Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Experience: Switching the laptop from Windows to Linux

Recently I started to use a Linux-based laptop computer for work, after many years on Windows XP. Over the past years most of my private activities (on another machine) have already been on Linux, so the changes were not that big. However, there are different requirements for a private environment (emails, pictures, some games, some videos, some word processing)  than for a business environment. My new system is now running on Ubuntu 9.10, my private machine is still on an older Mandriva.

The actual move was quick and included copying over all my two data directories with all kinds of documents and the Lotus Notes databases. I also needed some selected configuration files, but overall I was up and running again after about an hour.

The first trouble I had was to (persistently!) configure a two-screen environment with my laptop on the right and the monitor on the left. The default is the monitor on the right side. Depending on the hardware in the machine there are different tools to solve that. Just using the Display Preferences works fine now (most of the time).

On Windows I was a big user of hibernation and tried to avoid rebooting the machine as long as possible (2 months or longer). Hibernation is supported on Linux/Ubuntu, too, but it takes significantly longer to revive the machine than on Windows. Overall, the felt one or two minutes more is ok since it is once a day. After logging in I most of the time run into the issue that both screens display the same. Using Control+Alt+F1 and then Control+Alt+F7 switches to the correct settings. It took me a while to figure out this workaround.

As a heavy user of MS Powerpoint and MS Word I feared the switch to Lotus Symphony and OpenOffice.org the most based on experiences with my private computer. For most documents the import filters are "ok", but sometimes macros or special formatting does not work.
The biggest shock was to try to give a presentation without a presenter mode which Powerpoint has. However, after some research I found out that there is a suitable presenter console extension which seems to be even more powerful than the one in Powerpoint.

After few weeks with the new machine and OS environment, I am mostly fine as the problems above are so far the only ones I ran into. For most software there are Linux versions or suitable replacements. My USB UMTS stick for mobile Internet works (mostly? some speed issues) fine out of the box, DB2 is available on Linux (big surprise here, right?), and Firefox and Flash (here that, A!) work as well. And for one Windows-based program I had to make use of wine.

Is it worth switching? So far I would say it is a definitive yes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Housing Transactional and Data Warehouse Workloads on System z

While screening new Redbook titles and noticed an interesting new book currently in draft status. It is labeled Housing Transaction and Data Warehouse Workloads on System z. Remember that the IBM Smart Analytics System (ISAS) is no longer an offering only available to DB2 LUW customers, but with ISAS 9600 also an offering on for the Information Management community on System z.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Moving? Pack your tablespaces - Transportable tablespaces and schemas (sets)

Starting with DB2 9.7 FP2 it is possible to transport tablespaces and schemas. What does that mean? You take a backup image of an existing database and RESTORE the database schema(s) and associated tablespaces into another existing database.

The associated schemas and tablespaces are named a transportable set, neither of them can be partial. That is, you need all tablespaces that hold data of database objects for a given schema or given schemas as well as all schemas that have objects in the transported tablespace need to be restored. This is something to consider when planning new database layouts.

Sometimes mini-databases are realized as objects in dedicated schemas in a single database. With transportable sets, they can be moved across databases and servers.

Note that another method of moving data and schema information is db2move. db2move is based on using export and import or load and is utilizing IXF files for holding the data. In contrast, transportable sets (tablespaces and schemas) are enhancements to backup/restore.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SSacSA - A typical IBM acronym, but not the typical product (Move from Sybase to DB2)

When I first heard about SSacSA (it's part of the new features in DB2 9.7 FP 2), I thought that this is another typical IBM acronym I had to learn. But when I looked closer at it, and it stands for DB2 SQL Skin Feature 1.0 for applications compatible with Sybase ASE (what a name for itself!), I wasn't scared of the long name and its acronym anymore. The biggest reason is that this feature is very useful and can save customers lots of money.

With this SQL skin (it's on the very outside of the DB2 engine, in the JDBC layer) it is possible to take applications written against Sybase ASE and let them run against DB2 without too much migration effort. The trick is that SQL statements written in the Sybase dialect are caught in the JDBC driver and rewritten to DB2's version of the SQL language. The statements can then be executed in DB2 and the application doesn't notice it is now running on top of DB2.

A chat with the lab (cwtl?) is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday 23rd, to discuss this new offering. You can register here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Obfuscate your DDL statements (aHJgFSG127_henRIK)

It's always interesting to take a look at the new functionality in a new (fixpack) release. DB2 9.7 FP2 adds functionality to obfuscate DDL statements. You might state that with all the parameters and options or page-long spaghetti code inside stored procedures DDL statements already are confusing. Well, now you can add another layer of obfuscation with the help of DB2.

The key to obfuscation is to know about the new WRAP function and CREATE_WRAPPED procedure in the DBMS_DDL module and the WRAPPED keyword. You can pass a string with a regular DDL statement to either routines. In the case of WRAP a string (CLOB) with the encoded, i.e., obfuscated statement is returned. When CREATE_WRAPPED is used, the statement is directly deployed into the database, i.e., it is executed and thereby the obfuscated statement text stored in the system catalog.

Obfuscation works for the following types of objects:
  • procedure
  • functions
  • triggers
  • views
  • PL/SQL packages and package bodies
  • modules to which functions or procedure are added or which are published
An obfuscated statement could look like the following:
CREATE PROCEDURE henrik.otest(col1 varchar(20)) WRAPPED SQL09072 aHJgFSG123_henRIKobFU3cAtEDtHIsSTRinGANdmaDEITun4eaDABle

The SQL09072 is a version identifier (DB2 9.7 FP2), so that DB2 remembers what version of the encoding function was used.

So try to not use any spaghetti code anymore, but start WRAPing your procedures...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Catching up - 5 weeks in review

Well, I am currently catching up. A very busy time, some offline vacation, a surgery with time off, and some busy days getting back "into" work have left me not posting anything for the past 5 weeks. And what has happened!

DB2 9.7 FP2 (9.7.2) is out now with some fixes and new features - more on that in a separate post. For those on DB2 Express-C, the good news is that IBM has updated the free to develop, free to deploy, free to distribute version of DB2, too.

Speaking of free products, there is a free eBook Getting started with IBM Data Studio for DB2. Actually, this is old news, but what is new is that there is now a free German version of that book, named Einstieg in IBM Data Studio für DB2.

While I am at German and Germans, I was surprised to read that SAP is buying Sybase. Apparently, this deal is to move SAP into the mobile space, not so much about Sybase's dying database business. And there was another interesting acquisition in the database area, too.
Teradata has bought xkoto and apparently during that process stopped selling new GRIDSCALE licenses. There is discussion, not just at IBM business partners like Triton Consulting, about the increased importance of the DB2 pureScale technology as it suddenly becomes the only available solution to address scalability and cluster high availability. Speaking of DB2 pureScale, the related Information Center is now open to the public.

There was so much more in the past 5 weeks, I will update you once Germany has won the soccer world championship... ;-)