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Oracle database and grid home patches to install

This blogpost is about Oracle database and grid infrastructure software homes, which patches should be applied to which homes, and what it then looks like. This is fully documented by MyOracleSupport notes, but you will see that with version 18 and up this is unclear.

I keep a script-set that automatically installs and patches the Oracle database software and creates a database. This script-set is called vagrant-builder, and it can install any version with any PSU applied between 11.2.0.2 up to 19.5, which is the latest PSU of the latest version, with a few exceptions: for 11.2.0.2 and 11.2.0.3 I only created an install for the base version and the latest PSU for the database, and version 12.1.0.1 is left out entirely.

I recently reviewed my installs and verified everything is carried out correctly. First a simple overview of what I think should be applied on the database and grid infrastructure install:

Version  Grid               Database
-------- ------             ----------
11.2.0.2 -                  DB PSU
11.2.0.3 -                  DB PSU+OJVM
11.2.0.4 GI PSU+JDBC patch  DB PSU+OJVM
12.1.0.2 GI PSU+JDBC patch  DB PSU+OJVM
12.2.0.1 GI PSU             DB PSU+OJVM
18       GI PSU             DB PSU+OJVM
19       GI PSU             DB PSU+OJVM

(‘-‘ means not investigated)
My idea of what should be applied is based on MOS note 1929745.1: Oracle recommended patches.

Grid patches, JDBC patch
The JDBC patch for grid infrastructure 11.2.0.4 and 12.1.0.2 is a patch that updates java classes. Therefore the patch is a generic one, the java classes do not contain operating system dependent machine code. The table in the MOS note also show differences for the JDBC patch between = januari 2014 = july 2016 and higher. No surprise there. It’s especially easy because all versions in premier support as of the date of this blogpost do not need the JDBC patch.

Grid patches, GI PSU
For the GI PSU, there are a lot of patches that contain the GI PSU, because outside of the GI patch itself, there are also combination patches that for example contain both the GI and the DB PSU. I like to keep it as simple as I can. Therefore, I stick to MOS note 2118136.2: Assistant: Download Reference for Oracle Database/GI Update, Revision, PSU, SPU(CPU), bundle patches, Patchsets and Base releases, and look at the following:
– versions 11.2.0.4/12.1.0.2: Oracle Database PSU, SPU(CPU), Bundle Patches (Versions 12.1 & lower), version (11.2.0.4/12.1.0.2), GI PSU column.
– versions 12.2.0.1 and up: Oracle Database Updates, version (12.2.0.1,18.0.0.0,19.0.0.0), GI Update column.

Database patches, DB PSU
Here too there are multiple patches that can be used to apply the DB PSU, and I stick with MOS note 2118136.2: Assistant: Download Reference for Oracle Database/GI Update, Revision, PSU, SPU(CPU), bundle patches, Patchsets and Base releases, and look at the following:
– versions 11.2.0.4/12.1.0.2: Oracle Database PSU, SPU(CPU), Bundle Patches (Versions 12.1 & lower), version (11.2.0.4/12.1.0.2), PSU column.
– versions 12.2.0.1 and up: Oracle Database Updates, version (12.2.0.1,18.0.0.0,19.0.0.0), DB Update column.

Database patches, OJVM
There are multiple MOS documents talking about the database JavaVM patch, and there are multiple patches, but here I stick with MOS note 2118136.2: Assistant: Download Reference for Oracle Database/GI Update, Revision, PSU, SPU(CPU), bundle patches, Patchsets and Base releases once again, and look at the following:
– OJVM Update/PSU/Bundle Patches, 11.2.0.4/12.1.0.2/12.2.0.1/18.0.0.0/19.0.0.0, OJVM Update.

Okay. So we got the table above that is based on MOS note 1929745.1, and we got all the patches organised in MOS note 2118136.2. So that’s nice and simple, right?

Well, not entirely…

As I said, I was checking up on the latest PSU installs. This is the ‘opatch lspatches’ overview of 12.1.0.2 and 12.2.0.1:

-- 12.1.0.2
GI 190716
---------
23727148;
29509318;OCW PATCH SET UPDATE 12.1.0.2.190716 (29509318)
29494060;Database Patch Set Update : 12.1.0.2.190716 (29494060)
29423125;ACFS PATCH SET UPDATE 12.1.0.2.190716 (29423125)
26983807;WLM Patch Set Update: 12.1.0.2.180116 (26983807)
DB 190716
---------
29774383;Database PSU 12.1.0.2.190716, Oracle JavaVM Component (JUL2019)
29494060;Database Patch Set Update : 12.1.0.2.190716 (29494060)
-- 12.2.0.1
GI 191015
---------
30138470;Database Oct 2019 Release Update : 12.2.0.1.191015 (30138470)
30122828;ACFS OCT 2019 RELEASE UPDATE 12.2.0.1.0 (30122828)
30122814;OCW OCT 2019 RELEASE UPDATE 12.2.0.1.191015 (30122814)
30093408;TOMCAT RELEASE UPDATE 12.2.0.1.0(ID:190208.0920) (30093408)
26839277;DBWLM RELEASE UPDATE 12.2.0.1.0(ID:170913) (26839277
DB 191015
---------
30133625;OJVM RELEASE UPDATE: 12.2.0.1.191015 (30133625)
30138470;Database Oct 2019 Release Update : 12.2.0.1.191015 (30138470)

For the database (DB), we see two patches, which is exactly what is expected.
– The database patch, which is called release update with one and patch set update with the other.
– The OJVM update which also named differently between the two versions, but very much recognisable as such.
I think it’s bad that the names vary, but this is totally expected.

For the grid infrastructure (GI), we see 5 patches in both situations, but these are not the same patches between the homes!
– The unnamed patch in the 12.1.0.2 home is the JDBC patch, which should only be applied to 12.1.0.2, not to higher versions.
– The OCW patch (oracle clusterware).
– The database patch.
– The ACFS patch. The version indication in the patch name changed.
– The WLM/DBWLM patch. Sadly the name changed, and the name with 12.2.0.1 is actually quite useless, I can’t tell the actual version, I have to look up the patch number.
– Starting from version 12.2.0.1, there is a tomcat installation in the grid home, as this patch indicates. The name here is not helpful because it doesn’t indicate the actual version, like with the DBWLM patch.

So, outside of in my opinion bad naming, and a weird inclusion of a competing product of Oracle (Tomcat versus Weblogic), this still follows the rules of logic.

Now let’s look at the same output for version 18 and 19:

--18
GI 18.8
30116128;ACFS RELEASE UPDATE 18.8.0.0.0 (30116128)
30113775;OCW RELEASE UPDATE 18.8.0.0.0 (30113775)
30112122;Database Release Update : 18.8.0.0.191015 (30112122)
30093398;TOMCAT RELEASE UPDATE 18.0.0.0.0 (30093398)
28655963;DBWLM RELEASE UPDATE 18.4.0.0.0 (28655963)
27923415;OJVM RELEASE UPDATE: 18.3.0.0.180717 (27923415)
DB 18.8
30133603;OJVM RELEASE UPDATE: 18.8.0.0.191015 (30133603)
30112122;Database Release Update : 18.8.0.0.191015 (30112122)
28090553;OCW RELEASE UPDATE 18.3.0.0.0 (28090553)
--19
GI 19.5
30125133;Database Release Update : 19.5.0.0.191015 (30125133)
30122167;ACFS RELEASE UPDATE 19.5.0.0.0 (30122167)
30122149;OCW RELEASE UPDATE 19.5.0.0.0 (30122149)
29401763;TOMCAT RELEASE UPDATE 19.0.0.0.0 (29401763)
DB 19.5
30128191;OJVM RELEASE UPDATE: 19.5.0.0.191015 (30128191)
30125133;Database Release Update : 19.5.0.0.191015 (30125133)
29585399;OCW RELEASE UPDATE 19.3.0.0.0 (29585399)

I must say that the naming in general looks more consistent, that is a good thing!

For the database (DB) we see THREE patches (I suspected 2):
– The database release update patch, which nicely reports its version.
– The OVM patch, which also reports its version.
– This is weird. One of the grid infrastructure patches, the “OCW” patch, is applied to the database home. In fact, this is applied to the base release. Because it’s not a patch that is documented to be needed to be applied, this will sit at this version and never be updated. However, this unexpected patch is consistently applied to the base release for both version 18 and 19.

For the grid home (GI) we see an inconsistent number of patches (!) between 18.8 and 19.5. This is partly as expected, but I found an weird patch applied too. Let’s go over the patches:
– The ACFS patch is totally expected and appropriately named.
– The OCW patch is expected and appropriately named too.
– The Database Release Update patch is expected and appropriately named.
– The TOMCAT patch is expected. I don’t understand why it can’t have the RU numbering, but at least it’s consistent between 18 and 19.
– The DBWLM patch is only applied to the 18 home. As far as I understand, this is how it’s supposed to be, DBWLM is not regularly updated like the other ones above, so it’s okay to have an older version of it with the other patches, and if there isn’t a patch to apply, it can simply not be there, like with version 19 in this case.
– The OJVM patch puzzles me. I don’t know what to think of it. Also, it’s only applied to the base release of version 18, not to the base release of version 19. This, very much like the OCW patch, will never be updated. But I just don’t understand, this patches the java virtual machine in the database, which for GI is the ASM instance, for which, as far as I know, the java virtual machine isn’t used.

Conclusion.
The naming of the patches as visible with “opatch lspatches” has certainly improved with version 18 and higher. Still it would be helpful if the grid infrastructure tomcat patch would follow the same naming of the other patches.

I am in doubts about the inclusion of two patches in the base releases of versions 18 and 19:
The OJVM patch inclusion in the base release of grid infrastructure of version 18 only.
The OCW patch inclusion in the base release of the database of version 18 and 19.

Addendum.
After debating this on twitter and with my colleagues, I found that my OCW assumptions were incorrect. The grid infrastructure patch versions 12.2 and up reasonably clearly describes that the OCW sub-patch that is part of the GI PSU/RU patch should be applied to the database home too (if cluster ware is used for that home). So that means that if you got another version of the database home than the grid infrastructure home and it is used with grid infrastructure, you should download the grid infrastructure PSU/RU patch and apply the OCW sub patch to the oracle database home, because the OCW patch is not in the database PSU/RU patch.
Because the database home patch itself is also in the grid infrastructure PSU/RU patch, I see no reason to bother downloading the database patch, and now only download and use the grid infrastructure PSU/RU patch, because that contains the database home patch as well as the OCW patch.

Addendum 2.
The OCW patch being installed into the grid infrastructure home and additionally in the database home turns out to be a change with PSU 11.2.0.4.5. Before that, the OCW patch did exist with the grid infrastructure home patch, but couldn’t be applied to the database home. This change was documented in the patch readme, but wasn’t really heavily marketed by Oracle.

Addendum 3.
Despite OCW being documented as being additionally applied to the database home for 11.2.0.4(.5) and higher, in my tests it was not possible to apply the 11.2.0.4 OCW patch to a database home for any 11.2.0.4 PSU; opatch fails with a dependency problem. It does succeed starting from 12.1.0.2 (12.1.0.1 not tested) and higher.

I have to say that when looking in the 11.2.0.4 OCW patch metadata, it says ‘rac’, so the OCW patch might succeed when the home is explicitly installed for a cluster database. I tested with grid infrastructure installed for a single machine (“siha”).