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Error using DESC across dblink

I have a created a database link successfully, and I can actually select from a table in the remote database. But when I try to describe a table on the remote database (desc tablename@remotedb), I get the following error message:

 ORA-12663: Services required by client not available
 on the server.
What could be wrong, and what could be the likely solution? My init.ora GLOBAL_NAMES=FALSE.

Unfortunately, the DESCRIBE command is not fully supported across database links. And throughout Oracle's distributed database history, DESCRIBE across a link hasn't had good success. You can get the same information by querying USER_TAB_COLUMNS@remotedb.

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