Monday Apr 09, 2012

Updating Exadata Compute Nodes using ULN and YUM starting

With this post an update on Exadata Planned Maintenance - The new ULN Updating Procedure for Exadata Compute Nodes.
As you may already know, starting with Oracle Exadata Storage Server release the 'minimal pack' is deprecated.
From now on the (Linux) Computes Node will use Yellowdog Updater (Modified) (YUM) to apply the new updates as rpm packages. 
These RPM packages that come from ULN may also contain firmware updates which will be applied in the same updating procedure.

In order to update the Exadata Compute Nodes via YUM, you need a repository to download the software from. Of course Oracle provides its customers ULN access for this to make this really easy. It may however happen this requirement for http access to a web location from the Compute Nodes is not possible for some reason. For these situations Oracle worked out an alternative solution.

In this post I like to discuss the solution to setup a YUM repository located in the customers Data Center: This is a local system, that can download the updates from ULN and act as a YUM repository for the Compute Nodes as a 'man in the middle' bertween ULN and the Compute Nodes.

For installations planning to setup an internal/local YUM repository and currently not on there are two notes that need to be reviewed carefully before the patching starts:

README for patch 13741363 : Especially chapter 3 "Performing One-Time Setup on Database Servers of Oracle Exadata Database Machine"

The steps described here are one time only steps to prepare and populate the local YUM repository server that will be used for ALL the Compute Nodes. Best is to install the YUM repository server on a separate Linux machine running OEL 4 or OEL 5. Basically the steps are: go to, use your Hardware CSI for the registration steps, register the YUM repository server and subscribe to the right channels and populate the repository. After the download is finished, the repository is 'build' and now 'local' it needs to be made available by http for the Compute Nodes to download from on the local network.

After the setup of the repository V2/X2-2 and X2-8 Compute Nodes require a One-Time setup so they are able to use YUM from now on. The One-Time steps remove a set of packages that can cause the further setup to fail, but also add some packages to support the installations to be done using YUM onwards.

Please pay close attention to one of the most important steps of this One-Time setup: the editing of the repository configuration file /etc/yum.repos.d/Exadata-computenode.repo and making sure it points to your local YUM repository if you don't have direct ULN access.

README for 13536739: Especially chapter 6 "Updating Oracle Linux Database Servers in Oracle Exadata Database Machine" 

After setting up the repository and enabling the Compute Nodes to use YUM there is one thing to do: the update itself. Key step in this process is enabling each Compute Node to use the new repository. After this some  packages (ofed1) may need to be downgraded depending on your installation and some checks for kernel versions need to be done. After this, from now on the the system can be updated using a simple 'yum install' to install the main Exadata database server rpm with all dependent packages.
At the end of the installation the Compute Node is rebooted automatically.

At this moment I have to make some remarks/disclaimers:
  • Please see the notes for 13741363  and 13536739 for exact steps, I am only highlighting to explain the overall procedure of setting up a local repository and configuring the Compute Nodes using it.
  • If you are able to connect your Compute Nodes to ULN directly there is no need to setup a repository and the related steps can be skipped.
  • For X2-2 (and earlier) and X2-8 the 'updating Oracle Linux Database Server' steps are slightly different.
  • Oracle has provided 'helper' scripts to automated the steps described above making it even more easy
  • The YUM Updating procedure only applies to Linux Compute Nodes having images > (for updates to versions lower than you still need to use the minimal pack)
Rene Kundersma

Blog of Rene Kundersma, Principal Member of Technical Staff at Oracle Development USA. I am designing and evaluating solutions and best practices around database MAA focused on Exadata. This involves HA, backup/recovery, migration and database consolidation and upgrades on Exadata. Opinions are my own and not necessarily those of Oracle Corporation. See


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