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sqlplus can be used even if there is no listener in the system, or if it isn't running.

How does SQL*Plus connect to Oracle without a listener?

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You only bypass the listener when you connect as sysdba*. Ordinary connections through SQLPlus still use the listener. As for how it does it, there is a special mechanism for this kind of connection, which allows a database to be administered without a working listener. I do not believe that the workings of this mechanism are published by Oracle. They want you to use the listener.

Or as sysoper*. **And only if you don't specify a database in your connect string.

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Sorry, but this is wrong. Any user can connect locally without a listener, through the BEQ (Bequeath) protocol. docs.oracle.com/cd/E11882_01/install.112/e27508/… –  Balazs Papp Apr 7 at 17:12
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Thanks. I learned something today. –  Andrew Brennan Apr 8 at 9:15

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