Raimonds Simanovskis

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Updated: 10 hours 54 min ago

How to setup Ruby and Oracle Instant Client on Snow Leopard

Sat, 2009-09-05 16:00

Mac OS X Snow Leopard is out and many Rubyists are rushing to upgrade to it. The main difference for Ruby after upgrading to Snow Leopard is that Ruby installation has been changed from 32-bit to 64-bit program and version has changed from 1.8.6 to 1.8.7. And it means that all Ruby gems with C extensions should be reinstalled and recompiled using 64-bit external libraries.

After upgrading to Snow Leopard the first thing to do is to follow instructions on official Ruby on Rails blog. After that follow instructions below.

Installing 64-bit Oracle Instant Client for Intel Mac

Download Oracle Instant Client 64-bit version. Download “Instant Client Package – Basic”, “Instant Client Package – SDK” and “Instant Client Package – SQL*Plus”.

Unzip downloaded archives and move it where you would like to have it – I am keeping it in /usr/local/oracle/instantclient_10_2 (if you have previous 32-bit Oracle Instant Client in this directory then delete it beforehand). Then go to this directory and make symbolic links for dynamic libraries

sudo ln -s libclntsh.dylib.10.1 libclntsh.dylib
sudo ln -s libocci.dylib.10.1 libocci.dylib

Then I recommend to create and place somewhere your tnsnames.ora file where you will keep your database connections definitions – I place this file in directory /usr/local/oracle/network/admin.

Then finally you need to set up necessary environment variables – I place the following definitions in my .bash_profile script:

export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH="/usr/local/oracle/instantclient_10_2"
export SQLPATH="/usr/local/oracle/instantclient_10_2"
export TNS_ADMIN="/usr/local/oracle/network/admin"

Use your path to Oracle Instant Client if it differs from /usr/local/oracle/instantclient_10_2. And as you see I also define NLS_LANG environment variable – this is necessary if your database is not in UTF8 encoding but in Ruby you want to get UTF-8 encoded strings from the database. Specifying this NLS_LANG environment variable you will force that Oracle Instant Client will do character set translation.

After these steps relaunch Terminal application (so that new environment variables are set), specify database connection in tnsnames.ora file and try if you can access your database with sqlplus from command line.

Install ruby-oci8 gem

The latest versions of ruby-oci8 are available as Ruby gems and therefore I recommend to install it as a gem and not to compile and install as library (as I have recommended previously in my blog).

If you previously installed ruby-oci8 as a library then I recommend to delete it from Ruby installation. Go to /usr/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8 directory and remove oci8.rb file as well as remove oci8lib.bundle compiled library from either universal-darwin9.0 or universal-darwin10.0 subdirectory.

Now install ruby-oci8 with the following command:

sudo env DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=$DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH ARCHFLAGS="-arch x86_64" gem install ruby-oci8

It is important to pass DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable to sudo (as otherwise ruby-oci8 gem installation will not find Oracle Instant Client) as well as specify ARCHFLAGS to compile C extension just for 64-bit platform as otherwise it will try to compile both for 32-bit and 64-bit platform.

Now try

ruby -rubygems -e "require 'oci8'; OCI8.new('scott','tiger','orcl').exec('select * from dual') do |r| puts r.join(','); end"

or similar (replacing username, password or database alias) to verify that you can access Oracle database from ruby.

That’s it! Please write in comments if something is not working according to these instructions.

Categories: Development

Initial version of DataMapper Oracle adapter

Mon, 2009-07-20 16:00

datamapper.jpgWhat is DataMapper?

DataMapper is Ruby Object/Relational Mapper that is similar to ActiveRecord (component of Ruby on Rails) but still it handles several things differently than ActiveRecord.

I got interested in DataMapper because I liked better some of its design decisions when compared with ActiveRecord. And in particular DataMapper architecture can suite better if you need to work with legacy Oracle database schemas – that is the area where I use Ruby on Rails a lot and for these purposes I also created Oracle enhanced adapter for ActiveRecord.

But as there were no Oracle adapter available for DataMapper I needed to create one :) I started to work on Oracle adapter for DataMapper after the RailsConf and now it is passing all DataMapper tests on all Ruby platforms – MRI 1.8, Ruby 1.9 and JRuby 1.3.

Why DataMapper for Oracle database?

If you would like to learn main differences between DataMapper and ActiveRecord then please start with this overview and this summary of benefits.

Here I will mention specific benefits if you would like to use DataMapper with Oracle database.

Model properties

In DataMapper you always specify in model class definition what Ruby “type” you would like to use for each model attribute (or property as called in DataMapper):

class Post
  include DataMapper::Resource
  property :id,         Serial
  property :title,      String
  property :post_date,  Date
  property :created_at, DateTime
  property :updated_at, Time

The main benefit for that is that you can explicitly define when to use Ruby Time, Date or DateTime class which is stored as DATE (or sometimes as TIMESTAMP) in Oracle database. In addition you can define your own custom DataMapper types and define how to serialize them into database.

Composite primary keys

DataMapper core library supports composite primary keys for models. If you use ActiveRecord then there is an option to use additional composite_primary_keys gem but it regularly breaks with latest ActiveRecord versions and quite often it also might break in some edge cases. In DataMapper composite primary keys are defined quite simple:

class City
  include DataMapper::Resource
  property :country,   String, :key => true
  property :name,      String, :key => true
Legacy schemas

DataMapper is quite useful when you want to put Ruby models on top of existing Oracle schemas. It is possible to provide different database field name for property or provide custom sequence name for primary keys:

class Post
  include DataMapper::Resource
  property :id, Serial, :field => "post_id", :sequence => "post_s"  

You can also define one model that can be persisted in two different repositories (e.g. databases or schemas) and use different naming conventions in each repository:

class Post
  include DataMapper::Resource
  repository(:old) do
    property :id, Serial, :field => "post_id", :sequence => "post_s"
  repository(:default) do
    property :id, Serial

As a result DataMapper can be used also for data migration between different databases.

Bind variables

ActiveRecord always generates SQL statements for execution as one single string. Therefore Oracle enhanced adapter always initializes Oracle session with setting cursor_sharing=‘similar’. It instructs Oracle always to take all literals (constants) from SQL statement and replace them with bind variables. It reduces the number of unique SQL statements generated but also it is some overhead for Oracle optimizer.

DataMapper always passes all statement parameters separately to corresponding database adapter and therefore it is possible for Oracle adapter to pass all parameters as bind variables to Oracle.

CLOB and BLOB values inserting and selecting

As for ActiveRecord all inserted values should be passed as literals in INSERT statement it was not possible to insert large CLOB and BLOB values directly in INSERT statement. Therefore ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter did separate call-backs for inserting any CLOB or BLOB data after INSERT of other data. In DataMapper it is possible to insert all data at once as CLOB and BLOB data are passed as bind variables.

DataMapper also handles better lazy loading of large columns. So if you define property as Text then by default it will not be selected from database – it will be selected separately only when you use it. Typically it could reduce amount of data that needs to be sent from database to application as Text properties are quite often not needed in e.g. all web pages.

Wny not DataMapper?

If you are fine with ActiveRecord default conventions and you don’t have any issues that I listed previously then probably ActiveRecord is good enough for you and you shouldn’t change to DataMapper. There are of course much more Rails plugins that work with ActiveRecord but not yet with DataMapper. And DataMapper is still much less used and therefore there might some edge cases where it is not tested and you will need to find the issue causes by yourself.

But if you like to try new things then please try it out – and also DataMapper community is quite friendly and helpful and will help to solve any issues :)

Installation of DataMapper Oracle adapter

So if you have decided to try to use DataMapper with Oracle database then follow the instructions how to install it.

Oracle support is done for current development version 0.10.0 of DataMapper – therefore you will need to install the latest versions from GitHub (they are still not published as gems on RubyForge).

DataMapper with Oracle adapter can be used both on MRI 1.8.6 (I am not testing it on 1.8.7) and Ruby 1.9.1 as well as on JRuby 1.3. And currently installation is tested on Mac OS X and Linux – if there is anyone interested in Windows support then please let me know.

MRI 1.8.6 or Ruby 1.9.1

At first you need to have the same preconditions as for ActiveRecord:

  • Oracle Instant Cient
  • ruby-oci8 gem, version 2.0.2 or later

If you are using Mac then you can use these instructions for installation.

Now at first it is necessary to install DataObjects Oracle driver – DataObjects library is unified interface to relational databases (like SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle) that DataMapper uses to access these databases.

At first validate that you have the latest version of rubygems installed and install necessary additional gems:

gem update --system
gem install addressable -v 2.0

As I mentioned currently you need to install the latest version from GitHub (at first create and go to directory where you would like to store DataMapper sources):

git clone git://github.com/datamapper/extlib.git
cd extlib
git checkout -b next --track origin/next
rake install
cd ..
git clone git://github.com/datamapper/do.git
cd do
git checkout -b next --track origin/next
cd data_objects
rake install
cd ../do_oracle
rake compile
rake install
cd ../..

Now if DataObjects installation was successful you can install DataMapper. UPDATE: Oracle adapter is now in “next” branch of DataMapper so now you need to install it form there:

git clone git://github.com/datamapper/dm-core.git
cd dm-core
git checkout -b next --track origin/next
rake install

Now start irb and test if you can connect to Oracle database (change database name, username and password according to your setup):

require "rubygems"
require "dm-core"
DataMapper.setup :default, "oracle://hr:hr@xe"

and try some basic DataMapper operations (I assume that you don’t have posts table in this schema):

class Post
  include DataMapper::Resource
  property :id,     Serial, :sequence => "posts_seq"
  property :title,  String
p = Post.create(:title=>"Title")

At first I assume that you have already installed JRuby latest version (1.3.1 at the moment).

Then you need to place Oracle JDBC driver ojdbc14.jar file in JRUBY_HOME/lib directory (other option is just to put somewhere in PATH).

All other installation should be done in the same way – just use “jruby -S gem” instead of “gem” and “jruby -S rake” instead of “rake” and it should install necessary gems for JRuby.

In addition before installing do_oracle gem you need to install do_jdbc gem (which contains general JDBC driver functionality):

# after installation of data_objects gem
cd ../do_jdbc
jruby -S rake compile
jruby -S rake install
# continue with do_oracle installation
Other DataMapper gems

DataMapper is much more componentized than ActiveRecord. Here I described how to install just the main dm-core gem. You can see the list of other gems in DataMapper web site.

To install additional DataMapper gems you need to

git clone git://github.com/datamapper/dm-more.git
cd dm-more
git checkout -b next --track origin/next
cd dm-some-other-gem
rake install

This was my first attempt to describe how to start to use DataMapper with Oracle. If you have any questions or something is not working for you then please write comments and I will try to answer and fix any issues in these instructions.

Categories: Development

ruby-plsql new version - Ruby 1.9.1 support and more

Mon, 2009-04-20 16:00

I have released ruby-plsql gem (Ruby API for Oracle PL/SQL procedure calls) new version 0.3.0 which includes several new features.

Ruby 1.9.1

Probably the most important is support for Ruby 1.9.1 – now you can use both Oracle enhanced adapter and ruby-plsql gem on all three major Ruby plaforms:

  • MRI 1.8.6 with ruby-oci8 1.0.x library or gem
  • Ruby/YARV 1.9.1 with ruby-oci8 2.0 library or gem (currently just trunk version of ruby-oci8 2.0 contains the last bug fixes for Ruby 1.9.1)
  • JRuby (so far tested with 1.1.6) with JDBC Oracle driver
ActiveRecord connection

In addition usage of ruby-plsql gem in Ruby on Rails project is simplified. Now you can include in environment.rb or some initializer file just:

plsql.activerecord_class = ActiveRecord::Base

and you don’t need to specify plsql.connection anymore – it will always use current ActiveRecord connection. This is also useful when ActiveRecord reestablishes connection to database as you don’t need to reestablish plsql connection in this case.

In addition if you use several different connections to Oracle database then you can assign to plsql.activerecord_class also different class that inherits from ActiveRecord::Base and has connection to different database.

Database time zone

Also you can also specify in which timezone DATE values are stored in database:

plsql.default_timezone = :local


plsql.default_timezone = :utc

This will affect how DATE values (without timezone) will be converted to Time or DateTime values (with timezone), default selection is :local timezone. If you have set plsql.activerecord_class then the value will be taken from ActiveRecord::Base.default_timezone.

BLOB support

You can now use BLOB data type for input and output parameters and function return values.
I remind you that also NUMBER, VARCHAR2, DATE, TIMESTAMP and CLOB data types are supported,

Synonym support

Now you can also use private and public database synonyms to functions or procedures or packages.
E.g. if ORA_LOGIN_USER is public database synonym to SYS.LOGIN_USER function then instead of


you can use


To install the gem as always do

sudo gem install ruby-plsql

or call the correct gem command version for JRuby or Ruby 1.9.1.

Source code of ruby-plsql is located at GitHub where you can find usage examples in RSpec tests.

Categories: Development

How to install Oracle Database 10g on Mac OS X Intel

Sat, 2009-04-11 16:00

UPDATE: Created instructions how to install Oracle 10g on Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Couple days ago Oracle developers on Mac OS X received Easter present – finally Oracle Database 10g was released for Mac OS X 10.5 Intel platform. This download includes installation guide for Mac OS X but as any Oracle installation guide it is quite long and contains a lot of unnecessary information for first time install as well as does not contain some necessary information.

Therefore I am posting here my shorter tutorial how to install it. And this tutorial is targeted to developers who want to install local Oracle database for development needs on their MacBook, iMac or Mac Pro.

Initial preparation

If you are a developer then I suppose you already have Xcode tools installed which are required also for Oracle installation. And I tried these steps on Mac OS X latest version 10.5.6.

Then you need to create oracle user as well as increase default kernel parameters. Open Terminal and switch to root user:

sudo -i

Create oinstall group and oracle user (I used group and user number 600 to ensure that they do not collide with existing groups and users):

dscl . -create /groups/oinstall
dscl . -append /groups/oinstall gid 600
dscl . -append /groups/oinstall passwd "*"
dscl . -create /users/oracle
dscl . -append /users/oracle uid 600
dscl . -append /users/oracle gid 600
dscl . -append /users/oracle shell /bin/bash
dscl . -append /users/oracle home /Users/oracle
dscl . -append /users/oracle realname "Oracle software owner"
mkdir /Users/oracle
chown oracle:oinstall /Users/oracle

Change password for oracle user:

passwd oracle

Change default kernel parameters:

vi /etc/sysctl.conf

and enter values recommended by Oracle:


After this reboot your computer so that these new kernel parameters would be taken into effect. After reboot open again Terminal and now login as oracle user:

su - oracle

Set shell settings in .bash_profile

vi .bash_profile

and enter

export DISPLAY=:0.0
umask 022
ulimit -Hn 65536
ulimit -Sn 65536

As you see I prefer to install all Oracle related files under home directory of oracle user therefore I am setting ORACLE_BASE to home directory. And also include ulimit settings – I forgot to do this initially and got strange TNS service errors because of that.

Now execute this script so that these settings are applied to current shell:

. ./.bash_profile

Now download db.zip installation archive and place it somewhere and unzip it:

mkdir Install
cd Install
# download db.zip to this directory
unzip db.zip
cd db/Disk1

Now you are ready to start installation:


In installation wizard I selected the following options:

  • Advanced Installation – so that I can change some default options
  • Standard Edition – as I don’t need additional features of Enterprise Edition
  • Create Database / General Purpose
  • Global database name: orcl, SID: orcl
  • Character set: UTF-8 AL32UTF8
  • Create database with sample schemas
  • Selected “Use the same password for all the accounts” – do not specify default “manager” password as it will not be allowed :)
  • Password Management – selected this to unlock necessary sample accounts (e.g. HR schema account that I use as default test schema)

At the end of installation you will be instructed to run one shell script from root.
Hopefully installation will complete successfully.

Additional oracle user settings

If you will use oracle user later then add the following lines to .bash_profile of oracle user:

export ORACLE_HOME=/Users/oracle/oracle/product/10.2.0/db_1

After this relogin as oracle user and verify listener status:

lsnrctl status

and if it is down then start it with

lsnrctl start

and verify if you can connect to Oracle database with sample user (that I unlocked during installation)

sqlplus hr/hr@orcl

If it fails then do some investigation :)

Change listener to listen on localhost

As I need this Oracle database just as local development database on my computer then I want to change the listener so that it would listen just on localhost port 1521:

vi $ORACLE_HOME/network/admin/listener.ora

and change the contents of the file to:

    (SID_DESC =
      (SID_NAME = PLSExtProc)
      (ORACLE_HOME = /Users/oracle/oracle/product/10.2.0/db_1)
      (PROGRAM = extproc)
    (SID_DESC =
      (SID_NAME = orcl)
      (ORACLE_HOME = /Users/oracle/oracle/product/10.2.0/db_1)
      (ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = localhost)(PORT = 1521))

Then also change ORCL alias definition in $ORACLE_HOME/network/admin/tnsnames.ora to:

    (ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = localhost)(PORT = 1521))
      (SERVICE_NAME = orcl)

After this change restart listener and try to connect with sqlplus to verify that these changes are successful.

Automatic startup of Oracle database

If you want that Oracle database is started automatically when your computer is booted then you need to create the following startup script. Start terminal and switch to root.

At first edit /etc/oratab and change N to Y at the end of line for ORCL database – this will be used by dbstart utility to find which databases should be started automatically.

Then create startup script for Oracle database:

mkdir /Library/StartupItems/Oracle
cd /Library/StartupItems/Oracle
vi Oracle

and enter the following:


# Suppress the annoying "$1: unbound variable" error when no option
# was given
if [ -z $1 ] ; then
  echo "Usage: $0 [start|stop|restart] "
  exit 1

# source the common startup script
. /etc/rc.common

# Change the value of ORACLE_HOME to specify the correct Oracle home
# directory for the installation

# change the value of ORACLE to the login name of the
# oracle owner at your site


# Set shell limits for the Oracle Database
ulimit -Hu 2068
ulimit -Su 2068
ulimit -Hn 65536
ulimit -Sn 65536

  ConsoleMessage "Starting Oracle Databases"
  su $ORACLE -c "$ORACLE_HOME/bin/dbstart $ORACLE_HOME"

  ConsoleMessage "Stopping Oracle Databases"
  su $ORACLE -c "$ORACLE_HOME/bin/dbshut $ORACLE_HOME"


RunService "$1"

and then make this script executable

chmod a+x Oracle

and in addition create properties file:

vi StartupParameters.plist

with the following contents:

  Description     = "Oracle Database Startup";
  Provides        = ("Oracle Database");
  Requires        = ("Disks");
  OrderPreference = "None";

Now you can verify that these scripts are working. Open new terminal and try

sudo /Library/StartupItems/Oracle/Oracle stop

to stop the database and

sudo /Library/StartupItems/Oracle/Oracle start

to start again the database. And later you can reboot your computer also to verify that Oracle database will be started automatically.

Hide oracle user from login window

After computer reboot you probably noticed that now you got oracle user in initial login window. To get rid of it execute this from terminal:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow HiddenUsersList -array-add oracle
What next?

Now when you have Oracle database installed you would need some development tools that you could use to access the database. Here are some links:

Please comment if you find any issues with Oracle Database 10g installation using this tutorial.

Categories: Development

ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter also on JRuby and Ruby 1.9

Sun, 2009-03-22 17:00

So far if you wanted to use Ruby on Rails on Oracle database you needed to use different adapters depending on the Ruby platform that you wanted to use. If you used original MRI (Matz Ruby interpreter) 1.8.6 then hopefully you were using Oracle enhanced adapter. But if you wanted to use JRuby then you needed to use JDBC adapter that is maintained by JRuby team (and which sometimes might work differently than Oracle enhanced adapter). And if you wanted to use new Ruby 1.9.1 then you were out of luck as no adapter supported it.

Therefore I wanted to announce great news that ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter 1.2.0 is released and it supports all three major Ruby platforms!

  • Use Oracle enhanced adapter on MRI 1.8.6 with ruby-oci8 1.0.x library or gem
  • Use Oracle enhanced adapter on JRuby (so far tested with 1.1.6) with JDBC Oracle driver
  • Use Oracle enhanced adapter on Ruby/YARV 1.9.1 with ruby-oci8 2.0 library or gem

This provides you with much more flexibility to develop on one Ruby platform but deploy on another and on all three platforms you can use the same additional functionality that Oracle enhanced adapter provides on top of standard ActiveRecord functionality.

And during testing of Oracle enhanced adapter on all platforms additional milestone was achieved – Oracle enhanced adapter passes 100% ActiveRecord unit tests! But to be honest I need to tell that I needed to patch quite many unit tests for Oracle specifics as not all SQL that runs on MySQL is also valid on Oracle. I published my patched branch of ActiveRecord unit tests at my GitHub fork of Rails – you can clone the repository and verify by yourself.

So please try out new version of Oracle enhanced adapter on any Ruby platform:

gem install activerecord-oracle_enahnced-adapter

If you have any questions please use discussion group or post comments here. In nearest future I will also add more instructions how to install Oracle enhanced adapter on JRuby and Ruby 1.9.1 at GitHub wiki page.

Categories: Development

More information sources on ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter

Fri, 2009-01-02 16:00

I’m glad to see that there are many users of ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter and therefore comments in this blog is not anymore the best way how to communicate with Oracle enhanced adapter users. Therefore I created several other information exchange places which I hope will be more effective.

The latest addition is wiki pages on GitHub where I put usage description and examples as well as some troubleshooting hints that previously were scattered in README file and different blog posts. This is the first place where to look for information about Oracle enhanced adapter. And if you are GitHub user then you can correct mistakes or add additional content also by yourself.

If you have some question or you would like to discuss some feature then you can use Google discussion group. I will use this discussion group also for new release announcements as well so subscribe to it if you would like to get Oracle enhanced adapter news.

If you would like to report some bug or new feature (and patch would be greatly appreciated) then please use Lighthouse issue tracker.

And source code of Oracle enhanced adapter is still located in Github repository. If you are GitHub user then you can watch it or even fork it and experiment with some new features.

And BTW I just released Oracle enhanced adapter version 1.1.9 with some new features and it has been also tested with latest Rails 2.2 release.

Categories: Development

NTLM Windows domain authentication for Rails application

Mon, 2008-12-01 16:00

RailsPlusWindows.pngIn one “enterprise” Ruby on Rails project we had an idea to integrate Windows domain user authentication with Rails application — as majority of users were using Windows and Internet Explorer and always were logged in Windows domain then it would be very good if they could log in automatically to the new Rails application without entering their username and password.

Windows is using NTLM protocol to provide such functionality — basically it uses additional HTTP headers to negotiate authentication information between web server and browser. It is tightly integrated into Microsoft Internet Information Server and if you live in pure Windows world then implementation of NTLM authentication is just a checkbox in IIS.

But if you are using Ruby on Rails with Apache web server in front of it and running everything on Linux or other Unix then this is not so simple. Therefore I wanted to share my solution how I solved this problem.

mod_ntlm Apache module installation

The first step is that we need NTLM protocol support for Apache web server so that it could handle Windows domain user authentication with web browser.

The first thing I found was mod_ntlm, but unfortunately this project is inactive for many years and do not have support for Apache 2.2 that I am using.

The other option I found was mod_auth_ntlm_winbind from Samba project but this solution requires Samba’s winbind daemon on the same server which makes the whole configuration more complex and therefore I was not eager to do that.

Then finally I found that someone has patched mod_ntlm to work with Apache 2.2 and this looked promising. I took this version of mod_ntlm but in addition I needed to make some additional patches to it and as a result I published my final mod_ntlm version in my GitHub repository.

If you would like to install mod_ntlm module on Linux then at first ensure that you have Apache 2.2 installed together with Apache development utilities (check that you have either apxs or apxs2 utility in your path). Then from the source directory of mod_ntlm (that you downloaded from my GitHub repository) do:

apxs -i -a -c mod_ntlm.c

If everything goes well then it should install mod_ntlm.so module in the directory where all other Apache modules is installed. It also tries to add module load directive in Apache configuration file httpd.conf but please check by yourself that you have

LoadModule ntlm_module ...directory.path.../mod_ntlm.so

line in your configuration file and directory path is the same as for other Apache modules. Try to restart Apache server to see if the module will be successfully loaded.

I also managed to install mod_ntlm on my Mac OS X Leopard so that I could later test NTLM authentication locally. Installation on Mac OS X was a little bit more tricky as I needed to compile 64-bit architecture module to be able to load it with preinstalled Apache:

sudo ln -s /usr/include/malloc/malloc.h /usr/include/malloc.h
sudo ln -s /usr/include/sys/statvfs.h /usr/include/sys/vfs.h
apxs -c -o mod_ntlm.so -Wc,"-shared -arch i386 -arch x86_64" -Wl,"-arch i386 -arch x86_64" mod_ntlm.c
sudo apxs -i -a -n 'ntlm' mod_ntlm.so

After this check /etc/apache2/httpd.conf file that it includes:

LoadModule ntlm_module        libexec/apache2/mod_ntlm.so

and try to restart Apache with

sudo apachectl -k restart
mod_ntlm Apache module configuration

The next thing is that you need to configure mod_ntlm. Put these configuration directories in the same place where you have your virtual host configuration directives related to your Rails application. Let’s assume that we have domain “domain.com” with domain controllers “dc01.domain.com” and “dc02.domain.com”. And let’s use /winlogin as a URL which will be used for Windows domain authentication.

RewriteEngine On
<Location /winlogin>
  AuthName "My Application"
  AuthType NTLM
  NTLMAuth on
  NTLMAuthoritative on
  NTLMDomain domain.com
  NTLMServer dc01.domain.com
  NTLMBackup dc02.domain.com
  require valid-user

mod_ntlm will set REMOTE_USER environment variable with authenticated Windows username. If we are using Mongrel servers cluster behind Apache web server then we need to add the following configuration lines to put REMOTE_USER in HTTP header X-Forwarded-User of forwarded request to Mongrel cluster.

RewriteCond %{LA-U:REMOTE_USER} (.+)
RewriteRule . - [E=RU:%1]
RequestHeader add X-Forwarded-User %{RU}e

Please remember to put all previous configuration lines before any other URL rewriting directives. In my case I have the following configuration lines which will forward all non-static requests to my Mongrel servers cluster (which in my case have HAproxy on port 3000 before them):

# Redirect all non-static requests to haproxy
RewriteRule ^/(.*)${REQUEST_URI} [L,P,QSA]
Rails sessions controller

Now the final part is to handle authenticated Windows users in Rails sessions controller. Here are examples how I am doing this.


map.winlogin 'winlogin', :controller => 'sessions', :action => 'create_from_windows_login'


def create_from_windows_login
  if !(login = forwarded_user)
    flash[:error] = "Browser did not provide Windows domain user name"
    user = nil
  elsif user = User.authenticated_by_windows_domain(login)
    # user has access rights to system
    flash[:error] = "User has no access rights to application"
  self.current_user = user
  if logged_in?
    # store that next time automatic login should be made
    cookies[:windows_domain] = {:value => 'true', :expires => Time.now + 1.month}
    # Because of IE NTLM strange behavior need to give 401 response with Javascript redirect
    @redirect_to = redirect_back_or_default_url(root_path)
    render :status => 401, :layout => 'redirect'
    render :action => 'new'
  def forwarded_user
    return nil unless x_forwarded_user = request.headers['X-Forwarded-User']
    users = x_forwarded_user.split(',')

User.authenticated_by_windows_domain is model method that either find existing or creates new user based on authenticated Windows username in parameter and checks that user has access rights. Private method forwarded_user extracts Windows username from HTTP header — in my case it always was formatted as “(null),username” therefore I needed to remove unnecessary “(null)” from it.

In addition I am storing browser cookie that user used Windows domain authentication — it means that next time we can forward this user directly to /winlogin instead of showing login page if user has this cookie. We cannot forward all users to /winlogin as then for all users browser will prompt for Windows username and password (and probably we are also using other authentication methods).

The last thing is that we need to do a little hack as a workaround for strange Internet Explorer behavior. If Internet Explorer has authenticated with some web server using NTLM protocol then IE will think that this web server will require NTLM authentication for all POST requests. And therefore it does “performance optimization” when doing POST requests to this web server — the first POST request from browser will have no POST data in it, just header with NTLM authentication message. In Rails application case we do not need these NTLM authentications for all POST requests as we are maintaining Rails session to identify logged in users. Therefore we are making this trick that after successful authentication we return HTTP 401 code which makes IE think that it is not authenticated anymore with this web server. But together with HTTP 401 code we return HTML page which forces client side redirect to home page either using JavaScript or


<% content_for :head do %>
  <script language="javascript">
      location.replace("<%= @redirect_to %>");
    <meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="0; URL=<%= @redirect_to %>" />
<% end %>
<%= link_to 'Redirecting...', @redirect_to %>

content_for :head is used to specify which additional content should be put in <header> part of layout.

As a result you now have basic Windows domain NTLM authentication working. Please let me know in comments if you have any issues with this solution or if you have other suggestions how to use Windows domain NTLM authentication in Rails applications.

Additional hints

NTLM authentication can be used also in Firefox. Enter about:config in location field and then search for network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris. There you can enter servers for which you would like to use automatic NTLM authentication.

Categories: Development

OpenWorld unconference presentation about Rails on Oracle

Thu, 2008-09-25 16:00

On last day of Oracle OpenWorld I did my unconference presentation – Using Ruby on Rails with legacy Oracle databases.

As I did not know if anyone will come to listen to it I was glad that six people attended (including Kuassi Mensah from Oracle who is helping to promote Ruby support inside Oracle). And on the previous day I also managed to show parts of my presentation to Rich and Anthony from Oracle AppsLab team.

I published my slides on Slideshare:

And I published my demo project on GitHub:


Thanks to all Oracle people who recognize my work on Ruby and Oracle integration and I hope that our common activities will increase number of Ruby and Rails projects on Oracle :)

Categories: Development

Some positive drag-and-drop experience

Tue, 2008-09-23 16:00

In the previous post I wrote that I didn’t quite like drag-and-drop development style in JDeveloper that I experienced during Oracle OpenWorld hands-on session.


Today I was in Oracle BI Answers & Dashboard hands-on session and during this session I was also drag-and-dropping to create reports, charts and business intelligence dashboards. But in this case I liked it as it seemed natural way how to create such reports.

The main difference why I liked it was that I got immediate feedback how the end report will look like – after each change I could immediately see and test real report with real data. And such immediate feedback is key prerequisite for interactive analytical reporting development.

In JDeveloper case I needed to compile and build everything and restart local application server after each change to see real results from any change – and it took at least 10 seconds for just sample “hello world” application. I assume that this lag will be even longer in larger real projects. Probably it is not so long time but when you compare it to 1 second feedback time then anything larger seems long.

I also visited Oracle demo grounds where I discussed my concerns regarding JDeveloper drag-and-drop development style. At the end we reached common understanding that JDeveloper and ADF framework is really good for former Oracle Forms developers who do not want to learn HTML, CSS and Javascript and auto-generated applications could be quite OK for internal enterprise applications. But if you want to build advanced web applications you still need to learn and be expert in these web technologies (HTML, CSS and Javascript).

Categories: Development

Coding or drag-and-dropping?

Sun, 2008-09-21 16:00

Today was my first day at Oracle OpenWorld and here are my first impressions from the sessions I attended.

The first one was Building Web 2.0 Social Applications in Ruby on Rails with BEA AquaLogic Interaction by Chris Bucchere where he explained how they built social application for BEA conference participants. And it was interesting to see also some code examples from this application that he presented.


And then after that I participated in three Oracle Develop hands-on sessions about Oracle SOA suite and WebCenter. I signed up for these sessions because I thought that they will be more technical and code-intensive compared to other sessions.

As a result I spent three hours in Oracle JDeveloper but all I was doing was dragging-and-dropping and filling some pop-up dialog boxes. I did not write single line of Java code during these workshops. And as a result I had just vague idea why all the dragged components worked together.

Having experience of coding in Ruby and trying to create small and beautiful code this drag-and-drop development did not feel quite natural for me. And I am afraid that this drag-and-drop development approach will create bunch of developers who will not be able to create real code anymore.

The other consequences of this drag-and-drop style coding is that it is hard to version control the resulting generated code and it is also much harder to unit test such generated code. Probably this is the reason why I could not find any OpenWorld session about unit testing and test-driven development.

Am I missing some hidden beauty of drag-and-drop development? Or am I spoiled with beauty of Ruby?

Categories: Development

Oracle enhanced adapter presentation at RejectConf in Berlin

Fri, 2008-09-05 16:00

I just returned from RailsConf Europe in Berlin and attended a lot of good Ruby and Rails related sessions.

I also tried to submit there my session proposal about using Rails with Oracle but as there were too many good proposals and as my topic was with too narrow topic then it was not accepted. Therefore I used opportunity to give 5 minutes presentation about Oracle enhanced adapter in RejectConf where anybody could present anything.

Here are my slides that I used in this presentation. And at least one participant was interested in this topics as he uses Rails and Oracle and did not know about my adapter.

My next public appearance is planned at Oracle OpenWorld unconference where I have recerved time slot on Thursday, September 25th at 10am. Please come there if you are attending Oracle OpenWorld and are interested in how to use Ruby on Rails with your legacy Oracle databases.

Categories: Development

Latest additions to Oracle enhanced adapter

Sat, 2008-07-26 16:00

Short information about latest enhancements in ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter:

  • Oracle enhanced adapter is now compatible with composite_primary_keys gem which is quite useful if you are working with legacy databases.
  • Adapter now is also working correctly with Rails 2.1 partial_updates enabled. Previously I mentioned that you needed to disable partial_updates when using CLOB/BLOB columns. Now the issue is found and fixed and partial_updates are working with CLOB/BLOB columns.
  • Support for other date and time formats when assigning string to :date or :datetime column. For example, if you would like to assign strings with format dd.mm.yyyy to date and datetime columns then add the following configuration options:
    ActiveRecord::ConnectionAdapters::OracleEnhancedAdapter.string_to_date_format = "%d.%m.%Y"
    ActiveRecord::ConnectionAdapters::OracleEnhancedAdapter.string_to_time_format = "%d.%m.%Y %H:%M:%S"

To get the new release of Oracle enhanced adapter do as always:

sudo gem install activerecord-oracle_enhanced-adapter
Categories: Development

Screencast of Oracle E-Business Suite setup management tool

Thu, 2008-07-24 16:00

URRA.pngWarning: this post will be unrelatead to Ruby :)

For many years our company is using tool for Oracle E-Business Suite setup management that we initially built for our own purposes but now also we are offering to other Oracle partners and customers.

As I was bored to do demonstrations of it over and over again I finally decided to create a screencast of this tool (it’s 22 MB large). And I think that my first experiment in screencasting is not too bad :)

Previously screencasting was quite hard stuff as there was not so many good tools for that. In this case I used ScreenFlow tool which was released this year (and is available just on Mac OS X Leopard) and I have to say that it is much more better and easier compared to any other tools that I have seen earlier. So I am strongly recommending it to others who are interested in screencasting.

Categories: Development

Custom ActiveRecord create, add and delete methods for legacy databases

Wed, 2008-07-09 16:00

In some Ruby on Rails projects I am putting ActiveRecord interface on top of existing legacy databases. It is quite easy to specify legacy table names and primary keys in ActiveRecord models so that ActiveRecord would generate correct SQL SELECT statements to read data from legacy databases.

But it is more difficult to insert, update and delete in legacy databases using ActiveRecord. When using Oracle legacy databases then quite often they have exposed PL/SQL APIs for writing to tables and you are typically not allowed to directly modify tables with INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE statements.

Therefore I created support for custom create, update and delete methods in the version 1.1.3 of ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter which uses also my ruby-plsql gem.

Let’s look at the following example. Assume that we have the following table:

CREATE TABLE test_employees (
  employee_id   NUMBER(6,0),
  first_name    VARCHAR2(20),
  last_name     VARCHAR2(25),
  hire_date     DATE,
  salary        NUMBER(8,2),
  version       NUMBER(15,0),
  create_time   DATE,
  update_time   DATE

And we have the following PL/SQL API package that should be used to write to this table:

  PROCEDURE create_employee(
      p_first_name    VARCHAR2,
      p_last_name     VARCHAR2,
      p_hire_date     DATE,
      p_salary        NUMBER,
      p_employee_id   OUT NUMBER);
  PROCEDURE update_employee(
      p_employee_id   NUMBER,
      p_first_name    VARCHAR2,
      p_last_name     VARCHAR2,
      p_hire_date     DATE,
      p_salary        NUMBER);
  PROCEDURE delete_employee(
      p_employee_id   NUMBER);

Then we define ActiveRecord model in the following way:

class TestEmployee < ActiveRecord::Base
  set_primary_key :employee_id
  # should return ID of new record
  set_create_method do
      :p_first_name => first_name,
      :p_last_name => last_name,
      :p_hire_date => hire_date,
      :p_salary => salary,
      :p_employee_id => nil
  # return value is ignored
  set_update_method do
      :p_employee_id => id,
      :p_first_name => first_name,
      :p_last_name => last_name,
      :p_hire_date => hire_date,
      :p_salary => salary
  # return value is ignored
  set_delete_method do
      :p_employee_id => id

And as a result we can use this model in the same way as other ActiveRecord models:

@employee = TestEmployee.create(
  :first_name => "First",
  :last_name => "Last",
  :hire_date => Date.today
@employee.first_name = "Second"

And all writing to the database will be done using defined API procedures.

Currently this functionality is embedded into Oracle enhanced adapter but if somebody needs it also for other databases this functionality could easily be extraced from the adapter.

To get the new release of Oracle enhanced adapter just do:

sudo gem install activerecord-oracle_enhanced-adapter

Source code of Oracle enhanced adapter is located at GitHub and you can submit bug reports and enhancement requests in Lighthouse.

Categories: Development

Vote for my session proposal at Oracle OpenWorld

Mon, 2008-07-07 16:00

oow.pngIf you still have not voted for my session proposal “Using Ruby on Rails with Oracle E-Business Suite” then please do so :) Voting deadline is near – July 13th.

In any case I am going to be at Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco in September. So if some of my blog readers will also be there and would like to have some chat with me about Oracle and Ruby then please let me know.

Categories: Development

ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter version 1.1.1 released

Fri, 2008-06-27 16:00

I just released new version of ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter which includes several new enhancements which could be useful if you use ActiveRecord with legacy Oracle databases:

  • Added ignore_table_columns option for class definitions
    You can specify which table (or view) columns should be ignored by ActiveRecord – these could be either columns which you do not need in Rails application or which have currently unsupported data types. For example:
    class Employee < ActiveRecord::Base
      ignore_table_columns  :phone_number, :hire_date
  • Added support for TIMESTAMP columns
    You can create tables with :timestamp data type which will create TIMESTAMP columns and you can access values from TIMESTAMP columns. Unfortunately due to current ruby-oci8 limitations when you will retrieve TIMESTAMP values it will be without fractional seconds (but if you pass Time value with fractional seconds then it will be stored in database).
  • NLS_DATE_FORMAT and NLS_TIMESTAMP_FORMAT independent DATE and TIMESTAMP columns support
    By default Oracle adapter (and enhanced adapter as well) changes NLS_DATE_FORMAT and NLS_TIMESTAMP_FORMAT to ‘DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS’. But if you are working with some legacy database which requires different NLS date settings then now you can change these settings to different ones. You can put in some initialization file some other NLS settings, e.g.:
    ActiveRecord::Base.connection.execute %q{alter session set nls_date_format = 'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS'}
    ActiveRecord::Base.connection.execute %q{alter session set nls_timestamp_format = 'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS'}

    and ActiveRecord will continue to work correctly with date values.

Also one Rails 2.1 related issue was solved. Previously Oracle enhanced adapter always added after_save callback to ActiveRecord session store which stores BLOB data in the database (as in Rails 2.0 there was issue that this callback was not added). Now in Rails 2.1 this callback is added by ActiveRecord therefore Oracle enhanced adapter checks if this callback is already added or not. So now this should work correctly both in Rails 2.0 and Rails 2.1.

Also I have noticed that in some Rails 2.1 applications Oracle adapter is failing on ActiveRecord session store updates when partial updates are enabled. If you also have such issue then put this into your initialization file which will work as workaround until I will find what is causing this problem:

CGI::Session::ActiveRecordStore::Session.partial_updates = false

To get the new release just do:

sudo gem install activerecord-oracle_enhanced-adapter

Source code of Oracle enhanced adapter is located at GitHub. And you can submit bug reports and enhancement requests in Lighthouse. There you can see also some identified enhancements – please add comments to them if you also would like to have them. Then it will be easier for me to select what to include in next version of adapter.

Categories: Development

ruby-plsql gem now supports JRuby and Oracle JDBC driver

Wed, 2008-06-25 16:00

Some time ago I created ruby-plsql gem which provides simple Ruby API for Oracle PL/SQL stored procedures.

Initially this gem supported just MRI with ruby-oci8 library which provides connectivity to Oracle database as this was my main development and production environment for Ruby & Oracle applications. But as JRuby is fast growing alternative Ruby deployment platform and as it can be integrated into Oracle Fusion middleware platform (e.g. Oracle Mix is running on JRuby on Oracle Fusion middleware) then I planned to support JRuby as well.

I started to work on JRuby support during RailsConf JRuby hackfest and initially this did not seem very hard task for me. But as I did not know JDBC very well it took me much more time than initially planned. And unfortunately JDBC is also much less powerful compared to ruby-oci8 library for construction of dynamic PL/SQL calls. In addition I needed to strugle with Ruby and JDBC data type mappings which differs from Ruby and ruby-oci8 data type mappings.

But finally I have completed JRuby support and released ruby-plsql gem version 0.2.0. And good news are that from usage perspective ruby-plsql behaves identically on MRI and JRuby – at least my RSpec tests are telling so.

To install this gem on JRuby execute

sudo jruby -S gem install ruby-plsql


sudo jgem install ruby-plsql

depending on how you have installed JRuby on your computer.

Source code of ruby-plsql is located on GitHub where you can find usage examples in RSpec tests.

Categories: Development

Using mod_rails with Rails applications on Oracle

Tue, 2008-05-20 16:00

As many others I also got interested in new mod_rails deployment solution for Rails applications. And when I read how to use it for development environment needs I decided to try it out.

As you probably know I am using Mac for development and using Oracle database for many Rails applications. So if you do it as well then at first you need to setup Ruby and Oracle on your Mac.

After that I installed and did setup of mod_rails according to these instructions and these additional notes.

One additional thing that I had to do was to change the user which will be used to run Apache httpd server as otherwise default www user did not see my Rails applications directories. You should do it in /etc/apache2/httpd.conf:

User yourusername
Group yourusername

And then I started to fight with the issue that ruby which was started from mod_rails could not load ruby-oci8 library as it could not find Oracle Instant Client shared library. And the reason for that was that mod_rails launched ruby with very minimal list of environment variables. E.g. as DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable was not specified then ruby-oci8 could not find Oracle Instant Client libraries.

The issue is that there is no documented way how to pass necessary environment variables to mod_rails. Unfortunately mod_rails is ignoring SetEnv settings from Apache httpd.conf file. Therefore I needed to find some workaround for the issue and finally I did the following solution.

I created executable script file /usr/local/bin/ruby_with_env:

export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH="/usr/local/oracle/instantclient_10_2:$DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH"
export TNS_ADMIN="/usr/local/oracle/network/admin"
/usr/bin/ruby $*

and then in Apache httpd.conf file I changed RailsRuby line to

RailsRuby /usr/local/bin/ruby_with_env

As a result in this way I was able to specify necessary environment variables before Ruby and Rails was started and after this change ruby-oci8 libraries were successfully loaded.

You can use this solution also on Linux hosts where you will deploy Rails applications in production.

Currently I still have issue with mod_rails that it fails to execute RMagick library methods (which is compiled with ImageMagick). I get strange errors in Apache error_log:

The process has forked and you cannot use this CoreFoundation functionality safely. You MUST exec().
[error] [client ::1] Premature end of script headers:

When I was running the same application with Mongrel then everything was running correctly. If anyone has any ideas what could be the reason please write some comment.

Categories: Development

ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter

Mon, 2008-05-12 16:00

In all Ruby on Rails on Oracle projects where I am using original ActiveRecord Oracle adapter I always create some “monkey patches” of Oracle adapter to support my needs. I have written about several of these patches in this blog (see 1, 2, 3).

As such monkey patches are not easily maintainable and reusable between projects I decided to fork existing Oracle adapter and create my own ActiveRecord Oracle “enhanced” adapter where I will add all my enhancements.

Today I released first version (1.1.0) of Oracle enhanced adapter on RubyForge as well as source code is available at GitHub.

To install Oracle enhanced adapter execute (should be available soon):

sudo gem install activerecord-oracle_enhanced-adapter

To use it you need to use “oracle_enhanced” as the adapter name in database.yml configuration file instead of “oracle”. In addition I recommend to create config/initializers/oracle_enhanced.rb file where to put any adapter configuration options that you can see below.

Initial version contains the following enhancements:

  • Improved perfomance of schema dump methods when used on large data dictionaries
  • Added LOB writing callback for sessions stored in database (see previous post)
  • Added emulate_dates_by_column_name option
    Set the option below and as a result columns with DATE in their name will be emulated as Date (and not as Time which is default for DATE columns in database)
    ActiveRecord::ConnectionAdapters::OracleEnhancedAdapter.emulate_dates_by_column_name = true
  • Added emulate_integers_by_column_name option
    Set the option below and as a result number columns with ID at the end of column always will be emulated as Fixnum (useful if in legacy database column type is specified just as NUMBER without precision information which by default is mapped to BigDecimal Ruby type)
    ActiveRecord::ConnectionAdapters::OracleEnhancedAdapter.emulate_integers_by_column_name = true
  • Added emulate_booleans_from_strings option
    Set the option below and as a result CHAR, VARCHAR2 columns or VARCHAR2 columns with FLAG or YN at the end of their name will be emulated as booleans (and “Y” and “N” will be used to store true and false values). This is useful for legacy databases where Rails default convention of NUMBER for boolean values cannot be used (e.g. if you are using Oracle E-Business Suite where booleans are stored as “Y” and “N”).
    ActiveRecord::ConnectionAdapters::OracleEnhancedAdapter.emulate_booleans_from_strings = true

If you need to override how date, integer or boolean columns are identified then you can redefine class methods is_date_column?, is_integer_column? and is_boolean_column? definitions in OracleEnhancedAdapter class.

Please comment if you find these enhancements useful in your projects and also what other Oracle adapter enhancements you need in your Ruby on Rails on Oracle projects.

Categories: Development

Session proposal for OOW - Using Ruby on Rails with Oracle E-Business Suite

Sat, 2008-05-03 16:00

OOW_submit_session.pngmix.oracle.com team created opportunity to suggest and vote for sessions at Oracle OpenWorld conference. Therefore I will also try this opportunity and will suggest topic which is covered by many posts in this blog – I proposed session Using Ruby on Rails with Oracle E-Business Suite.

So if you would like me to present this topic in Oracle OpenWorld conference then please go to mix.oracle.com and vote for it!

Categories: Development