SQL Server Health Checking

These past few weeks I’ve been working on health checking a client’s SQL Server 2017 instance that hosts databases for their finance and spend-control applications. In my suite of tests there were over 70 different points checked across SQL Server and the applications to ensure that they were operating at peak potential.

Three useful things you can do to quick check a SQL Server instance even if you don’t have a DBA or SQL management skills yourself:

1. Check the installed Cumulative Update (CU)

SQL Server itself is a highly tested product and usually you’d not expect to have any serious issues in production. From time to time though there are security, performance and functional updates released for the product. It’s recommended to frequently apply the latest Cumulative Update or “CU”. These are highly tested updates that are certified to the same level as what a service pack used to be.

You can check the currently installed CU via installed updates in add/remove programs, by comparing the version string in the properties of the SQL Server instance in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or referring to documentation your SQL Server installation consultant gave to you.

If your instance of SQL Server is no longer supported then it’s time to plan out an upgrade.

2. Check the free disk space

SQL data files, log files and backups can grow to consume a lot of space. These files are necessary for a full functioning SQL Server instance. It’s therefore necessary to manage the disks they are stored on.

If SQL Server runs out of space it will follow the database settings for Autogrowth if switched on. If there’s no data to allow the growth to occur then SQL Server will return an error instead which the end user will then somehow experience (error message, timeout, nothing happening).

As for backups that’s a lot more straightforward; no disk free then no backup.

Simply check these by looking at free disk space in File Explorer and then consider expanding the disks, moving files about or planning a migration to a server with more storage. Another important note that you should avoid shrinking production databases. Yes, it’s best to allow disk space to be pre-allocated to SQL Server databases! This avoids fragmentation which can reduce performance and also delays in response due to the database engine awaiting the disk to allocate more space.

3. Checking over the host Operating System.

Your SQL Server will only ever be as good as the operating system it’s hosted upon. You should periodically check that the latest updates are applied to the OS, ensure that there are no major events that need attention logged in Windows Event viewer and also ensure that CPU and memory aren’t under pressure from other applications.

This by all means isn’t a comprehensive list of things you should be checking on a SQL Server but it’s relatively easy to do for someone who has sysadmin skills for Windows Server (or even Linux).

If you have performance, security or operational issues with SQL Server don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Digital Incite and Matter Ltd. We are experts in maintaining mission critical SQL Server instances for organisations of all shapes and sizes.

Compatibility Is Key!

This will be the final semi-regular post of the year so before I get into the subject I’d like to say a brief thanks for your readership over the year!

This week I have been focused more on the platform side of things: organising updates on our VMWare ESXi host with our data centre and preparing for an upcoming attempt at Cyber Essentials certification. In other words not that much on SQL Server this week but still had a dabble when called for.

It has come to my attention that you can’t licence SQL Server 2016 or 2017 through distributors any more. You’ll have to pardon my ignorance on licensing as through my main job we don’t do the SQL Server licensing. Either there’s already an SQL Server there or a new one is deployed.

I recently did a rapid-fire upgrade for a client which called for a move of an existing application from Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2012 infrastructure. Because of the age of the application running there which wasn’t to be upgraded the design called for Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2016 to be used as these were the highest supported. Unfortunately the client’s IT were not able to source SQL Server 2016 from their distributors any more.

This is a nice segue into SQL Server compatibility levels, what they are and what they are used for and how that could save us.

Every database connected to a SQL Server instance has a compatibility level set. By default for a new database it will be the compatibility level for that particular version of SQL Server that’s been installed (unless the instance has been upgraded but that’s a different matter). The database compatibility level is used by the Database Engine to control what specific SQL Server behaviours and changes are used for that database. If you want to know more then Microsoft have that in their documentation if you fancy a detour.

The official word from Microsoft is that you certify an application against the database compatibility level and not the SQL Server instance version. In other words it’s valid to have a SQL Server 2022 (160) instance and connect databases with a SQL Server 2014 (120) database to it with a corresponding compatibility level to maintain backwards compatibility. Your application vendor might begrudgingly disagree with that policy though so check in with them first.

Examining and Changing the Database Compatibility Level

In SQL Server Management Studio the easiest way to determine the database compatibility level is by right clicking your target database > properties > Options tab. The current compatibility level is displayed in the window.

SELECT [name],[compatibility_level]
FROM sys.databases

You’ll notice that the compatibility level is not 2022, 2019, 2017 etc but a number corresponding to the product version of the SQL Server instead.

If you determine that a compatibility level change is required you can set a new level using the following command:

SET COMPATIBILITY_LEVEL = 160 | 150 | 140 | 130 | 120 | etc

You should note that you may experience query regressions when moving up compatibility levels. The usual reminder to test carefully before deploying to production counts here!

Working With Constraints and Problematic Data

The challenge this week concerns constraints. In an SQL database constraints are used to enforce referential integrity on the data held within it. For example you can use foreign keys to ensure that a sales order in a database always has a reference to a valid customer ID in a customers table or use a table constraint to enforce that a purchase order number must be entered (i.e.: does not have a NULL value).

One thing you can do with a SQL database which is a bit naughty is disable the checking of the data on a constraint. Useful if you need to rework some underlying data in a pinch. Hold that. It’s not. What that does is store the problem up for later and probably for someone else to work out.

Constraints and foreign keys are there for a good reason which is to make sure your data is…you know…referential.

We have a software product that – when moved up to the cloud – now requires that referential constraints are enforced. As part of the upgrade procedure with the “designer” edition of the software (the environment that the data has to be upgraded to before getting shipped off to the cloud in this case) the consultant needs to enable an option in the software which effectively builds a SQL statement to do it across the database.

Sadly when that was enabled all hell broke loose. Well. Many foreign key violations at least. the software itself did not report any issues enabling trusted constraints but another tool which checks the database for correct preparation did.

After some SQL Profiler tracing I found 5 instances where data had escaped the foreign key constraint that was written. This happens usually when someone disables the constraint using the NOCHECK option, changes the data as they see and then re-enable the constraint with the CHECK option.

When you find a constraint violation within a SQL database you can query the problematic data by using the following command.

DBCC CHECKCONSTRAINTS (<constraint_name>)

To check every constraint on the database – either enabled or disabled – use the following but be aware that this may take some time.


Once I then identified and resolved all the data issues I was then able to take the easy route and have the software enable all the constraints within the database and pass the upgrade check.

Discussing Authentication Modes in SQL Server

I have been on holiday for the past two weeks but just before I left the subject came up with a client regarding authentication methods in SQL Server. Whether you are logging in using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to make queries or configuring an application to work with SQL Server the authentication method is important to consider. 

By authentication we mean a process a user must complete to gain access to a system. SQL Server roles and rights fall under authorisation – determining what access a user has in a system – which I’ll discuss another time.  

When you install a fresh SQL Server instance on Windows you’ll be prompted regarding the authentication mode to have it in: 

  • Windows – Default and enables Active Directory authentication only. 
  • Mixed – Enables both Active Directory and SQL Server’s built in authentication method 

You also get to specify what AD users and groups to add to the sysadmin role. When I do this for clients I make sure to identify the users or DBA groups to add. Adding the domain admins group I would advise avoiding unless as a last resort because given that sysadmin has read permissions on data in all databases there should still be a separation of roles between an IT admin and someone in an organisation who has a both requirement & trust to access that information. 

If you change your mind later on after the install you can switch between modes in the instance properties in SSMS or using the registry. 

I recommend if possible that an SQL Server instance uses Windows Authentication. This is because it’s simply put the most secure form of authentication of the two. 

Windows Authentication makes use of an organisation’s existing Active Directory user directory. This mode is always active and is often referred to as “Trusted”. I’ll not go into the exact workings of Active Directory authentication in this post but the critical point is that SQL Server is not performing the authentication itself. Instead the authentication is done against Active Directory by passing back authentication tokens. A slight downside would be that this creates a dependency on a working and redundant Active Directory Domain Services setup (read: ideally two servers with AD replication working and healthy).  

When using an SQL Server authenticated login this will use SQL Server’s own authentication scheme which is much weaker than Active Directory. An example of how much weaker this is would be that in the communication between the client and SQL Server instance you’ll find the password sent in plain text. 

Special Note On The sa Account 

There’s a default account in SQL Server which by default and on installation is named ‘sa’. This is the most powerful account in any SQL Server instance and has the SID 0x01. 

I often get asked the question either in handover or in a support query about the sa account and my answer is always that I don’t use it. Applications, MSPs and consultants that ask for this account lose a few points for doing so. Using the sa account to configure an application or for general use is an absolute no. 

I highly recommend leaving the sa account disabled. It’s also recommended to rename this account as an attacker can usually assume there is an account named sa on the instance to try for. 

As a safer alternative giving users named logins is highly recommended for accountability purposes instead of a shared account. 

Note that if you install SQL Server in Windows Authentication mode the sa account is still created but with a random password and left disabled. 

Database Configuration Checks With The sys.databases View in SQL Server

Recently building a system and preparing to handover the system to a colleague who will be completing the build they asked how they SQL Server databases were configured for the transaction logs, compatibility levels and other things before before other data was loaded in.

To answer questions on that regard you could go through each database one-by-one in SQL Server Management Studio to check the configuration but that’s going to get fairly tedious really fast.

As I’ve said before it’s often best to try and script things out to save them for later rather than poking through the GUIs all the time so this is where building something you can repeatedly use comes in. In this instance the view sys.databases is a really useful one to know.

I’ve built myself a T-SQL script that I use to bring out useful information I can then copy out for documentation or just a quick check of the databases. This script is available in my GitLab repo for you to try. My recommendation would be to modify to your requirements or be an inspiration to build your own.

Your SQL login needs to have ALTER ANY DATABASE, VIEW ANY DATABASE or CREATE DATABASE permission at server level or be in the SYASADMIN server role. If you call the view any database you have the db_owner role over will appear too.

This script I use to give a quick check following building a new system. Just an an example it’s usually a really good idea to have AUTO CLOSE and AUTO SHRINK set to OFF on production databases. Sometimes clients might set these on as they sound like a good idea just by reading them. With sys.databases this is an example of option you can check to see what’s configured for either general checks or troubleshooting purpose.

My invitation to you is to check out my script, leave me a few comments and have fun building your own.

Making Yourself A Quick Backup in SQL Server

A nice a and simple one to share this week. Often when giving SQL Server consultancy I have to make backups at points before I’m doing something hazardous in a client’s database. This might be patching or running a script for example. It’s best to take your own backups just in case something doesn’t go to plan.

I occasionally see people fumbling around the GUI of SQL Server Management Studio to do backups and when there’s multiple databases to do it can really get clunky. There’s an argument to say that often it’s better to learn to script rather than work through GUIs. I certainly agree. Learning to do things in SQL Server via T-SQL commands means you can save them for later and also save a lot of time.

Your most basic command to backup a SQL database is as so:


That’s really it for you GUI fans.

Let’s break this down further and look at the arguments after the BACKUP DATABASE command:

TO DISK = N’Backup_Mydatabase.bak’ – instructs SQL Server to make the backup to the disk with the name as specified. In SQL Server 2008 R2 and above the backup path can be seen in SSMS by right click the instance name > Properties > Database settings tab and note the path for Backups right at the bottom. Prior to (if I remember correctly) SQL Server 2008 R2 this backup path needed to be specified in full. You can specify a full path if you want to backup elsewhere but you need to ensure that SQL Server has permissions there.

COPY_ONLY – this option instructs SQL Server to only make a copy of the database and not record it in the backup chain. What this means is that if you have a disaster and want to recover then the backup you have just taken isn’t considered the last full backup in the chain. You should consider using this option for copying databases to another server and also for backups outside the normal backup routine.

COMPRESSION – applies compression to the backup. Leaving this off will mean SQL Server will follow the server’s default setting. I have the habit of doing this because unplanned backups take space somewhere and adding unplanned backups can tip the balance if you’re not careful. This being said you should always check space before making backups and restores.

STATS = 10 – this is a useful argument to add on as in the messages tab of SQL Server Management Studio this will give you a progress message at every interval which is a multiple of the number you have specified. So for 10 for example it will say when it’s reached 10%, 20%, 30% and so on up to 100%. This is handy to know as the backup progresses so you can estimate how far off completion you are.

Why Managing Transaction Logs in SQL Server Is Important

This past week I had a situation arise where the SQL Server transaction logs for a particular site grew out of control. This ended up consuming an entire disk volume for the log files which eventually caused the SQL Server to stop processing and by extension caused application downtime. This can be a common cause of unplanned downtime for an application when the transaction log was not managed correctly. Just what is the transaction log in SQL Server for and what do you need to know about it?

What is the transaction log for?

In SQL Server each database consists of two types of files: the first is the data and the second is the log file. Each database may have one of each or multiple data and/or log files.

The database file contains the tables, views, functions, indexes, stored procedures, etc. Basically all the objects in the database. This file normally has the extension .mdf.

The log file on the other hand contains a record of transactions that have occurred in the database. The transaction log file is important to consider for many reasons including performance, data integrity, disaster recovery and high-availability. This file normally has the extension .ldf for primary log files or .ndf for secondary logs.

Note a common myth is that in SIMPLE recovery mode the transaction log is not switched off. All operations are recorded in the transaction log whether that be FULL or SIMPLE mode. The difference is in SIMPLE recovery mode once the transaction is committed into the database then the log is truncated.

Why is it important to manage the transaction log?

The most important answer is that the transaction log forms part of the disaster recovery plan of any SQL Server database. If a disaster occurs then backups of the transaction logs will be required to restore to the last known good point in time.

An immediate unwanted effect of uncontrolled transaction logging is that the log file will continuously grow if autogrowth is enabled. The risk is that this can eventually grow to consume the entire disk volume the transaction log occupies. If SQL Server cannot grow the log file of the database then the transaction it is trying to process will fail.

Why and when should I use SIMPLE or FULL transaction logging?

When deciding on the most appropriate transaction log the decision should be focused around the recovery requirements and acceptable loss window.

For example if you have a live ERP system you should consider FULL transaction logging so that you are able to restore the database using transaction log backups if a failure occurs after a full or differential backup of the database is done.

On the other hand if you had copied the same database into a temporary test system and you are not using the test environment with intention it should be a perfect replica of live then consider using the SIMPLE transaction logging method.

Generally use SIMPLE:

  • Test/training databases.
  • Data warehouses.
  • Settings databases (i.e: lists of usernames, application configuration where the data does not change frequently)

Generally use FULL:

  • Production databases for live OLTP applications.
  • UAT and Pre-Production systems where there is a requirement to mimick the live environment configuration exactly for proving purposes.

You should also consider switching a production system with databases in FULL recovery mode to SIMPLE on a temporary basis whilst you are performing an application upgrade or patch which updates the database. This is to avoid the transaction log growing out of control during the operation. After finishing the upgrade the recovery mode should be switched back to FULL.

Footnote: Switching between recovery modes.

  1. Stop all dependent applications for the databases.
  2. Take a full backup of the databases you are switching the transaction log for. Safety first.
--Set the database to single user mode so that further transactions are stopped.

--Switch the recovery mode

--Finally set the database back to multiple user mode.

You can then start any application services that depend on these databases.

Now That We’ve Got a Cumulative Update…Updating SQL Server on Linux

A few weeks’ ago I blogged about installing SQL Server 2022 on Linux. It just so happens to be that Cumulative Update 8 for SQL Server 2022 came out this week. This gives us the perfect opportunity to talk about applying those all important CUs to the SQL Server we built a couple of weeks back.

As discussed applying SQL Server Cumulative Updates on Linux works differently to Windows. On Windows you generally either get CUs by manually downloading the update via Microsoft’s KB on that particular update or accidentally let one install via Windows update if there’s a security fix. On Linux you generally get updates via the repositories you have configured for your server.

Applying Cumulative Updates for SQL Server (of any supported version) ensures that you have the latest fixes for the SQL Server platform. Each update is certified to the same degree as a service pack used to be and Microsoft generally recommends you keep up to date with their installation. That being said you still should test carefully in UAT before applying to a live system.

The first thing you need to do of course is backup your SQL Server. Something could go wrong so you must make sure you have a rollback plan in case that does happen. This could be: taking a snapshot of the server’s VM in your hypervisor, performing a full backup of all the system and user databases, initiating a full server backup using your favourite backup agent or something completely different.

Once you have a test plan in place which has been approved plus your backups you are now ready to install the latest Cumulative Update.

Step 1: Check to see if you’ve got the correct apt source in your repos:

sudo apt edit-sources

You will then get a 1-4 choice for which editor you want to use. I chose nano which is option #1. At which point you’ll see nano appear. Scroll right down and find your sources.

If you don’t see Microsoft’s sources for SQL Server in there it’s not all bad news as Microsoft have made a guide on how to resolve that problem.

Once you are done reviewing the sources list press CTRL + X to close nano.

Step 2: Run apt update to fetch the current package list from the repositories:

sudo apt-get update

This takes a few minutes and for my server resulted in a 14 MB download. This command is vital to ensure that the next command runs properly otherwise you’ll be using an outdated package list.

Step 3: Perform an upgrade of msssql-server using apt:

--To update everything on the system at once
sudo apt-get upgrade 

--To do MS SQL Server only
sudo apt-get upgrade mssql-server

This will then list out all the packages that need upgrading based on what’s installed to your Server vs what’s available in the repository. If you decided to upgrade everything one of those packages should be…yes you guessed it…mssql-server. Cumulative Update 8 is approximately 268 MB to download:

You are of course going to answer ‘Y’ to this question. Or press enter (note that the “Y” is capitalised. This means that it’s the default answer if you smack return).

This will then run through all the updates to go through. Highlighted here is apt setting up the mssql-server package version 16.0.4075.1-1 which is indeed Cumulative Update 8.

Step 4: Verify the mssql-server service is alive:

systemctl status mssql-server --no-pager

As you can see we’re onto a winner:

At this point it’s also probably a good idea to open SQL Server Management Studio or Azure Data Studio to check you have a working connection. To double check you have Cumulative Update 8 you could also execute the following command in whatever SQL query tool you are using:

Microsoft SQL Server 2022 (RTM-CU8) (KB5029666) - 16.0.4075.1 (X64)  	Aug 23 2023 14:04:50  	Copyright (C) 2022 Microsoft Corporation 	Developer Edition (64-bit) on Linux (Ubuntu 20.04.6 LTS) <X64>

At this point you should start performing your acceptance tests on your databases and applications. Aim to verify that the usual business and system processes are working before declaring a success!

But What If I Wanted A Specific Version of SQL Server?

Whilst it’s usually recommended that a new SQL Server instance should go through a UAT phase with whatever application(s) will be running against it using the latest CU available at the time. However there could be situations where a specific version of SQL Server is required. Whatever that reason in order to do this run the following commands:

sudo apt-get install mssql-server=<version_number>
sudo systemctl start mssql-server

Where <version_number> is the version string you need. For example Cumulative Update 7 is 16.0.4065.3-4. To find the version number you need consult the release notes for SQL Server 2022 on Linux.

TLS on Windows is Dead. Long Live TLS on Windows But Also Avoid Losing Connectivity to SQL Server.

Microsoft have announced this week that future versions of Windows will disable TLS (Transport Layer Security) 1.0 and 1.1 by default. These ageing cryptographic protocols are designed to secure traffic over a network. The move is a bid to improve the security posture in Windows by ensuring that only newer versions of TLS are used between client and server applications.

TLS 1.0 and 1.1 were standardised in 1999(!) and 2006 respectively. They were both deprecated in 2021 via RFC 8996. Although Microsoft claims that no known unpatched exploits exist in the Schannel implementation newer versions of TLS offer much better security. With older versions of TLS a number of bodies have mandated that these older versions should be avoided. For example as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) have deprecated their use since 2018. There are a number of security flaws with both TLS 1.0 and 1.1 which means that we can no longer rely on them for securing traffic.

In addition all major browsers have dropped support for anything prior to TLS 1.2 since 2020. As with all things in computing security it’s best to be ahead rather than behind. There shouldn’t be any browsers and OSes out there that are still supported and can’t use at least TLS 1.2. I fully recommend keeping ahead with developments and plan accordingly to drop anything prior to TLS 1.2.

SQL Server and Applications Impacted

Although Microsoft believe that usage of deprecated versions of TLS are low via their telemetry it would be wrong to simply assume that you can turn off TLS 1.0/1.1 and job done.

If you aren’t sure about how this will impact your business it’s time to start with a review of your applications and how they will be affected. Soon there will be Windows desktops out there that definitely don’t support older versions of TLS out of the box. Whilst Microsoft have stated that you can re-enable TLS 1.0 and 1.1 via the Schannel registry keys in the meantime you absolutely shouldn’t bother with doing so. There’s a reason things move on. Microsoft will at some point do the right thing and completely remove deprecated versions of TLS from the operating system. Putting off the problem won’t solve anything long-term.

Possibly the most direct way this affects SQL Server based applications is indeed the front-end. Many applications now work via a web UI rather than a Windows application. This is perhaps where your investigations should start.

For internet facing applications you could run a test via Qualys which will produce a useful report on how your server is configured. Scroll down and you’ll see the projected impact regarding client browsers and OSes with what versions of TLS they might use.

Yes I do run this test against this blog.

If your applications are internal only it’s not wise to assume that your wires and airwaves are safe even if you own them. for these you can check the Schannel registry keys at the following location:

HKLM SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\

You can check individual protocols at this location to see if they are enabled or disabled.

Getting down to the SQL Server level things get more interesting. Support for TLS 1.2+ exists as of SQL Server 2016 so these versions are good to go out of the box.

For SQL Server 2014 if you have these configured with an encrypted connection this version needs a cumulative update applying before it will support TLS. By now you really, really should have applied an update beyond the version this was introduced anyway. for any new deployments of SQL Server 2014 instances you might have to do remember to apply CUs after you’ve done the install.

For SQL Server 2008, 2008 R2 and 2012 things are arguably beyond the point with those releases as they are no longer supported. You can get yourself a hotfix to apply to those too but unless this is for an application that’s segregated away in some corner of the network for legacy purposes you’ve either got bigger things to worry about or another good reason to upgrade if this is a production system for some reason.

Potentially you’ll need to update the client driver if they use the SQL Server Native driver. Check with the application vendor for the system requirements for this.

Weekend Project: SQL Server 2022 on Ubuntu

There’s something I’ll have to admit to: I don’t (didn’t) have an SQL Server test instance to play with. Gasp! I broke apart my Windows desktop earlier this year, sold all the parts and then remembered how am I supposed to play with SQL Server without it? Well it did save some desk space…

This weekend it came to the top of my task list to build another so for this brief tutorial I’m going to show you how to install SQL Server 2022 onto an Ubuntu Server. Yes that’s right; no Windows involved.


  • A fully setup Ubuntu Server 20.04 running on either a spare PC/server, Virtual Machine, cloud service, basically somewhere. Hell they even run Doom on pregnancy tests these days so I’m sure you can find something to run it on.
  • SQL Server 2022 requires a minimum of 2 GB of system memory so spec/configure as appropriate.

Once you have your shiny new Ubuntu Server you should then use SSH to connect into the environment and let the fun begin.

Step 1: Import the GPG keys for the Microsoft repository. This means that you can trust the repo that you’ll download SQL Server 2022 from:

curl https://packages.microsoft.com/keys/microsoft.asc | sudo tee /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/microsoft.asc

Step 2: Register the Microsoft repository with apt. This means that you add the address of the Microsoft repository into apt’s list it uses to check for and download software & updates. This is where you’ll actually download SQL Server 2022 from:

sudo add-apt-repository "$(wget -qO- https://packages.microsoft.com/config/ubuntu/20.04/mssql-server-2022.list)"

Step 3: Update apt’s list of available updates then instruct apt to install SQL Server 2022. Note the -y switch after the install argument means that you are telling apt to do all this automatically i.e.: yes to all prompts. This will trigger a download around 1.3 GB in total so warm up that internet connection:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y mssql-server

Step 4: Run mssql-conf setup to configure your newly installed SQL Server 2022 instance:

sudo /opt/mssql/bin/mssql-conf setup
  1. You’ll first get asked for the edition. I chose number 2 for Developer as I want to use this build as a test/training server. Whatever edition you choose do make sure you are using an edition you are appropriately licenced for. You’ve been warned.
  2. Following choosing an edition you’ll get asked to accept the licence terms. I know you’ll read them fully and very carefully but make sure you type “Yes” to accept.
  3. Next will be the language. I chose 1 for English but as you require for this.
  4. After that you’ll get prompted to specify an sa password. Make sure you choose something secure and record it securely especially if this is production.

Step 5: Confirm that the service is running. It would be most definitely disappointing if it weren’t:

systemctl status mssql-server --no-pager

You’ll get something resembling this which confirms that SQL Server 2022 is running:

If you’re new to SQL Server on Linux then something you need to be aware of is that you can’t run SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) on Linux. As an alternative you can go try Azure Data Studio which has the Admin Pack for SQL Server extension pack available that includes tools for Profiler, SQL Server Agent, Import and for working with .dacpac files.

Once you are connected to the SQL Server instance then one thing to note if you run the T-SQL command @@VERSION you’ll get something like this:

Microsoft SQL Server 2022 (RTM-CU7) (KB5028743) - 16.0.4065.3 (X64)  	Jul 25 2023 18:03:43  	Copyright (C) 2022 Microsoft Corporation 	Developer Edition (64-bit) on Linux (Ubuntu 20.04.6 LTS) <X64>

Specifically the point here is that Cumulative Updates (CUs) in SQL Server on Linux are handled differently than Windows. On Ubuntu Linux to take an example CUs are delivered using apt. This is unlike Windows where you have to download and install the cumulative update that you want or accidentally let Windows Update install one if there’s a security fix that needs applying. This means that the release you get by default from the repository is the latest one.

So, congratulations. You’ve made it this far. If you don’t like reading this blog (why?) then you can always follow Microsoft’s direct instructions on the setup above but then you’ll have to admit I made you scroll all the way down here to find this link.

Bonus Round! Restoring AdventureWorks Sample Data

Now you have your newly installed Ubuntu Server with an SQL Server 2022 instance you’re going to need some test data in there (unless you’re straight into production in which case bon voyage!).

To do this you can use wget to bring in the SQL Server 2022 edition of the venerable AdventureWorks databases.

wget https://github.com/Microsoft/sql-server-samples/releases/download/adventureworks/AdventureWorks2022.bak

--Data Warehouse
wget https://github.com/Microsoft/sql-server-samples/releases/download/adventureworks/AdventureWorksDW2022.bak

wget https://github.com/Microsoft/sql-server-samples/releases/download/adventureworks/AdventureWorksLT2022.bak

This should download the databases into your Home directory if you haven’t done a cd out of there.

You can then use Azure Data Studio to restore the databases if you have preview features turned on. If you don’t then you can restore using the following T-SQL:

USE [master]
RESTORE DATABASE [AdventureWorks2022] FROM DISK = N'/home/<user>/AdventureWorks2022.bak' WITH  FILE = 1, MOVE N'AdventureWorks2022' TO N'/var/opt/mssql/data/AdventureWorks2022.mdf', MOVE N'AdventureWorks2022_log' TO N'/var/opt/mssql/data/AdventureWorks2022_log.ldf', NOUNLOAD,  STATS = 10

--Data Warehouse
USE [master]
RESTORE DATABASE [AdventureWorksDW2022] FROM  DISK = N'/home/<user>/AdventureWorksDW2022.bak' WITH  FILE = 1, MOVE N'AdventureWorksDW2022' TO N'/var/opt/mssql/data/AdventureWorksDW2022.mdf',  MOVE N'AdventureWorksDW2022_log' TO N'/var/opt/mssql/data/AdventureWorksDW2022_log.ldf', NOUNLOAD, STATS = 10

USE [master]
RESTORE DATABASE [AdventureWorksLT2022] FROM DISK = N'/home/<user>/AdventureWorksLT2022.bak' WITH  FILE = 1, MOVE N'AdventureWorksLT2022_Data' TO N'/var/opt/mssql/data/AdventureWorksLT2022.mdf', MOVE N'AdventureWorksLT2022_Log' TO N'/var/opt/mssql/data/AdventureWorksLT2022_log.ldf', NOUNLOAD, STATS = 10