Getting Started with Oracle


Let’s assume you want to get started with Oracle. Maybe your employer is switching to Oracle, maybe you just want a career change. Where do you go to get started?

There’s no need to feel lost.

Getting the Database

You can get a hold of the Oracle database in two main ways – a VM or installing it yourself. Using a VM is definitely the easiest way to get started. Oracle have provided a Oracle VM VirtualBox image that you can install. If you’re not familiar with VirtualBox, that’s okay; Oracle has set up instructions that will get you up and running quickly.

What if you want to install Oracle yourself?

You can get started with Oracle Express Edition. Hit that link and scroll all the way to the bottom. You can download Oracle Express Edition 11g Release 2. 11gR2 is the previous release of Oracle but it’s good for learning basic Oracle concepts and you’ll find a lot people are happily running Oracle 11gR2 in production.

If you want to be on the latest and greatest version of Oracle, you’ll need to download a full edition of Oracle. Even though there’s no Developer Edition of Oracle, there are five editions available to choose from. Personal Edition contains most of the features of Oracle Enterprise Edition and can be purchased from the Oracle store. If you want practice with complex DBA tasks, you’ll want to use Enterprise Edition. Otherwise, Personal Edition is the right choice.

You can also download and install the binaries directly from the Oracle database download page and run a full copy of Oracle while you evaluate the software. To the best of my knowledge, it’s only servers that are part of the development-production cycle that need to be fully licensed.

If you’re even lazier, you can spin up an instance of Oracle in one of many different clouds. Both Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services have a variety of different Oracle database configurations available for you to choose from.

Finding Exercises

Some people are self-directed, others prefer guided learning. I find that I’m in the second camp until I develop some skills. If you need to get started quickly, guided labs are a great way to ramp up your skills.

Oracle has created a huge amount of content about the Oracle database. The Oracle Documentation Library is the Oracle equivalent of TechNet. In addition to product documentation, ODL contains several courses – the 2 Day DBA is a good place to get started. From there you can head off into various tuning or development courses or even explore on your own.

Wrapping Up

It’s easy to get started with Oracle. You can either:

Once you’re set up, training is available through the Two Day DBA course, but there’s a wealth of information in the Oracle Documentation Library. A summary of training options is also available through the Oracle Learning Library.

Previous Post
The Very First Concern with SQL Virtualization: Licensing
Next Post
Is Azure Really 60% Faster?

10 Comments. Leave new

  • For SQL Server people dipping their toes into Oracle for the first time, you’re in for one of the rudest shocks of your life.

    I work solely with SQL Server but have had the pleasure of being seated next to some Oracle DBAs the past few months (and going forward). All day they’re in black and white terminal screens, everything they do generates pages of text to read through, and then there’s the *nix and RMAN scripting. It’s not like a one-liner T-SQL BACKUP.

    And the documentation. Oh, the documentation. It’s… just… so obtuse. It requires a very special mindset to parse through. Compatibility of components is a huge issue and massively complex, it’s not like where you just install SQL Server on a box and can assume it’s now supported. Everything has to be just right.

    I’ve never been so glad to be an SQL Server DBA.

    Of course in compensation Oracle pays more and the jobs are easier to find (at least in my city). Also the support is significant. I’ve never logged a support ticket with Microsoft, nor do I know anyone who has, and despite being part of a Gold partner we have no idea how it even works.

    But Oracle? You get access to their website, you put a number against your account, and off you go! Within a few hours you’ll get a reply from Oracle, and within a few days of back and forth every few hours you get a solution. They’ll even hold your hand through diagnosing complex execution plans, it’s pretty amazing.

    • Anymore, there are great tools like Toad for Oracle and Oracle’s SQL Developer to take away some of the “pain” of using the terminal.

      Over time, the terminal really paid off for me – I have written a few scripts to help me parse output, find problems, and call them out quickly. Instead of, you know… scrolling through a grid.

      I also find the Oracle docs to be cleared than SQL Server’s, especially when it comes to prescriptive guidance. Maybe that comes from years of reading *nix documentation, or maybe it just comes from my frustration with Microsoft refusing to say how we’re actually supposed to set up SQL Server.

      I will say, though, thanks for sharing your experiences with Oracle.

  • Thanks Jeremiah for the articles on Oracle.

    I think Oracle is awesome. I find the AWR and its related functions extremely helpful. Takes away the requirement for 3rd party tools for monitoring, alerting and reporting.

    Its slighly cumbersome for people who have used SQL for a while. I think tis nix part of Oracle that sometimes slightly scary, but at a RDBMS lots of the features and functions are comparable with SQL.

    One thing i find lacking (havent found one atleast) is site like, sqlperformance for Oracle, There are some sites, but their experts, presentation and contents does not met this site. Super work :).

    Thanks a lot.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Anand. My goal is to build up a set of helpful, accessible, content for Oracle, just like we have for SQL Server.

      There’s a lot of highly detailed Oracle content on the web, but a lot of it is at an expert level and it assumes so much. Thank you for the encouragement.

  • Thank you Jeremiah for coming up with this article. It is more common these daya to have 2 or more Database systems coexists. Also recently been tasked with learning oracle, will look forward to more articles. Currently using the TOAD tool which is making my life a bit easier with respect to learning the basics.
    Thank you

  • Gopalakrishnan Arthanarisamy
    September 23, 2014 10:59 pm

    Jeremiah, expecting more articles on Oracle from you and Thank you for starting this series.


  • Hey guys,
    here an oracle nerd smiling while reading people complaining about Oracle documentation.
    Guys, have you ever tried to work with postgresql documentation or even tried to find the slightest usefull piece of information about postgresql ?
    Since I’ve been involved in migration from oracle to postgresql, i can testify : Postgresql documentation is a true nightmare. Well basically, opensource is the nightmare 🙂

  • Jeremiah please keep the Oracle articles rolling, they are great for SQL Server DBAs trying to learn enough Oracle to support (such as myself :-)) They are well written and easy to follow.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.