Category Archives: Oracle

Oracle (Database and Middleware) related posts

Silent installation: Oracle Restart 19c, ASM Filter Driver, RHCK edition

As promised in the earlier post here are my notes about installing Oracle Restart 19c on Oracle Linux 7.7 using the RedHat compatible kernel (RHCK). Please consult the ACFS/ASMFD compatibility matrix, My Oracle Support DocID 1369107.1 for the latest information about ASMFD compatibility with various kernels as well.

Why am I starting the series with a seemingly “odd” kernel, at least from the point of view of Oracle Linux? If you try to install the Oracle Restart base release with UEK 5, you get strange error messages back from gridSetup telling you about invalid ASM disks. While that’s probably true, it’s a secondary error. The main cause of the problem is this:

[root@server5 bin]# ./afddriverstate supported
AFD-620: AFD is not supported on this operating system version: '4.14.35-1902.300.11.el7uek.x86_64'
AFD-9201: Not Supported
AFD-9294: updating file /etc/sysconfig/oracledrivers.conf 

Which is easy to run into since doesn’t validate this for you when running in silent mode. The GUI version of the installer protects you from the mistake though. Upgrading to the latest UEK 5 doesn’t change this message, you need to check the certification matrix to learn that Oracle Restart 19.4.0 and later are required for UEK 5 if you’d like to use ASMFD (or ACFS for that matter). This scenario will be covered in a later post.

Using the Red Hat Compatible Kernel alleviates this problem for me. Just be aware of the usual caveats when using the Red Hat Kernel on Oracle Linux such as YUM changing the default kernel during yum upgrade etc. I’d also like to iterate that this post isn’t an endorsement for ASM Filter Driver, but since the documentation was a little unclear I thought I’d write up how I got to a working installation. It is up to you to ensure that ASMFD is a workable solution for your environment by following industry best known practices.

Configuration Options

In the post introducing this series I claimed to have identified 2 options for installing Oracle Restart 19c using ASMFD: the first one is to use UDEV to prepare ASM block devices, the second one is to label the ASM disks using asmcmd afd_label.

Huh, UDEV? That hasn’t really been blogged about at all in the context of ASMFD, or at least I didn’t find anyone who did. I’m inferring the possibility of using UDEV from “Configuring Oracle ASM Filter Driver During Installation” (link to documentation):

“If you do not use udev on the system where the Oracle Grid Infrastructure is installed, then you can also complete the following procedure to provision disks for Oracle ASMFD before the installer is launched”

You actually only have to choose one of them. Let’s start with the more frequently covered approach of labelling disks using asmcmd.

My environment

I have applied all the patches to this environment up to March 26th to my lab enviroment. The Oracle Linux release I’m using is 7.7:

[root@server4 ~]# cat /etc/oracle-release
Oracle Linux Server release 7.7 

The KVM VM I’m using for this blog post uses the latest Red Hat Compatible Kernel at the time of writing (kernel-3.10.0-1062.18.1.el7.x86_64). You will notice that I’m using the virtio driver, leading to “strange” device names. Instead of /dev/sd it’s /dev/vd. My first two block devices are reserved for the O/S and Oracle, the remaining ones are going to be used for ASM. I have an old (bad?) habit of partitioning block devices for ASM as you might notice. Most of the Oracle setup is done by the 19c preinstall RPM, which I used.

I created a grid owner – grid – to own the Oracle Restart installation. Quite a few blog posts I came across referenced group membership, and I’d like to do the same:

[root@server4 ~]# id -a grid 
uid=54322(grid) gid=54321(oinstall) groups=54321(oinstall),54322(dba),54328(asmadmin),54327(asmdba) 

The block devices I’m intending to use for ASM are /dev/vdc to /dev/vdf – the first 2 are intended for +DATA, the other 2 will become part of +RECO. As you can see they are partitioned:

[root@server4 ~]# lsblk --ascii
vdf                   251:80   0   10G  0 disk 
`-vdf1                251:81   0   10G  0 part 
vdd                   251:48   0   10G  0 disk 
`-vdd1                251:49   0   10G  0 part 
vdb                   251:16   0   50G  0 disk 
`-vdb1                251:17   0   50G  0 part 
  `-oraclevg-orabinlv 252:2    0   50G  0 lvm  /u01
sr0                    11:0    1 1024M  0 rom  
vde                   251:64   0   10G  0 disk 
`-vde1                251:65   0   10G  0 part 
vdc                   251:32   0   10G  0 disk 
`-vdc1                251:33   0   10G  0 part 
vda                   251:0    0   12G  0 disk 
|-vda2                251:2    0 11.5G  0 part 
| |-rootvg-swaplv     252:1    0  768M  0 lvm  [SWAP]
| `-rootvg-rootlv     252:0    0 10.8G  0 lvm  /
`-vda1                251:1    0  500M  0 part /boot  

With all that out of the way it is time to cover the installation.

Labeling disks

I’m following the procedure documented in the 19c Administrator’s Guide chapter 20, section “Configuring Oracle ASM Filter Driver During Installation”. I have prepared my environment up to the step where I’d have to launch This is a fairly well known process, and I won’t repeat it here.

Once the 19c install image has been extracted to my future Grid Home, the first step is to check if my system is supported:

[root@server4 ~]# cd /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/bin
[root@server4 bin]# ./afddriverstate supported
AFD-9200: Supported 
[root@server4 bin]# uname -r

“AFD-9200: Supported” tells me that I can start labeling disks. This requires me to be root, and I have to set ORACLE_HOME and ORACLE_BASE. For some reason, the documentation suggests using /tmp as ORACLE_BASE, which I’ll use as well:

[root@server4 bin]# pwd
[root@server4 bin]# export ORACLE_BASE=/tmp
[root@server4 bin]# export ORACLE_HOME=/u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid
[root@server4 bin]# ./asmcmd afd_label DATA1 /dev/vdc1 --init
[root@server4 bin]# ./asmcmd afd_label DATA2 /dev/vdd1 --init 

[root@server4 bin]# ./asmcmd afd_lslbl /dev/vdc1
Label                     Duplicate  Path
DATA1                                 /dev/vdc1

[root@server4 bin]# ./asmcmd afd_lslbl /dev/vdd1
Label                     Duplicate  Path
DATA2                                 /dev/vdd1  

Note the use of the –init flag. This is only needed if Grid Infrastructure isn’t installed yet.

Labeling the disks did not have an effect on the block devices’ permissions. Right after finishing the 2 calls to label my 2 block devices, this is the output from my file system:

[root@server4 bin]# ls -l /dev/vd[c-d]*
brw-rw----. 1 root disk 252, 32 Mar 27 09:46 /dev/vdc
brw-rw----. 1 root disk 252, 33 Mar 27 12:55 /dev/vdc1
brw-rw----. 1 root disk 252, 48 Mar 27 09:46 /dev/vdd
brw-rw----. 1 root disk 252, 49 Mar 27 12:58 /dev/vdd1
[root@server4 bin]#  

The output of afd_lslbl indicated that both of my disks are ready to become part of an ASM disk group, so let’s start the installer.


I haven’t been able to make sense of the options in the response file until I started the installer in GUI mode and created a response file based on my choices. To cut a long story short, here is my call to

[grid@server4 ~]$ /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/ -silent \
> INVENTORY_LOCATION=/u01/app/oraInventory \
> ORACLE_BASE=/u01/app/grid \
> -waitforcompletion -ignorePrereqFailure -lenientInstallMode \
> oracle.install.option=HA_CONFIG \
> oracle.install.asm.OSDBA=asmdba \
> oracle.install.asm.OSASM=asmadmin \
> \
> oracle.install.asm.diskGroup.disks=/dev/vdc1,/dev/vdd1 \
> oracle.install.asm.diskGroup.diskDiscoveryString=/dev/vd* \
> oracle.install.asm.diskGroup.redundancy=EXTERNAL \
> oracle.install.asm.diskGroup.AUSize=4 \
> oracle.install.asm.configureAFD=true \
> \
> oracle.install.asm.SYSASMPassword=thinkOfASuperSecretPassword \
> oracle.install.asm.monitorPassword=thinkOfASuperSecretPassword
Launching Oracle Grid Infrastructure Setup Wizard...

The response file for this session can be found at:

You can find the log of this install session at:

As a root user, execute the following script(s):
        1. /u01/app/oraInventory/
        2. /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/

Execute /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/ on the following nodes:

Successfully Setup Software.
As install user, execute the following command to complete the configuration.
/u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/ -executeConfigTools -responseFile /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/install/response/grid_2020-03-27_01-06-14PM.rsp [-silent]
Note: The required passwords need to be included in the response file.
Moved the install session logs to:
[grid@server4 ~]$

It took a little while to work out that despite labeling the disks for ASMFD I didn’t have to put any reference to AFD into the call to Have a look at the ASM disk string and the block devices: that’s what I’d use if I were using UDEV rules for device name persistence. The syntax might appear counter-intuitive. However there’s a “configureAFD” flag you need to set to true.

Since this is a lab environment I’m ok with external redundancy. Make sure you pick a redundancy level appropriate for your use case.

Running the configuration tools

The remaining steps are identical to a non ASMFD setup. First you run followed by The output of the latter showed this for me, indicating success:

[root@server4 ~]# /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/
Check /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/install/root_server4_2020-03-27_13-11-05-865019723.log for the output of root script

[root@server4 ~]#
[root@server4 ~]# cat /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/install/root_server4_2020-03-27_13-11-05-865019723.log
Performing root user operation.

The following environment variables are set as:
    ORACLE_OWNER= grid
    ORACLE_HOME=  /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid
   Copying dbhome to /usr/local/bin ...
   Copying oraenv to /usr/local/bin ...
   Copying coraenv to /usr/local/bin ...

Creating /etc/oratab file...
Entries will be added to the /etc/oratab file as needed by
Database Configuration Assistant when a database is created
Finished running generic part of root script.
Now product-specific root actions will be performed.
Using configuration parameter file: /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/crs/install/crsconfig_params
The log of current session can be found at:
2020/03/27 13:11:13 CLSRSC-363: User ignored prerequisites during installation
Creating OCR keys for user 'grid', privgrp 'oinstall'..
Operation successful.
Successfully accumulated necessary OCR keys.
Creating OCR keys for user 'root', privgrp 'root'..
Operation successful.
CRS-4664: Node server4 successfully pinned.
2020/03/27 13:13:55 CLSRSC-330: Adding Clusterware entries to file 'oracle-ohasd.service'

server4     2020/03/27 13:16:59     /u01/app/grid/crsdata/server4/olr/backup_20200327_131659.olr     724960844
2020/03/27 13:17:54 CLSRSC-327: Successfully configured Oracle Restart for a standalone server
[root@server4 ~]# 

Well that looks ok, now on to the final step, configuration! As indicated in the output, you need to update the response (/u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/install/response/grid_2020-03-27_01-06-14PM.rsp) file with the required passwords. For me that was oracle.install.asm.monitorPassword and oracle.install.asm.SYSASMPassword. Once the response file was updated, I called once again:

[grid@server4 ~]$ /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/ -executeConfigTools -responseFile /u01/app/grid/product/19.0.0/grid/install/response/grid_2020-03-27_01-06-14PM.rsp -silent
Launching Oracle Grid Infrastructure Setup Wizard...

You can find the logs of this session at:

You can find the log of this install session at:
Successfully Configured Software. 

And that’s it! The software has been configured successfully. Don’t forget to remove the passwords from the response file!


After a little while I have been able to configure Oracle Restart 19c/ASMFD on Oracle Linux 7.7/RHCK. Let’s check what this implies.

I’ll first look at the status of ASM Filter Driver:

[grid@server4 ~]$ . oraenv
ORACLE_SID = [grid] ? +ASM
The Oracle base has been set to /u01/app/grid
[grid@server4 ~]$ afddriverstate installed
AFD-9203: AFD device driver installed status: 'true'
[grid@server4 ~]$ afddriverstate loaded
AFD-9205: AFD device driver loaded status: 'true'
[grid@server4 ~]$ afddriverstate version
AFD-9325:     Driver OS kernel version = 3.10.0-862.el7.x86_64.
AFD-9326:     Driver build number = 190222.
AFD-9212:     Driver build version =
AFD-9547:     Driver available build number = 190222.
AFD-9548:     Driver available build version =
[grid@server4 ~]$  

That’s encouraging: ASMFD is loaded and works on top of kernel-3.10 (RHCK)

I am indeed using the base release (and have to patch now!)

[grid@server4 ~]$ $ORACLE_HOME/OPatch/opatch lspatches
29585399;OCW RELEASE UPDATE (29585399)
29517247;ACFS RELEASE UPDATE (29517247)
29517242;Database Release Update : (29517242)
29401763;TOMCAT RELEASE UPDATE (29401763)

OPatch succeeded. 

And … I’m also using ASMFD:

SQL> col name for a20
SQL> col path for a10
SQL> col library for a50
SQL> set lines 120
SQL> select name, path, library from v$asm_disk where group_number <> 0;

NAME                 PATH       LIBRARY
-------------------- ---------- --------------------------------------------------
DATA1                AFD:DATA1  AFD Library - Generic , version 3 (KABI_V3)
DATA2                AFD:DATA2  AFD Library - Generic , version 3 (KABI_V3)

SQL> show parameter asm_diskstring

NAME                                 TYPE        VALUE
------------------------------------ ----------- ------------------------------
asm_diskstring                       string      /dev/vd*, AFD:*

This concludes the setup of my lab environment.

Oracle Restart 19c: silent installation and ASM Filter Driver

Oracle 19c is has been getting a lot of traction recently, and I have been researching various aspects around its installation and use. One topic that came up recently was the installation of Oracle Restart 19c using ASM Filter Driver. ASM Filter Driver has been around for a little while, but I never really looked at it closely. I found very little has been written about ASMFD in the context of Oracle 19c either, so I thought I’d revert the trend and write a series of posts about it (maybe I just didn’t find the relevant articles, I didn’t look too closely)

This blog post and all those that follow in the series are by no means an endorsement for the technology! My only goal is to make the documentation more accessible, I found it a little hard to work out the steps and hope to save you some time. As with every new-ish storage technology it’s imperative to make sure (by means of rigorous testing) that it meets your requirements.

It’s not as simple as it seems

There are actually quite a few nuances to the installation process when trying to install ASM with ASMFD from the beginning, which I’ll detail in the short blog post series to follow. The idea is to install Oracle Restart 19c with ASMFD straight away, no upgrade from ASMLib, no changing from UDEV to ASMFD. Plus it’s a fresh installation, no upgrade from a previous release.

As always I’m using Oracle Linux as the basis for my tests. And since I’m a good citizen I have updated my KVM VMs to the latest and greatest at the time of writing. More details about the environment used can be found in each of the posts in the series.

How do I install ASMFD together with Oracle Restart 19c?

I have studied the documentation, and the way I see it there are essentially 2 ways of installing Oracle Restart 19c with ASMFD:

  • Using UDEV to change permissions on all future ASM disks
  • Labeling future ASM disks using asmcmd to achieve the same goal

According to the certification matrix (MOS 1369107.1), it also matters which Oracle Linux 7/kernel combination you are using.

The easiest thing to do should be switching the Oracle Linux from UEK to the Red Hat Compatible Kernel, and I’m going to write about that first. The simplicity gained by using RHCK is slightly offset by operational caveats such as kernel upgrades etc. But this is a post about Oracle Restart, not the intricacies of switching from UEK to RHCK …

For quite a while now, UEK 5 has been the default kernel for Oracle Linux 7. If you’d like to install Oracle Restart 19c/ASMFD on UEK 5 you can’t do that out of the box, a little magic is necessary.

The following is a list of things I hope to write in the upcoming days. It’s all about a silent installation of Oracle Restart 19c for use with ASMFD:

Happy installing!

Printing all table preferences affecting dbms_stats.gather_table_stats

Oracle 11g introduced the abilty to control the behaviour of the dbms_stats package by setting preferences on the database, schema, and table level. These affect the way dbms_stats goes about doing its work. This feature has been extensively documented, I found the post by Maria Colgan exceptionally good at explaining the mechanism.

I often have to check table preferences in case statistics look a little suspicious but there isn’t an Oracle supplied way that I’m aware of to print all table preferences so I came up with a little script to do so. It currently supports Oracle 19c but it’s super easy to update the code for other releases. The table – passed as a parameter – needs to be in the user’s schema:

$ cat table_prefs.sql 
set serveroutput on verify off

prompt getting table prefs for &1
prompt ----------------------------------------

        v_version varchar2(100);
        v_compat  varchar2(100);

        type prefs_t is table of varchar2(100);

        v_prefs_19c prefs_t := prefs_t(

        procedure print_prefs(pi_prefs prefs_t) as
                v_value varchar2(100);
                for i in pi_prefs.first .. pi_prefs.last loop
                        v_value := sys.dbms_stats.get_prefs(
                                pname => pi_prefs(i),
                                ownname => user,
                                tabname => sys.dbms_assert.sql_object_name('&1'));

                sys.dbms_output.put_line(rpad(pi_prefs(i), 50) || ': ' || v_value);
                end loop;

        sys.dbms_utility.db_version(v_version, v_compat);

        if v_version = '' then
                raise_application_error(-20001, 'Oracle ' || v_version || ' not yet supported');
        end if;


Extending the code is very straight-forward. Simply create a new variable like v_prefs_12102 and copy/paste all the possible values from the 12c documentation for dbms_stats.get_prefs(). Then add a branch for your release and off you go.

Happy troubleshooting!

Initialising PL/SQL associative arrays in 18c and later

I can never remember how to initialise PL/SQL associative arrays and thought I’d write a short post about it. This is primarily based on an article on Oracle’s Ask Tom site, plus a little extra detail from Steven Feuerstein. Associative arrays were previously known as index-by tables, by the way.

Associative arrays before 18c

Prior to Oracle 18c, you had to initialise an associative array in a slightly cumbersome way, like so:

    TYPE array_t IS
    v_the_array   array_t;
    v_index       PLS_INTEGER;
    v_the_array(1) := 'one';
    v_the_array(2) := 'two';
    v_the_array(3) := 'three';
    v_the_array(9) := 'nine';
    v_index := v_the_array.first;
    WHILE ( v_index IS NOT NULL ) LOOP
        dbms_output.put_line('v_the_array(' || v_index || '): ' || v_the_array(v_index));
        v_index :=;

There are slight variations to the theme as explained in example 5-3 of the Oracle Database PL/SQL language reference you might find interesting. You end up having to repeat yourself a lot, as you can see immediately below the BEGIN keyword.

Oracle 18c simplifies this task

With 18c the syntax reminds me a little of Perl, as in you define the type first; in the next step you add a variable to your anonymous code block, which you initialise in the same step:

    TYPE array_t IS

    -- this is new for 18c, see Steven Feuerstein's article here:
    v_the_array   array_t := array_t(
        1 => 'one', 
        2 => 'two', 
        3 => 'three',    -- note gap here ;)
        9 => 'nine');

    v_index       PLS_INTEGER;
    v_index := v_the_array.first;

    WHILE ( v_index IS NOT NULL ) LOOP
        dbms_output.put_line('v_the_array(' || v_index || '): ' || v_the_array(v_index));
        v_index :=;


This way you can define the array in a much nicer looking way and with less code. I also find it more readable.

You are of course not limited to using PLS_INTEGER for indexing the array, you can index differently:

    TYPE capitals_t IS
    v_capitals   capitals_t := capitals_t(
        'France' => 'Paris', 
        'Belgium' => 'Brussels', 
        'Austria' => 'Vienna');

    v_index      VARCHAR2(100);
    v_index := v_capitals.first;
    WHILE ( v_index IS NOT NULL ) LOOP
        dbms_output.put_line('The capital of ' || v_index || ' is ' 
                             || v_capitals(v_index));

        v_index :=;


Once I wrapped my head around this it all made sense, and I think I’ll use this syntax from now on.

orachk can now warn about unwanted cleanup of files in /var/tmp/.oracle

Some time ago @martinberx mentioned on twitter that one of his Linux systems suffered from Clusterware issues for which there wasn’t a readily available explanation. It turned out that the problem he faced were unwanted (from an Oracle perspective at least) automatic cleanup operations in /var/tmp/.oracle. You can read more at the original blog post.

The short version is this: systemd (1) – successor to SysV init and Upstart – tries to be helpful removing unused files in a number of “temp” directories. However some of the files it can remove are essential for Clusterware, and without them all sorts of trouble ensue.

A note about this post’s shell life and versions used

In case you found this post via a search engine, here are the key properties of the system I worked on while compiling this post – an Oracle Linux 7.7 VM and orachk 19.2.0_20190717. Everything in IT has a shell life, and this post is no different. It is likely to become obsolete with new releases of the operating system and/or orachk versions.


My Oracle Suport (MOS) has been updated, there are finally hits when searching for “tmpfiles.d” for Oracle/RedHat Linux 7. Exadata users find the issue documented as EX50. More importantly, orachk 19.2.0_20190717 (and potentially earlier releases, I haven’t checked) warn you about this potential stability issue as you can see in figure 1:

Figure 1: orachk warns about potential problems

This is great news for database administrators as this might have gone undetected otherwise. It should be noted though that the suggested solution underneath Action/Repair is incomplete. You cannot simply copy and paste the 3 lines mentioned in that section as the documentation for tmpfiles.d (5) reveals. Subsequent orachk runs confirm this by still flagging the outcome of the check as critical.

Ensuring the check passes

A little more digging into the issue and corresponding MOS notes revealed that a different syntax is needed. This has already been covered in a couple of other blog posts, I’m adding the information here to save you time. With the amended configuration added towards the end of /usr/lib/tmpfiles.d/tmp.conf, orachk was happy:

[root@server1]# cat /usr/lib/tmpfiles.d/tmp.conf
# This file is part of systemd.
# systemd is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
# under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by
# the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or
# (at your option) any later version.

# See tmpfiles.d(5) for details

[ ... more output ... ]

x /tmp/.oracle*
x /var/tmp/.oracle*
x /usr/tmp/.oracle*

I re-ran the orachk command and thankfully, the test succeeded as you can see this in figure 2:

Figure 2: with a little extra configuration the check passes.

I have no idea if systemd picks the change in my configuration file up without restarting the timer, so I’m also doing this for good measure:

[root@server1 ~]# systemctl restart systemd-tmpfiles-clean.timer

With these remediation steps in place, you have done everything Oracle documented to be safe from Clusterware issues caused by systemd. Shortly before hitting the publish button @FritsHoogland let me know that Oracle’s Grid Infrastructure RU 19.4 has a go at fixing this issue. It doesn’t add all the lines to satisfy orachk though, and you need to review /usr/lib/tmpfiles.d/tmp.conf after applying the 19.4 Grid Infrastructure RU.

Dead Connection Detection (DCD) and the Oracle database

Dead Connection Detection is a useful feature of the Oracle database: it allows for the cleanup of “dead” sessions so they don’t linger around consuming memory and other system resources. The idea is simple: if the database detects that a client process is no longer connected to its server process, it cleans up. This can happen in many ways, in most cases this kind of problem is triggered by an end user.

A dead connection shouldn’t be confused with idle connections: an idle connection still maintains the network link between client and server process, except that there is no activity. Idle connections aren’t maintained/controlled via DCD, there are other tools in the database handling such cases.

As a by product, DCD can also help with overly eager firewalls forcibly removing seemingly idle network connections. I found the following posts and the references therein very useful:

With Oracle 12c Oracle changed the way DCD works by no longer relying on its network layer but rather pushing the functionality into the TCP stack on platforms that support it. This change in behaviour is also explained in an Oracle white paper from 2014.

For the first part of this post I set sqlnet.expire_time to 1 as per a MOS note I found, your value is probably different. The parameter is documented in the Net*8 reference, please use it to work out what the best value is for you. As others have pointed out, this parameter has to go into the RDBMS home, more specifically $ORACLE_HOME/network/admin/sqlnet.ora. I am using Oracle 19.4 on Oracle Linux 7.7 for this blog post. I have seen the same behaviour in as well in my lab.


In addition to the proven methods of checking whether TCP_KEEPALIVE is enabled for a given session I wanted to show another one. Using the ss(8) utility it is possible to show socket options. I also tried lsof but on my system I couldn’t get it to print the options:

SQL> select spid from v$process where addr = (select paddr from v$session where username = 'MARTIN');


SQL> exit 


[root@server2 ~]# lsof -nP -p 13656 -T f
lsof: unsupported TCP/TPI info selection: f
lsof 4.87

Although the man-page for lsof reads:

       -T [t]   controls the reporting of some TCP/TPI information,  also  reported  by  net‐
                stat(1),  following  the network addresses.  In normal output the information
                appears in parentheses, each item except TCP or TPI state name identified  by
                a keyword, followed by `=', separated from others by a single space:

                     <TCP or TPI state name>
                     QR=<read queue length>
                     QS=<send queue length>
                     SO=<socket options and values>
                     SS=<socket states>
                     TF=<TCP flags and values>
                     WR=<window read length>
                     WW=<window write length>

                Not all values are reported for all UNIX dialects.  Items values (when avail‐
                able) are reported after the item name and '='.

                When the field output mode is in effect  (See  OUTPUT  FOR  OTHER  PROGRAMS.)
                each item appears as a field with a `T' leading character.

                -T with no following key characters disables TCP/TPI information reporting.

                -T with following characters selects the reporting of specific TCP/TPI infor‐

                     f    selects reporting of socket options,
                          states and values, and TCP flags and

So let’s try something else: ss(8) – another utility to investigate sockets

Revealing socket options

I have used ss(8) in the past when I didn’t have netstat available, which is more and more common now that netstat is deprecated and its designated successor is ss :)

As far as I know you can’t limit ss to show information just for a PID, I use grep to limit the output. The output is in fact very wide, which is why this might not look pretty on the blog depending on whether the renderer decides to wrap output or not.

[root@server2 ~]# ss -nop | egrep 'NetidState|13656'
NetidState Recv-Q Send-Q                                    Local Address:Port                                      Peer Address:Port                                                                                                           
tcp  ESTAB 0      0                               [::ffff:]:1521                           [::ffff:]:25780                           users:(("oracle_13656_si",pid=13656,fd=18)) timer:(keepalive,4.412ms,0)        
[root@server2 ~]# 

I used the following options:

  • -n for “Do not try to resolve service names”
  • -o for “Show timer information” and finally
  • -p to “Show process using socket”.

The main option here is -o. As per the man page:

       -o, --options
              Show timer information. For tcp protocol, the output format is:


                     the name of the timer, there are five kind of timer names:

                     on: means one of these timers: tcp retrans timer, tcp early retrans timer and tail loss probe timer
                     keepalive: tcp keep alive timer
                     timewait: timewait stage timer
                     persist: zero window probe timer
                     unknown: none of the above timers

                     how long time the timer will expire

                     how many times the retran occurs

With a little shell loop I can show how that timer is decrementing:

[root@server2 ~]# for i in $(seq 1 5); do ss -nop | grep 13656; sleep 1 ; done
tcp  ESTAB 0      0                               [::ffff:]:1521                           [::ffff:]:25780                           users:(("oracle_13656_si",pid=13656,fd=18)) timer:(keepalive,20sec,0)          
tcp  ESTAB 0      0                               [::ffff:]:1521                           [::ffff:]:25780                           users:(("oracle_13656_si",pid=13656,fd=18)) timer:(keepalive,19sec,0)          
tcp  ESTAB 0      0                               [::ffff:]:1521                           [::ffff:]:25780                           users:(("oracle_13656_si",pid=13656,fd=18)) timer:(keepalive,18sec,0)          
tcp  ESTAB 0      0                               [::ffff:]:1521                           [::ffff:]:25780                           users:(("oracle_13656_si",pid=13656,fd=18)) timer:(keepalive,17sec,0)          
tcp  ESTAB 0      0                               [::ffff:]:1521                           [::ffff:]:25780                           users:(("oracle_13656_si",pid=13656,fd=18)) timer:(keepalive,16sec,0)          
[root@server2 ~]# 


Using the ss utility it is possible to check if a keepalive timer is implemented as a means to support DCD with 12.1 and later releases. Invoking ss(8) hasn’t caused any problems on my system, but as with every such tool you need to ensure it’s safe to use before attempting to look at an important system.

Little things worth knowing: keeping enq: TM enqueue at bay during direct path inserts

Direct path inserts are commonly found in processing where data are shifted from one source to another. There are many permutations of the theme, this post details the way SQL Loader (sqlldr) behaves.

I have previously written about sqlldr and concurrent direct path inserts. The behaviour for releases <= 12.1 is described in the first post, the most welcome changes in 12.2 went into the second post. Since the fastest way of doing something is not to do it at all, I thought it might be worth demonstrating a useful technique to keep the dreaded TM enqueue at bay. Please note that these do not only apply to sqlldr, inserts with the append hint for example behave the same way in my experience.

I used Oracle 19.4.0 on Oracle Linux 7 for this post, the content should apply to older database releases, too. The data model is once more provided by Swingbench, I’m using the SH benchmark this time. As I said on twitter yesterday, @TanelPoder scripts are simply too good to afford writing my own, so I’m using them in this post where possible.

Please note that I’m using partitioning in this post, which is a cost option on top of Enterprise Edition. Always ensure your system is properly licensed for features you use.


Let’s assume for a moment that you would like to load another batch of records into the (Swingbench) sh.sales table. The table is range partitioned on time_id, and split into quarterly partitions – at least for the later ones. On my system I count 68 partitions, with the latest containing records up to January 1st 2014. I added a couple of partitions for the next 2 quarters to allow for the new data load.

SQL> select partition_name, partition_position,high_value 
  2  from user_tab_partitions where table_name = 'SALES' 
  3   and partition_position >= 68;

----------------- ------------------- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SALES_Q4_2013                      68 TO_DATE(' 2014-01-01 00:00:00', 'SYYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS', 'NLS_CALENDAR=GREGORIAN')   
SALES_Q1_2014                      69 TO_DATE(' 2014-04-01 00:00:00', 'SYYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS', 'NLS_CALENDAR=GREGORIAN')   
SALES_Q2_2014                      70 TO_DATE(' 2014-07-01 00:00:00', 'SYYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS', 'NLS_CALENDAR=GREGORIAN')   

I created CSV files of the data to be loaded by simply adding 3 and 6 months to the last populated partition.

spool /u01/app/oracle/admin/ORCL/sqlldr/sales_q1_2014.csv
select /*csv*/ 
 add_months(time_id,3) time_id,
from sales partition (sales_q4_2013);

spool off
spool  /u01/app/oracle/admin/ORCL/sqlldr/sales_q2_2014.csv

select /*csv*/ 
 add_months(time_id,6) time_id,
from sales partition (sales_q4_2013);

spool off

Using the csv “hint” and executing this little script in sqlcl allows me to spool the files into the desired format (I made sure I have plenty of space available in /u01/app/oracle/admin). Now let’s try loading the data. As always, I use a control file although there might be better ways of doing this. It contains the following instructions:

options (direct=true,skip=1)
load data
append into table sales
fields terminated by ',' optionally enclosed by '"'
date format "dd-mon-yy"
trailing nullcols

Test #1

Now let’s load the data! Since I’m not the most patient person I launched 2 sessions in parallel using a screen (1) session

$ sqlldr /@sh control=load_sales.ctl data=sales_q1_2014.csv log=load_q1.log bad=load_q1.bad direct_path_lock_wait=true

$ sqlldr /@sh control=load_sales.ctl data=sales_q2_2014.csv log=load_q2.log bad=load_q2.bad direct_path_lock_wait=true

While monitoring the load process I was surprised to see session 2 waiting:

SQL> select sid,seq#,event,state from v$session where program like '%sqlldr%';

       SID       SEQ# EVENT                                                            STATE
---------- ---------- ---------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------
      1228        578 SQL*Net more data from client                                    WAITED SHORT TIME
      1470         97 enq: TM - contention                                             WAITING

2 rows selected.

Each process should insert data into separate partitions, so why is there a wait? Maybe there is a clue in v$session_wait:

SQL> @sw 1470

    SID STATE   EVENT                                          SEQ# SEC_IN_WAIT P1                  P2                  P3                  P1TRANSL
------- ------- ---------------------------------------- ---------- ----------- ------------------- ------------------- ------------------- ------------------------------------------
   1470 WAITING enq: TM - contention                             98           6 name|mode=          object #= 78758     table/partition= 0  0x544D0006: TM mode 6

1 row selected.

I noticed that p3 mentions a table or partition flag, which triggered my interest. After a little bit of research I found this section in the documentation: 12.3.2 Direct Path Load of a Partitioned or Subpartitioned Table which provides some clues. Object# 78758 is the table in my database:

SQL> @oid 78758

owner                     object_name                    object_type        SUBOBJECT_NAME                 CREATED             LAST_DDL_TIME       status    DATA_OBJECT_ID
------------------------- ------------------------------ ------------------ ------------------------------ ------------------- ------------------- --------- --------------
SH                        SALES                          TABLE                                             2019-08-29 15:14:53 2019-08-29 23:06:27 VALID

What if I tried to insert into a partition straight away?

Test #2

Let’s try that with the following 2 control files. The main differences are a) referencing the input file directly and b) the specification of the target partition in the append clause:

$ cat load_sales_q1_2014.ctl
options (skip=1,direct=true)
load data
infile  /u01/app/oracle/admin/ORCL/sqlldr/sales_q1_2014.csv
append into table sales partition (sales_q1_2014)
fields terminated by ',' optionally enclosed by '"'
date format "dd-mon-yy"
trailing nullcols

$ cat load_sales_q2_2014.ctl
options (skip=1,direct=true)
load data
infile  /u01/app/oracle/admin/ORCL/sqlldr/sales_q2_2014.csv
append into table sales partition (sales_q2_2014)
fields terminated by ',' optionally enclosed by '"'
date format "dd-mon-yy"
trailing nullcols

The slightly adjusted commands for sqlldr are as follows:

$ sqlldr /@sh control=load_sales_q1_2014.ctl log=load_q1.log bad=load_q1.bad direct_path_lock_wait=true

$ sqlldr /@sh control=load_sales_q2_2014.ctl log=load_q2.log bad=load_q2.bad direct_path_lock_wait=true

With the change in place I couldn’t notice any TM enqueues when running these in parallel:

SQL> select sid,seq#,event,state from v$session where program like '%sqlldr%';

no rows selected

SQL> r
  1* select sid,seq#,event,state from v$session where program like '%sqlldr%'

       SID       SEQ# EVENT                                                            STATE
---------- ---------- ---------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------
      1251        627 direct path write temp                                           WAITED KNOWN TIME
      1488        475 PGA memory operation                                             WAITED SHORT TIME

SQL> r
  1* select sid,seq#,event,state from v$session where program like '%sqlldr%'

       SID       SEQ# EVENT                                                            STATE
---------- ---------- ---------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------
      1251        819 direct path write temp                                           WAITING
      1488        664 direct path write temp                                           WAITING

SQL> r
  1* select sid,seq#,event,state from v$session where program like '%sqlldr%'

       SID       SEQ# EVENT                                                            STATE
---------- ---------- ---------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------
      1251       1070 SQL*Net more data from client                                    WAITED SHORT TIME
      1488        906 direct path write temp                                           WAITED KNOWN TIME

SQL> r
  1* select sid,seq#,event,state from v$session where program like '%sqlldr%'

       SID       SEQ# EVENT                                                            STATE
---------- ---------- ---------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------
      1251       1332 db file sequential read                                          WAITED SHORT TIME
      1488       1143 library cache lock                                               WAITING

SQL> r
  1* select sid,seq#,event,state from v$session where program like '%sqlldr

       SID       SEQ# EVENT                                                            STATE
---------- ---------- ---------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------
      1251       1824 db file sequential read                                          WAITED SHORT TIME
      1488       1372 db file sequential read                                          WAITING

That looks ok, and switching back through both screen sessions I can see both invocations of sqlldr completed ok:

$ sqlldr /@sh control=load_sales_q1_2014.ctl log=load_q1.log bad=load_q1.bad direct_path_lock_wait=true

SQL*Loader: Release - Production on Thu Aug 29 22:44:53 2019

Copyright (c) 1982, 2019, Oracle and/or its affiliates.  All rights reserved.

Path used:      Direct

Load completed - logical record count 652437.

Table SALES, partition SALES_Q1_2014:
  652437 Rows successfully loaded.

Check the log file:
for more information about the load.

$ sqlldr /@sh control=load_sales_q2_2014.ctl log=load_q2.log bad=load_q2.bad direct_path_lock_wait=true

SQL*Loader: Release - Production on Thu Aug 29 22:44:54 2019

Copyright (c) 1982, 2019, Oracle and/or its affiliates.  All rights reserved.

Path used:      Direct

Load completed - logical record count 652437.

Table SALES, partition SALES_Q2_2014:
  652437 Rows successfully loaded.

Check the log file:
for more information about the load.


When you are trying to load data into a table concurrently using direct path inserts, you will have to wait on a TM enqueue unless your table is partitioned and you are specifying different partitions as the target in each process. More generally speaking, Oracle will hold a TM enqueue on the segment you are loading into, so 2 processes attempting a direct path insert into a (sub) partition will equally have to serialise.

NB: if you are using direct path mode for sqlldr and your target segment is indexed, make sure to read chapter 12 in the Database Utilities Guide to learn about the implications of direct path load and index maintenance.