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Oracle 19c Automatic Indexing: Methodology Introduction (After Today)

For the past month or so I’ve been playing around extensively with the new Oracle 19c “Automatic Indexing” feature, so I thought it was time to start blogging about it. Considering it’s only in “Version 1” status, my initial impression is very positive in that it works extremely well doing at what it’s initially designed […]

Sometimes the Simplest Things Are the Most Important

I didn’t ride in First Class a lot during my career, but I can remember one trip, I was sitting in seat 1B. Aisle seat, very front row. Right behind the lavatory bulkhead. The lady next to me in 1A was very nice, and we traded some stories.

I can remember telling her during dinner, wow, just look at us. Sitting in an aluminum tube going 500 miles per hour, 40,000 feet off the ground. It’s 50º below zero out there. Thousands of gallons of kerosene are burning in huge cans bolted to our wings, making it all go. Yet here we sit in complete comfort, enjoying a glass of wine and a steak dinner. And just three feet away from us in that lavatory right there, a grown man is evacuating his bowels.

I said, you know, out of all the inventions that have brought us to where we are here today, the very most important one is probably that wall.

It’s back!

Yes indeed! Now that the dates and times are available for OpenWorld 2019, then it is naturally time for the best data searching, filtering and analysis tool on the planet to step up to the plate, enter the fray and …. hmmm… I’ve run out of metaphors </p />

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Ansible tips’n’tricks: checking if a systemd service is running

I have been working on an Ansible playbook to update Oracle’s Tracefile Analyser (TFA). If you have been following this blog over the past few months you might remember that I’m a great fan of the tool! Using Ansible makes my life a lot easier: when deploying a new system I can ensure that I’m also installing TFA. Under normal circumstances, TFA should be present when the (initial) deployment playbook finishes. At least in theory.

As we know, life is what happens when you’re making other plans, and I’d rather check whether TFA is installed/configured/running before trying to upgrade it. The command to upgrade TFA is different from the command I use to deploy it.

I have considered quite a few different ways to do this but in the end decided to check for the oracle-tfa service: if the service is present, TFA must be as well. There are probably other ways, maybe better ones, but this one works for me.

Checking for the presence of a service

Ansible offers a module, called service_facts since version 2.5 to facilitate working with services. I also tried the setup module but didn’t find what I needed. Consider the following output, generated on Oracle Linux 7.6 when gathering service facts:

TASK [get service facts] *******************************************************
 ok: [localhost] => {
     "ansible_facts": {
         "services": {
             "NetworkManager-wait-online.service": {
                 "name": "NetworkManager-wait-online.service", 
                 "source": "systemd", 
                 "state": "stopped"
             "NetworkManager.service": {
                 "name": "NetworkManager.service", 
                 "source": "systemd", 
                 "state": "running"
             "auditd.service": {
                 "name": "auditd.service", 
                 "source": "systemd", 
                 "state": "running"

[ many more services ]

            "oracle-tfa.service": {
                 "name": "oracle-tfa.service", 
                 "source": "systemd", 
                 "state": "running"

[ many more services ]

This looks ever so slightly complicated! And indeed, it took a little while to work the syntax out. My first attempt were all but unsuccessful.

Getting the syntax right

Thankfully I wasn’t the only one with the problem, and with a little bit of research ended up with this code:

 - hosts: localhost
   connection: local
   become: true

   - name: get service facts

   - name: try to work out how to access the service

Awesome! When running this on a system with TFA installed, it works quite nicely:

TASK [try to work out how to access the service] *******************************
 ok: [localhost] => {
     "[\"oracle-tfa.service\"]": {
         "name": "oracle-tfa.service", 
         "source": "systemd", 
         "state": "running"

 PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
 localhost                  : ok=3    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0

The same code fails on a system without TFA installed:

TASK [try to work out how to access the service] *******************************
 ok: [localhost] => {
     "[\"oracle-tfa.service\"]": "VARIABLE IS NOT DEFINED!
      'dict object' has no attribute 'oracle-tfa.service'"

 PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
 localhost                  : ok=3    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0

Now the trick is to ensure that I’m not referencing an undefined variable. This isn’t too hard either, here is a useable playbook:

 - hosts: localhost
   connection: local 
   - name: get service facts
   - name: check if TFA is installed
       msg: Tracefile Analyzer is not installed, why? It should have been there!
     when:["oracle-tfa.service"] is not defined

The “tasks” include getting service facts before testing for the presence of the oracle-tfa.service. I deliberately fail the upgrade process to make the user aware of a situation that should not have happened.

Hope this helps!

Running pgBench on YugaByteDB 1.3

Running pgBench on YugaByte DB 1.3

My first test on this Open Source SQL distributed database.

Did you hear about YugaByteDB, a distributed database with an architecture similar to Google Spanner, using PostgreSQL as the query layer?

I started to follow when I’ve heard that Bryn Llewellyn, famous PL/SQL and EBR product manager, left Oracle to be their developer advocate. And YugaByteDB got more attention recently when announcing that their product license is now 100% Open Source.

I like to learn new things by trying and troubleshooting rather than reading the documentation. Probably because there’s more to learn aside of the documentation path. And also because troubleshooting is fun. So, one of the great features is that the query layer is compatible with PostgreSQL. Then I’ll try to run pgBench on YugaByteDB.

It is important to mention here that I’m running all nodes in a single lab VM, so performance is not representative. And I’m testing the YSQL query layer which is still in beta. The goal is to discover and learn about the distributed database challenges, rather than evaluating the product.

Install YugaByteDB

Nothing is easier than the installation of YugaByteDB, all documented:

Install YugaByte DB | YugaByte DB Docs

I install it in RHEL 7.6 (Actually OEL 7.6 as I’m running my lab in an Oracle Cloud VM). The install is just an un-tar followed by the post-install which patches the binaries so that we don’t have to set LD_LIBRARY_PATH. I set PATH to the YugaByte bin directory:

wget -O- | tar -zxvf - 
export PATH=$PATH:$PWD/yugabyte-

I create a 3 nodes cluster on this host:

yb-ctl --rf 3 create
yb-ctl status

Those nodes are created as to here. I access remotely and I tunnel the interesting ports with my ssh_config file:

Host yb
User opc
ForwardX11 yes
DynamicForward 8080
LocalForward 15433
LocalForward 25433
LocalForward 35433
LocalForward 19042
LocalForward 29042
LocalForward 39042
# Web UI
LocalForward 17000
LocalForward 27000
LocalForward 37000

I create a database. The “psql” equivalent here is “ysqlsh”:

\timing on
drop database if exists franck;
create database franck;

ysqlsh (11.2)

Install PgBench

As I tunneled the 5433 port I can use pgBench from my laptop:

pgbench --host localhost --port 15433 --username postgres franck

But the full postgres installation is also there in ./yugabyte-

then, I add this in my path:

export PATH=$PATH:$PWD/yugabyte-$PWD/yugabyte-

Initialize pgBench

I run the initialization:

pgbench --initialize --host localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

ERROR: DROP multiple objects not supported yet

Ok, I have an error because pgBench uses the multi-table drop statement which is not supported yet. But what’s really nice is the error message containing a link to the GitHub issue about this.

No problem, I don’t need to drop the tables and pgBench has an --init-steps option to choose the steps: drop tables, table creation, generate data, vacuum, primary key creation, foreign key creation.

pgbench --initialize --init-steps=tgvpf -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

ERROR: VACUUM not supported yet
HINT: Please report the issue on

There’s no FILLFACTOR and no VACUUM per-se (the storage engine has a transparent garbage collector). YugaByteDB uses the PostgreSQL query layer, but not the same storage layer. My tables are created and data is generated:

ysqlsh franck
select count(*) from pgbench_branches;
select count(*) from pgbench_accounts;
select count(*) from pgbench_tellers;
select count(*) from pgbench_history;

Let’s continue without vacuum, only the primary and foreign key definition:

pgbench --initialize --init-steps=pf -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

ERROR: This ALTER TABLE command is not yet supported.

pgBench adds the constraints with an ALTER TABLE but YugaByteDB supports only inline declaration in the CREATE TABLE. You can check the DDL from a PostgreSQL database (initialize with the ‘foreign key’ step which is not the default):

pg_dump --schema-only -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

Basically, here is what is missing in my YugaByteDB database:

alter table pgbench_branches add primary key (bid);
"alter table pgbench_tellers add primary key (tid)",
"alter table pgbench_accounts add primary key (aid)"
"alter table pgbench_tellers add constraint pgbench_tellers_bid_fkey foreign key (bid) references pgbench_branches",
"alter table pgbench_accounts add constraint pgbench_accounts_bid_fkey foreign key (bid) references pgbench_branches",
"alter table pgbench_history add constraint pgbench_history_bid_fkey foreign key (bid) references pgbench_branches",
"alter table pgbench_history add constraint pgbench_history_tid_fkey foreign key (tid) references pgbench_tellers",
"alter table pgbench_history add constraint pgbench_history_aid_fkey foreign key (aid) references pgbench_accounts"

Re-Create with Primary and Foreign Keys

Finally, here is what I want to run to get everything in a supported way:

ysqlsh franck
 drop table if exists pgbench_history;
drop table if exists pgbench_tellers;
drop table if exists pgbench_accounts;
drop table if exists pgbench_branches;
CREATE TABLE pgbench_branches (
bid integer NOT NULL
,bbalance integer
,filler character(88)
,CONSTRAINT pgbench_branches_pkey PRIMARY KEY (bid)
CREATE TABLE pgbench_accounts (
aid integer NOT NULL
,bid integer references pgbench_branches
,abalance integer
,filler character(84)
,CONSTRAINT pgbench_accounts_pkey PRIMARY KEY (aid)
CREATE TABLE pgbench_tellers (
tid integer NOT NULL
,bid integer references pgbench_branches
,tbalance integer
,filler character(84)
,CONSTRAINT pgbench_tellers_pkey PRIMARY KEY (tid)
CREATE TABLE pgbench_history (
tid integer references pgbench_tellers
,bid integer references pgbench_branches
,aid integer references pgbench_accounts
,delta integer
,mtime timestamp without time zone
,filler character(22)

This creates the tables without any error. Next step is to generate data

Generate data

Now the only “ --initialize” step I have to do is the generation of data.

Note that this step is doing the truncate with multi-table syntax and this one is already implemented.

So here is the “generate data” step:

pgbench --initialize --init-steps=g -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

ERROR: Operation only supported in SERIALIZABLEisolation level

PostgreSQL runs by default in “read committed” isolation level. As the GitHub issue mentions, YugaByteDB support for Foreign Keys requires “Serializable”. The reason is that the storage engine (DocDB) has no explicit row locking yet to lock the referenced row. But with referential integrity, inserting in a child table must lock the parent row in share mode (like a SELECT FOR KEY SHARE) to ensure that it is not currently being deleted (or the referenced columns updated). Then the no-lock solution is to run in a true Serializable isolation level.

About the support of Foreign Keys, read Bryn Llewellyn blog post:

Relational Data Modeling with Foreign Keys in a Distributed SQL Database - The Distributed SQL Blog

Note that I said “true” Serializable isolation level because I’m used to Oracle Database where this term is used for “Snapshot Isolation”- more about this:

Oracle serializable is not serializable - Blog dbi services

Serializable transaction isolation

So, the current transaction isolation level is “Read Committed” where repeatable reads, which is required by foreign keys, needs SELECT FOR KEY SHARE:

ysqlsh franck
select current_setting('transaction_isolation');

Then, in order to be able to insert in a table that has some foreign keys, I set the default isolation level to Serializable for my database, and re-connect to check it:

ysqlsh franck
alter database franck set default_transaction_isolation=serializable;
\c franck postgres localhost 5433
select current_setting('transaction_isolation');

Update 27-JUL-2019

If you don’t want to change the default, you can also set:

PGOPTIONS='-c default_transaction_isolation=serializable'

Generate data with serializable transactions

Ok, let’s try to generate data now:

pgbench --initialize --init-steps=g -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

That is taking a long time so I attach the debugger on it:

gdb $(pgrep pgbench)

pgbench.c:3704 is the call to PQendcopy() which is waiting for the asynchronous COPY completion, COPY is used by pgBench for the large table “pgbench_accounts”. On YugaByteDB side, it seems that only one Tablet Server is doing the work, 100% in CPU:

The Tablet Server is running code from (the YugaByteDB storage engine, DocDB, is based on RocksDB):

perf top

While I was waiting I generated a Brendan Gregg flamegraph on the busy Tablet Server, but there’s no visible bottleneck.

sudo perf record -e cpu-cycles -o /tmp/perf.out -F 99 -g
git clone
sudo perf script -i /tmp/perf.out | ./FlameGraph/ | ./FlameGraph/ /dev/stdin > /tmp/perf.folded.svg

This goes beyond the goal of this post and, anyway, looking at performance is probably not relevant in this version. [21-JUL-2019: the support for COPY has just been added since this test - more info here]

Finally, the initialization of 100000 tuples finished after one hour:

time pgbench --initialize --init-steps=g -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

So, finally, I have my pgBench schema loaded, with all referential integrity and data.

pgBench simple-update in single-session

I’m running the “simple-update” which basically updates the “abalance” for a row in “pgbench_accounts”, and inserts into “pgbench_history”.

pgbench --no-vacuum --builtin=simple-update --protocol=prepared --time 30 -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

pgbench --no-vacuum --builtin=simple-update --protocol=prepared --time 30 -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

At least I know that this basic OLTP application can run without any change on YugaByteDB and that’s a very good point for application transparency. I’ll explain later why I start here the “simple update” workload rather than the default. The Transaction Per Second rate is not amazing (it is 150x higher on a plain PostgreSQL on the same platform), but this is not what I am testing here.

pgBench simple-update in multi-sessions

Obviously, a distributed database should be scalable when multiple users are working in parallel. For this I run pgBnech with 10 clients from 10 threads:

pgbench --no-vacuum --protocol=prepared --builtin=simple-update --time 30 --jobs=10 --client=10 -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

pgbench — no-vacuum — protocol=prepared — builtin=simple-update — time 30 — jobs=10 — client=10 -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

Good. I said that we should not look at the elapsed time, but the comparison with the previous run shows the scalability as 10 sessions can run about 10x more transactions per second. I run the 3 YugaByteDB nodes on a 24 core virtual machine here. The servers are multi-threaded:

nTH: number of threads (LWP), P: last used CPU (SMP)

pgBench TCPB-like in multi-sessions

Demystifying Benchmarks: How to Use Them To Better Evaluate Databases

Actually, the first test I did was the default pgBench workload, which is the “TPC-B (sort of)”. In addition to the “simple update”, each transaction updates, in addition to “pg_account”, the balance “pgbench_tellers” and “pgbench_branches”.

This is more tricky because multiple clients will have to concurrently update the same records. And there’s a high probability of contention given the cardinalities. There, pessimistic locking would be better than optimistic. I’m still with my Foreign Keys here and Serializable isolation level (which is optimistic locking).

pgbench --no-vacuum --protocol=prepared --builtin=simple-update --time 30 --jobs=10 --client=10 -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

ERROR: could not serialize access due to concurrent update

Quickly I can see that 9 out of the 10 clients failed with “Conflicts with higher priority transaction”. This is the equivalent to the PostgreSQL “ERROR: could not serialize access due to concurrent update”. With optimistic locking, the application must be ready to re-try a failed transaction, but pgBench has no option for that. This is not special to YugaByteDB: you will get the same in PostgreSQL when running pgBench default workload in a Serializable transaction isolation level.

Anyway, given the high probability of collision here, the solution is pessimistic locking.

Read Committed transaction isolation

If I set back the isolation level to “Read Committed” the UPDATE will use pessimistic locking, and then I expect the transactions to be serialized, waiting to see committed changes rather than failing when encountering a concurrent change.

ysqlsh franck
alter database franck set default_transaction_isolation='read committed';

But then, I cannot declare the foreign keys or I’ll get “ ERROR: Operation only supported in SERIALIZABLE isolation level” until the issue #1199 is fixed.

Without referential integrity constraints

I re-create the tables with the REFERENCES clause commented out:

ysqlsh franck
drop table if exists pgbench_history;
drop table if exists pgbench_tellers;
drop table if exists pgbench_accounts;
drop table if exists pgbench_branches;
CREATE TABLE pgbench_branches (
bid integer NOT NULL
,bbalance integer
,filler character(88)
,CONSTRAINT pgbench_branches_pkey PRIMARY KEY (bid)
CREATE TABLE pgbench_accounts (
aid integer NOT NULL
,bid integer --references pgbench_branches
,abalance integer
,filler character(84)
,CONSTRAINT pgbench_accounts_pkey PRIMARY KEY (aid)
CREATE TABLE pgbench_tellers (
tid integer NOT NULL
,bid integer --references pgbench_branches
,tbalance integer
,filler character(84)
,CONSTRAINT pgbench_tellers_pkey PRIMARY KEY (tid)
CREATE TABLE pgbench_history (
tid integer --references pgbench_tellers
,bid integer --references pgbench_branches
,aid integer --references pgbench_accounts
,delta integer
,mtime timestamp without time zone
,filler character(22)

And run the initialize again, which is much faster (2 minutes instead of 1 hour):

time pgbench --initialize --init-steps=g -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

Then, ready to run my 10 clients TPC-B workload:

pgbench --no-vacuum --protocol=prepared --builtin=simple-update --time 30 --jobs=10 --client=10 -h localhost -p 5433 -U postgres franck

Operation failed. Try again.: Conflicts with higher priority transaction
ERROR: Operation failed. Try again.: Conflicts with committed transaction
ERROR: Error during commit: Operation expired: Transaction expired

This is much better. Among the 23574 transactions, I got only 3 errors and 7 clients were still running concurrently. I’ve also run it with only one client where I had TPS=144 and here with 7 clients remaining we reach TPS=785.

Of course, I would expect no “Try again” error when in Read Committed isolation level. Here I have the 3 out of the 5 transactional errors we can get from libpq calls (according to yugabyte

  • Transaction expired
  • Conflicts with committed transaction
  • Conflicts with higher priority transaction
  • Restart read required
  • Value write after transaction start

But that’s probably for another post. The important outcomes from my very first test of YugaByteDB are:

  • It is very easy to install and test, so… try it (and you will get a link to get a nice T-Shirt shipped to your home)
  • I was able to run pgBench, a simple application written for PostgreSQL, without any change for YugaByteDB
  • Not all DDL is supported yet, but easy to workaround and follow the Git issue.
  • Foreign Keys are supported, which is a challenge for a distributed database.
  • Transaction concurrency is managed and the issues that will be fixed in later releases are clearly documented as Git issues


There are probably better ways, so please let me know (@FranckPachot). This is what I use when I want to get the SQL_ID and the PLAN_HASH_VALUE when looking at the SQL Plan Baselines.

The DBA_SQL_PLAN_BASELINES view does not provide them, probably because SQL Plan Management (SPM) is going from a statement and it’s execution plan to the SQL Plan Baselines, but doesn’t need to navigate in the other way. However, we need it when troubleshooting query performance.


I think I got this from It Tony Hasler “Expert Oracle SQL: Optimization, Deployment, and Statistics” book. There’s an internal function available since 11gR2 which calculates the SQL_ID from an SQL_TEXT (as null-terminated C string):

dbms_sqltune_util0.sqltext_to_sqlid(sql_text||chr(0)) sql_id


I lazily use DBMS_XPLAN.DISPLAY_SQL_PLAN_BASELINE for this one, as it displays a line with it:

( select to_number(regexp_replace(plan_table_output,'^[^0-9]*')) 
from table(
) where plan_table_output like 'Plan hash value: %') plan_hash_value


Here is an example where I query DBA_SQL_PLAN_BASELINE with those additional columns:

select dbms_sqltune_util0.sqltext_to_sqlid(sql_text||chr(0)) sql_id,
( select to_number(regexp_replace(plan_table_output,'^[^0-9]*'))
from table(dbms_xplan.display_sql_plan_baseline(sql_handle,plan_name))
where plan_table_output like 'Plan hash value: %') plan_hash_value
,dbms_xplan.format_time_s(elapsed_time/1e6) hours,creator,origin,created,last_modified,last_executed
from dba_sql_plan_baselines b
where sql_text like '%&sql_text_pattern.%'
order by sql_id,hours desc

For the ELAPSED_TIME, I use the FORMAT_TIME_S for pretty formatting.
More info:

Oracle numbers in K/M/G/T/P/E

So here is the output of the previous query. I have seen some SQL_ID executed with different PLAN_HASH_VALUE and I know which one was good or not. This helps me to know exactly which ones I want to accept or disable:

Reviving an iPad and On-Premises lesson 2.

<< Introducing I.T. to an Elderly Relative
<<<< Preparing the device
<<<<<< First Lessons, Frustrations, & Funny Stuff

In my previous post we finished with my mother having bricked her iPad – that is, having turned it onto a useless lump. So I drove up to see her again to sort it out. {BTW if you think I am being a bit mean to my mum – yes I am. But I do love her and in the end the iPad has resulted in us being much more in touch. But I think it helps to share the frustrations of getting someone utterly unused to technology on line}.

The first thing I did was to get Mum to turn it on and put in the password. Martin with an I (not a Y – “as some people spell it like that!”). Mum was, very slowly, putting in the password correctly. And then staring at the screen until it flashed up an error. She had forgotten about pressing DONE. Now, if she’d called me when she had started having trouble… The thing is, that is so true across all of IT support. If only people called up when they first had a problem or did something wrong (like deleted all those rows…). If you call up quickly, there is much more chance the problem will be solved quickly. Anyway, I digress. I now knew what had gone wrong, she may or may not type the password correctly but it was timing out each time. Of course, by this point the iPad would no longer respond to the correct password, it was locked out.

You may not know this but if an iPad is locked out as it thinks it might be stolen (password put in wrongly too many times), you can’t just factory reset it. At least, I could not and google-fu mostly confirmed this. You have to plug it into another device with iTunes on it. And you can’t just plug it into the device you set it up on and refresh it, even if you backed it up to this device. At least, I could not. Maybe I am not very good at this tech lark. You have to download the latest version of the OS to your device, plug the switched off iPad into your device, turn the iPad on and then press certain buttons on it in a given way within a 0.731 second window that occurs at an unspecified time after turning the device on. I don’t know how often I tried to get the sodding iPad into recovery mode and recognised by iTunes, but it sure as hell amused my Mum to watch me try. I then re-set-up the iPad to be the same, simple set-up I had done so before. See post 2 for some hints on that. All the time Mum was making snide comments about “how simple this all is, Martyn!”. I think she was having revenge. Sue was keeping out the way.

After all the issues with “Martin with a Y or I”, I set the pass code to be a number. Yes, it’s less secure but I have the Apple ID details for her account – if she loses the iPad I can either track it or wipe it remotely. But we were up and running again, we had a working iPad and on-premises lesson 2 could begin. I’m not sure either of us was 100% happy about this…

Mum wants 2 main things from “the interweb”. She wants to be able to contact me (and, I presume, her other Son and her daughter-in-law) and she wants to be able to look things up. If she can do the former than I can help, remotely, with the latter.

So I showed her how to use messenger to contact us again. It’s been a week or so since the last lesson so I knew she would need a reminder. I pointed at one of the various icons and asked her what it looked like “It’s a phone!” So what will it do? “I don’t know, you are supposed to tell me!”. If it looks like a phone, it’s probably… “{blank look}”. You pressed this by accident last week and it made you scream? “Oh, it’s a phone!”. Excellent, we gave it a quick go.

What about this one next to it? What does it look like? “A box and a little box”. Fair point, but it looks a but like a tv camera? She agreed. So, what will it do? “blank look”. You know this one, we tested this with Sue in the kitchen last week… “the kettle?!?”. It was like Star-Trek… “Oh yes, she appeared on the iPad and I could talk to her. It’s just like Star Trek!”. We tried that one too. All good.

OK, let’s re-visit sending messages and using the keyboard. I show her me sending her a couple of messages again. Enter some text, any text. Press the icon to send the message. “Which one”. The one next to the message, it looks like a plane. “Which message?” The one you just typed. “So I press this one {points to the enter key}” No! No, the blue plane one. “This one!” No!!! that is a phone symbol, I explained that one 5 minutes ago and you seem to have no trouble hitting that one despite that it is in utterly the wrong place and no where near the message. “What message?” THE ONE…..The one you just typed, there, the one that says ‘GFRYTSB’. “So I click on your name?” NO! NO! THE FUCKING PLANE! TAP THE FUCKING PLANE!!!!

She taps the plane.

It sends the message “Oh. It did that before. How do I know who it sent it to?” It sent it to the Pope. “Why did it send it to the Pope?” {sigh}. How many people did we set this up for? Me, Sue, Steve, no Pope. But you see my name at the top of the conversation? You know, third child your bore? The name right above all the other messages? It sent it to me.

“But there are three names {moves finger} over here”. THAT IS OVER THERE!!!!!!! You have spent 10 minutes calling me, star- treking me, seeing messages from me, who the hell do you think it sent the message to?!? “Susan?” {I’m losing it…}

OK, send me another message. You know it’s me, my picture and name is above the conversation. Here, look at my screen your picture and name is above *my* conversation and those are the messages you have sent me.

She types something.
and stares at the screen.
And stares at the screen…
And looks at my screen…
And back at her screen…
“It’s not sent! Has it gone to someone else?”
The. Plane. Tap the Plane.
‘Ping’ – “Ohh! you got the message! How does it know where you are?” The bloody computer pixies know. They track everyone in the world. “Can I message anyone in the world?” I lie a little and say no. only the people in the list. “Does it know Steve is in Wales?” Yes. Look, do you ask the phone how it knows where I am? “No, but this is not the phone”.

We exchange a few more messages for practice and then I get her to tap on the other names, to change conversations. She swaps to Sue and Mum sends her a couple of messages. Once again Mum is asking how the computer knows where Sue is. I point out that as Sue is in the room, the iPad can see her – and then realise that was a really stupid thing to say as Mum did not get the joke. “So it CAN’T message Steve if it can’t see him?” No, it can, it can message anyone on her list.”Shall I message him?” No, he lives in Wales, life is hard enough for him already.

It’s time to go home. I make mum turn the iPad off, turn it on, put in the code and send me a message. She’s got it. “What about the internet?” The internet is not ready for you yet Mum, that will be lesson three. Read the book I got you and give it a go if you like. You can’t break… Actually, just wait until I come back over.

I have to say, since then Mum has been able to message me without issue and can turn the iPad on and off with no trouble, so you do get there eventually.

But I do seem to be buying a lot more wine these days…

CockroachDB… true distributed system-of-record for the cloud

After exploring the analytics end of distributed NewSQL databases, I decided to explore true system-of-record in the cloud. Without a doubt, the future is moving to the cloud. CockroachDB is at the fore-front of this journey to be the backbone database for new micro-services in the cloud. Escape the legacy database rats nest that wasn’t designed to be truly distributed or in the cloud.

With CockroachDB, you can domicile data for regulatory reasons and ensure the best possible performance by accessing data locally. CockroachDB allows you to use create a SINGLE distributed database across multiple cloud providers and on-prem. Our self healing not only helps keep your data consistent, but it automates cloud-to-cloud migration without downtime.

cockroach geo-distributed cluster

It should be an exciting new journey. If you are interested, take a look at our architecture, download, and take the roach out for a spin!

Create an Oracle VM on Azure in Less than 5 Minutes

If there’s one thing I’ve been able to prove this week, it’s that even with the sweet 4G LTE, Wi-Fi setup in my RV, Montana still has the worst Wi-Fi coverage in the US.  Lucky for me, I work in the cloud and automate everything, because if there’s one thing I love about automating with scripts, is that I can build out a deployment faster and less resource intensive than anyone can from the portal.

Oracle Virtual Machines in Azure

When you build out an Azure VM, with Oracle, you’ll also need to have the supporting structure and a sufficiently sized additional disk for your database.  This can be a lot of clicks inside a portal, but from a script, a few questions and bam, you have everything you need.

One of my customers wanted a script to deploy ANY of the Oracle VM images from the catalog, so I created a new script to do so, (previous one was focused on just the 12c-18c database offerings.)  This required a switch from using the sku and the version to build the URN to pushing the URN directly to the customer and knowing this would be used by a more advanced DBA or Azure administrator to begin with, so although its still a simple script to use, the responses are more cryptic, (i.e. what Azure needs to build out under the covers.)

The deployment results is a separate resource group with an Oracle VM of any version available in the Azure catalog, two disks on drive types of available types, in any US location, along with all support resources: 300w, 768w, 1452w" sizes="(max-width: 650px) 100vw, 650px" />

The above is a 7.6 Red Hat OS installation, prepared for an Oracle database.  Note that the virtual network, etc. has been created as part of the script deployment.  The disks can be sized out from the initial deployment and depending on the version, (URN) chosen from the catalog, Oracle may already be installed.  I’m building out scripts to download and install Oracle on those that don’t have it for my next task..:)

Oh yeah and even on my slow network, it deployed in about 3 minutes for me.

It’s Yours

If you’re interested in working with this bash script to deploy an Azure VM either prepared for Oracle or with Oracle already installed on it, the can be pulled from Github.


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Copyright ©  [Create an Oracle VM on Azure in Less than 5 Minutes], All Right Reserved. 2019.

RBAL (ospid: nnn): terminating the instance due to error 27625 after patching Oracle Restart

I have come across an odd behaviour trying to patch an Oracle Restart environment to January 2019. Based on a twitter conversation this isn’t necessarily limited to my patch combination, there might be others as well. I have used opatchauto to apply patch 28813884 to both RDBMS and GRID homes plus its corresponding OJVM (Java) patch. Before diving into details, this is the environment I have been working with:

  • Oracle Restart with an earlier PSU/OJVM combo applied
  • Separation of duties with oracle as the RDBMS owner, and grid owning the GRID infrastructure installation. This is a key point!
  • Patches to be applied
    • Patch 28813884 (GI PSU)
    • Patch 28790654 (corresponding OJVM patch)
  • OPatch version as installed in the GRID|RDBMS home
    • opatchauto:
    • opatch:

Following the instructions in the readme file I upgraded OPatch to the required version. The file I downloaded was named I double-checked the readme, and to me this is the correct file. After upgrading OPatch in the RDBMS and GRID homes, I started patching.

After this process completed, I wanted to start the database in UPGRADE mode as required by the OJVM patch. This needs to be done via sqlplus since srvctl does not support an “upgrade” option in “start database”.

And that’s where it hit me: whenever I tried to open the database in UPGRADE mode, it threw an error:

 SQL*Plus: Release Production on Tue Jul 16 12:15:34 2019

 Copyright (c) 1982, 2014, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

 Connected to an idle instance.
 SQL> startup upgrade
 ORACLE instance started.
 Total System Global Area 1073741824 bytes
 Fixed Size                  2932632 bytes
 Variable Size             713031784 bytes
 Database Buffers          352321536 bytes
 Redo Buffers                5455872 bytes
 ORA-03113: end-of-file on communication channel
 Process ID: 22354
 Session ID: 14 Serial number: 41958

Looking at the alert log I can see that RBAL terminated the instance:

 2019-07-16 12:15:43.404000 -04:00
 NOTE: ASMB mounting group 1 (DATA)
 WARNING: cellinit.ora is missing. RBAL is terminating the instance.
 RBAL (ospid: 22332): terminating the instance due to error 27625
 System state dump requested by (instance=1, osid=22332 (RBAL)), summary=[abnormal instance termination].
 System State dumped to trace file /u01/app/oracle/diag/rdbms/orcl/ORCL/trace/ORCL_diag_22306_20190716121543.trc
 Dumping diagnostic data in directory=[cdmp_20190716121543], requested by (instance=1, osid=22332 (RBAL)), summary=[abnormal instance termination].
 Instance terminated by RBAL, pid = 22332
 2019-07-16 12:15:49.164000 -04:00

But since this is Oracle Restart, Clusterware will simply restart the database. Unless of course you’ve been changing the default behaviour. And funny enough, this works (see further down in the article as to why). Although I’d appreciate this in most cases, the automatic restart isn’t appropriate in my situation: when started by Clusterware, the database is not in upgrade mode:

 SQL> select status from v$instance;


Which is a problem for me. A MOS search about error 27625 didn’t reveal anything too useful, and it took me quite a while to realise the problem has to do with permissions. An Internet search finally gave me the right answer, a fellow blogger has pointed it out a little while ago …

So what exactly is the problem? The RDBMS “oracle” binary needs a specific set of permissions and ownership/group membership for Oracle Restart with separation of duties enabled. This is what it looked like before applying the patch:

$ ls -l $ORACLE_HOME/bin/oracle
-rwsr-s--x. 1 oracle asmadmin 324518992 Jul 16 12:15 /u01/app/oracle/product/

The file permissions are ‘6751’ with oracle owning the file but it belongs to the asmadmin group. Remember, I am using a separate user for Grid Infrastructure with its own specific operating system groups. After running opatch, this changed to:

$ ls -l $ORACLE_HOME/bin/oracle
-rwsr-s--x. 1 oracle oinstall 324518992 Jul 16 12:29 /u01/app/oracle/product/

Permissions remained the same, however the group changed from asmadmin to oinstall. Not quite what I had in mind, and it reproducibly causes instance crashes. There is a simple solution: make sure permissions are set correctly! Using “Database Creation on 11.2/12.1/12.2 Grid Infrastructure with Role Separation ( ORA-15025, KFSG-00312, ORA-15081 ) (Doc ID 1084186.1)” got me on the right track.

 $ ls -l $ORACLE_HOME/bin/oracle
 -rwsr-s--x. 1 oracle asmadmin 324518992 Jul 16 12:29 /u01/app/oracle/product/

 $ sqlplus / as sysdba

 SQL*Plus: Release Production on Tue Jul 16 12:34:45 2019

 Copyright (c) 1982, 2014, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

 Connected to an idle instance.

 SQL> startup upgrade
 ORACLE instance started.

 Total System Global Area 1073741824 bytes
 Fixed Size                  2932632 bytes
 Variable Size             713031784 bytes
 Database Buffers          352321536 bytes
 Redo Buffers                5455872 bytes
 Database mounted.
 Database opened.

 SQL> select status from v$instance;



With the database in upgrade mode (I believe the “migrate” is a left over from the 9i days) I am reassured that running datapatch (the OJVM part actually) works as advertised.

By the way Clusterware corrects the group permissions when you issue a “srvctl start database -db …” command as documented in “Starting the database using srvctl changes the group setting for oracle binary (Doc ID 1508027.1)”. Which didn’t solve my problem as I can’t start the database in upgrade mode using srvctl.

Hope this helps you one day!