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Posted Nov 22, 2005

Database Security and Patches - Part 2

By Steve Callan

Part 2 of this series covers the mechanics of installing a patch. Overall, installing a patch is quite easy, but depending upon the platform and version, the number of steps may be different. The base version used as the example is Oracle (for Windows NT/2000/XP) – exactly what you get on the download from Oracle Technology Network. The patch process uses Patchset 4163445 ( PATCHSET FOR ORACLE DATABASE SERVER).

Overview of the patch process

There are four general phases involved in the patch process:

  • Get the patchset (MetaLink access)
  • Upgrade the Oracle Universal Installer (not always required)
  • Install the patch using OUI
  • Running maintenance, clean up, or one-off scripts (not always required)

Upgrading the OUI can be viewed as a bootstrap process (bootstrap in the same sense as used in computer science related to starting up an operating system or developing a new language). What typically takes place is a requirement to start the upgrade by using your currently installed version of OUI. The end result is a newer version of OUI on your computer. The idea is that it takes OUI to install OUI.

Once the new version of OUI is installed, OUI is launched again as its new invocation and the patch itself is installed. The windows are very similar to what you see when installing the RDBMS software in the first place. Lastly, it may be necessary to run one or more additional scripts. For example, applying to an HP Itanium running Red Hat Linux includes running a CPU-related fix-it script in addition to a catpatch.sql script.

One other patch-related program is something known as OPatch. Documentation about OPatch is rolled into Oracle® Universal Installer and OPatch User's Guide, 10g Release 2 (10.2) for Windows and UNIX. From Chapter 8 of the guide:

OPatch is an Oracle supplied utility to assist you with the process of applying interim patches to Oracle's software. OPatch is a Java-based utility which requires the Oracle Universal Installer to be installed. It is platform independent and runs on all supported operating systems.

OPatch supports the following:

  • Applying an interim patch.
  • Rolling back the application of an interim patch.
  • Detecting conflict when applying an interim patch after previous interim patches have been applied. It also suggests the best options to resolve a conflict.
  • Reporting on installed products and interim patch.

OPatch and using Enterprise Manager to manage patches will be covered in a subsequent article. For now, our emphasis is on Oracle9i and the "old fashioned" way of installing a patch.

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