Sorting out patches and patchsets
Unlike the base version of
each Oracle product (available at Oracle Technology Network), virtually all
patches are obtainable only via MetaLink. Access to MetaLink requires a support
contract, so if you are on your own (i.e., student, learning Oracle on your
own, etc.), your access to patches for a product are quite limited. HTML DB is
an example of where Oracle has released a patch outside of MetaLink, but with
respect to the RDBMS product, you can pretty much count on the requirement to
have access to MetaLink.
Once you are in MetaLink,
what do you look for? It helps to know the patch number ahead of time because
you can search by number instead of by product. One semantics-related concept
that helps in your search is understanding Oracle's terminology. As an analogy
(in most cases), when someone refers to a database, there is not a distinction
between database and instance, and as we all know, sometimes the distinction is
important. With respect to a patch, more often than not we really mean
patchset. If we want to turn a 18.104.22.168 software installation into a 22.214.171.124
version, we have to apply a patchset.
Additionally, since the base
releases tend to start off with a one, the "7" in "126.96.36.199"
means patchset 6. And to be precise, not every patchset upgrades the version
release. Patchsets, by definition, are cumulative fixes of other problems. As a
general rule of thumb, you can almost always safely or routinely apply a "family"
patchset, but other patchsets (and patches) should be applied only when certain
conditions are met in your particular environment. Of course, it does not help
that Oracle refers to patches and patchsets by patch number (see the left
column in the pictures below).
How does Oracle view a
Oracle's definition of a patch set
Patch sets are a mechanism for delivering fully tested and integrated
product fixes. Patch sets provide bug fixes only; they do not include new
functionality and they do not require certification on the target system.
Patch sets include all of the libraries that have been rebuilt to
implement the bug fixes in the set. All of the fixes in the patch set have
been tested and are certified to work with each other. Because patch sets
include only low impact fixes, you are not required to certify applications
or tools against the server unless directed to by the operating system
Patch sets are cumulative. Patch set release 188.8.131.52 includes all fixes
in patch sets 184.108.40.206 and earlier as well as new fixes for patch set 220.127.116.11.
This means that unless the patch set documentation indicates otherwise, you
can apply this patch set to any earlier release 9.2 installation. You do not
have to install intermediate patch sets.
Patch sets contain generic fixes that apply to all
platforms. Patch sets may also include additional platform-specific patches.
The table below summarizes
how Oracle software is released.
Installing patchset 18.104.22.168
Selecting the link for
4163445 shows the following:
Patchset 4163445 Information Page
Start of the README for 4163445
Downloading the "patch"
file requires no explanation, and uncompression or extraction of the file can
generally be done anywhere except under ORACLE_HOME. For this patchset, the
instructions direct you to use a newer version of Oracle Universal Installer
(version 10.1.0.4, to be precise). The newer version of OUI comes bundled with
the patchset, so phase one (use OUI to upgrade OUI) applies here. Other
considerations include upgrading standby databases, clearing statistics out of
the SYS schema (shouldn't be there anyway, right?), and checking for
Before actually starting
OUI, some preliminary steps include:
Download and uncompress p4163445_9207_WINNT.zip
Shutdown all database instances
Stop all processes
Take a backup
Decide to install the patchset
interactively or non-interactively
An interactive session is
nothing more than responding to OUI. A noninteractive session uses a response
file. Since this example uses the interactive mode, we have to start OUI using
setup.exe in the folder where the ZIP file was extracted. The target or source
file, products.xml, is in the stage folder.
Run setup.exe and update the
path and name of your Oracle 9.2 installation.
The installation process is
straightforward, and the installation successful message at the end is a good