I'm setting up a local development environment in a virtual machine in which I installed Oracle XE among other software.

When I initially set up the virtual machine, the RAM was set to 4Gb. In this condition, I installed and run Oracle XE smoothly, without problem.

Then 4Gb of RAM proved to be a little to much for the laptops of my teammates, so I stopped the virtual machine, decreased its memory to 2Gb and restarted it.

Since then Oracle XE starts, as far as I can tell from the output of the service, but it refuse incoming connections because it seems MEMORY_TARGET is set too high.

Now, since I'm currently locked out from the database, how can disable the MEMORY_TARGET at all, or at least decrease the amount of space it tries to allocate ? I know I should be able to do it altering some system tables, but I'm not longer able to connect.

Here's some info you can need to give a clearer picture:

cat /u01/app/oracle/diag/rdbms/xe/XE/trace/alert_XE.log

WARNING: You are trying to use the MEMORY_TARGET feature. 
This feature   requires the /dev/shm file system to be mounted for at
least 1073741824   bytes /dev/shm is either not mounted or is mounted
with   available space less than this size. Please fix this so that
MEMORY_TARGET can work as expected. Current available is 1049767936
and used is 73728 bytes. Ensure that the mount point is /dev/shm for
this directory.
memory_target needs larger /dev/shm

This is instead the status of the service...

$ sudo service oracle-xe status

LSNRCTL for Linux: Version - Production on 21-DEC-2015 12:04:39

Copyright (c) 1991, 2011, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Alias                     LISTENER
Version                   TNSLSNR for Linux: Version - Production
Start Date                21-DEC-2015 11:31:33
Uptime                    0 days 0 hr. 33 min. 5 sec
Trace Level               off
Security                  ON: Local OS Authentication
SNMP                      OFF
Default Service           XE
Listener Parameter File   /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/xe/network/admin/listener.ora
Listener Log File         /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/xe/log/diag/tnslsnr/infocertcop/listener/alert/log.xml
Listening Endpoints Summary...
Services Summary...
Service "PLSExtProc" has 1 instance(s).
  Instance "PLSExtProc", status UNKNOWN, has 1 handler(s) for this service...
The command completed successfully

I know I should be able to fix the issue restarting the virtual machine with 4Gb of RAM, change the MEMORY_TARGET configuration and then decrease again the amount of RAM, but I would really prefer to discover how to do it in another way, if possible.


Find the name of the spfile on the filesystem, it should be something like this:


You should not edit the spfile directly as it contains binary data, but you can create a pure, text-based parameterfile from it:

sqlplus /nolog
create pfile='/tmp/initXE.ora' from spfile='/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/xe/dbs/spfileXE.ora';

Edit /tmp/initXE.ora, modify the values you want, then recreate the spfile from it:

sqlplus /nolog
create spfile='/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/xe/dbs/spfileXE.ora' from pfile='/tmp/initXE.ora';

Once it's done, try restarting the database.

  • I was able to update the /tmp/initXE.ora file, but when I try to recreate back the spfile I got SQL> create spfile='/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/xe/dbs/spfileXE.ora' from pfile='/tmp/initXE.ora'; create spfile='/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/xe/dbs/spfileXE.ora' from pfile='/tmp/initXE.ora' * ERROR at line 1: ORA-32002: cannot create SPFILE already being used by the instance – danidemi Dec 21 '15 at 15:05
  • @danidemi Did you start the instance somehow? Seems it was already running. – Balazs Papp Dec 22 '15 at 11:56
  • Let me elaborate. As I described in the question, halving the amount of RAM in the virtual machine triggered the Oracle problem and made it unable to start. In this situation I was not able to execute create pfile you suggested because sqlplus complained about not being connected. So I went back to 4Gb, I reconfigured Oracle and it restarted successfully. I was then able to connect from sqlplus and execute the create pfile command, but the create spfile failed because obviously I was connected to the very same instance I was trying to modify. – danidemi Dec 22 '15 at 14:31

Even simpler. Create a pfile initDB.ora which contains these 3 lines, this will override memory_target value from spfile:


Connect to DB using sqlplus.

sql> shutdown immediate
sql> startup pfile='/path/initDB.ora'
sql> alter system set memory_target=xG scope=spfile sid='*';
sql> alter system set memory_max_target=xG scope=spfile sid='*';
sql> shutdown immediate
sql> startup

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