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"Table or view does not exist" error with DESC command

On one of the production databases, when I select table_name from dba_tables I get names of 372 tables. But when I use Desc command on most of those tables, I get an error message, "Table or view does not exist."

Hello Brian,
I really liked your article "Grow Your DBA Career." Thanks so much for that. I am a mid-level DBA and still have to learn a lot. I have a question: On one of the production databases, when I select table_name from dba_tables I get names of 372 tables. But when I use DESC command on most of those tables, I get an error message, "Table or view does not exist." Can you please tell me what structures those supposed table names would be?
DBA_TABLES shows you all tables in the database. If you issue "DESC table_name" in SQL*Plus, Oracle assumes that this table is owned by the current user. Chances are good that the table is owned by a different user, which is why Oracle is telling you that the table does not exist (in your schema). So you'll have to instruct Oracle to look for the table in a different schema. This is done with "schema dot" notation. You prepend the table name with the schema name and a period. So your describe command would look like "DESC owner.table_name". The DBA_TABLES view includes a column called OWNER so that you can determine who owns the table.

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