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Oracle 12c: Database Parameters…

For those in a desperate need to learn all 3351 database parameter variations… x_ksppi.txt …if you break it, then… …please let me remind you some info mentioned on my “About”-page: The content presented has been tested as good as humanly possible. But be warned: always properly test it before you use them yourself… Applying ideas,


Row Level Security Part 2 – permissions

<..Part 1, introduction..
..Part 3 summary in pictures..>

In this second post on the topic of “an introduction to Row Level Security” I want to cover a few things about what permissions you need to implement RLS and some of the consequences. In my introduction in part one I just said my main user has “DBA type Privileges”.

{NB This is all on Oracle V11.2 and I believe everything below is applicable to V10 as well. Also, I should point out that I am not an Oracle security expert – but despite repeatedly saying this, it seems like at least once a year I am asked to improve a system’s security on the grounds of “more than we have now is an improvement”}.

Dropped Tables, Hiding Extents and Slow DBA_FREE_SPACE Queries

My last post was on slow dictionary queries caused by having many, many thousands of extents in your database. This post is about a special case of this problem, which I encountered recently. It was on an Exadata box – Exadata is not particularly relevant to the issue, but I’m curious to see if mentioning Exadata will make this post more popular :-)

I was querying the used and free space on a very small database on the client’s X2-2 1/4 rack Exadata machine. The query was really slow, taking about 30 seconds. This is a FAST box, what is going on?

I quickly realised that the problem was specific to one tablespace:

Oracle Core: Essential Internals for DBAs and Developers book by Jonathan Lewis

In case you didn’t know, Jonathan Lewis’es new Oracle Core: Essential Internals for DBAs and Developers book is out (for a few weeks already).

I was the technical reviewer for that book and I can say it’s awesome! It will likely be the best Oracle internals book out there for the coming 10 years, just like Steve Adams’es Oracle Internal Services book was in the last decade :) 

Jonathan does a very good job explaining complex things in a simple enough way – and the book is not just dry listing of how things work inside Oracle database, but also why they work like they do and what are the benefits, limitations and side effects of the behavior.

What the heck is the SQL Execution ID – SQL_EXEC_ID?

Ok, I think it’s time to write another blog entry. I’ve been traveling and dealing with jetlag from 10-hour time difference, then traveling some more, spoken at conferences, drank beer, had fun, then traveled some more, trained customers, hacked some Exadatas and now I’m back home.

Anyway, do you know what is the SQL_EXEC_ID in V$SESSION and ASH views?

Oh yeah, it’s the “SQL Execution ID” just like the documentation says … all clear. Um … is it? I’d like to know more about it – what does it actually stand for?! Is it session level, instance level or a RAC-global counter? And why does it start from 16 million, not 1?


V8 Bundled Exec call – and Oracle Program Interface (OPI) calls

So, what he hell is that V8 Bundled Exec call which shows up in various Oracle 11g monitoring reports?!

It’s yet another piece of instrumentation which can be useful for diagnosing non-trivial performance problems. Oracle ASH has allowed us to measure what is the top wait event or top SQLID for a long time, but now it’s also possible to take a step back and see what type of operation the database session is servicing. 

I am talking about Oracle Program Interface (OPI) calls. Basically for each OCI call in the client side (like , OCIStmtExecute, OCIStmtFetch, etc) there’s a corresponding server side OPI function (like opiexe(), opifch2() etc). 

Full scans, direct path reads and ORA-8103 error hacking session video here (plus iTunes podcast address!)

I have uploaded the latest hacking session video to I have edited it a little, I cut out the part where I spilled an entire Red Bull onto my desk, with some onto my laptop (some keys are still sticky:)

Also, I do upload all these sessins into iTunes – so you can subscribe to my podcast! That way you can download the videos into your computer, phone or iPad. I have deliberately used 1024×768 resolution so it would look awesome on iPad screen! (so hopefully your commute time gets a bit more fun now ;-)



iTunes video-podcast:



Secret hacking session – full scans, direct path reads, object level checkpoints, ORA-8103s! (again)

I’m mentioning this again just in case you missed the announcement (because I posted it on the weekend):


There will be anotner free Secret hacking session – about full scans, direct path reads, object level checkpoints, ORA-8103s!

It will happen tomorrow, Tuesday 9th August, online!


Register here:

See you soon!


Training Schedule for 2011 and Public Appearances

Online Seminars
A lot of people have asked me about whether I’d be doing any more seminars in the future. And the answer is yes – at least this year (might be too busy running a company the next year ;-)
I have finally put together the schedule for my 2011 seminars. In addition to the Advanced Oracle Troubleshooting seminar I will also deliver my Advanced Oracle SQL Tuning and Oracle Partitioning and Parallel Execution for Performance seminars, which I have done only onsite in past.
So, check out the seminars page:
Also don’t forget the Expert Oracle Exadata virtual conference next week!
Public Appearances

Oracle OpenWorld 2. October
  • I will talk about Large-Scale Consolidation onto Oracle Exadata: Planning, Execution, and Validation
  • Session ID 09355
Maybe I’ll lurk around the UKOUG venue as well in december ;-)

Index Organized Tables – the Basics.

IOT2 – Examples and proofs..>
IOT3 – Greatly reducing IO with IOTs….>
IOT4 – Boosting Buffer Cache Efficiency……>

I think Index Organized Tables(IOTs) are a much under-used and yet very useful feature of Oracle. Over the next few postings I’m going to cover some aspect of Index Organised Tables, both good and not-so-good. I am going to cover some benefits of IOTs that I think many people are unaware of. In this first post I am just going to run through the basics of IOTs.

The idea behind an IOT is simple. You hold all the data for the table in the ordered structure of an index. Why would you want to do that? Let us consider a very common requirement, accessing a row in a “large” table via a known, unique key.

Traditionally you have a heap table holding the data you want to access and a standard index to support access to that table. See the first diagram below. The 4-layer triangle represents the index, with a root block, two levels of branch blocks and then the leaf blocks at the “bottom”. The blue rectangle represents the table with the squares being individual rows. Of course, in a large table there would be thousands or millions of “squares”, this is just a simple diagram to show the idea.

When you issue a SQL statement to select the row via the indexed column(s) then oracle will read the root block (1), find the relevent block in the first level of branch blocks (2), then the relevant block in the second level of branch blocks (3) and finally (as far as the index is concerned) the relevant Leaf Block for the unique key. The leaf block holds the indexed column(s) and also the rowid. The rowid is the fastest way to look up a record, it states the file, block and row offset for the row. This allows oracle to go straight to the block and get the row. That is read number (5).
The number of branch blocks {and thus the number of blocks that need to be read to find a row} will vary depending on how much data is indexed, the number and size of the columns in the index, how efficiently the space has been used in the blocks and one or two other factors. In my experience most indexes for tables with thousands or millions of rows have one, two or three levels of branch blocks.

The second diagram shows a representation of the Index Organized Table. The table has in effect disappeared as a distinct object and the information has been moved into the leaf blocks of the index {part of me feels Index Organized Tables should really be called Table Organized Indexes or Table Containing Indexes as that would better indicate what is physically done}:

So with the IOT oracle reads the root block (1), the two branch level blocks (2 and 3) and finally the leaf block (4). The leaf block does not hold the rowid but rather the rest of the columns for the table {this can be changed, a more advanced feature allows you to store some or all the extra columns in an overflow segment}. Thus to access the same data, Oracle has to read only 4 blocks, not 5. Using an IOT saves one block read per unique lookup.

This saving of block reads is probably the main feature that IOTs are known for, but there are others which I will cover in later posts. Two things I will mention now is that, firstly, the use of IOTs is potentially saving disc space. An index is in effect duplication of data held in the table. When you create an index no new information is created but space is used up holding some of the table information in a structure suitable for fast lookup. Secondly, the index and table have to be maintained whenever a change is made to the columns that are indexed. IOTs reduce this maintenance overhead as there is only one thing to maintain.

Now for some drawbacks.

  • The IOT has to be indexed on the primary key. There is no option to create an IOT based on other indexes. As such you have to either be accessing the table via the primary key to get the benefit – or you have to be a little cunning.
  • The index is going to be larger than it was and very often larger than the original table. This can slow down range scans or full scans of the index and a “full table scan” will now be a full index scan on this large object, so that can also negatively impact performance. However, if a range scan would then have resulted in access to the table to get extra columns, the IOT gives a similar benefit in reducing IO to that for single row lookups.
  • I just want to highlight that you now have no rowid for the rows.
  • Secondary indexes are supported but will potentially be less efficient due to this lack of rowid.

So, a brief summary is that Index Organised Tables effectively move the table data into the Primary Key index, reduce the number of block lookups needed to select one row, can save some disc space. But you can only organize the table via the Primary Key and it can make full or partial table scans and lookups via other indexes slower.

There are several more important benefits to IOTs {in my opinion} which I will come to over the next week or two.