Confusion about Oracle Patches?

Whenever a bug is being detected and confirmed for fix, Oracle engineers raise a request for bug engineers / development to provide a patch for customer. There are different types of patch requests in order to fix the issue while making sure not to disturb already existing patch in the target environment. Few patches/patchsets are proactively recommended for security, stability, performance and environmental changes (i.e. DST) perspective.

Whenever someone asks me regarding patching I used to confuse a lot and read oracle documentation every time. When the question came again the same level of confusion appear pushing me into loop of reading and forgetting the concepts of patch terminologies. So this time I have decided to share my understanding so it would be easy to recall and enhance based on feedbacks and queries.

When a bug is detected in UNIX, the patch fix for this bug is given via object files. These object files have an extension of “.o” . These “.o” files are stored in an “archive library”. The patch contains Static Libraries and Shared Libraries. The Executables are generated using static libraries and linked using shared libraries. These Executables are generated on the fly in oracle binary, where the patch is being applied.

Whereas, in Windows there is no concept of “.o” files at all. There are only DLL’s (Dynamic Linked Libraries) and Executables in the library. The difference is that these Executables are generated at the patch shipment site, and not in the machine where patching to be done. So when customer applies a patch fix, the Oracle Executables those already exist in the target Oracle Home will be replaced with Oracle Executables from the patch. This action results in the older patch fix to be lost. This nature of patch applying in Windows makes it impossible to create individual patches for bug fixes. Instead, many patches are clubbed together and a “bundle patch” is released. All the Bundle patches in Windows are cumulative in a particular release. It means that fixes from previous Oracle security alerts and bundle patches are included.

Before jumping to types of patches/patchsets, let’s understand few terminologies related to patch.

Label – For internal references Oracle developers use a name or identifier for a set of changes (e.g. the fixing of a bug) in the source code; the output of a label is a set of C files (*.c, *.h etc)
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Cloning Oracle Home in RAC

Cloning of Oracle software is an easy and fast way to achieve standardization across organization where all efforts put on one environment and after testing etc that environment could be used as a source of binaries. A simple tar ball could be shipped to all other servers and then untar on destination environment as a new home or replace the existing oracle home based on availability of space on destination environment.

There could be different situations where we could use this method in a little bit twisted way to achieve desired result. Possible scenarios are:

  • Lost filesystem hosting oracle database software, so either new installation or cloning of software from surviving nodes in case of RAC or some other environment in case of standalone environment.
  • Enterprise wide periodic patching activity where cloning could save a lot of efforts by just building an image and clone it across enterprise.
  • Building new environments during migration databases across of datacenters
  • Node edition in RAC also uses cloning technique

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Step By Step Installation of 11.2.0.3.0 Standalone RDBMS Software

Going forward with 11gR2 oracle recommending out of place upgrade so providing full installer for major upgrades (i.e. 11.2.0.1.0 , 11.2.0.2.0, 11.2.0.3.0) instead of patchsets. Then we can apply bundle patch or custom patches based on our requirement.

For 11.2.0.3.0, software is available on MOS with patch number 10404530 and could be easily downloadable. This patch contains total 7 files but we need only p10404530_112030_platform_1of7.zip & p10404530_112030_platform_2of7.zip (2.32 GB) to install DB software. This patch is actually full release and could be used for upgrade as well as new installation.

Prerequisite RPMs

binutils-2.17.50.0.6

compat-libstdc++-33-3.2.3

elfutils-libelf-0.125

elfutils-libelf-devel-0.125

elfutils-libelf-devel-static-0.125

gcc-4.1.2

gcc-c++-4.1.2

glibc-2.5-24

glibc-common-2.5

glibc-devel-2.5

glibc-headers-2.5

kernel-headers-2.6.18

ksh-20060214

libaio-0.3.106

libaio-devel-0.3.106

libgcc-4.1.2

libgomp-4.1.2

libstdc++-4.1.2

libstdc++-devel-4.1.2

make-3.81

numactl-devel-0.9.8.i386

sysstat-7.0.2

unixODBC-devel-2.2.11-7.1.i386.rpm

unixODBC-2.2.11-7.1.i386.rpm

Note: 64 bit installation also searches for i386 unixodbc rpms.

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