Use Linux SQL Server with R (JDBC)

Over the past few months, I have been working to learn R, a free software environment for statistical computing. Its been gaining popularity over the past few years, and Microsoft just gave it a huge boost by integrating R into their Power BI visualization software and the Windows version of SQL Server 2016. Since a good deal of my work involves connecting to Microsoft SQL Servers and a Linux version of SQL Server is now available, its a good opportunity to show how to connect to a SQL Server installed on Ubuntu from R, using a JDBC connection.

For this tutorial, I am going to assume that you already have R installed. For my purposes,  I am running R on the same Ubuntu machine as the SQL Server. If you need instructions for installing SQL Server on Linux, Microsoft has provided a write-up already. So now let’s get started.

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Run SQLServer service on Ubuntu 16.04 on demand

Greetings all! I have been a bit absent from the blog for the past few months due to a variety of external factors, but I am endeavoring to be more regular on here.

This time around you may be aware that Microsoft recently released a Linux version of SQL Server.  Because I was testing something else, I thought this would be useful to install as well as part of that process.  I won’t bother with instructions on how to install it, as Microsoft has provided a decent write-up already. in my case, I run a variety of different applications on my development system so I don’t always want those apps to start when the PC starts up.  I blogged previously on how to start services on demand in Ubuntu 15.04, so I went back to that post to test it out with the new SQL Server.  Happily, my previous instructions work with this new application!

I’ll present them here in modified form for SQL Server after the break…

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Create a Pentaho Kettle Repository on SQL Server

As I have stated previously when creating ETL workflows, its useful to store the information in a database repository, rather than as individual files on your workstation. This allows multiple users to have access to the information (why recreate the wheel?),  it allows you to pull it into your jobs quickly and easily, and you can back it up quickly and restore it if necessary. With the community version 7.0 of PENTAHO® DATA INTEGRATION (PDI), I am happy to report that you can finally create a repository for your ETL code on Microsoft SQL Server. Previously, you could setup a repository on MySQL or PostgreSQL with the community edition but there were compatibility problems with the code that Kettle used that didn’t work with SQL Server. After downloading the latest version I was attempting to make a connection to SQL Server, and decided to test setting up a repository again. I am happy to say it works so the remainder of this article will walk through the process of setting up a Pentaho repository on SQL Server 2016 from a Windows 10 machine.

Prerequisites:

  • Download the jTDS open source SQL Server JDBC driver. Extract the ZIP file, and copy the jtds-1.3.1.jar file from your download and save it into the data-integration\lib folder of your Pentaho application. Although Microsoft provides a JDBC driver, it did not work for me.
  • Create an empty database on your Microsoft SQL Server. I created one called “PentahoRepository”
  • Setup a SQL Server user account (not an Active Directory account) on your database server and give the account  DBO (owner) permissions on the database. Using a DDLADMIN level does not work. I created my account and called it “repository”. I also set the default database for this account to the new database.

Now that we have our prerequisites setup, we can start the PDI client.

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Running Pentaho Kettle 7 on Windows 10

Recently I switched PCs to a newer Windows 10 based laptop for some of my work, and I wanted to get Pentaho Data Integration up and running on it. I downloaded the pdi-ce-7.0.0.0.25.zip file from the Community website, and extracted the contents to a folder in my Program Files directory. I tried running the SPOON.BAT to start it up but a window flashed on screen quickly and disappeared, but nothing else happened. I opened a command prompt and executed the SPOON.BAT file, but got a message that the JAVAW.EXE file could not be found. So I needed to perform a few other things to get it working.

A quick search engine query showed me that many people had the same issue, but there didn’t seem to be a consensus on how to resolve it. Below is how I managed to get it running.

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