 10g Release 2 initial ( - The terminal release is You can upgrade to by applying the patchset which will bring you to the code level (see below). No ECS or ES dates have been announced for The support notice for Discoverer 10g Release 2 is MetaLink document 329361.1.

  • Discoverer 10g Release 2 production ( - This is the current and most up-to-date release and the one you should be on if you can. Out of the box the base version you will get is Notwithstanding the fact that this is the current version it is also a brilliant piece of software. Having installed the base release you need to upgrade to either ( or ( and then apply the most recent cumulative patch. No ECS or ES dates have been announced for this release. The support notice for Discoverer 10g Release 2 is MetaLink document 329361.1.

Notes: the definitions of ECS and ES can be found on MetaLink in note 187553.1

Friday, April 17, 2009

Be careful when upgrading to Java 1.6

If you install Discoverer 10g out of the box you will get Java 1.4 on the server.

Last year Oracle announced that the server was now certified with Java 1.6 and issued a MetaLink note complete with instructions on how to upgrade the JVM.

On my travels, I have noticed that some administrators do not read the release and installation notes properly and overlook the fact the configuration.xml (found in $Oracle_Home/discoverer/config) needs to be updated as well. If you only install a new java executable but leave the configuration.xml file untouched you will run into serious user interface issues. One such problem is that parameter values will no longer be displayed from your user's last run or from when the worksheet was created thus causing your end users a great deal of anxiety.

An application server in such a state will also run much slower too, so please make sure you update the configuration.xml correctly.

To help you, here is the JVM section from the application server running on my own laptop:

< name="sun" classid="clsid:CAFEEFAC-0016-0000-0012-ABCDEFFEDCBA" plugin_setup="" version="1.6" versionie="1,6,0,mn" type="application/x-java-applet" plugin_page="" disco_archive="disco5i.jarjar" d4o_archive="d4o_double.jarjar">

1. This is all one line with no line breaks or carriage returns. There should also be no space following the leading or before the last brackets.

2. I have spaces to make sure that you can see the text and to stop your browser interpreting this as HTML.

3. The version number 12 only appeard in one place, in the classid switch.

The areas of importance are these switches:
  • classid
  • plugin_setup
  • version
  • versionie
  • plugin_page

In the following help I will show you the settings for Java 1.6.0_12. All of the switches are enclosed in double quotes.

classid: this complete switch has 36 characters broken down as follows:

  • first 9 always CAFEEFAC- all in uppercase
  • next 5 are always 0016- meaning Java 1.6
  • next 5 should be 0000- meaning Java 1.6.0
  • next 5 should be 0012- meaning release 12 (only place this is referenced)
  • last 12 should be ABCDEFFEDCBA again all in uppercase
  • full switch is: classid="clsid:CAFEEFAC-0016-0000-0011-ABCDEFFEDCBA"

plugin_setup: this switch should be fully qualified domain name pointer to the Java executable on the server. Even though this switch always has /jpi/ in the pointer the actual executable must be stored in /jpi/bin/ under the $Oracle_Home for the middle tier. The name of the executable can be anything you look but must be the same as the executable stored in $Oracle_Home/jpi/bin.

version: this switch should be 1.6 with a period between the two numbers

  • full switch looks like this: version="1.6"

versionie: this switch should be "1,6,0,mn" this time with commas between the 4 elements. Yes, mn should be used and not 12 as you might think.

  • full switch looks like this: versionie="1,6,0,mn"
plugin_page: this switch should just be http: // and not a pointer to the complete version as it was in 1.4

  • full switch looks like this: plugin_page=""

After you have upgraded the server to Java 1.6 I recommend you go to each of your user machines and clear the local Java cache. Discoverer will then ensure that they have the correct applet and will send down the right Java version the first time the user connects.

If your users have an earlier version of Java installed or no Java installed then the first time that they connect to Discoverer on an application server that is running Java 1.6 they will be prompted to install it. All they have to do is follow the on-screen prompts and they will be ok. If your users don't have administrative rights over their local PC or if you are making them connect via a Citrix terminal server then your administrator will need to install JVM 1.6 for them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No more cumulative patches for

If you have been keeping up with the latest information for Discoverer on Oracle MetaLink you will have noted that Oracle recently announced that cumulative patch 8 for is the last one for that platform and that the platform currently being developed is

If you haven't already upgraded to you should skip it and proceed direct to The steps to installing on a native are identical to the steps that you would have to apply to install This means that if you are using an infrastructure then you will have to upgrade the metadata repository from to at least

If you have already installed and any of the cumulative patches the good news is that (patch 5983622) will install directly on top as there is no need to de-install anything, the upgrade will take of it for you. After you have upgraded to you should then proceed directly to install cumulative patch 2 (patch 7198716).

You might be wondering why I say to should upgrade only to cumulative patch 2 when cumulative patch 3 was released earlier this year. This is because there are some bugs in cumulative patch 3 and you are advised to wait until cumulative patch 4 which, by the way, I have heard is due for release within the next 2 to 3 weeks. Just as soon as it released I will update my master patch blog note.