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January 2018

A look into Oracle redo, part 1: redo allocation latches

This will be a series of posts about Oracle database redo handling. The database in use is Oracle version, with PSU 170814 applied. The operating system version is Oracle Linux Server release 7.4. In order to look into the internals of the Oracle database, I use multiple tools; very simple ones like the X$ views and oradebug, but also advanced ones, quite specifically the intel PIN tools ( One of these tools is ‘debugtrace’, which contains pretty usable output on itself (a indented list of function calls and returns), for which I essentially filter out some data, another one is ‘pinatrace’, which does not produce directly usable output, because it provides instruction pointer and memory addresses.

Case Study – 1

It has been some time since I wrote an article walking through the analysis of information on an AWR report, but a nice example appeared a few weeks ago on Twitter that broke a big AWR picture into a sequence of bite-sized chunks that made a little story so here it is, replayed in sync with my ongoing thoughts. The problem started with the (highly paraphrased) question – “How could I get these headline figures when all the ‘SQL ordered by’ sections of the report show captured SQL account for 0.0% of Total?”.

Oracle database block checksum XOR algorithm explained

Recently I’ve started to write my own clone of BBED to have something handy and useful in extreme cases when you have to go deep and fix stuff on low level (I have only like 2 such cases a year but each time it is really fun and a nice money </p />

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Testing Oracle SQL online

Want to test some DDL, a query, check an execution plan? You need only a browser. And you can copy-paste, or simply link, your test-case in a forum, a tweet, an e-mail, a tweet. Here is a small list (expecting to grow from your comments) of free online services which can run with an Oracle Database: SQL Fiddle, Rextester, db<>fiddle and Oracle Live SQL

SQL Fiddle

SQL Fiddle let you build a schema and run DDL on the following databases:

  • Oracle 11gR2
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2014
  • MySQL 5.6
  • Postgres 9.6 and 9.3
  • SQLLite (WebSQL and SQL.js)

As an Oracle user, the Oracle 11gR2 is not very useful as it is a version from 2010. But there’s a simple reason for that: that’s the latest free version – the Oracle XE Edition. And a free online service can run only free software. Now that Oracle plans to release an XE version every year, this should be better soon.

Have Dog, Will Travel

So I went on a business trip to visit my company headquarters this last week and I took my dog with me.  Yes, you heard that right, my dog.

Getting started…adding an account to use

If you’ve read my previous post about getting started with the Oracle database, then hopefully you now have your very own database installed and running, and you have a explored a little with the sample schemas using SQL Developer.  Perhaps now you want to venture out into your own database development, and for that, you will want to create your own user account and create your own tables.  Here’s another video which will guide you through the process.

Is NFS on ZFS slowing you down?

If you think so, check out shell script “” from github at

Introduction and Goals

The goal of is to measure both the throughput and latency of the different code layers when using NFS mounts on a ZFS appliance. The ZFS appliance code layers inspected with the script are I/O from the disks, ZFS layer and the NFS layer. For each of these layers the script measures the throughput, latency and average I/O size. Some of the layers are further broken down into other layers. For example NFS writes are broken down into data sync, file sync and non-sync operations and NFS reads are broken down into cached data reads and reads that have to go to disk.

The primary three questions ioh is used to answer are

Those pesky LONG columns

There was a time, many moons ago Smile when CLOB, BLOB and BFILE did not exist as data types. So if you had anything longer than a few kilobytes of data to store, you had to use a LONG or a LONG RAW.  But those data types came with all sorts of restrictions and frustrations, and we all embraced the improvements that the LOB data types brought in Oracle 8.  But of course, we carry a lot of that historical “baggage” in the data dictionary.

gc buffer busy

I had to write this post because I can never remember which way round Oracle named the two versions of gc  buffer busy when it split them. There are two scenarios to cover when my session wants my instance to acquire a global cache lock on a block and some other session is already trying to acquire that lock (or is holding it in an incompatible fashion):

  • The other session is in my instance
  • The other session is in a remote instance

One of these cases is reported as “gc buffer busy acquire”, the other as a “gc buffer busy release” – and I always have to check which is which. I think I usually get it right first time when I see it, but I always manage to convince myself that I might have got it wrong and end up searching the internet for Riyaj Shamsudeen’s blog posting about it.

Video: Oracle X$TRACE, Wait Event Internals and Background Process Communication

I have uploaded the the video of my Secret Hacking Session: Oracle X$TRACE, Wait Event Internals and Background Process Communication to my Oracle performance & troubleshooting Youtube channel.

The slides are in Slideshare.