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Enhanced Diagnosability of Oracle Database: What is an Attention Log?

A correct diagnosis is three-fourths the remedy – Mahatma Gandhi

How true this statement is also in the database world! Often it is more difficult to diagnose an issue than fixing it. Going in the past through the alert.log file to find information that needs attention has been simplified by creating a single attention.log file.

In the latest Oracle release, diagnosability of database issues is enhanced through a new attention log, as well as classification of information written to database trace files. The new attention log is written in a structured format (XML or JSON) that is much easier to process or interpret and only contains information that requires attention from an administrator.

The attention log is an externally modifiable file that contains information about critical and highly visible database events. We can use the attention log to quickly access information about critical events that need action.

So, where is the location of the new log file introduced by Oracle Database 21c? Notice that V$DIAG_INFO has a new entry called Attention log:

The attention log contains a pre-determined, translatable series of messages, with one message for each event. There is one attention log for each database instance. There are two ways to view the contents of the attention log.

1. Open the attention.log file that can be found under $ORACLE_BASE/diag/rdbms/database_name/instance_id/log directory. Note that the documentation does not reflect the correct location of the attention.log file.

2. Query the V$DIAG_ALERT_EXT view using the required filters:

The filtering is done through message_level. A message_level of 1 corresponds to critical errors that need immediate action.

You can filter V$DIAG_ALERT_EXT on either MESSAGE_TYPE or MESSAGE_LEVEL. As you can see in the example above, I am filtering for only critical errors. Here is what the types and levels mean by number:

MESSAGE_TYPE:

1: UNKNOWN – essentially the NULL type
2: INCIDENT_ERROR – error for some internal or unexpected reason: must be reported to Oracle Support
3: ERROR – an error of some kind has occurred – not really meaningful
4: WARNING: an action occurred or a condition was discovered that should be reviewed and may require action
5: NOTIFICATION: reports a normal action or event: for example “logon completed”
6: TRACE: output of a diagnostic trace

MESSAGE_LEVEL:

1: CRITICAL: critical errors
2: SEVERE: severe errors
8: IMPORTANT: important message
16: NORMAL: normal message

The attention log has the following attributes, not all documented yet:

– Attention ID: a unique identifier for the message
– Attention type: Error, Warning, Notification or Additional information
– Message text
– Notification
– Error
– Urgency: Immediate, Soon, Deferrable or Information
– Scope: Session, Process, PDB Instance, CDB Instance, CDB Cluster, PDB or CDB
– Info
– Cause
– Action
– Class: Clusterware Admin, CDB admin or PDB admin
– Time

Note that an attention log entry seldom contains all attributes.

Read MoreJulian Dontcheff’s Database Blog

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