Lab 128 : expert DBA’s secret weapon

February 17th, 2013

I’ve mentioned lab 128 before but I have to mentioned it again. Every DBA should know about this tool. It’s the fastest way to connect to an Oracle database and get some hard core performance information nicely visualized graphically.

Lab 128 starts up in seconds, like 1 or 2 seconds. Its super fast and light weight but powerful.  My older version only took 10M of RAM. The newest version is about 47M but still as fast as ever.

Lab128 can be used to monitor 15-20 instances. Lab 128 keeps  13-14 hours of performance data in memory, and last 60 days on the disk. Monitoring that many instances for that long takes around 800-900 MB of RAM and well less than  10% of the CPU on a laptop.

Below is my favorite screen, the “Activity Explorer” page which is somewhat like the top Activity screen in OEM but it shows both the data from ASH and the data from wait events, so you can compare the two. The ASH data can be collected by the tool avoiding the diagnostics and performance pack license or if you have the license it can connect to ASH from the database views.

You can monitor several databases at a time

Here is the top session screen showing session state, session types and for active queries, the estimated completion % for the query.

Cool maraige of  unix top and v$sessions:

Lab128 Top Processes window

buffer cache explorer

Lab128 Buffer Explorer window

lock monitor

Lab128 Locks and Locked Objects window

  • Alert File Viewer
  • 10053 trace viewer
  • Clusterware monitor

Much more.

Check out the website at



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  2. Ramesh
    February 26th, 2013 at 18:37 | #1

    Hi Kyle,
    Not to put you on the spot or anything, but if I gave you a choice of tools to monitor databases, what would be your personal preference?

    Grid Control with diagnostics and tuning pack licenses

    We are trying to decide on a monitoring tool. Confio seems to have the advantage that it can give us an integrated view of the whole stack including the VM layer, but I get the feeling that Oracle will continue to enhance Grid Control, so does it make sense to stick to Grid Control?


  3. February 27th, 2013 at 00:39 | #2

    @Ramesh: It all comes down to money really. If I had the money I’d buy them all for different reasons. Grid control is the most complete if you have diag pack and tuning pack. With diag pack you get AWR and ASH. With tuning you get SQL monitoring. Grid control is the most expensive and the most complete and also the least reliable and slowest. For that reason I like something like lab 128 because it’s fast, cheap and dependable.
    With Oracle you are talking about $5000 per core. With lab128 you are talking about $900 for everything.
    For Confio, I’ve never been a user but I know there are shops that use both Confio and OEM for some of the same reasons. Also if I ran databases on VMware I’d definitely want Confio as they correlate performance of the VMs with the databases.

  4. Ramesh
    February 27th, 2013 at 23:17 | #3

    Thanks Kyle. We have a meeting scheduled next month with Delphix. Kind of excited to learn more.

  5. February 28th, 2013 at 00:09 | #4

    Hi Ramesh – feel free to ping me off line for any question on Delphix. I’m at

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