Killing Sessions

You have a session which is out of control. You decide to kill it. What options are available to you as a DBA?

Assuming you don’t have access to the O/S to be able to use O/S commands to kill the session (using kill -9 in Unix/Linux or orakill in windows to kill the thread within the process – “orakill sid thread”), you probably turn to:

alter system kill session 'sid, serial#, @inst_id' immediate;

(note the undocumented @inst_id, which can be used to identify specific RAC instances, rather than the instance you are connected to) Note that immediate does not change the processing, but just returns control to the command line immediately.

You can generate this command using

select 'alter system kill session ''' || sid || ', ' || serial# || ', @' || inst_id || ''';' from gv$session;


However, despite the name, this does not actually kill the session. You may get a pause issuing this command, followed by a “session marked for kill” message. The session then gets a status of “KILLED” in gv$session, but the session does not go away. As a further side effect, frequently the O/S process id is removed from gv$process, so you can’t now locate the process in the O/S to (ora)kill it.

What actually happens is a bit gets set against the session which effectively says “When you next check this bit, kill yourself”. But sometimes the session is busy, is rolling back (check for changing values in gv$transaction.used_urec), is waiting for a reply which never comes or is caught in a tight loop, and never gets around to checking the bit, and so it doesn’t die.

Does anyone know if pmon comes along, notices that you have a session marked for kill, kills it and initiates recovery for the session???

So, what’s a DBA to do? How do I actually kill the session? Step forward little-known command:

alter system disconnect session 'sid,serial#,@inst_id' POST_TRANSACTION | IMMEDIATE

And to generate it:
select 'alter system disconnect session ''' || sid || ', ' || serial# || ', @' || inst_id || ''';' from gv$session;

Again, note the undocumented @inst_id option for RAC.

What this command does is effectively kill the Operating system process. Right now (or after the next commit/rollback if you include the option POST_TRANSACTION.) It is the same as issuing an (ora)kill command.The IMMEDIATE here means “kill it now!”

Bang! and the session is gone.

Don’t kill the wrong session… you may well take your database down.

3 Responses to Killing Sessions

  1. Dom Brooks says:

    Feel free to delete

  2. fouedgray says:

    Thanks for these nice ideas 🙂

  3. davros1976 says:

    SIGKILL that will learn the mofo, and when RECO throws a fit kill him as well.

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