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Unix Oracle Commands For DBAs

This article contains a brief list of commands that most UNIX DBAs will need on a regular basis.

Basic File Navigation

The "pwd" command displays the current directory:
root> pwd
The "ls" command lists all files and directories in the specified directory. If no location is defined it acts on the current directory:
root> ls
root> ls /u01
root> ls -al
The "-a" flag lists hidden "." files. The "-l" flag lists file details.

The "cd" command is used to change directories:
root> cd /u01/app/oracle
The "touch" command is used to create a new empty file with the default permissions:
root> touch my.log
The "rm" command is used to delete files and directories:
root> rm my.log
root> rm -R /archive
The "-R" flag tells the command to recurse through subdirectories.

The "mv" command is used to move or rename files and directories:
root> mv [from] [to]
root> mv my.log my1.log
root> mv * /archive
root> mv /archive/* .
The "." represents the current directory

The "cp" command is used to copy files and directories:
root> cp [from] [to]
root> cp my.log my1.log
root> cp * /archive
root> cp /archive/* .
The "mkdir" command is used to create new directories:
root> mkdir archive
The "rmdir" command is used to delete directories:
root> rmdir archive
The "find" command can be used to find the location of specific files:
root> find / -name dbmspool.sql
root> find / -print | grep -i dbmspool.sql
The "/" flag represents the staring directory for the search. Wildcards such as "dbms*" can be used for the filename.

The "which" command can be used to find the location of an executable you are using:
oracle> which sqlplus
The "which" command searches your PATH setting for occurences of the specified executable.

File Permissions

The "umask" command can be used to read or set default file permissions for the current user:
root> umask 022
The umask value is subtracted from the default permissions (666) to give the final permission:
666 : Default permission
022 : - umask value
644 : final permission
The "chmod" command is used to alter file permissions after the file has been created:
root> chmod 777 *.log

Owner Group World Permission
========= ========= ========= ======================
7 (u+rwx) 7 (g+rwx) 7 (o+rwx) read + write + execute
6 (u+wx) 6 (g+wx) 6 (o+wx) write + execute
5 (u+Rx) 5 (g+Rx) 5 (o+Rx) read + execute
4 (u+r) 4 (g+r) 4 (o+r) read only
2 (u+w) 2 (g+w) 2 (o+w) write only
1 (u+x) 1 (g+x) 1 (o+x) execute only
Character eqivalents can be used in the chmod command:
root> chmod o+rwx *.log
root> chmod g+r *.log
root> chmod -Rx *.log
The "chown" command is used to reset the ownership of files after creation:
root> chown -R oinstall.dba *
The "-R" flag causes the command ro recurse through any subdirectories.

OS Users Management

The "useradd" command is used to add OS users:
root> useradd -G oinstall -g dba -d /usr/users/my_user -m -s /bin/ksh my_user
  • The "-G" flag specifies the primary group.
  • The "-g" flag specifies the secondary group.
  • The "-d" flag specifies the default directory.
  • The "-m" flag creates the default directory.
  • The "-s" flag specifies the default shell.
The "usermod" command is used to modify the user settings after a user has been created:
root> usermod -s /bin/csh my_user
The "userdel" command is used to delete existing users:
root> userdel -r my_user
The "-r" flag removes the default directory.

The "passwd" command is used to set, or reset, the users login password:
root> passwd my_user
The "who" command can be used to list all users who have OS connections:
root> who
root> who | head -5
root> who | tail -5
root> who | grep -i ora
root> who | wc -l
  • The "head -5" command restricts the output to the first 5 lines of the who command.
  • The "tail -5" command restricts the output to the last 5 lines of the who command.
  • The "grep -i ora" command restricts the output to lines containing "ora".
  • The "wc -l" command returns the number of lines from "who", and hence the number of connected users.

Process Management

The "ps" command lists current process information:
root> ps
root> ps -ef | grep -i ora
Specific processes can be killed by specifying the process id in the kill command:
root> kill -9 12345

uname and hostname

The "uname" and "hostname" commands can be used to get information about the host:
root> uname -a
OSF1 V5.1 2650 alpha

root> uname -a | awk '{ print $2 }'

root> hostname

Error Lines in Files

You can return the error lines in a file using:
root> cat alert_LIN1.log | grep -i ORA-
The "grep -i ORA-" command limits the output to lines containing "ORA-". The "-i" flag makes the comparison case insensitive. A count of the error lines can be returned using the "wc" command. This normally give a word count, but the "-l" flag alteres it to give a line count:
root> cat alert_LIN1.log | grep -i ORA- | wc -l

File Exists Check

The Korn shell allows you to check for the presence of a file using the "test -s" command. In the following script a backup log is renamed and moved if it is present:
if test -s /backup/daily_backup.log
DATE_SUFFIX=`date +"%y""%m""%d""%H""%M"`
mv /backup/daily_backup.log /backup/archive/daily_backup$DATE_SUFFIX.log

Remove Old Files

The find command can be used to supply a list of files to the rm command:
find /backup/logs/ -name daily_backup* -mtime +21 -exec rm -f {} ;

Remove DOS CR/LFs (^M)

Remove DOS style CR/LF characters (^M) from UNIX files using:
sed -e 's/^M$//' filename > tempfile
The newly created tempfile should have the ^M character removed.

Run Commands As Oracle User From Root

The following scripts shows how a number of commands can be run as the "oracle" user the "root" user:
su - oracle <<EOF
rman catalog=rman/rman@w2k1 target=/ cmdfile=my_cmdfile log=my_logfile append
This is often necessary where CRON jobs are run from the root user rather than the oracle user.

Compress Files

In order to save space on the filesystem you may wish to compress files such as archived redo logs. This can be using either the gzip or the compress commands. The gzip command results in a compressed copy of the original file with a ".gz" extension. The gunzip command reverses this process:
gzip myfile
gunzip myfile.gz
The compress command results in a compressed copy of the original file with a ".Z" extension. The uncompress command reverses this process:
compress myfile
uncompress myfile

General Performance


$ vmstat 5 3
Displays system statistics (5 seconds apart; 3 times):
procs memory page disk faults cpu
r b w swap free re mf pi po fr de sr s0 s1 s2 s3 in sy cs us sy id
0 0 0 28872 8792 8 5 172 142 210 0 24 3 11 17 2 289 1081 201 14 6 80
0 0 0 102920 1936 1 95 193 6 302 1264 235 12 1 0 3 240 459 211 0 2 97
0 0 0 102800 1960 0 0 0 0 0 464 0 0 0 0 0 107 146 29 0 0 100

Having any processes in the 
b or w columns is a sign of a problem system.
Having an 
id of 0 is a sign that the cpu is overburdoned.
Having high values in 
pi and po show excessive paging.
  • procs (Reports the number of processes in each of the following states)
    • r : in run queue
    • b : blocked for resources (I/O, paging etc.)
    • w : runnable but swapped
  • memory (Reports on usage of virtual and real memory)
    • swap : swap space currently available (Kbytes)
    • free : size of free list (Kbytes)
  • page (Reports information about page faults and paging activity (units per second)
    • re : page reclaims
    • mf : minor faults
    • pi : Kbytes paged in
    • po : Kbytes paged out
    • fr : Kbytes freed
    • de : anticipated short-term memory shortfall (Kbytes)
    • sr : pages scanned by clock algorith
  • disk (Reports the number of disk operations per second for up to 4 disks
  • faults (Reports the trap/interupt rates (per second)
    • in : (non clock) device interupts
    • si : system calls
    • cs : CPU context switches
  • cpu (Reports the breakdown of percentage usage of CPU time (averaged across all CPUs)
    • us : user time
    • si : system time
    • cs : idle time

CPU Usage


$ sar -u 10 8
Reports CPU Utilization (10 seconds apart; 8 times):
Time %usr %sys %wio %idle
11:57:31 72 28 0 0
11:57:41 70 30 0 0
11:57:51 70 30 0 0
11:58:01 68 32 0 0
11:58:11 67 33 0 0
11:58:21 65 28 0 7
11:58:31 73 27 0 0
11:58:41 69 31 0 0
Average 69 30 0 1

%usr: Percent of CPU in user mode
%sys: Percent of CPU in system mode
%wio: Percent of CPU running idle with a process waiting for block I/O
%idle: Percent of CPU that is idle


$ mpstat 10 2
Reports per-processor statistics on Sun Solaris (10 seconds apart; 8 times):
CPU minf mjf xcal intr ithr csw icsw migr smtx srw syscl usr sys wt idl
0 6 8 0 438 237 246 85 0 0 21 8542 23 9 9 59
0 0 29 0 744 544 494 206 0 0 95 110911 65 29 6 0


$ ps -e -o pcpu -o pid -o user -o args | sort -k 1 | tail -21r
Displays the top 20 CPU users on the system.
78.1 4789 oracle ora_dbwr_DDDS2
8.5 4793 oracle ora_lgwr_DDDS2
2.4 6206 oracle oracleDDDS2 (LOCAL=NO)
0.1 4797 oracle ora_smon_DDDS2
0.1 6207 oracle oracleDDDS2 (LOCAL=NO)
etc. etc. etc. etc.

PID column can then be matched with the SPID column on the V$PROCESS view to provide more information on the process:
SELECT a.username, 
FROM v$session a,
v$process b
WHERE a.paddr = b.addr
AND spid = '&pid';

Automatic Startup Scripts on Linux

Create a file in the /etc/init.d/ directory, in this case the file is called myservice, containing the commands you wish to run at startup and/or shutdown.

Use the 
chmod command to set the privileges to 750:
chmod 750 /etc/init.d/myservice
Link the file into the appropriate run-level script directories:
ln -s /etc/init.d/myservice /etc/rc0.d/K10myservice
ln -s /etc/init.d/myservice /etc/rc3.d/S99myservice
Associate the myservice service with the appropriate run levels:
chkconfig --level 345 dbora on
The script should now be automatically run at startup and shutdown (with "start" or "stop" as a commandline parameter) like other service initialization scripts.


There are two methods of editing the crontab file. First you can use the "crontab -l > filename" option to list the contents and pipe this to a file. Once you've editied the file you can then apply it using the "crontab filename":
  • Login as root
  • crontab -l > newcron
  • Edit newcron file.
  • crontab newcron
Alternatively you can use the "crontab -e" option to edit the crontab file directly.

The entries have the following elements:
field allowed values
----- --------------
minute 0-59
hour 0-23
day of month 1-31
month 1-12
day of week 0-7 (both 0 and 7 are Sunday)
user Valid OS user
command Valid command or script.
The first 5 fields can be specified using the following rules:
* - All available values or "first-last".
3-4 - A single range representing each possible from the start to the end of the range inclusive.
1,2,5,6 - A specific list of values.
1-3,5-8 - A specific list of ranges.
0-23/2 - Every other value in the specified range.
The following entry runs a cleanup script a 01:00 each Sunday. Any output or errors from the script are piped to /dev/null to prevent a buildup of mails to root:
0 1 * * 0 /u01/app/oracle/dba/weekly_cleanup > /dev/null 2>&1

Cluster Wide CRON Jobs On Tru64

On clustered systems cron is node-specific. If you need a job to fire once per cluster, rather than once per node you need an alternative approach to the standard cron job. One approach is put forward in the HP best practices document (Using cron in a TruCluster Server Cluster), but in my opinion a more elegant solution is proposed by Jason Orendorf of HP Tru64 Unix Enterprise Team (TruCluster Clustercron).

In his solution Jason creates a file called /bin/cronrun with the following contents:
set -- $(/usr/sbin/cfsmgr -F raw /)
shift 12
[[ "$1" = "$(/bin/hostname -s)" ]] && exit 0
exit 1
This script returns TRUE (0) only on the node which is the CFS serving cluster_root.

All cluster wide jobs should have a crontab entry on each node of the cluster like:
5 * * * /bin/cronrun && /usr/local/bin/myjob
Although the cron jobs fire on all nodes, the "/bin/cronrun &&" part of the entry prevents the script from running on all nodes except the current CFS serving cluster_root.

NFS Mount (Sun)

The following deamons must be running for the share to be seen by a PC:
  • /usr/lib/nfs/nfsd -a
  • /usr/lib/nfs/mountd
  • /opt/SUNWpcnfs/sbin/rpc.pcnfsd
To see a list of the nfs mounted drives already present type:
First the mount point must be shared so it can be seen by remote machines:
share -F nfs -o ro /cdrom
Next the share can be mounted on a remote machine by root using:
mkdir /cdrom#1

mount -o ro myhost:/cdrom /cdrom#1

NFS Mount (Tru64)

On the server machine:

If NFS is not currently setup do the following:
  • Application Manager -> System Admin -> Configuration -> NFS
  • Select the "Configure system as an NFS server" option.
  • Accept all defaults.
Create mount point directory:
mkdir /u04/backup
Append the following entry to the "/etc/exports" file:
Make sure the correct permissions are granted on the directory:
chmod -R 777 /u04/backup
On the client machine:

If NFS is not currently setup do the following:
  • Application Manager -> System Admin -> Configuration -> NFS
  • Select the "Configure system as an NFS client" option.
  • Accept all defaults.
Create mount point directory:
mkdir /backup
Append an following entry to the "/etc/fstab" file:
nfs-server-name:/u04/backup /backup nfs rw,bg,intr 0 0
Finally, mount the fileset:
mount /backup
At this point you can start to use the mount point from your client machine. Thanks to Bryan Mills for his help with Tru64.

PC XStation Configuration

Download the CygWin setup.exe from

Install, making sure to select all the X11R6 (or XFree86 in older versions) optional packages.

If you need root access add the following entry into the /etc/securettys file on each server:
From the command promot on the PC do the following:
set PATH=PATH;c:cygwinbin;c:cygwinusrX11R6bin
XWin.exe :0 -query <server-name>
The X environment should start in a new window.

Many Linux distributions do not start XDMCP by default. To allow XDMCP access from Cygwin edit the "/etc/X11/gdm/gdm.conf" file. Under the "[xdmcp]" section set "Enable=true".

If you are starting any X applications during the session you will need to set the DISPLAY environment variable. Remember, you are acting as an XStation, not the server itself, so this variable must be set as follows:
DISPLAY=<client-name>:0.0; export DISPLAY

Useful Profile Settings

The following .profile settings rely on the default shell for the user being set to the Korn shell (/bin/ksh).

The backspace key can be configured by adding the following entry:
stty erase "^H"
The command line history can be accessed using the [Esc][k] by adding the following entry:
set -o vi
Auto completion of paths using a double strike of the [Esc] key can be configured by adding the following entry:
set filec

Useful Files

Here are some files that may be of use:

Path Contents
/etc/passwd User settings
/etc/group Group settings for users.
/etc/hosts Hostname lookup information.
/etc/system Kernel parameters for Solaris.
/etc/sysconfigtab Kernel parameters for Tru64.

For more information see: