Oracle DBA – A lifelong learning experience

Large audit trail table causes high db activity – especially when using OEM

Posted by John Hallas on June 24, 2015

On various databases, apparently unrelated we have noticed high activity that seems to be associated with the query below. The quieter the database the more the query stands out.


SELECT TO_CHAR(current_timestamp AT TIME ZONE 'GMT', 'YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS TZD') AS curr_timestamp, COUNT(username) AS failed_count, TO_CHAR(MIN(timestamp), 'yyyy-mm-dd hh24:mi:ss') AS first_occur_time, TO_CHAR(MAX(timestamp), 'yyyy-mm-dd hh24:mi:ss') AS last_occur_time
FROM sys.dba_audit_session
WHERE returncode != 0 AND timestamp >= current_timestamp - TO_DSINTERVAL('0 0:30:00')

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Oracle | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cloud agent set to DEBUG causing out of memory errors

Posted by John Hallas on June 23, 2015

The following technical detail was put together by a colleague John Evans and have taken it , with his permission, and wrapped some more detail around it as it seemed to be of real value to anybody who might have upgraded an agent to

Following an upgrade of the EM agent from (or to after about 90 days of usage we saw a number of agents failing with out of memory errors.

We traced this down to a line in the properties file where the trace level of parameter Logger.sdklog.level=DEBUG  rather than INFO Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Grid control and agents, Oracle | Leave a Comment »

One million blog views reached

Posted by John Hallas on June 22, 2015

This morning I will pass the 1 million mark for hits on this blog. My first post was written in 2008 and I remember being quite pleased with myself when I reached 5000 hits, I never dreamt of getting 1 million.

The post with the most number of hits is

One that I get still comments on now saying how well it explains what the SQL92_SECURITY parameter actually does

I think my current favourite is a piece that I wrote with no preparation in an hour about what I think a good DBA Manager should be doing. It does not mean I am such a person but it does demonstrate what I think is important about that role

I still use many of the posts myself because the main reason for starting the blog was to capture issues and problems I had come across. One script I find very useful is

and is a standard script we use a lot at my site and is invaluable

Thanks to everyone for reading and being followers. I will continue to write new posts just as long as I keep on doing technical hands-on work although I am spending more time managing than doing these days. I still really enjoy being an Oracle DBA and I have never regretted moving back into that area after spending several years as a technical project manager – which I enjoyed a lot and I still do some PM’ing  now. I was the saddo who was spotted on a beach in Majorca on a family holiday reading Jonathan Lewis’s 8i book

Posted in Oracle | 1 Comment »

Discrepancies in v$parameter default values in 12c

Posted by John Hallas on April 10, 2015

In my last blog about security parameters I mentioned I had found some oddities in the default values for parameters in, this is a more in-depth analysis of my findings.

Taking the parameter SEC_RETURN_SERVER_RELEASE_BANNER as an example.

Prior to 12c the default value for this parameter was ‘FALSE’, whereas the documentation for 12c ( states that the default is ‘TRUE’.

To confirm this, I made a connection to a 12c ( database and ran the following query:

select name, value,  default_value,  isdefault

from v$parameter

where name = 'sec_return_server_release_banner';
NAME                                     VALUE               DEFAULT_VALUE       ISDEFAULT
---------------------------------------- -------------------- -------------------- ---------
sec_return_server_release_banner         FALSE               TRUE                 TRUE

After confirming that the parameter had not been explicitly set in the parameter file, or as part of an alter system/session command, we could see that the actual value, held in ‘VALUE’, given to the parameter does not match the value provided by ‘DEFAULT_VALUE’ nor did it match the value it should have been assigned according to the documentation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 11g new features, 12c new features, Oracle | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Getting sql statements out of a trace file

Posted by John Hallas on March 15, 2015

The focus on this post started off in one direction and ended up in another. Originally I had been running a drop user script which had hung and even when I killed the process I could not drop the users as it gave a “ORA-01940: cannot drop a user that is currently connected” – despite the users having left the company months ago and there being no chance of them actually having connected sessions. My suspicions were that the drop user command actually took a lock on the users or connected as them whilst dropping them.  I was also intrigued by the length of time it took to drop users who had no objects.  Therefore I created a user, dropped it and traced the session to see what was happening. I was amazed by the size of the output file and that is where the direction changed. I wanted to find an easy way to get all the lines of code out of  trace file so that I could review them quickly.

SQL*Plus: Release Production on Sat Mar 14 06:55:08 2015
Connected to:
Oracle Database 11g Express Edition Release - 64bit Production

create user test identified by test;
User created.
set timing on
Session altered.
Elapsed: 00:00:00.00
drop user test;
User dropped.
Elapsed: 00:00:00.26
Session altered.
Elapsed: 00:00:00.00

I now had a trace file and I used the insert=filename parameter of tkprof to produce a script containing all the sql_statements in the trace file, in the same order.

tkprof xe_ora_5796.trc xe_ora_5796.tkp insert=xe_ora_5796.sql

Edit the sql file that is produced (xe_ora_57967.sql in my example) , changing the field SQL_STATEMENT from LONG to a varchar2(4000) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Oracle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Running two oracle installations from the same terminal

Posted by John Hallas on February 23, 2015

Two posts from me on the same day. The other one about Datapatch is about a brand new utility in 12c and is probably new to most people. This post caused mixed reactions when I mentioned it at work last week. Some people laughed at my naivety in not knowing about it, others took the same view as me and were interested to hear about it as it may prove useful one day.

A colleague had a double installation of new Oracle binaries on primary and standby servers and I suggested he get someone else to run one in parallel as he could not run two installers at the same time. He came back later on to show how it could be done and prove me wrong.

When starting up Xming using the Launch script the first window that comes up has a Display number of 0 at the bottom



That maps to the :0 in the DISPLAY command you export

export DISPLAY=

 So if you want a second installer to run you change the display number to 1 and use

export DISPLAY=

And voila you can have 2 xming installer sessions running in parallel

The last 0 (.0) is used to have multiple screens within the same display – something that is not used very frequently these days.

So if you think I have wasted your time feel free to ignore this post and if you have found it useful I would happy to get comments saying so.


Posted in Oracle | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Issue with Datapatch – AKA SQL Patching Tool after cloning a database

Posted by John Hallas on February 23, 2015

There have been a few changes in the way patches are managed and monitored in 12c and whilst looking at this I found a potential problem that might occur when you clone or copy databases around, or even build them from a template file.

Firstly when you apply a PSU and run an opatch lsinventory command you now see a description of the patch rather than just a patch number – here showing that PSU 1 has been applied. This came in at and in my opinion is really helpful. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 12c new features, Oracle | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

opatch lsinventory gives “line 384: [: =: unary operator expected”

Posted by John Hallas on February 19, 2015

I noticed the error message when running lsinventory against a Oracle_Home. As the command worked I didn’t think anymore of it until on the same server against an home I got the same error message.

opatch lsinventory
 tr: extra operand `y'
 Try `tr --help' for more information.
 /app/oracle/product/ line 384: [: =: unary operator expected

There is a Mos note which provides a solution – 1551584.1

Modify following line (line number 384) in file $ORACLE_HOME/OPatch/opatch
if [ `echo $arg | tr [A-Z] [a-z]` = "-invptrloc" ]; then
if [ `echo $arg | tr A-Z a-z` = "-invptrloc" ]; then

However the real problem is caused by the presence of a file with a single character name in the current directory. Indeed there was such a file ‘x’ and once that was removed then the opatch lsinventory command worked as normal.

This bug appears when a new version of opatch is installed , in my case I had just added opatch version

Posted in Oracle | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Changing a database link password

Posted by John Hallas on February 13, 2015

I recently found out  that it is possible to change a database link password without dropping and recreating a database link in its entirety.

To be honest I thought this might have existed forever and I had just never come across it but it actually come out in 11GR2

The ALTER DATABASE LINK statement can be used and you do not need to specify the target service either  – all you need  is to run the following command from the user that owns a pre-existing database link


I know it is not a major change but a quick canvas amongst fellow DBAs and nobody had noticed it’s arrival either so a heads-up might be helpful to someone

Posted in 11g new features, Oracle | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »


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