Tuesday Jun 09, 2015

Warts and All!

A customer once said to me that "bad news, delivered early, is relatively good news, as it enables me to plan for contingencies". 

That need to manage expectations has stuck with me over the years.

And in that spirit, we issue Docs detailing known issues with Solaris 11 SRUs (Doc ID 1900381.1) and Solaris 10 CPU patchsets (Doc ID 1943839.1).

Many issues only occur in very specific configuration scenarios which won't be seen by the vast majority of customers.

A few will be subtle issues which have proved hard to diagnose and hence may impact a number of releases.

But providing the ability to read up on known issues before upgrading to a particular Solaris 11 SRU or Solaris 10 CPU patchset enables customers to make more informed and hence better decisions.

BTW: The Solaris 11 Support Repository Update (SRU) Index (Doc ID 1672221.1) provides access to SRU READMEs summarizing the goodness that each SRU provides.  (As do the bugs fixed lists in Solaris 10 patch and patchset READMEs.)

For example, from the Solaris 11.2 SRU10.5 ( README:

Why Apply Oracle Solaris

Oracle Solaris provides improvements and bug fixes that are applicable for all the Oracle Solaris 11 systems. Some of the noteworthy improvements in this SRU include:

  • Bug fix to prevent panics when using zones configured with exclusive IP networking, and DR has been used to add and remove CPUs from the domain (Bug 19880562).
  • Bug fix to improve NFS stability when under stress (Bug 20138331).
  • Bug fix to address the generation of FMA events on the PCIEX bus on T5-2 (Bug 20245857).
  • Bug fix to improve the performance of the zoneadm list command for systems running a large number of zones (Bug 20386861).
  • Bug fix to remove misleading warning messages seen while booting the Oracle VM Server for SPARC guests (Bug 20341341).
  • Bug fix to address NTP security issues, which includes the new slew always mode for leap second processing (Bug 20783962).
  • OpenStack components have been updated to Juno. For more information, see OpenStack Upgrade Procedures.
  • The Java 8, Java 7, and Java 6 packages have been updated. For more information, see Java 8 Update 45 Release Notes, Java 7 Update 80 Release Notes, and Java 6 Update 95 Release Notes.

Best Wishes,


Thursday Apr 09, 2015

Getting fixes faster

Time is money.

I remember my first unplanned downtime as a Sys Admin on-site at a major Aluminum Mill in up-state New York.  The Operations Manager was literally poking me in the back of the neck asking me "Don't you know downtime costs us $250,000 per hour ?  How long will it take to get back up ?", to which I replied "It'll be faster if you stop poking me in the neck!".  I had the Systems back up in 20 minutes.

For Solaris and other Oracle Sun products, we try to release bug fixes as fast as possible, balancing the need for speed with the need for quality.

Since an Operating System performs many disparate functions for many disparate workloads, testing that a fix isn't toxic in any supported scenario is complex and takes time.

But we can and do provide faster relief to the customer(s) who raised the specific issue as it's easier to ensure the fix is correct for their specific environments. 

We do this by supplying Interim Diagnostics and Relief (an IDR).  As the name suggests, it provides relief for the issue until the final fix is available in a Support Repository Update (SRU) or Solaris Update release (for example, Solaris 11.3).  For hard to diagnose issues, an IDR may also provide additional diagnostic instrumentation to get to the root cause of an issue.

Like many things in Solaris 11, the IDR mechanism is far smoother thanks to the Image Packaging System (IPS) than it was in Solaris 10 and earlier releases.

SRUs for Solaris 11 and patches for Solaris 10 are released on a monthly cadence. These are tested as a unit to ensure quality.

In Solaris 11, IDRs are automatically superseded by later SRUs or Solaris Updates which include fixes for all the bugs the IDR addresses.  An IDR terminal package is included in the SRU Repo for superseded IDRs.  This tells IPS it's OK to overwrite the IDR on the target system.  Therefore, it is no longer necessary to manually remove such IDRs before updating to a later SRU or Solaris Update.

This automatic superseding typically saves customers the need for an additional reboot, since it's no longer necessary to remove an IDR, reboot, apply an SRU, reboot.  Instead, simply 'pkg update' to the desired SRU, reboot once to activate it, and you're done.

If the issues addressed by an IDR are not yet fixed in the later SRU or Solaris Update, IPS will warn the user and a Service Request (SR) should be filed requesting a new IDR at the later software version for the outstanding issues.

Normally, IDRs are provided to the specific customers who have filed Service Requests (SRs) for a specific bug. 

To accelerate the release of fixes for public security vulnerabilities, we intend to release Security IDRs to the SRU Repo and My Oracle Support (MOS) so that all customers can get relief from such vulnerabilities quicker.  Customers should continue to file Service Requests (SRs) for such bugs, so we know there's demand for a Security IDR.

These security fixes will be included into the next SRU to be released, which will automatically obsolete the Security IDRs, so customers need have no concern about installing such Security IDRs in advance of the SRU being available. The Security IDR simply provides a faster delivery mechanism.

As mentioned in a previous post, there's now a security Critical Patch Update (CPU) package which can be installed and updated on Solaris 11 systems to provide all available Criticial Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) security fixes in the minimum amount of change to satisfy security compliance requirements.  This package automagically pulls in the security fixes via IPS dependencies.

There are also significant new security compliance features in Solaris 11.2.

Also in Solaris 11.2 is support for a new Package Group install option: solaris-minimal-server, which provides the minimum useful bootable environment.  Use this and install additional packages as required to support your applications.  This is useful for security compliance as if the vulnerable software isn't installed, you ain't vulnerable, and you don't need to expend unnecessary time and effort applying fixes. 

There's lots of other new stuff in Solaris 11.2 including Open Stack and the Oracle 12c Database Prerequisite Package.  Check it out!


This blog is to inform customers about Solaris 11 maintenance best practice, feature enhancements, and key issues. The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle. The Documents contained within this site may include statements about Oracle's product development plans. Many factors can materially affect these plans and the nature and timing of future product releases. Accordingly, this Information is provided to you solely for information only, is not a commitment to deliver any material code, or functionality, and SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON IN MAKING PURCHASING DECISIONS. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described remains at the sole discretion of Oracle. THIS INFORMATION MAY NOT BE INCORPORATED INTO ANY CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT WITH ORACLE OR ITS SUBSIDIARIES OR AFFILIATES. ORACLE SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THIS INFORMATION. Gerry Haskins, Director, Software Lifecycle Engineering


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