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What’s new with Oracle database 19.6 versus 19.5

As expected, there aren’t any really drastic differences between Oracle database version 19.5 and 19.6. Now that I am doing these series on differences for all the versions every quarter the new release updates are coming out, there is a certain line, and this release does follow that.

As always, there are some parameters that have changed from being undocumented spare to being undocumented with a name. There is one documented parameter that was added: optimizer_session_type, which has gone official from “_optimizer_auto_index_allow”; see bug 29632611.

Vagrant tips’n’tricks: changing /etc/hosts automatically for Oracle Universal Installer

Oracle Universal Installer, or OUI for short, doesn’t at all like it if the hostname resolves to an IP address in the range. At best it complains, at worst it starts installing and configuring software only to abort and bury the real cause deep in the logs.

I am a great fan of HashiCorp’s Vagrant as you might have guessed reading some of the previous articles, and as such wanted a scripted solution to changing the hostname to something more sensible before I begin provisioning software. I should probably add that I’m using my own base boxes; the techniques in this post should equally apply to other boxes as well.

Advanced usage of gdb for profiling

This post is about how to use gdb, which is a debugger, so very simplistically put an aid for looking at C programs, as a profiler. I use gdb quite a lot for profiling because it’s the easiest way for profiling for me.

Lots of people which I know use other tools like perf, systemtap and dtrace for the same purpose and that’s fine. Each tools has its own advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage of gdb is that it’s using ptrace to attach to a process, which makes it dead slow from a machine perspective, because everything it then does goes via another process, which is the debugger. That is how the debugger works.

Also lots of people use gdb like I do, and use basic functionality, which is breaking at functions, which makes it possible to find out the sequence of how functions are called, generating backtraces (stack traces) to understand the stack and maybe looking at functions arguments.

Where does the log writer spend its time on?

The Oracle database log writer is the process that fundamentally influences database change performance. Under normal circumstances the log writer must persist the changes made to the blocks before the actual change is committed. Therefore, it’s vitally important to understand what the log writer is exactly doing. This is widely known by the Oracle database community.

The traditional method for looking at log writer performance is looking at the wait event ‘log file parallel write’ and the CPU time, and comparing that to the ‘log file sync’ alias “commit wait time”. If ‘log file parallel write’ and ‘log file sync’ roughly match, a commit is waiting on the log writer IO latency, if it isn’t then it’s unclear, and things get vague.

Oracle wait event ‘log file parallel write’ change

This post is about a change in how the time is measured for the event ‘log file parallel write’. This is important for the performance tuning of any change activity in an Oracle database, because with the default commit settings, a foreground session that commits changes waits in the wait event ‘log file sync’, which is a wait on logwriter activity, for which the wait event ‘log file parallel write’ always has been the indicator of the time spend on IO.

Log file sync
First things first: a foreground session normally waits on the wait event ‘log file sync’ when it commits waiting for its change vectors to be written to the online redologfile(s) by the logwriter. It is wrong to always assume a ‘log file sync’ will be present. If, somehow, the logwriter manages to increase the ON DISK SCN to or beyond the foreground session’s commit SCN, there will be no ‘log file sync’ wait event.

Installing Microsoft SQL Server 2019 on Linux, Part II

This is a 2-part blog post, the first in the series can be found on the Microsoft SQL Server blog here.

The recently released SQL Server 2019 on Linux includes several updated features, including replication, support for Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator, and Change Data Capture (CDC) support. If you’re running SQL Server 2017 on Linux, these are great reasons to upgrade to SQL Server 2019 to take advantage of these updates.

Tips’n’tricks: finding the (injected) private key pair used in Vagrant boxes

In an earlier article I described how you could use SSH keys to log into a Vagrant box created by the Virtualbox provider. The previous post emphasised my preference for using custom Vagrant boxes and my own SSH keys.

Nevertheless there are occasions when you can’t create your own Vagrant box, and you have to resort to the Vagrant insecure-key-pair-swap procedure instead. If you are unsure about these security related discussion points, review the documentation about creating one’s own Vagrant boxes (section “Default User Settings”) for some additional background information.

Tips’n’tricks: understanding “too many authentication failures” in SSH

Virtualbox VMs powered by Vagrant require authentication via SSH keys so you don’t have to provide a password each time vagrant up is doing its magic. Provisioning tools you run as part of the vagrant up command also rely on the SSH key based authentication to work properly. This is documented in the official Vagrant documentation set.

I don’t want to use unknown SSH keys with my own Vagrant boxes as a matter of principle. Whenever I create a new custom box I resort to a dedicated SSH key I’m using just for this purpose. This avoids the trouble with Vagrant’s “insecure key pair”, all I need to do is add config.ssh.private_key_path = "/path/to/key" to the Vagrantfile.

Failed Installation of MSSQL-CLI on Ubuntu

So you want to run mssql-cli on Ubuntu Linux, but you received a number of errors and even if you got through some errors, you’re still stuck?

I’m here to try to help you get through them and hopefully I’ve captured them all.  Trust me, the Oracle DBAs have been here-  our databases and tools failed for a very long time until Linux administrators came to know what we needed and started to build us the images with the correct libraries and versions we needed, so we feel your pain!

Ansible Tips’n’tricks: rebooting Vagrant boxes after a kernel upgrade

Occasionally I have to reboot my Vagrant boxes after kernel updates have been installed as part of an Ansible playbook during the “vagrant up” command execution.

I create my own Vagrant base boxes because that’s more convenient for me than pulling them from Vagrant’s cloud. However they, too, need TLC and updates. So long story short, I run a yum upgrade after spinning up Vagrant boxes in Ansible to have access to the latest and greatest (and hopefully most secure) software.

To stay in line with Vagrant’s philosophy, Vagrant VMs are lab and playground environments I create quickly. And I can dispose of them equally quickly, because all that I’m doing is controlled via code. This isn’t something you’d do with Enterprise installations!

Vagrant and Ansible for lab VMs!

Now how do you reboot a Vagrant controlled VM in Ansible? Here is how I’m doing this for VirtualBox 6.0.14 and Vagrant 2.2.6. Ubuntu 18.04.3 comes with Ansible 2.5.1.