old-hash, SHA-1, SHA-2/512

Until pretty recently, only the dubious unsalted proprietary algorithm was available to store Oracle passwords. A bunch of tool where at the time able to decode any 6-8 characters in no time, and the rainbow approach was to precalculate all possibles passwords for a specific user.

Those time are not really for away, only starting at Oracle 11g, you could have salted/case sensitive passwords. Salted means that Scott may have many different passwords keys for tiger.

 SQL> select spare4 from user$ where name='SCOTT';

SQL> alter user scott identified by tiger;

User altered.

SQL> select spare4 from user$ where name='SCOTT';

Some users may have only the 10g version (password not changed after migrating to 11g), some may have the 11g version of both, and -who knows- some may have already have SHA-2/512 passwords. SHA2 has many advantages. The chance that 2 passwords provides exactly the same string are much lower than in SHA1 (collision) and it performs twice faster on 64 bits servers.

SQL> select username, password_versions from dba_users where username like 'U_;
USERNAME                       PASSWORD
------------------------------ --------
U1                             10G
U2                             11G
U3                             10G 11G
U4                             12C

Probably you never saw this unless you are in beta 12. But actually it is documented in the 11gR2 Documentation.

12C if a new SHA-2 based SHA-512 hash exists

Oracle Certification Portal

On the certification portal, http://certview.oracle.com you can now view your certification. This replace the original Sun Certmanager (used to be certmanager.net/sun) and it provides you an interface to publish your information to third parties.

Both Sun and Oracle Certifications are visible.

If you publish your information, your recipient will receive a link that will show your credentials :


Credential Title Certification Date
Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Master 19-SEP-12
Oracle Database SQL Certified Expert 19-JUL-07
Certified Expert Oracle Database 10g Real Application Clusters Administrator 27-JUN-07
Oracle Application Server 10g Administrator Certified Associate 28-APR-06
Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional 14-SEP-05
Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Master 05-FEB-04
Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Professional 18-FEB-03
Oracle8i Database Administrator Certified Professional 19-DEC-02
Sun Certified Network Administrator for Solaris 8 08-AUG-02
Oracle8 Database Administrator Certified Professional 17-JAN-02
Sun Certified System Administrator for Solaris 2.6 22-MAY-00

shutdown timeout

I do not like shutdown abort (see this post). I always use shutdown immediate and it always work… well almost always.

Today I discovered a 9iR2 new feature : shutdown timeout !
Shutdown Timeout
If all events blocking the shutdown do not occur within one hour, the shutdown operation aborts with the following message: ORA-01013: user requested cancel of current operation.

Ok, if and only if I am getting this ORA-1013, I shutdown abort, startup, shutdown immediate.

It is very unusual that a shutdown immediate does not terminate in 1 hour, and hard to reproduce. For this test case, I am doing a shutdown normal

1) make sure you have at least one other session open
2) shutdown normal
3) wait about 60 minutes (defined in _shutdown_completion_timeout_mins, not a supported parameter to change)

SQL> shutdown normal
ORA-01013: user requested cancel of current operation

Now we received a ORA-1013 (but I did not use CTRL-C). The instance is now half-stopped, most sessions and background processes like MMON, CJQ, SMCO are already dead and it is probably a good idea to restart it properly. Maybe with startup force and shutdown immediate.

SQL> startup force
ORACLE instance started.

Total System Global Area 1069252608 bytes
Fixed Size                  2166160 bytes
Variable Size             658510448 bytes
Database Buffers          402653184 bytes
Redo Buffers                5922816 bytes
Database mounted.
Database opened.
SQL> shutdown immediate
Database closed.
Database dismounted.
ORACLE instance shut down.

This is all documented :
After ORA-01013 occurs, you must consider the instance to be in an unpredictable state…If subsequent SHUTDOWN commands continue to fail, you must submit a SHUTDOWN ABORT

I am extremly happy to have discovered this, because it will still allow a shutdown abort after one hour of shutdown immediate, which is an extremly rare case, but it is an enhancement for my backup scripts.

OCM 11g upgrade

Last Friday I went to Munich for THE upgrade exam. I have a few recommendations based on my preparation.

DISCLAIMER: no recommendation is based on the exam

Check you have a similar environment. You will get 11gR1 database and 10g entreprise manager. Personnaly I did my preparation on 11gR2 and 11g/12c em, I did not find useful to prepare on some oldish version. You should have some Linux / Unix around. It does not really matter if you use AIX, HPUX, Solaris or Linux.

I bought myself a keyboard with German Layout (the one with ß, Ä and Ö) to gain speed

Read each topic carefully and get proficiency:
- Database:
I know the meaning of the initialisation parameters. In need, I can quickly check one in the Reference
I am familiar with the sql syntax and have read the SQL Reference more than once

- Network configuration :
I know how to configure sqlnet.ora, tnsnames.ora and listener.ora without looking at the documentation.
I have carefully tested all possible parameters in Net Service Guide

- ADR :
I know how to set up the ADR location in the database and network.
I know how to use the command line utility, documented in utilities -> adrci

- RMAN :
I know how to configure RMAN with the configure statement. I am efficient in doing backups and restores
I have read the RMAN Reference carefully.

- Dataguard :
I am confident with the dgmgrl utility and with oem to configure and monitor dataguard.
I have read the Dataguard Broker Guide

- Materialized view
I have read and tested the examples in the Datawarehouse Guide -> Materialized views

- Secure Lob
I have played with lobs as basicfile and securefiles to check the differences and new features. I have read the secure files guide

- Streams
Streams is a very complex product. I have attended last year a five days course in Paris to only realise it is utterly tricky to maintain and debug, it case of errors.
I know where to look at if the capture, propagation or apply fail. Mostly in alert log, but also in the DBA views. I know how to restart the different processes. I am confident with both the OEM and PL/SQL Packages DBMS_STREAMS_*.
I have read the Streams Concept and Streams Replication Administration

- Resource manager
I know both the GUI and command line. I have read Admin guide -> Resource Manager

- Advisors and baselines
A very valuable resource to read is the 2 Days Perf Guide. It may sound strange to prepare an OCM exam with a 2-Days guide, but it is an awesome lecture.
To get deeper and learn the API usage, read Performance Tuning -> Optimizing SQL Statements

- Replay a capture workload
I learnt both the PL/SQL and EM usage in the Real Application Testing User Guide

Almost all the other topics are self explanatory and almost trivial once you know the syntax by heart…

I spent over one year preparing this exam and if you browse my recent posts, you will find detailled example that somehow relate to miscellaneous findings
Check mount option in linux
Transport tablespace over db links
Fast start failover
On star transformation
my first ADR package

For those of my readers who are on this way, good luck!

PS: no, I do not know the result yet…

Difference between Paris and Zurich

When I was a child, I used to go skiing in the alps, and occasionaly cross the borders. I remember that late in the season (Eastern skiing) restaurants were already empty in France when we had lunch, because our neithbough countries introduced summertime before us.

It is a long way back, namely summers 1976 to ’80. In 1975 and before, neither of us had day light saving. In 1981 and later, we both had it.

Ok, I just had an issue with a wrong date in a customer application. Somehow our database is set with POSIX format, let’s say +01:00 and +02:00, derived from CET/CEST unix timezone (TZ=CET-1CEST,M3.5.0,M10.5.0)

Due to some obscure multiple conversions, dates for summer 1976-80 are wrong, so we sent birthday cards too early to our customers…

SQL> select to_char(cast(
  timestamp '1979-08-01 00:00:00 CET'
    as timestamp with local time zone),
      'YYYY-MM-DD') from dual;


but if set my session timezone to Europe/Zurich, which is currently equivalent to CET, I got discrepancies

SQL> alter session set time_zone='Europe/Zurich' ;

Session altered.

SQL> select to_char(cast(
  timestamp '1979-08-01 00:00:00 CET' 
    as timestamp with local time zone),
      'YYYY-MM-DD') from dual;


A good reason to specify the time zone name correctly in your create database statement !