What Is the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle?

Margaret McNulty, Gerry Haskins, July 2008

The Solaris 10 5/08 (Update 5) Patch Bundle is now available to download from SunSolve. The Patch Bundle provides another option to customers who are devising a patching strategy to maintain their Solaris systems.

What Is the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle?

The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle contains the equivalent set of patches that are included in the Solaris 10 5/08 (Update 5) release image.

Why Use the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle?

Customer feedback after the Solaris 10 8/07 (Update 4) release led to the creation of the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle. New hardware might require a specific minimum Solaris 10 Update release such as Solaris 10 5/08 (Update 5). Some customers might want to update their other existing Solaris 10 systems to the same patch level as the new hardware running Solaris 10 5/08. The recommended way to update the system is to upgrade the existing systems to Solaris 10 5/08. The upgrade can be done using either the standard Solaris upgrade or Solaris Live Upgrade. However, some customers might have policies in place that make upgrading the system difficult but patching the system possible. The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle makes it easier for such customers to bring their existing systems up to date without an upgrade. The Patch Bundle brings the system up to the equivalent patch level to the Solaris 10 5/08 (Update 5) Release. In theory, this should mean that preexisting functionality on all the customers' systems should react the same. Having all systems at the same patch level makes for a more homogeneous environment that might help lower support costs.

The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle provides a well-tested "baseline" option on which to standardize systems. A wide variety of quality assurance teams within Sun test the Solaris 10 Update releases rigorously. Therefore, the functionality contained in the patches within the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle has also been rigorously tested. The patches have been tested as a unit through the testing performed on the Solaris 10 5/08 release image. The Patch System Test team has also performed additional testing of the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle.

The Patch Bundle might deliver more change than some other patching strategies. That change has been well tested as a unit. Therefore, this method of patching might actually reduce the risk of introducing regressions. When you choose an arbitrary combination of patches, the risk of regressions is slightly higher than with the bundle option. However, many rigorous processes are also in place to ensure that the more traditional form of patching works as well, and encountering a problem is rare either way.

How Does the Patch Bundle Differ From the Solaris 10 5/08 Release Image?

The Solaris 10 5/08 release is a complete Solaris release image. The image contains new packages to support new features in the Solaris 10 5/08 release. The release also contains all Solaris patches that were available when the Update was built. The patches are preapplied in the Solaris 10 5/08 release image. The preapplication of patches means that you do not have to laboriously add the patches by using the patchadd command. However, because the patches are preapplied in the release image, they also cannot be backed out by using the patchrm command. The inability to remove patches is not generally a problem, because the Solaris Update release images are rigorously tested. You can perform an initial installation of the Solaris 10 5/08 release, or upgrade from an earlier Solaris release.

The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle contains the equivalent set of patches to the Solaris 10 5/08 release. The Patch Bundle does not, however, include the new packages contained in the Solaris 10 5/08 release. Therefore, new features in the release that depend on new packages introduced in that release are not available in the Patch Bundle. However, any change to preexisting code is delivered in a patch. The code changes include features as well as bug fixes. Therefore, some feature enhancements are available in the Patch Bundle. For example, ZFS is typically self-contained in patches. Therefore, ZFS enhancements are typically available through the Patch Bundle as well as through the Update release image. Most Solaris Zones partitioning technology enhancements are available through the Patch Bundle and Update release image as well. The Patch Bundle is simply a collection of patches with an install order file (patch_order) and an installation script wrapper (installbundle.sh) around the patchadd command. Patches in the Patch Bundle can usually be backed out by using the patchrm command. However, if the -d (no save) option was used when applying the Patch Bundle, the patchrm command cannot be used.

A number of "special" or "script" patches are included in each Solaris Update release. These patches are used to correct issues that are tied to how patches are preapplied in the Solaris Update release image. Outside the Solaris Update release process, however, these patches serve absolutely no purpose. Therefore, these "special" or "script" patches are not released to SunSolve and are not included in the Patch Bundle. For further information about these and other minor differences between the patch set preapplied in the Solaris 10 5/08 release image and the patch set included in the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle, see the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle README file.

Downloading the Patch Bundle

The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle is available from the usual patch cluster location on SunSolve.

To download the cluster, a valid support contract is needed. Valid support contracts include Solaris Subscription, Sun System Service Plan (Sun Spectrum), and Enterprise Support Plan.

The cluster is chunked to aid download. There are two chunks for x86 based systems and three chunks for SPARC based systems.

Follow the download instructions to the right of the scroll-down box or read the README file for any chunk.

How to Download the Patch Bundle

  1. Log in to SunSolve.
  2. In the right column, click the second bullet, Patches and Updates.
  3. In the left column, find the "Downloads" section. Click "Recommended Patch Clusters."
  4. In the section "Recommended Solaris Patch Clusters, J2SE and Java Enterprise System Clusters," scroll down to find either of the following:
    • Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle for SPARC based systems Chunk 1, 2, or 3

    • Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle for x86 based system chunk 1 or 2

  5. Highlight the first chunk to download.
  6. Follow the instructions to the right side of the scroll down box for downloading.
  7. Ensure all chunks are downloaded.

Installation Recommendations

Read the Patch Bundle README file for full installation instructions.

Using Solaris Live Upgrade to Reduce System Downtime

Solaris Live Upgrade provides a method of patching a system while the system continues to operate. While your current (active) boot environment is running, you can duplicate the boot environment, then patch the duplicate. The original system configuration remains fully functional and unaffected by the patching process. When you are ready, you can activate the new boot environment by rebooting the system. If a failure occurs, you can quickly revert to the original boot environment with a simple reboot. This switch eliminates the normal downtime of the patch application, test, and evaluation process. For more information, see Solaris 10 5/08 Installation Guide: Solaris Live Upgrade and Upgrade Planning .

The Patch Bundle can be installed either on the active boot environment or an inactive boot environment.

Depending on the starting patch level of the target system, patching an inactive boot environment could involve less downtime. The patching of an inactive boot environment takes less time because only a single reboot is required at the end to activate the boot environment. Therefore, patching an inactive boot environment is recommended.

Depending on the starting patch level of the target system, if you patch the active boot environment, you might need to reboot an x86 based system up to three times and reboot a SPARC based system up to two times. An x86 based system might need to be rebooted twice at specific points during the installation process and once at the end, while a SPARC based system might need to be rebooted once after installing Kernel patch 118833-36 and once at the end. See the Patch Bundle README for details.

Understanding How the Installation Script Works

The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle includes a new installation script, installbundle.sh. This script guides users through the installation process.

The patches are ordered so that any reboots required when patching an active boot environment occur as close to the start of the installation process as possible. The patch ordering is help system administrators by enabling them to get over the interim reboots early in the process. After that they can kick off the final patching sequence and let the process complete without further intervention.

The screen output and log files produced are also designed to be as clear and self-explanatory as possible, providing both overview and drill-down capabilities.

Approximate Installation Time

The amount of time needed to install the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle depends upon a number of factors, including the following:

  • The speed of the hardware and its I/O

  • Which Solaris 10 release is installed

  • The patch level of the system.

  • Whether non-global zones are installed on the system and which type of non-global zones.

The higher the Solaris 10 Update release or patch level, the quicker the Patch Bundle applies.

Currently, the time to apply the cluster to each whole-root non-global zone is approximately linear. For example, multiply the installation time by the number of whole-root non-global zones on the system. Sparse-root non-global zones are a little faster. Sparse-root non-global zones is the recommended option when creating non-global zones. A project is in development to improve non-global zone patching performance.

For example, the Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle for x86 based systems was installed on a v65x. The computer was running the original Solaris 10 3/05 manufacturer's release with no additional patch applied. Also, no non-global zones existed, and the Patch Bundle was applied to the active boot environment. In this scenario, the installation took 3 hours and 58 minutes with three reboots. See the Patch Bundle README for an explanation of the reboots when patching an active boot environment.

Conclusion

The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle is not recommended for all situations. The Patch Bundle is a large collection of patches and therefore is slow to download and install.

For customers who want to bring all their systems to the Solaris 10 5/08 release patch level, installing or upgrading to the Solaris 10 5/08 Release image remains the recommended option where feasible. The Solaris 10 5/08 Patch Bundle was simply created in response to a demand from customers for an alternative option where upgrading was not feasible due to internal customer policies.

The Sun Alert patch clusters (available from the same location on SunSolve - see above) provide the minimum amount of change to address the most critical Solaris issues. The Sun Alert cluster contains all available Solaris patch fixes for security, data corruption, and system availability issues. New versions of the Sun Alert cluster are posted whenever a new patch to fix a Sun Alert issue becomes available. Customers should try to keep as current as possible with the contents of the Sun Alert clusters.

Because Solaris Update releases are rigorously tested, the Patch Bundle provides a good quality patch "baseline" on which to standardize systems.

For More Information

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