MonthDecember 2005

Ruby/OCI8, Oracle and ORA-12705

After installing the Ruby/OCI8 module on a Windows XP installation where sqlplus is working fine I got the following error when testing the connection in irb:

irb(main):012:0> cn ="username","password","database")
OCIError: ORA-12705: invalid or unknown NLS parameter value specified
from c:/ruby/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/oci8.rb:158:in `begin'
from c:/ruby/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/oci8.rb:158:in `initialize'
from c:/ruby/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/oci8.rb:158:in `do_ocicall'
from c:/ruby/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/oci8.rb:158:in `initialize'
from (irb):12:in `new'
from (irb):12
from :0

This one really took me several hours of google-hunting, finding 0 direct solutions. I was almost throwing my hat in the ring when I finally found the solution.

The Problem
In this case the ‘NLS parameter’ I was having a problem with turned out to be NLS_LANG.

This parameter is supposedly set during installation (I can’t remember choosing this, but this must be the only Oracle client installation I’ve ever done on MS Windows). The ORA-12705 error was cause by my client Ruby/OCI8 sending an incompatible NLS_LANG language parameter when connecting with this specific Oracle db.
Sqlplus, enterprise manager,… were all working fine.

Where is NLS_LANG stored on the client ?
The value was in my case stored in 3 different locations in the windows registry, always in a key ‘NLS_LANG’, once at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ORACLE, and 2 more times in sub-keys of this location. Just do a search in regedit for ‘NLS_LANG’ and you’ll find the culprits. 1 of these NLS_LANG had the value ‘NA’, the other 2 were ‘DUTCH_BELGIUM.WE8MSWIN1252’.

If you want to test if this is the source of your issue, then apparently you can override this value using an ‘NS_LANG’ environment variable. To test this, just do ‘set NLS_LANG = ‘ in your dosbox before starting irb.

How do I know what language the Oracle db expects ?
Open a connection to the db with sqlplus (or whatever it is you’re using) and issue the following:




To view all NLS parameters, issue:


When doing ‘set NLS_LANG=AMERICAN_AMERICA.WE8ISO8859P1’ before starting irb, connecting to the db went fine.

Will this work with rails ?
I tried ‘set’ting NLS_LANG before starting webrick, but to no avail. I really had to change registry values for rails to work when running onder webrick.
I guess (hope) it will be the same when running under a more production-level server too.

What if I need to connect to several different db’s which expect different language settings ?
God knows.
I’d start by trying to set all NLS_LANG registry entries to ‘NA’. If that doesn’t work, I’d try to find out if it’s possible to set this as a parameter when connecting. But how you would do this in Rails: ???

Please let me know if you find out!

installing fxruby on ubuntu

Did you get the following error on your ubuntu 5.10 when installing fxruby (or probably any other gem) via rubygems:

Building native extensions. This could take a while...
extconf.rb:4:in `require': no such file to load -- mkmf (LoadError)
from extconf.rb:4

then you probably need to install the ruby1.8-dev package.