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What is the alert log?

I'm using Oracle 10g. My friend told me to go to the alert log and review the error messages. What is an alert log in Oracle? What is the use and purpose of this file? How to review this file and where exactly is it located?

I'm using Oracle 10g. My friend told me to go to the alert log and review the error messages. What is an alert log in Oracle? What is the use and purpose of this file? How to review this file and where exactly is it located?
Oracle logs important messages about the database to a log called the alert log. This log is there to alert you to major events in the database. You can see when the database was started and stopped. You can see when a log switch occurs. You can see many other things. So the DBA should check the contents of the alert log on a regular basis. I check my alert logs at least once every two hours during the working day.

The alert log is stored in the directory pointed to by the BACKGROUND_DUMP_DEST initialization parameter. To see...

this parameter's value, sign on to SQL*Plus as SYSTEM and issue the following:

SHOW PARAMETER background_dump_dest

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