Oracle RAC Administration – Part 7: Starting and Stopping the Database Instances and RAC Databases

Brief intro

Talking about syntax and theory is nice. It is good to know
the facts and it is fine to know what syntax to use where. I can also assume
that you enjoy my articles, but I may be wrong. That is exactly what a polite
critique reminded me. (Thanks Solomon!).

Doing a walk-through of syntax and theory is good but if it’s
not complimented with a demonstration, it will slip out of the mind just about
as fast as it came. So I took the advice and will from now on spend more time
in demonstrating the syntax (on a running RAC) and going through all of the
details. We will in our administration series, attempt to break our Oracle RAC
and try to mend it again. My next article will catch up with the real time demo
on the commands and syntax.

Starting and Stopping Instances and RAC databases

It’s easy to start up and shut down the instances from the Enterprise Manager
console, SQL*Plus or SRVCTL utility. The minor difference here is that both the
Enterprise Manager and SRVCTL have options to startup and shutdown all
instances of your RAC with a single step! Also, note that certain operations
can be carried out in either NOMOUNT or MOUNT state while other operations
require the database to be OPEN.

We will as usual use the SPFILE and go about the following:

  • Starting Up and Shutting Down with Enterprise Manager

  • Starting Up and Shutting Down with SQL*Plus

  • Starting Up and Shutting Down with SRVCTL

Obviously, you will need your RAC to be operational. The difference of a RAC
against a regular database is that you can easily shutdown (even pull out the
plug if you are impatient) and still have your services remain operational.
That is utility computing; and indeed RAC is a utility appliance.

Starting Up and Shutting Down
with Enterprise Manager

Doing this is pretty easy. You can either shut all of the instances down or bring
down the individual nodes. Do the following to start up or shut down a cluster
database instance:

  • Go to the link http://myipaddress:5500/em
    this will be your RAC database homepage.

  • Click on startup or shutdown for the particular instance
    scenario. When the node is down you can log on back with either your SYSDBA or
    SYSOPER privileges.

To bring down or bring up your RAC, meaning all instances that the
Enterprise Manager is aware of, you will do the following:

  • Again, go to your RAC homepage (http://myipaddress:5500/em). Click Startup/Shutdown. The Specify
    Credentials page appears.

  • This time, provide the username and password for your RAC. Here
    you can restart your RAC cluster effectively. You must be a member of the OSDBA

Starting Up
and Shutting Down with SQL*Plus

When you need to start or stop a single node with SQL*PLUS, while still
connected to the local node, make sure that environment variables are OK. Normally
with our RAC setup, we need not worry about that, as with every node reboot the
environment variables are reloaded.

  • Now start your SQL*Plus on command line and connect as a user with
    SYSDBA or SYSOPER privileges.

  • Issue the following command to start and mount your database.

NOTE : You can start multiple instances from a single SQL*Plus session using
Oracle Net Services (this is similar to opening a putty console and doing ssh anothermachinename to go to the other machine and jump
across machines via one console. The below mentioned example will typically be
done via a putty or ssh console of one machine and jump across nodes from that

You must, however, use an alias in your connection string. This is a common practice,
which I prefer to do on my local node as well, since I travel so much across
consoles that sometimes I forget where I am working. Therefore, you will do
this to shutdown a node 3 and 4 say vm3rh4 and vm4rh4:


Then go to the second node and connect from the SQL*Plus session:


Also note that there is no one command that will shutdown all of the nodes. You
can, however, write a shell script that will do so. Maybe we will try to cook
up one and see it in upcoming articles. Or better yet, just stick to the
Enterprise Manager for such activities.

Starting Up and Shutting Down with

We have covered SRVCTL before, so we’ll do a quick syntax check here, to
start an instance:

srvctl start instance -d mydb -i "myinstance_list" [-o start_options] [-c connect_str | -q]

To stop, do the following:

srvctl stop instance -d mydb -i " myinstance_list" [-o stop_options] [-c connect_str | -q]

To start and stop the entire RAC cluster database, meaning all of the
instances, you will do the following from your SRVCTL in the command line:

srvctl start database -d mydb [-o start_options] [-c connect_str | -q]
srvctl stop database -d mydb [-o stop_options] [-c connect_str | -q]

There are several options and we will look at all of them in upcoming
articles in RAC administration.

Time Synchronization: A common problem in a typical VMware RAC Cluster

You must have noticed time synchronization problems during the install
process. Your install will fail miserably if there
are time sync problems and even during listener creation,
you might get “time in future related errors”. What I encountered during preparation
of my Virtual Machines was that a dual or even a quad vCPU Virtual Machine,
that the CPU runs wild (mostly faster). I will not get into the detail of time
drift, cpuspeed, etc., as there is enough advice from other corners to drive
you nuts. However, configuring the ESX Servers ntp file helped me to keep time
on a ESX 2.5.x host with 4 dual vCPU Virtual Machines RHEL 4.2 OS and have my
RAC run successfully.


In our next article,
we will continue by show more realistic examples against what we have discussed
in our previous articles. Upcoming articles will try to take a closer look at
the Enterprise Manager Console.


See All Articles by Columnist
Tarry Singh

Tarry Singh
Tarry Singh
I have been active in several industries since 1991. While working in the maritime industry I have worked for several Fortune 500 firms such as NYK, A.P. Møller-Mærsk Group. I made a career switch, emigrated, learned a new language and moved into the IT industry starting 2000. Since then I have been a Sr. DBA, (Technical) Project Manager, Sr. Consultant, Infrastructure Specialist (Clustering, Load Balancing, Networks, Databases) and (currently) Virtualization/Cloud Computing Expert and Global Sourcing in the IT industry. My deep understanding of multi-cultural issues (having worked across the globe) and international exposure has not only helped me successfully relaunch my career in a new industry but also helped me stay successful in what I do. I believe in "worknets" and "collective or swarm intelligence". As a trainer (technical as well as non-technical) I have trained staff both on national and international level. I am very devoted, perspicacious and hard working.

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