Online patching: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I’ve worked on 24×7 systems for more than a decade, and I have a real dislike of downtime. For one, it can be a real pain to agree any downtime with the business, and while RAC can and does help when you do work in a rolling fashion, there is still risk.

The promise of online patching has been a long one, and it is only recently that I dipped my toe in the water with them. Unfortunately, they are not a panacea, and in this blog posting I’m going to share some of the downsides.

Of course not all patches are online, if they are the README associated with the patch will have an online section in how to apply the patch, also when you uncompress the patch there will be an directory called online.

The Good

So first for the good side, the actual application truly can be done online, in that sense it does what it says on the tin. Here I’m running from the unzipped patch directory, and in this example I’m using patch 10219624:

bash-3.2$ /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/OPatch/opatch apply online -connectString TESTRAC1 -ocmrf /tmp/ocm.rsp 
Oracle Interim Patch Installer version 11.2.0.3.3
Copyright (c) 2012, Oracle Corporation.  All rights reserved.


Oracle Home       : /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1
Central Inventory : /u01/app/oraInventory
   from           : /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/oraInst.loc
OPatch version    : 11.2.0.3.3
OUI version       : 11.2.0.3.0
Log file location : /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/cfgtoollogs/opatch/10219624_Jan_24_2013_08_54_08/apply2013-01-24_08-54-08AM_1.log

Applying interim patch '10219624' to OH '/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1'
Verifying environment and performing prerequisite checks...
All checks passed.
Backing up files...

Patching component oracle.rdbms, 11.2.0.3.0...
Installing and enabling the online patch 'bug10219624.pch', on database 'TESTRAC1'.


Verifying the update...

Patching in all-node mode.

Updating nodes 'rac2' 
   Apply-related files are:
     FP = "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/copy_files.txt"
     DP = "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/copy_dirs.txt"
     MP = "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/make_cmds.txt"
     RC = "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/remote_cmds.txt"

Instantiating the file "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/copy_files.txt.instantiated" by replacing $ORACLE_HOME in "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/copy_files.txt" with actual path.
Propagating files to remote nodes...
Instantiating the file "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/copy_dirs.txt.instantiated" by replacing $ORACLE_HOME in "/u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/.patch_storage/10219624_Dec_20_2012_02_13_54/rac/copy_dirs.txt" with actual path.
Propagating directories to remote nodes...
Patch 10219624 successfully applied
Log file location: /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/cfgtoollogs/opatch/10219624_Jan_24_2013_08_54_08/apply2013-01-24_08-54-08AM_1.log

OPatch succeeded.

I’m applying this to a 2 node 11gR2 RAC cluster. You’ll notice that it is applied on ALL nodes. You can’t apply an online patch in RAC to just one node at a time and you can’t rollback one node at a time either. Also be aware that while the patch is in the oracle home on all nodes in the cluster, it’s only been applied to the local instance

Now, I know you are meant to give connection string details like username/password, and can then apply to all instances in a cluster at the same time, but on some systems I work on, I do not have this information, and rely on OS authentication only. This can lead to some pain.

You can tell a patch is applied with the following:

SQL> oradebug patch list

Patch File Name                                   State
================                                =========
bug10219624.pch                                  ENABLED

However, on the remote node:

SQL> oradebug patch list

Patch File Name                                   State
================                                =========
No patches currently installed

I accept this need not arise if you are able to authenticate properly at installation time. To fix this up you can do the following:

-bash-3.2$ /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/OPatch/opatch util enableonlinepatch -connectString TESTRAC2 -id 10219624
Oracle Interim Patch Installer version 11.2.0.3.3
Copyright (c) 2012, Oracle Corporation.  All rights reserved.


Oracle Home       : /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1
Central Inventory : /u01/app/oraInventory
   from           : /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/oraInst.loc
OPatch version    : 11.2.0.3.3
OUI version       : 11.2.0.3.0
Log file location : /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/db_1/cfgtoollogs/opatch/opatch2013-01-24_09-47-08AM_1.log

Invoking utility "enableonlinepatch"
Installing and enabling the online patch 'bug10219624.pch', on database 'TESTRAC2'.


OPatch succeeded.

The Bad
I’ve found rolling back to be slightly more problematic on the remote with o/s authentication. The rollback always removed the patch from the home across all nodes and always removed it from the instance on the local node. While there is an opatch method documented to then stop being enabled in an instance, very similar to the enableonlinepatch above (it’s Disableonlinepatch) I found it did not work with some patches, though opatch reported success, the patch was still enabled.

Another point to note, restarting an instance does not remove an online applied patch, there is a directory under the $ORACLE_HOME, called hpatch that has the online applied patch libraries.

To get round this I had to resort to the following oradebug commands:

SQL> oradebug patch list

Patch File Name                                   State
================                                =========
bug10219624.pch                                  ENABLED

SQL> oradebug patch disable bug10219624.pch
Statement processed.
SQL> oradebug patch list

Patch File Name                                   State
================                                =========
bug10219624.pch                                  DISABLED

SQL> oradebug patch remove bug10219624.pch
Statement processed.
SQL> oradebug patch list

Patch File Name                                   State
================                                =========
bug10219624.pch                                  REMOVED

That oradebug patch list showing removed then reverts to “No patches currently installed” upon instance restart.

The Ugly

This really caught me out, patches applied online are completely incompatible with a subsequent running of opatch auto. I had the situation recently whereby I had applied a patch online and then later wanted to run opatch auto to apply further patches. Before running opatch auto I always run the check for conflicts, and this did not give me a clue that opatch auto would not work with the online applied patch.

However when I ran opatch auto on Bundle Patch 11 the following occurred:

[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:16 AM]    OUI-67303:
                             Patches [   14632268   12880299   13734832 ] will be rolled back.
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:16 AM]    Do you want to proceed? [y|n]
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    Y (auto-answered by -silent)
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    User Responded with: Y
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    OPatch continues with these patches:   14474780
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    OUI-67073:UtilSession failed:
                             OPatch cannot roll back an online patch while applying a regular patch.
                             Please rollback the online patch(es) " 14632268" manually, and then apply the regular patch(es) " 14474780".
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    The following warnings have occurred during OPatch execution:
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    1) OUI-67303:
                             Patches [   14632268   12880299   13734832 ] will be rolled back.
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    Finishing UtilSession at Wed Jan 16 09:19:19 GMT 2013
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    Log file location: /u01/app/ora/product/11.2.0.3/db_1/cfgtoollogs/opatch/opatch2013-01-16_09-19-08AM_1.log
[Jan 16, 2013 9:19:19 AM]    Stack Description: java.lang.RuntimeException:
                             OPatch cannot roll back an online patch while applying a regular patch.
                             Please rollback the online patch(es) " 14632268" manually, and then apply the regular patch(es) " 14474780"

Yes, it’s not that difficult to fix up, the frustrating thing here is the prerequisite checks did not show any issues. It’s pretty clear that the opatch auto developers have not given any thought how to properly handle an online applied patch, or the online patching developers have not considered the consequences of online patching with a future opatch auto.

Online patching is almost like the holy grail, nobody wants downtime, but I just don’t think the current online patching technique is quite fully there yet, and it really doesn’t play at all with opatch auto.

About these ads
Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. goran

     /  February 22, 2013

    I could be wrong but the number of on-line ‘capable’ patches is anyhow small so is it a really worth a possible hassle with them? IMO, no.

    Reply
  2. Great write-up. Just got bit in the butt last night. Trying to apply the Oct 2013 PSU for 11.2.0.3 and got “OPatch cannot roll back an online patch while applying a regular patch.”. This was after we had the PSU applied to Grid Infra and the databases down. I was told that the databases need to be up to rollback an online patch, so we just decided to roll everything back and try again next week with a better plan.

    Would have been REALLY nice if the conflict check had warned us about it.

    Personally it makes me want to take this opportunity to remove all online patches (we have 5 on this host in particular) and replace them with the “regular” versions.

    Reply
    • jarneil

       /  December 11, 2013

      Hey Don,

      Highly recommend getting rid. And indeed oracle recommend you apply them in a normal fashion at the earliest opportunity after doing it online.

      Jason.

      Reply
  1. opatch apply online on 11.2.0.4 | Maaz Anjum's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers

%d bloggers like this: