oracle tips & tricks

Oracle Tips & Tricks

Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Another Oracle apps DBA Interview Questions (with answer)
  1. What happens if the ICM goes down?
  2. How will you speed up the patching process?
  3. How will you handle an error during patching?
  4. Provide a high-level overview of the cloning process and post-clone manual steps.
  5. Provide an introduction to AutoConfig. How does AutoConfig know which value from the XML file needs to be put in which file?
  6. Can you tell me a few tests you will do to troubleshoot self-service login problems? Which profile options and files will you check?
  7. What could be wrong if you are unable to view concurrent manager log and output files?
  8. How will you change the location of concurrent manager log and output files?
  9. If the user is experiencing performance issues, how will you go about finding the cause?
  10. How will you change the apps password?
  11. Provide the location of the DBC file and explain its significance and how applications know the name of the DBC file.
  1. All the other managers will keep working. ICM only takes care of the queue control requests, which means starting up and shutting down other concurrent managers.

    • You can merge multiple patches.
    • You can create a response file for non-interactive patching.
    • You can apply patches with options (nocompiledb, nomaintainmrc, nocompilejsp) and run these once after applying all the patches.
  2. Look at the log of the failed worker, identify and rectify the error and restart the worker using adctrl utility.
  3. Run pre-clone on the source (all tiers), duplicate the DB using RMAN (or restore the DB from a hot or cold backup), copy the file systems and then run post-clone on the target (all tiers).
    Manual steps (there can be many more):
    • Change all non-site profile option values (RapidClone only changes site-level profile options).
    • Modify workflow and concurrent manager tables.
    • Change printers.
  4. AutoConfig uses a context file to maintain key configuration files. A context file is an XML file in the $APPL_TOP/admin directory and is the centralized repository.
    When you run AutoConfig it reads the XML files and creates all the AutoConfig managed configuration files.
    For each configuration file maintained by AutoConfig, there exists a template file which determines which values to pick from the XML file.

    • Check guest user/password in the DBC file, profile option guest user/password, the DB.
    • Check whether apache/jserv is up.
    • Run IsItWorking, FND_WEB.PING, aoljtest, etc.
  5. Most likely the FNDFS listener is down. Look at the value of OUTFILE_NODE_NAME and LOGFILE_NODE_NAME in the FND_CONCURRENT_REQUESTS table. Look at the FND_NODES table. Look at the FNDFS_ entry in tnsnames.ora.
  6. The location of log files is determined by parameter $APPLCSF/$APPLLOG and that of output files by $APPLCSF/$APPLOUT.

    • Trace his session (with waits) and use tkprof to analyze the trace file.
    • Take a statspack report and analyze it.
    • O/s monitoring using top/iostat/sar/vmstat.
    • Check for any network bottleneck by using basic tests like ping results.

    • Use FNDCPASS to change APPS password.
    • Manually modify files.
    • Change any DB links pointing from other instances.

    • Location: $FND_TOP/secure directory.
    • Significance: Points to the DB server amongst other things.
    • The application knows the name of the DBC file by using profile option "Applications Database Id."


posted by popo @ 00:49   0 comments
Five DBA Best Practices
Multiple Oracle Homes
My favorite best practice is the one about multiple Oracle Homes. Here it how it goes. When applying a patch or a patchset, I recommend against applying to the existing Oracle Home. Instead, I suggest creating a new Oracle Home, and apply the patches there.

I create the first Oracle Home at /app/oracle/db_1, for instance. When a patch comes out, I install the whole Oracle software in a different home -- /app/oracle/db_2 -- and then apply the patch there. During the process of installation and patch application, the database is up and running, as it runs off the home /db_1. When the outage window comes, all I have to do is to shut down Oracle; change Oracle Home to db_2 and bring the database up. If there is a problem, I can reset the Oracle Home back to the old one.

So, here is the conventional approach:

1. Shut down the database
2. Apply patch to the Oracle Home
3. Start the database
4. In case of problems:
5. Shut down the database
6. Roll back the patch
7. Start the database

Steps 2 and 6 could take as much as three hours depending on the amount of patching. The database is down during these times.

In the new approach:

1. Install new Oracle Home
2. Apply the patch to the new Home
3. Shut down the database
4. Change Oracle Home to the new location
5. Start the database
6. In case of problems:
7. Shut down the database
8. Change Oracle Home to the old one
9. Start the database

The database is down only during steps 4 and 8, which takes a couple of minutes at the most, not hours.

So, here are the advantages:
  1. The downtime is significantly reduced, to one 60th of the original time.
  2. The risk is reduced significantly, as there is no rolling back a patch; you just go to the older version.
  3. You can perform a "diff" on these two homes to see what changed. You can see the differences across multiple homes as well.
  4. You can take several databases running on the same server to the new Oracle Home one by one.
  5. You can see the various Oracle Homes and what patch level they are on using the inventory.

The only negative part is the space consumption -- you need space for two Oracle Homes. But considering a typical Oracle Home takes about 4 GB or less, this aspect of the suggestion is trivial.

Set audit trail to DB
Set the audit trail to DB by placing the parameter AUDIT_TRAIL = DB in the initialization parameter file during the database creation. Setting this parameter does not start the auditing, because an explicit AUDIT command must be given on the object. But the parameter must be set to a value other than FALSE (the default) for the command to take effect. Being a non-dynamic parameter, the database must be bounced to change the value of AUDIT_TRAIL. To save the trouble and avoid an outage, always set the value to DB, even if you never intend to audit anything. It does not break anything and you will always be ready to audit when the time comes.

Don't use .log
Don't use .log as the extension of redo logs. Someone may run a script to remove all the log files assuming they are redundant and you will end up losing the online redo logs as well, forcing a database recovery. Instead, name them with extension "redo" or "rdo."

Preview RMAN Restore
Preview RMAN Restore to identify all the various backup pieces that will be used in the recovery process without doing an actual recovery. This eliminates any surprises from missing pieces during an actual recovery process.

Create a new Oracle user for clients running on the same server as the DB
The Oracle Database server software also contains the client piece, which allows the clients to connect to the database on the same server. But as a best practice do not use the same user or the software; use a new one. For instance, if "oracle" is the user to install Oracle software, create a new user called, say, "oraapp" and install the client-only software using that user. The user "oraapp" should not be part of the dba or the oinstall group; so this user can't log on to the database as sysdba. Create a new group called "appgrp" and assign the user oraaap to this group. All the application users on the box should also be part of the appgrp group. This way they can use the sqlplus, sqlldr and other executables on the server, but be able to connect as sysdba.

The common practice is to use the client software in the same user as the database software owner; but starting with 10.2, Oracle has changed the security policy that takes away the global execution permissions from the Oracle Home. So the only option is to let app users be part of the dba group or change the permissions on Oracle Home -- both make the database extremely vulnerable.


posted by popo @ 00:17   0 comments
Friday, 15 February 2008
dbms_backup_restore Package
The dbms_backup_restore package is used as a PL/SQL command-line interface for replacing native RMAN commands, and it has very little documentation.

The Oracle docs note how to install and configure the dbms_backup_restore package:

“The DBMS_BACKUP_RESTORE package is an internal package created by the dbmsbkrs.sql and prvtbkrs.plb scripts. This package, along with the target database version of DBMS_RCVMAN, is automatically installed in every Oracle database when the catproc.sql script is run. This package interfaces with the Oracle database server and the operating system to provide the I/O services for backup and restore operations as directed by RMAN.”

The docs also note that “The DBMS_BACKUP_RESTORE package has a PL/SQL procedure to normalize filenames on Windows NT platforms.”

Oracle DBA John Parker gives this example of dbms_backup_restore to recover a controlfile:
devtype varchar2(256);
done boolean;
devtype:=dbms_backup_restore.deviceallocate( type=>'sbt_tape',
'ORA_RDCS_WEEKLY.dbf', DONE=>done );
'ORA_RDCS_WEEKLY.dbf', DONE=>done );

Here are some other examples of using dbms_backup_restore:
devtype varchar2(256);
done boolean;
devtype := dbms_backup_restore.DeviceAllocate (type => '',ident => 'FUN');
dbms_backup_restore.RestoreDatafileTo(dfnumber => 1,toname => 'D:\ORACLE_BASE\datafiles\SYSTEM01.DBF');
dbms_backup_restore.RestoreDatafileTo(dfnumber => 2,toname => 'D:\ORACLE_BASE\datafiles\UNDOTBS.DBF');
--dbms_backup_restore.RestoreDatafileTo(dfnumber => 3,toname => 'D:\ORACLE_BASE\datafiles\MYSPACE.DBF');
dbms_backup_restore.RestoreBackupPiece(done => done,handle => 'D:\ORACLE_BASE\RMAN_BACKUP\MYDB_DF_BCK05H2LLQP_1_1', params => null);

--restore archived redolog
devtype varchar2(256);
done boolean;
devtype := dbms_backup_restore.DeviceAllocate (type => '',ident => 'FUN');
dbms_backup_restore.RestoreBackupPiece(done => done,handle => 'D:\ORACLE_BASE\RMAN_BACKUP\MYDB_LOG_BCK0DH1JGND_1_1', params => null);


posted by popo @ 04:42   0 comments
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Creating Oracle Database Link
Oracle has invested heavily in distributed database technology and the creation of a database link is very straightforward. You specify the database link name, the remote user to connect to, the password for the remote user and the TNS service name for the database link connection:
create public database link
connect to
identified by
using 'tns_name';

You can also create a database link to non-Oracle databases, here are steps for a database link to MySQL:

  1. Your first step is having installed the TRANSPARENT GATEWAY (it comes in as of the options when you install Oracle).
  2. You must have a user in the SQL Server.
  3. In the directory \tg4msql\admin look for the file inittg4msql.ora and have the following options:
  4. Configure the listener and add the following
    (SID_DESC =
    (PROGRAM = tg4msql)
    (ORACLE_HOME = C:\oracle1)

    and on tnsnames.ora add the following
    (ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = servidor)(PORT = 1521))
    (SID = MSQL)

    where HS set up as a heterogonous service
  5. Create a link to sql server.
    create database link msql connect to user_sqlserver identified by password using 'MSQL';
  6. You can now use the database link to a foreign database:
    select * from table@msql


posted by popo @ 16:45   0 comments
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Connect Oracle to SQL Server
In order to connect to SQL*Server from Oracle, you must do several things:

  1. Install ODBC drivers for the SQL*Server database. The drivers are installed on your laptop or on the server that contains the Oracle code tree.
  2. Setup the ODBC connection on your laptop using the Windows ODBC Data Source Administrator
  3. Test the ODBC drivers to ensure that connectivity is made to the non-Oracle database.
  4. Ensure the Global_names parameter is set to False in the Oracle database.
  5. Configure the Hetergeneous services. This consists of creating an initodbc.ora file within the Oracle
  6. Oracle database installation.
  7. Modify the Listener.ora file on the database installation to connect to the Oracle instance and ODBC drivers.
  8. Modify the Tnsnames.ora file to point to the proper code tree.
  9. Reload the listener
  10. Create a database link on the Oracle installation.
  11. Run a Select statement for the Oracle installation using the database link.


posted by popo @ 21:55   0 comments
Finding Tables References Inside PL/SQL Store Procedure
The Oracle data dictionary tracks the object types referenced in PL/SQL with the dba_dependencies view. To track the dependency among packages and tables, try this dictionary query:
owner = 'SCOTT'
order by
referenced_owner, referenced_name, referenced_type;
you can also select the referenced_type, ie. tables


posted by popo @ 16:06   0 comments
Oracle listener lsnrctl command
Here are lsnrctl command :

LSNRCTL for 32-bit Windows: Version - Production on 12-PEB-2008 18:56:26

Copyright (c) 1991, 2005, Oracle. All rights reserved.

Welcome to LSNRCTL, type "help" for information.

The following operations are available
An asterisk (*) denotes a modifier or extended command:

start stop status
services version reload
save_config trace change_password
quit exit set*


The following commands are used to manage the listener:
  • start – Starts the listener with the name specified, otherwise LISTENER will be used. For Windows systems, the listener can also be started from the Control Panel.
  • stop – Stops the listener. For Windows systems, the listener can also be stopped from the Control Panel.
  • status – Provides status information about the listener, including start date, uptime, and trace level.
  • services – Displays each service available, along with the connection history.
  • version – Displays the version information of the listener.
  • reload – Forces a read of the configuration file in order for new settings to take effect without stopping and starting the listener.
  • save_config – Creates a backup of the existing listener.ora file and saves changes to the current version.
  • trace – Sets the trace level to one of the following – OFF, USER, ADMIN, or SUPPORT.
  • spawn – Spawns a program that runs with an alias in the listener.ora file.
  • dbsnmp_start – Starts the DBSNMP subagent.
  • dbsnmp_stop – Stops the DBSNMP subagent.
  • dbsnmp_status – Displays the status of the DBSNMP subagent.
  • change_password – Sets a new password for the listener.
  • quit and exit – Exits the utility.
  • set – Changes the value of any parameter. Everything that can be shown can be set.
  • show – Displays current parameter settings.


posted by popo @ 03:56   0 comments
Monday, 11 February 2008
Preventing Oracle DDL Unauthorized Schema Changes
One of the biggest problems in Oracle are "unexpected" schema changes. In production environments changes are often allowed only during special maintenance times, and changes such as re-analyzing schema statistics and DDL to change table/index structures must be prohibited at other times.

This can be tracked with an Oracle DDL trigger, but the DBA can disable DDL at the object level with a simple script to "disable table lock" syntax:
alter table mbsdba.t_dept disable table lock;

This script could be used to lock all tables within a schema:

connect sys/xxx as sysdba;
spool runme.sql
select "alter table "||owner||"."||table_name||" disable table lock;"
owner = "mbsdba";

spool off;

While locked, any attempted schema changes will be rejected

ALTER TABLE mbsdba.t_dept

ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00069: cannot acquire lock-- table locks disabled for mbsdba.t_dept


posted by popo @ 22:45   0 comments
Oracle SQL Sort Merge Join
The use of a sort merge join in Oracle SQL is quite common, especially in cases where there are missing join predicate against one of the tables or a missing index.
In a sort merge join, Oracle must perform full scans on the target tables, sort the keys and join the rows together.
It's important not to confuse a merge join with a merge join cartesian, which is a special case which is usually avoided.
The Oracle docs note these hints for merge joins:
  • Sort merge join - Force a sort merge join (use_merge) The use_merge hint forces a sort merge join.
  • Merge anti join (merge_aj) - Transforms a NOT IN subquery into a merge anti-join.
  • Merge semi-join (merge_sj) - The merge_sj hint is placed into an EXISTS subquery; This converts the subquery into a special type of merge join between t1 and t2 that preserves the semantics of the subquery. That is, even if there is more than one matching row in t2 for a row in t1, the row in t1 is returned only once.
  • Turn off sort merge join (_sortmerge_inequality_join_off) - This hidden parameter will disable a sort merge join in cases where the predicate is an inequality.


posted by popo @ 17:53   0 comments
Thursday, 7 February 2008
ORA-00918: column ambiguously defined
The Oracle docs note this on the ora-00918 error*:
ORA-00918 column ambiguously defined

Cause: A column name used in a join exists in more than one table and is thus referenced ambiguously. In a join, any column name that occurs in more than one of the tables must be prefixed by its table name when referenced. The column should be referenced as TABLE.COLUMN or TABLE_ALIAS.COLUMN. For example, if tables EMP and DEPT are being joined and both contain the column DEPTNO, then all references to DEPTNO should be prefixed with the table name, as in EMP.DEPTNO or E.DEPTNO.

Action: Prefix references to column names that exist in multiple tables with either the table name or a table alias and a period (.), as in the examples above.

*As a note, the ORA-00918 error does not exist in Oracle 10g, according to the Oracle documentation

When ORA-00918 is thrown, you have a column which has been ambiguously defined. If a column name in a join is referenced ambiguously, it exists in multiple tables.

  • Column names which occur in multiple tables should be prefixed when it is referenced by its table name.
  • Columns must be referenced as TABLE.COLUMN or TABLE_ALIAS.COLUM . Oracle documentation which reference ORA-00918 give the following example:
    if tables EMP and DEPT are being joined and both contain the column DEPTNO, then all references to DEPTNO should be prefixed with the table name, as in EMP.DEPTNO or E.DEPTNO.
To correct ORA-00918, references should be prefixed to column names existing in multiple tables (either with the table name or table alias and a period)


posted by popo @ 19:17   0 comments
ORA-00904: STRING: invalid identifier tips
The Oracle docs note this on the ora-00904 error*:

ORA-00904 string: invalid identifier
Cause: The column name entered is either missing or invalid.

Action: Enter a valid column name. A valid column name must begin with a letter, be less than or equal to 30 characters, and consist of only alphanumeric characters and the special characters $, _, and #. If it contains other characters, then it must be enclosed in double quotation marks. It may not be a reserved word.

*According to Oracle documentation, ORA-00904 does not occur in Oracle 10g

When ORA-00904 occurs, you must enter a valid column name as it is either missing or the one entered is invalid.

To avoid ORA-00904, column names cannot be a reserved word, and must contain these four criteria to be valid:
  • begin with a letter
  • be less than or equal to twenty characters
  • consist only of alphanumeric and the special characters ($_#); other characters need double quotation marks around them

Another important factor in correcting ORA-00904 is remembering to run catproc.sql

You can also check your trace file to find the particular error which is causing the ORA-00904 to occur.


posted by popo @ 19:00   0 comments
ORA-00304: requested instance_number is busy
The Oracle docs note this on the ora-00304 error:

ORA-00304: requested INSTANCE_NUMBER is busy
Cause: An instance tried to start by using a value of the initialization parameter INSTANCE_NUMBER that is already in use.
Action: Either a) specify another INSTANCE_NUMBER, b) shut down the running instance with this number c) wait for instance recovery to complete on the instance with this number.
You will see ORA 00304 if an INSTANCE_NUMBER parameter value is being used at the time of initializing an Oracle instance
To resolve ORA-00304, you may try one of the three options:

  1. Use a different INSTANCE_NUMBER
    In the initialization file, modify the initialization of the INSTANCE_NUMBER
  2. Shut down the instance number causing the ORA-00304 error
  3. On the instance with the ORA-00304, allow recovery to conclude


posted by popo @ 18:40   0 comments
Monday, 4 February 2008
ORA-00984: Column Not Allowed Here
The Oracle docs note this on the ora-00984 error *
ORA-00984 column not allowed here
Cause: A column name was used in an expression where it is not permitted, such as in the VALUES clause of an INSERT statement.
Action: Check the syntax of the statement and use column names only where appropriate.

An ORA-00984 will be thrown if a column name (like in the VALUES clause of an INSERT statement), is used in an expression where it is not permitted. You may have used a column name in an expression where it is not permitted. Typically, ORA-00984 occurs while including a column name in the VALUES clause of an INSERT statement.

To correct ORA-00984, you simply need to view the syntax of the SQL statement and only use column names where they are appropriate.
You may also find it appropriate to include a character value, in the INSERT statement, instead of the column name.

*Note: ORA-00984 error does not exist in Oracle 10g, according to the Oracle documentation.


posted by popo @ 04:44   0 comments

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