Configuring and Tuning Databases on the Solaris Platform

by Allan N. Packer, (c) Sun Microsystems Press, 2002


Many books have been written on database tuning--I personally own enough volumes on Oracle tuning to fill a small shelf. Very few, though, approach configuring, tuning, monitoring, and troubleshooting from the perspective of the system as a whole, treating the database as one of a number of key components. I have set out to approach database configuration and tuning from this broader context.

To my knowledge, this book is the first attempt at tackling database tuning for multiple databases. Since many aspects of database architecture and tuning are common across the major products, I have separated out generic topics such as database concepts, hardware architectures, the buffer cache and the optimizer. I hope that the opportunity to see the big picture and to compare and contrast the different implementations outweighs the inconvenience of having to follow cross-references at times.

This book is also the first published guide to database configuring and tuning for Solaris users (although most of the principles and much of the detail should be applicable to other UNIX systems). I trust that it will enhance your experience of running databases on the Solaris Operating Environment.

My aim has been to identify the highlights. An overwhelming array of statistics are reported by Solaris and the various databases; rather than attempting to define every statistic and tunable parameter, I focus on those likely to have the most impact on common database workloads.

Finally, no one person could claim a full mastery of all the topics covered in this book, and I certainly make no such assertion on my own behalf. I have tried to distill the knowledge I have acquired during my 12 years with Sun--5 years in the field organization as a Systems Engineer specializing in databases, followed by 7 years in Database Engineering (now Performance and Availability Engineering)--and add to it the research and insights of my colleagues. I was fortunate to join an engineering group that actively pursued engineering relationships with all four database vendors. This involvement has offered me direct participation in performance projects with the engineering groups at Oracle in Redwood Shores, IBM at the DB2 Development Lab in Toronto, and Sybase at Emeryville. My contact with Informix has been peripheral, and in writing the Informix chapters I have relied heavily on the wisdom and experience of my colleagues.

Intended Audience

This book should appeal to the following groups of readers:

I have tried to go into enough depth to satisfy those looking for detailed configuration and tuning suggestions, while still making the content accessible to people who are not database or Solaris gurus.

Organization of This Book

This book is organized in five parts. Parts One, Two, and Five are best viewed as reference material. Parts Three and Four lend themselves to hands-on tuning.

An appendix lists sources for supplementary information.

Book Website

The scripts and utilities referred to in the book are available on the book website, and I will also use this site to post updates to the material in the book. The website can be found at:

Conventions Used in the Book

For consistency, the book uses the notational conventions described in the following list: I sometimes opt for commonly used variants of formal technical terms. For example, I opted for indexes rather than the more formal indices, tables rather than relations, rows rather than tuples, and columns rather than attributes. Although the noun data is a plural with a singular form of datum, I follow common usage and treat it as a singular (for example, "key column data is stored in a B-tree structure").

A Note from the Author

I welcome your feedback, suggestions, and general comments. If you like the book, please let me know! If you find flaws, errors, or omissions, I would also be glad to hear of them. In reading Configuring and Tuning Databases for the Solaris Platform, I hope you receive even a small proportion of the benefit I have gained from writing it.

Allan Packer


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