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The init.ora file stores the initialization parameters of Oracle. The values that are currently in effect can be viewed through v$parameter.
Default location and name
The default location of init.ora is
The default name for the file is init$ORACLE_SID.ora (unix) or init%ORACLE_SID%.ora (windows)
However, it is possible to start the database with another init.ora file than the default one. In this case, there is no way to determine which init.ora was used when the database is running (at least up to Oracle 9i).
Creating a PFILE from an SPFILE
create pfile='/some/path/init.ora' from spfile;
In order to execute
When the database is created with DBCA (Database creation assistant), DBCA will create an init.ora file to create the database. Then it will create an spfile from that init.ora. Then it will rename the init.ora file into something like
Thanks to Marco de Booy and David Morris who both spotted an error on this page and notified me thereof.