HOWTO: Install Oracle 11g XE (Express Edition)

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When it comes to simple web development and data-driven applications, I have to admit it's tough to beat Oracle's Application Express (APEX). Unfortunately that requires installing Oracle. Then Oracle finally released an express edition of their database 10g to spark interest and get developers hooked. Express editions of expensive RDBMS packages were quite the fad a few years ago, somewhat like street pushers giving us kids a "free sample" only to have our personal apps suddenly halt one day having reached maximum capacity. Oracle never was a very Gentoo/Sabayon friendly package, but some managed to install 10g XE with some scriptural crowbars and duct-tape permission changes. Unfortunately the 10g XE image has not been maintained and several dependency package versions are long gone from portage and entropy. Introduce 11g XE - currently in beta. With combined curiosity and skepticism, I finally sat down today and gave 11g XE beta a try. It was surprisingly easy to get an instance of 11g running on my Sabayon x86_64 box. Note that 11g XE comes in both x86 and x86_64 builds unlike 10g which only offered x86. It didn't even involve the half dozen or so re-installs required during my 10g XE exploit

Surprisingly, I had an instant happily running 11g XE beta x86_64 and APEX 4 promptly loading on port 8080. Mind you 11g XE is currently in beta, though license terms on the release express editions have been attractive. 11g XE may be used and distributed for production purposes, unlike developer licenses. I've often used simple APEX applications to productively track basic lists around the office - like football pools and lunch orders. MySQL and PHP are great, but when I need a web-accessed interactive master-detail report and form 3 hours ago, I like the option of APEX. Luckily it looks like now we'll be able to do this all on Sabayon again, though keep in mind Sabayon is one of the many configurations that Oracle doesn't officially support.


  1. Download the appropriate 11g beta RPM from [1].
  2. Clear out any existing oracle homes or 10g residue - particularly /etc/init.d/oracle-xe, whose name stays the same in 11g.
  3. equo install libaio rpm bc (if not already present).
  4. rpm -ivh --force --nodeps [vers].rpm
  5. /etc/init.d/oracle-xe configure. I always comment out line 538, or whichever line exits when a config already exists.

Now test your apex page: http://localhost:8080/apex. If it works, pages may load a little slow. Immediately increase the paltry "shared_servers" parameter from sqlplus to fix this:

sqlplus / as sysdba alter system set shared_servers=32 scope=both;

Autostart at boottime

The configuration script (see step 5 above) asks if Oracle should be started automatically. The autostart configuration does not work correctly with Sabayon (the init script is not compatible). To enable autostart, you can make a init script that calls the original oracle init script (maybe there are better solutions...). The following steps are necessary to enable auto start:

1. create a new init script in /etc/init.d with the name "oracle-xe_init_script_for_sabayon" (or any other name you like) and copy/paste the following lines of code into the script:


start() {
  /etc/init.d/oracle-xe start

stop() {
  /etc/init.d/oracle-xe stop

2. make the script executeable

chmod 755 oracle-xe_init_script_for_sabayon

3. create a symbolic link in /etc/runlevels which starts the script at boottime

ln -s /etc/init.d/oracle-xe_init_script_for_sabayon /etc/runlevels/default/oracle-xe_init_script_for_sabayon

Backup script

The backup script tests if the current user is in the dba group and refused to work if not. To test if the user is in the dba group, the script calls the "groups" command in /usr/bin/. In Sabayon, "groups" is located in /bin/ and not in /usr/bin/. To get the backup script running under Sabayon, create a symbolic link to the "groups" command:

ln -s /bin/groups /usr/bin/groups