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Don Burleson Blog 







Oracle Utilities Tips

Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonAugust 29,  2015

Oracle utilities secrets

Oracle has "secret" undocumented utilities that are so powerful that the company is reluctant to release the details to the general public. Oracle deliberately glosses over these powerful utilities, which can be extremely dangerous in the hands of Oracle professionals without the required work experience. Oracle must write their documentation with the lowest common denominator in mind, and the complexity of these utilities is such that it can far exceed the skill and understanding level of that lowest common denominator user.

These utilities are often left tucked inside an Oracle distribution for use exclusively by Oracle technical support, but expert Oracle DBAs also find them invaluable for advanced database operations. These undocumented utilities are described in the new book  "Advanced Oracle Utilities: The Definitive Reference".

A hidden Oracle utility is not a utility that is physically hidden in the Oracle software. Rather, a hidden utility is an executable or PL/SQL package that is either undocumented or is included such that the documentation is difficult to find. For example, some PL/SQL packages are never loaded by the Oracle installer, yet their definitions remain in the operating system files.

The main directories where Oracle utilities reside are here:

  • $ORACLE_HOME/bin -- This contains the binary executables used by the Oracle server. Most of the tools discussed in the Oracle Utilities book reside in this directory.
  • $ORACLE_HOME/plsql/demo -- This contains a useful collection of SQL scripts related to many utilities, including the dbms_profiler utility.
  • $ORACLE_HOME/rdbms/admin -- This contains many SQL scripts used for creating PL/SQL packages and their required environments.
  • $ORACLE_HOME/sqlplus/admin -- This contains scripts used with autotrace and other utilities.
  • $ORACLE_HOME/otrace/admin -- This is the administration directory for the Oracle Trace diagnostic tool.
  • $ORACLE_HOME/otrace/sysman -- This is used by utilities such as oemctl and the Oracle Management Server (OMS).
  • $ORACLE_HOME/otrace/lib -- This contains facility files used with the oerr utility.

Many of these undocumented utilities such as TKPROF have surfaced from the obscure and entered mainstream Oracle toolkits while others remain hidden inside the O/S.

Finding hidden Oracle utilities

The easiest way to find hidden utilities is to look for new packages within Oracle. The following query compares the packages in Oracle10g with new packages in Oracle11g, using a database link between two instances, each on a different release of Oracle:

   owner      = 'SYS' 
   object_type = 'PACKAGE BODY' 
   owner     = 'SYS'
   object_type = 'PACKAGE BODY';

This query will quickly display all package bodies owned by SYS that exist in Oracle11g but not in Oracle10g.

Finding hidden Oracle executable utilities

Discovering new binaries entails comparing two directories in the operating system and ignoring the duplicates entries. The dircmp UNIX command can be used to find only new entries within two directories:

dircmp -- s 

Here we compare the bin directory of 9i with Oracle 10.2.

Using advanced Oracle utilities

Fortunately, these undocumented utilities are described in the new book "Advanced Oracle Utilities: The Definitive Reference", where we see some extremely useful tools that are hidden inside Oracle:

  • BBED - This is the powerful Oracle block editor utility.  BBED allows you to view and update the contents of Oracle data blocks.  BBED should only be used by experts, or in conjunction with Oracle technical support.

  • Dbverify - This dbverify utility is very useful for

  • Oradebug - This powerful Oracle debugger has many valuable features for debugging Oracle sessions.

  • Orastack - This orastack memory stack utility allow you to see how RAM is being used within an Oracle session.

Again, these are just a small sample of the hidden utilities with Oracle.  For a complete expert discussion of these advanced Oracle utilities, see the book "Advanced Oracle Utilities: The Definitive Reference".



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