Back to the future (Oracle 4.1 VM appliance)

Marco Gralike 20

We had some nice KC-DBA (expertise meetings) meetings in 2005. One of them was about virtual machines (VMware basically). To show how you could use virtual machine technology to implement an environment which would be almost undoable nowadays to realize, a virtual machine environment was demonstrated with Oracle 4.1 installed based on MSDOS 6.22. Thanks to Carel Jan Engel (one the infamous oaktable guys) – i was able to build a default Oracle 4.1 database environment with all the goodies like the UFI (the user friendly interface).

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We had some nice KC-DBA (expertise meetings) meetings in 2005. One of them was about virtual machines (VMware basically). To show how you could use virtual machine technology to implement an environment which would be almost undoable nowadays to realize, a virtual machine environment was demonstrated with Oracle 4.1 installed based on DOS. Thanks to Carel Jan Engel (one the infamous oaktable guys) –  i was able to build a default Oracle 4.1 database environment with all the goodies like the UFI (the user friendly interface).

The old DOS disks where recovered from some boxes on my attic, so with some extra effort, the installation wasn’t so difficult (i still remembered how to do the ansi.sys, autoexec.bat and config.sys upper and lower memory stuff ) All in all it was good fun.  πŸ™‚



Strange enough you need(ed) the first oracle floppy in the floppy disk to start the database. I can not remember this from my Oracle 6 days.

Is there anyone who still has the Oracle 4.1 documentation? If so please send it so i could add it to this post for sharing purposes. If you want me to test some stuff on the Oracle 4.1 environment then please send me your SQL statements.



AD Comment 2:

I could have waited on this πŸ˜‰

I don’t have the doc’s but some collegaes helped me on my way last year – plus i have some oracle 6 experience, which helps. Here a VMware recording to help you on your path regarding start, stop, etc. Download the following AVI (Oracle – Login via UFI.avi). You will need a codec from VMware to see it – that is if you haven’t installed VMware workstation (The VMware workstation software package contains a build-in movie recorder and will install the VMware codec during its installation process. You can download de VMware codec here: VMware movie decoder)

AD Comment 4:

Toon send me some pictures. So now we know what we are looking for  πŸ˜‰

The books:

Oracle 4.1 Documentation (3 volumes) 

 The contents:

Oracle 4.1 contents plus floppies 

AD Comment 12:

I don’t have Oracle 6 and Forms 3 on a VMware machine yet, but a sub-select on Oracle 4 looks like this πŸ˜‰

sub-select on Oracle 4.1

AD comment 14:

The software does not understand the create database link statement, but maybe thats not the correct statement. I also installed the "help" function, or enabled the help function by filling the "help" table…but there is no reference (as far as i could find) to "database link".

A small part of the help.ufi SQL-script

In Oracle 4.1 there isn’t a "system.users" table yet.

The table was called sysuserauth,  quering this you get the following output:

"system.users" table

describing the table:

describing the sysuserauth table

The connectauth, dbaauth, resourceauth columns reference, if the user was granted the connect, resource or dba role (small guess).


About Post Author

Marco Gralike

Marco Gralike, working for AMIS Services BV as a Principal Oracle Database Consultant in the Netherlands, has experience as a DBA since 1994 (Oracle 6). Marco is also eager and skillful in other fields, like Operating System Administration and Application Servers, mainly to find working, performing solutions. Marco has been specializing in Oracle XMLDB, since 2003, focusing on his old love, database administration and performance.He is an Oracle XMLDB enthusiast ever since. He is also a dedicated contributor of the Oracle User Group community, helping people with their steep XMLDB learning curve. To this purpose, Marco also devoted his personal blog site to XMLDB and other Oracle issues. Marco is a member of the OakTable network and an Oracle ACE Director (specialization Oracle XMLDB).
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20 thoughts on “Back to the future (Oracle 4.1 VM appliance)

  1. Hi all,
    I’m interested in a MS-DOS vmware appliance to install some old software other than Oracle.
    Do you have a link to download such file?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hello, I was sent this link from a fellow member on the Oracle-L list. Basically, I misplaced/tossed my DOS PC Versions of Oracle 4, 5, and 6 (in this version I still have 12 utils/sql/etc disks but not the actual database disks). I would like to get them back if someone has them. This is just for personal use. I know I can download a free and more recent version but I enjoyed working with the earlier versions.
    These screenshots bring back memories. So if anyone can help, you may email me directly (, thanks.

  3. I mentioned subqueries because I read the following in Dave Ensor’s chaptor in “Oracle Insights – Tales Of The Oak Table”:

    “Oracle’s SQL implementation has moved on a great deal since, but the key step in Version 5 was the implementation of subqueries, which were simply not recognised by the Version 4 parser.”

    Also mentioned as new features in Version 5 are database links and encrypted passwords. It might be interesting to query SYSTEM.USERS.

  4. Thank you Marco, for your cooperation on this matter. Due to the
    possible presence of third-party software (which you may not have
    the right to redistribute), it simply is the safest course to simply share
    your experiences, but not the software itself.

    By the way, subqueries were implemented in Version 2 (1981) of Oracle.
    The correlated subquery format came later …

  5. This blog entry has changed its contents on kind request by Ken Jacobs. The reason is that it would endanger a project, that i as oracle database enthousiast, would never ever would or want to jeopardize.

  6. Is it true that subqueries were a new feature in Oracle 5? It’s be nice to see a screenshot of one not being recognised in v4.

    I’d also be interested if anyone could resurrect a v6 database or Forms 3 and see whether the mythical Implicit Cursor Second Fetch thing ever had any truth in it.

  7. The login.ufi is the same as nowadays login.sql. It’s in the demo directory. If you CD \ORACLE\DEMO first and then start UFI, you won’t get the warningmessage.

  8. A few things I found out. 15 years with Oracle, but started with V6….

    * Boot VM
    * Optionally, for supporting Swiss Keyboard, edit AUTOEXEC.BAT
    o Add a line “KEYB SG”
    o Reboot VM
    * Connect floppy drive by double-clicking on the floppy icon in the VM’s bottom status bar and activating “Connected”.
    o Do not choose “Connect at power on”, since the system would then try to boot from floppy at next boot.

    * Start Oracle
    o C:\> ORACLE
    * Start Database
    o C:\> IOR W
    * Start SQL command tool using
    o C:\> UFI -or-
    o C:\> UFI user/pwd
    o Login as scott/tiger or system/manager or sys/change_on_install
    o “Cannot read command file…” can be ignored. I googled for “login.ufi”, but there is no documentation to be had.
    o For SCOTT, Dept/Emp/Bonus/Salgrade are present
    o DESC also works.
    * List of commands
    o UFI> show help
    o Parameter settings
    + UFI> show all (or show [param])
    o Display the release
    + UFI> show rel
    o Interesting Views (run as User….)
    + PARTITIONS = Database Files SYSTEM
    + SESSION = A log of connections SYSTEM
    + USERAUTH = Read Passwords in Clear! SYS
    + TAB = The schema’s tables
    + SYSUSERLIST = List of schemas
    * Load Help System
    o Goto C:\ORACLE\DEMO
    o With running DB, run LOADHELP.BAT
    * Comprehensive demo
    o Goto C:\ORACLE\DEMO
    o Just runs without stopping, despite me setting “set pause [enter]” – any idea?
    * Shutdown Database
    o C:\> IOR S
    * To reboot the system, disconnect the Floppy-Disk first.

  9. Of course, how could I forget: IOR W. Man, that’s a long time ago. Too bad I threw away these grey boxes 2 years ago, since, yes, I did have Oracle 4.1.

  10. Marco,

    As much as I can recall, way back in 1987, Oracle did not provide electronic
    documentation. You may have a slim change that someone out there OCR’ed
    the three booklets that came with the floppies.


  11. I have updated (the postscriptum) the blog, so this should help you on your way. As said if there is someone with some documentation then it would be great if you would send it to me, so i can post it here.


  12. Very nice. Got the image working. When I start Oracle.EXE mem.exe (or mem/c) reveals Oracle is indeed running. But how do I connect to it with UFI? It keeps complaining that it can not find the SGA (osdlsg: SGA file not opened).

  13. Not only did the software fit on a few (5-1/4) floppies…
    You could also read the complete documentation over the weekend!
    Try doing that nowadays.

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