Experience the Possibilities with Oracle 10g Express Edition

There are plenty of companies that produce large, expensive database programs with lots of features. But if you’re a small company, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a database that suits your needs; in fact, you may not need to spend any money at all. This article introduces you to Oracle 10g XE, a free database with a friendly user interface.

Introduction

Why pay, if you can get it free? If you are not an enterprise, but a smallish outfit, a free database is all you need. You get free databases from all the big vendors, yes, that includes IBM, Oracle, Sybase and of course, Microsoft. Many of these databases include the keyword ”express” in their names, which means do not wait, go get them and experience the freedom of free databases.

This article is about Oracle’s latest free database, the Oracle 10g Express Edition, abbreviated as Oracle XE. I tried to install 10g once, the full version, and everything came to a standstill on my poor 800 MHz machine with 256 Mb memory. Oracle 10g XE is cool, and you may download it from the link I included above. The executable installation program is about 162 MB; most of the express editions are indeed small and can be installed on a Windows OS. Some of them even work on Windows XP Home.

Installation of Oracle 10g Express

You click on the executable and you will see the following welcome screen. The InstallShield wizard takes you through the steps which this tutorial also follows.

In this step you will choose a destination directory for the Express Edition files. The wizard will choose one for you, and should you disagree, you may choose one for yourself. The default is accepted for this tutorial.

This is an important step; take down notes as you type in your password. The password is for System and Sys. This is what you will be using for logging in the first time you use it. At this step, use Username: system and password: whatever password you choose.

Presto! Can it be any easier than this? You are ready to move on because the screen after this one says it’s done.

 

This next screen shows the Oracle XE  related items in the Services folder, which may be accessed by going through the trail Start –>Control Panel –>Administrative Tools –>Services.

This next screen shows the path to the executable on your local machine. This pops up when you right click OracleServiceXE in the Services screen.

Now the next screen shows how your folder structure looks after the installation. The list view on the right shows the expanded view of the folder oradata.

{mospagebreak title=Starting and stopping the database}

As you can see from a previous picture which shows the Windows services, Oracle XE starts automatically when the Window OS starts. You can also start, stop, and pause the server from the services screen.

When XE is installed, several shortcuts are also added to All Programs (in Windows XP Professional) as shown in the next picture. What you would be doing normally is start and stop from the shortcut. When you click on the Go to Database Home Page… shortcut, you will encounter the login screen shown in the next section.

Logging on as System

In the beginning you will be logging on as SYSTEM using the password that you chose in an earlier step. I hope you did save the password. Enter the credentials now. Note that there are a number of useful links which will enlarge your view of XE as well as allow you to participate in forums where you can pose your questions.

Now with these credentials entered you will get to the next screen, which shows you a pretty neat, tidy and well organized UI. Now there are four main areas that you should know about. These are Administration, SQL, Object Browser, and Utilities. Each of these is a node with several child nodes which you will access. 

Clicking on the Administration Icon on the down arrow marked 2 pops up other menu drop-downs from which you may access the particular drop-down menu. This interface is very convenient for accessing the specific area in which you are interested. You don’t have the Microsoft Menu style, but still this is as good as the menu system you may be very familiar with from other software.

On the other hand, if you click on the icon at the position marked 1, you will find the following screen.

The Object Browser gives you access to all the database objects, such as tables, views, functions, and so on as shown in the next picture.

The SQL icon gives you access to the SQL Commands, SQL Scripts, and the Query Builder.

Of course, you cannot do without utilities, and this next screen gives access to the various utilities.

{mospagebreak title=Using the sample database}

Oracle 10g XE comes with a sample database called HR which stands for human resources. However, this database is locked when installed. You need to unlock it before you can use it. Click on Administration, then click on the HR icon. The first click opens the following screen.

The second click on the HR icon opens the screen as shown here. Enter hr for both username and password and make sure the unlocked choice is showing on this screen for Account Status. Make sure that both Connect and Resource are checked for the “Roles” before you click on the Alter User button which makes the requested changes to the User. Now you are rocking! You will be able to access the HR database.

{mospagebreak title=Getting used to tables in hr}

Click on the Object Browser icon after logging in with hr, hr credentials. You will see the following in the default view. On the left you see the various objects with the Tables as the default. Clicking on the drop-down arrow you may access other objects. In this window you may also start creating various objects by clicking on the Create button. In the search box just below the Tables drop-down you may also search for table objects by entering a single letter.

You can look at all the existing tables by clicking on the table name, say Departments, which fills the table design information on the right pane as shown here.

Summary

The tutorial introduces the readers to Oracle XE. The user interface is very user friendly, colorful, and well documented. The tutorial describes how to get authenticated as a user and access the various resources. The object browser which is the window to the objects is described. Future tutorials will focus on hands-on guidance to the use of objects, SQL, and application development using this interface.

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