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opatch investigations

This blogpost is about opatch and how to obtain information about the current oracle home(s), and how to obtain information about the patches to be applied.

Patches that can be applied using opatch are provided by oracle as zip files which have the following naming convention:
p[patchnumber]_[baseversion]_[platform]-[architecture].zip. The patch normally contains an XML file called ‘PatchSearch.xml’ and a directory with the patch number. Inside the patch number directory there is a README.txt which is lame, because it says ‘Refer to README.html’, and a README.html that contains the readme information that is also visible when the [README] button for this patch is selected in MOS.

I spend my time on the CLI exclusively. This is because I spend my time on remote servers all the time, and using the X window system would be unusable. The best part of using the CLI is that when done correctly, it gives you almost infinite control over what you do, while when clicking through an interface toggling selections and filling out fields makes you entering information that you have to copy from a document or make up on the spot, which then is quickly hidden by entering another tab or window. In fact, based on my experience, this is a guaranteed way of generating wrong or inconsistent results.

Because of being on the CLI almost exclusively on servers, I sometimes need to read the README.html. I can do that in MOS, but sometimes you want that information on the spot. You can open up the HTML file in ‘vim’ or ‘less’, but it will show you a lot of HTML making it very hard to read. What I find useful is installing an executable called ‘elinks’ (available on oracle linux via yum), and then read the README.html in this text based browser:

$ elinks README.html


                                             Oracle® Database Patch % psuBug % - Database Release Update % product_version % (1/12)
                                                       Go to primary content

   Patch 28655784 - Database Release Update


   The script content on this page is for navigation purposes only and does not alter the content in any way.

                                                          Oracle® Database

   Patch 28655784 - Database Release Update

   This document is accurate at the time of release. For any changes and additional information regarding Database Release Update, see these related documents that are available at My Oracle Support (

     * Document 2433586.1 Oracle DB/GI/OJVM Update/Revision R18 Oct 2018 Known Issues

   This document includes the following sections:

     * Section 1, "Patch Information"

     * Section 2, "Prerequisites"

     * Section 3, "Installation"

     * Section 4, "Deinstallation"

     * Section 5, "Known Issues"

     * Section 6, "References"

     * Section 7, "Bugs Fixed by This Patch"

     * Section 8, "Documentation Accessibility"

1 Patch Information

   Database Release Update patches are cumulative. That is, the content of all previous Database bundles is
   included in the latest Database bundle patch.

   To install the Database Release Update patch, the Oracle home must have the 18.1 Database installed.                                                                                                 [------]

The first thing I do, is obtain information about this patch. Based on my experience, very carefully examine the readme. It contains vital information about the patch, but I found inconsistencies in it in the past. I got the impression the readme’s of patches that are created with a certain interval are simply copied from a previous version and then corrected by hand, and things might be entered wrong or are forgotten and not touched, leaving wrong information.

opatch lspatches on an unzipped patch

Luckily, a lot of information in the readme is actually stored in the metadata of the patch. You can query the metadata of the patch to be applied using opatch lspatches by pointing it to the patch directory:
(in this example I am querying patch 28655784, which is RU 18.4, and my database oracle home is version 18.3)

$ /u01/app/oracle/product/ lspatches 28655784/
date_of_patch:8 Oct 2018, 21:27:28 hrs PST8PDT
patch_description:Database Release Update : (28655784)
component:oracle.rdbms.rsf.ic,,optional; oracle.oracore.rsf,,optional; oracle.ctx.atg,,optional; oracle.rdbms.rman,,optional; oracle.rdbms.rsf,,optional; oracle.sdo.locator.jrf,,optional; ....
platform:226,Linux x86-64
executable:ORACLE_HOME/lib/; ORACLE_HOME/lib/; ORACLE_HOME/lib/; ORACLE_HOME/lib/; ORACLE_HOME/lib/; ORACLE_HOME/bin/oracle; ...

(edited for brevity)
Line 2: patch_id: patch number
Line 5: patch_description: description </p />

    	  	<div class=