variable/column names and making code tiny

I loved this one … yes my code is wordy, it prints a lot of helpful text, and it has a lot of comments. Funny how anyone can open up my scripts and edit them without any other documentation or discussion.  To be fair, I don’t know if his prices came from server-class hardware, but I bet it would still work out in favor of the longer names, because he didn’t cost out the time spent being confused.

Upgrading small databases on big servers (ORA-04031 / 11g)

Today I received an ORA-04031 error when upgrading to, with the memory allocation error happening during the final utlrp.sql recompilation step and referring consistently to the large pool.

ERROR at line 1:
ORA-12801: error signaled in parallel query server P237
ORA-12853: insufficient memory for PX buffers: current 84352K, max needed 13280400K
ORA-04031: unable to allocate 65560 bytes of shared memory (“large pool”,”unknown object”,”large pool”,”PX msg pool”)
ORA-06512: at “SYS.UTL_RECOMP”, line 804
ORA-06512: at line 4

First thing that stands out is P237, not to mention that it claims it needs 13G of memory to perform this task without erroring.  That’s a heck of a lot of memory and parallel threads for a tiny database with not much data in it.  It turned out to be because I was working with a small database that lives on a Solaris 10 zone that lives on large server (M5000) with tons of cpus available.  Of course, we have this problem because we use zones set up a certain way, and not containers or other configurations that do not allow the logical host to see all the physical host’s cpus, but we like the benefits we get from flexible resource sharing.

The database has a memory_target of 2G.  It turns out that utlrp.sql issues a PARALLEL with no limiting number, and on a large server that can be bad.  It ran out of memory to handle all these threads and died.

—– utlrp.sql passes in a 0 to utlprp.sql (and this is all it does):

Rem ===========================================================================
Rem BEGIN utlrp.sql
Rem ===========================================================================

@@utlprp.sql 0

—– utlprp.sql then uses that 0 as the number of parallel threads:

threads pls_integer := &&1;

So you can either modify utlrp.sql or issue @@utlprp.sql X to pass in a reasonable number of threads, or you can set a max on the number of parallel threads anything can spin up (a good idea anyway):

alter system set PARALLEL_MAX_SERVERS=5 scope=both;
alter system set PARALLEL_SERVERS_TARGET=2 scope=both;

You’ll have to experiment to find the right number.  I found that sometimes 5 worked, sometimes the recompilation still failed.  And if I received an error, then the next time I might get a memory error on another part of memory (shared pool vs large pool).  Repeatedly running the script eventually resulted in having to shutdown abort, couldn’t shutdown cleanly due to memory allocation errors on the shared pool.

With this low sga I also had to increase the java_pool_size manually so that memory_target would give it that as a minimum; otherwise catupgrd.sql failed with a java pool memory allocation error on Oracle Multimedia.  An error you can even see in the example in Oracle’s docs; go here and search for ORA-04031.  Rerunning catupgrd.sql with more java pool memory allowed it to complete successfully.  I then set java_pool_size back to 0 so it could be managed by memory_target again.

alter system set java_pool_size=256M scope=spfile;  (restart)
alter system set java_pool_size=0 scope=spfile;  (restart)

Great finds along the way:

See memory allocation in 11g with memory_target, from asktom:

with data
select decode( grouping( pool ), 1, ‘total:’, pool ) “Pool”,
sum(bytes) bytes
from (select nvl(pool,’*’||name) pool, bytes from v$sgastat )
group by rollup (pool)
select “Pool”, bytes, round(bytes/1024/1024) mbytes
from data
union all
select ‘PGA target’, v-bytes, round((v-bytes)/1024/1024)
from data, (select to_number(value) v
from v$parameter
where name = ‘memory_target’)
where “Pool” = ‘total:’

With small memory databases, especially on virtualized servers that can still “see” all the cpus, need to set these parameters / change these defaults:

PARALLEL_SERVERS_TARGET: (note that it is plural, the documentation writes it incorrectly a few times)

I also posted in the OTN forums about this here.

ggrep is my new BFF

Picked up a handy log file search tip today, for searching those pesky log file formats that list date on one line, then the log message on the next line (alert logs, for instance).  It’s annoying to grep for just what you want to see, then not have any idea what the timestamp was.  I’ve seen it done with some sed or awk, but this is the simplest yet:

$ ggrep -B 1 "advanced" alert_SID.log
Fri Oct 15 09:50:06 2010
Thread 1 advanced to log sequence 2805 (LGWR switch)
Fri Oct 15 09:50:06 2010
Thread 1 advanced to log sequence 2806 (LGWR switch)
Fri Oct 15 09:50:09 2010
Thread 1 advanced to log sequence 2807 (LGWR switch)

Listener queuesize and Solaris tcpip

11/18/2010 edit: after more troubleshooting on this box, we learned more about what was happening, and while the post below stands as valid items to look at, our issues were perhaps more complex and may have been related to a different issue.  See this post as well as all three posts on some gotchas we have run into while running lots of databases on Solaris zones.


I just made my first post to (finally saw something go across my RSS feed that I felt I could respond to) and I thought I would reprise it here.

We use Sun M5000s with 256G of memory for our non-production servers, so we load them up with a lot of databases.  Some are separated out into Solaris zones, but some zones still have a lot of smaller databases running on a single listener.  Our app admins reported that at times they could not restart the application; Glassfish would not connect, even from an admin console test. Here are the two things we found and addressed to fix these issues.

First thing to check for …

By default, the queue the listener has for incoming requests is very small. It is enough for most database servers, so no one ever talks about it or changes it from the default, but when you run this many databases AND the app is using connection pooling, then the startup of the app (with multiple clustered app servers all starting up the default number of threads in each pool all at once) tends to exhaust this listener queue. From Oracle’s doc:

10.3.2 Handling Large Volumes of Concurrent Connection Requests

If you expect the listener to handle large volumes of concurrent connection requests, then you can specify a listener queue size for its TCP/IP or IPC listening endpoints. To specify the listener queue size, specify the QUEUESIZE parameter at the end of the protocol address with its value set to the expected number of concurrent requests, similar to Example 10-2.

Example 10-2 listener.ora File with Queue Size


The default number of concurrent connection requests is operating system-specific. The defaults for TCP/IP on the Solaris Operating System and Windows follow:

* Solaris Operating System: 5
* Windows XP Professional SP2: 10
* Windows 2003 Server Enterprise Edition: 200

In conjunction with this, it can also exhaust the tcp/ip stack, so there are some settings you should have the server admin increase (at least we experienced this on Solaris).  Here’s an article that explains how to test for this, and if you see evidence of it, what settings to change (for Solaris).

We set our queuesize to 512 (for all database hosts) and our Solaris tcp_conn_req_max_q to 1024. Resolved the “connection storm” issue caused by app side connection pooling.

Second thing to check for …

We thought the first problem had recurred after we fixed it with queuesize/tcp_conn_req_max_q but it just had the same symptoms, and here’s what it was …

We use SAN/fiberchannel disk for our database storage. However, we have an NFS mount which we use solely for RMAN backups and restores. Our unix admins are awesome and they have tuned the NFS within an inch of its life — and we found it was too fast.  (Meaning, we had to stop being stupid and not run 3T multi-channel restores and backups at the same time.) NFS sits on top of the tcpip stack, so if you share the pipe in and out of the box (10G for us, no bottleneck there) with NFS and you really hit it hard, you can exhaust the tcpip stack again and that manifests as listener drop errors without seeing any “listendrops” in netstat (see article above) and without any errors making it to your listener log, because it never gets that far.