Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oracle 11g SQL*PLUS on Windows – fighting NLS_LANG, code pages and character sets

Oracle 11g SQL*PLUS on Windows – fighting NLS_LANG, code pages and character sets

Oracle has dumped sqlplusw – The native Windows GUI SQL*PLUS – from windows in 11g – so now there is only the windows command shell version.

So, how do we enter non-OEM code page characters in SQL*PLUS now?

Before using sqlplus or ANY Oracle command line tool, we need to verify that the Oracle client character set and windows code page combination are compatible.

We need to manually set the Oracle NLS_LANG environment variable because the NLS_LANG setting in the registry is for Windows GUI applications.

This is essential to avoid incorrect character conversion and therefore possible character data corruption.

This post discusses how to run sql*plus in a windows command shell and avoid NLS / character set problems.

A bit of education first:

Code Pages

On Windows, GUI applications and command shell applications do not use the same code page (unless in a Chinese-Japanese-Korean environment).

Windows uses two different character sets for the ANSI (GUI) and the OEM (Command shell) environments. For most English PC’s the ANSI code page is 1252.

To check what code page your command prompt (OEM code page) uses, open a command prompt and type “chcp”

Alternatively, open regedit and go to:



[sourcecode language="powershell"]
C:\Documents and Settings\kbrocas>chcp

Active code page: 437

So on my system I’m using OEM code page 437.

Setting NLS_LANG appropriately for the command shell

When an Oracle windows application starts on Windows, it reads the oracle.key file located in the ORACLE_HOME\bin directory to determine which registry Key/tree to use.

The Oracle registry entry includes the NLS_LANG value for the application.

The old GUI sqlplusw ran with the ANSI code page, and the NLS_LANG value in the registry was appropriately matched to the ANSI code page.

For example, in my case, NLS_LANG specifies the Oracle character set as WE8MSWIN1252 which maps to my Windows ANSI code page 1252.

However, command-line sqlplus runs with the OEM code page, and so when it reads the registry, it gets NLS_LANG=WE8MSWIN1252  - which is not appropriate.

We have to change / set the NLS_LANG parameter ine the command prompt/console session correctly otherwise incorrect character conversion can corrupt error messages and data.

For example, in my case:

C:\Documents and Settings\kbrocas>set NLS_LANG=ENGLISH_AUSTRALIA.US8PC437

This over-rides the registry value of NLS_LANG that sqlplus would use by default.

Now the Oracle client applications correctly identify the character set they are running with when they connect to the database, allowing appropriate character set conversions between client and server.

Sounds good? Yes – until you realise that the ANSI character set I’m using is a 7-bit ASCII character set – I can’t enter any fancy characters! How about changing the default OEM codepage in the command prompt so that it matches the GUI codepage, or at least some code page that supports 8+ bit characters?

Well, yes you can….

Changing the windows command prompt OEM code page

You can change the code page in the console just for the session, or for all time.

By example, to change from the standard OEM code page to the standard MS Windows Latin 1 code page:

For the current command shell/console

C:\> chcp 1252

C:\Documents and Settings\kbrocas>chcp 1252

Active code page: 1252

You can now enter weird characters. Remember to unset NLS_LANG in the command prompt if you have already set it before connecting to the database with client tools.

For all time

NOTE: Some people have reported that if the code page specified here is not available on the system, you may have trouble booting afterwards! I put this here as a reference, however I need to do more research on this before I can recommend it. Some suggest using code page 65001 instead.


Go to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Nls\CodePage]

Change the “OEMCP” value to “1252″ for the standard MS Windows Latin 1 code page.



Configuring Oracle Database Globalization Support, Oracle Database Client Installation Guide 11g Release 1 (11.1) for Microsoft Windows

Configuration Parameters and the Registry

Oracle Database Platform Guide 11g Release 1 (11.1) for Microsoft Windows

Oracle Globalization FAQ


Code Pages

Character sets

Character sets and codepages

Code Pages Supported by Windows

Use Locale Model

Encodings and Code Pages



Other pages I found useful

Code page 437

That Ol’ OEM Code Page

Keep your eye on the code page

Why ACP != OEMCP (usually)


Windows’ command prompt : How to DEFINITELY change default codepage

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

RMAN "DELETE OBSOLETE" returns ORA-19606 - the solution.


When trying to delete obsolete backups, rman includes the snapshot control file:
Deleting the following obsolete backups and copies:
Type Key Completion Time Filename/Handle
-------------------- ------ ------------------ --------------------
Control File Copy 23123 19/NOV/2009 13:05:46 /u01/app/oracle/product/11.1.0/db_1/dbs/snapcf_MDMR.f
RMAN-00571: ===========================================================
RMAN-00569: =============== ERROR MESSAGE STACK FOLLOWS ===============
RMAN-00571: ===========================================================
RMAN-03009: failure of delete command on ORA_DISK_2 channel at 11/26/2009 12:16:48
ORA-19606: Cannot copy or restore to snapshot control file

The command successfully deletes the other files.

Metalink only has one note for ORA-19606: the note (49303.1) that describes ORA-19606.


Change the snapshot controlfile name in the RMAN configuration, run the delete obsolete command again, and then change the snapshot controlfile name back (if you want).

For example:

After executing the above command, the snapshot controlfile name is changed to snapcf1_MDMR.f

Now run "delete obsolete" again. It will delete the old snapshot controlfile, but in subsequent runs, it will not include the snapshot controlfile in the list to delete.

You can now change back to original name or continue with the new name.