Exadata Product Development Blog

  • January 15, 2014

Updating database servers using dbnodeupdate.sh - part 2

Rene Kundersma
Software Engineer
Within the Oracle Exadata Database Machine documentation and README's
you will generally find two types of backups for database server OS
  • The Exadata Database Machine Owners Guide (Chapter 7) has
    instructions to create backups stored outside of the dbserver, for
    example on an NFS mount (see 'Creating a Snapshot-Based Backup of Oracle Linux Database Server')
  • dbserver_backup.sh - which creates a local copy of your active lvm.

In this post I will explain background and usage for both backups and how they integrate with dbnodeupdate.sh


For backing-up and rolling-back Exadata dbserver OS updates  the
dbserver_backup.sh script is used by dbnodeupdate.sh. For each upgrade
by default the dbserver_backup.sh script is executed. When executed (either manually or via dbnodeupdate), the
dbserver_backup.sh script creates a small snapshot of the 'active' sys
lvm. The active sys lvm is the primary lvm that your current OS image is running on. For example:

[root@mynode ~]# imageinfo

Kernel version: 2.6.39-400.126.1.el5uek #1 SMP Fri Sep 20 10:54:38 PDT 2013 x86_64

Image version:

Image activated: 2014-01-13 13:20:52 -0700

Image status: success

System partition on device: /dev/mapper/VGExaDb-LVDbSys2

In the above example the active lvm is /dev/mapper/VGExaDb-LVDbSys2.The snapshot is created to have a 'consistent' 'view' of the root
filesystem while the backup is made. After the snapshot is created, it's
mounted by the same script and then it's contents are copied over to the
inactive lvm. For lvm enabled systems, there are always 2 'sys' lvm's "VGExaDb-LVDbSys1" and
"VGExaDb-LVDbSys2". VGExaDb-LVDbSys2 will automatically be created (on
lvm enabled system) if not existing yet. For the example above, the 'inactive' lvm will be VGExaDb-LVDbSys1

Now, depending on how many files there are in the root (/) filesystem
(based on your active sys lvm) the backup times may vary. Previous Grid and Database home installation zip files in
/opt/oracle.SupportTools/onecommand will make the backup take longer (not
the restore, which I will explain why later). Same for those who have many small files (like mail messages in /var/spool) - the backup may take longer. 

One of the first steps the dbnodeupdate.sh script will doing when executed is making a backup with this script. Now, if you want to shorten your downtime and make this backup before
the start of your 'planned maintenance window' you have 2 options: Either execute the dbserver_backup.sh script yourself or use
dbnodeupdate.sh with the "-b" flag to make a backup only before hand.

Example making a backup with dbnodeupdate.sh here (see 'Backup only' for 'Action')

When you then have the downtime for planned maintenance and already have
the backup you can then let dbnodeupdate skip the backup using the "-n"

Example skipping a backup with dbnodeupdate.sh here (See 'Create a backup: No')

Both Sys lvm's are 30GB each. The snapshot that will be created is ~1GB. It is recommended to keep this in mind when claiming the free space
in the volume group to make your /u01 filesystem as big as possible. (the script checks for 2 GB free space in the volume group)

Now, when the update proceeds, the current active lvm will remain the
active lvm. This is different than what happens on the cells where the
active lvm becomes inactive with an update.  Typically you will only
switch active sys lvm's when a rollback needs to be done on a db server, for example,
an upgrade from to needs to be rolled-back. What
happens then is nothing more than 'switching' the filesystem label of
the sys lvm's, updating grub (the bootloader) and restoring the /boot
directory (backed up earlier also by dbnodeupdate.sh). Then, a next
boot will now have the previous inactive lvm as active lvm.

Rolling back with dbnodepdate.sh as in the example here (a rollback from to 

After booting the node, it's recommended to run dbnodeupdate.sh again with the "-c" flag to relink the oracle home's again.


  • It's important, to make a new backup before attempting a new update.
  • In the above example, there is only talk about the sys lvm's. This
    means custom partitions including /u01 are not backed up. For regular
    node updates this is enough to rollback to a previous release but it's
    recommended to also have a backup of other filesystems inline to your
  • Nodes deployed without lvm will not have this option available
  • Rolling back db servers to previous Exadata releases with this procedure does not rollback the firmware
Backup / restore procedure owners guide chapter 7 

The backup made with the procedure in chapter 7 of the Oracle
Exadatabase Database owners guide covers total node recovery.  Like the
dbserver_backup.sh procedure a snapshot is used for a consistent view,
then in this scenario a copy is placed outside of the db server (via
NFS in this example).  This procedure allow you to backup every
filesystem you require. In case of emergency - such as a non-bootable
system, the node can be booted with the diagnostic iso. For non-customized partitions an interactive script
will then question you to provide backup details and recover the node
completely. For customized partitions steps (which are almost the same) can also be found in the owners guide.

Advantages /  Disadvantages

Both type of backups serve another goal. Also, these are just examples -
of course customized backup and restore scenario's are also possible.The procedure as described in the owners guide requires external
storage, while the dbserver_backup.sh script uses space on the node -
but that is also where the risk is. The backup made with dbserver_backup.sh works well for the purpose of
rolling back upgrades. With the automation of dbnodeupdate.sh rollbacks
can be done simple and quickly.

However - loss of critical partitions and/or filesystems will not be
covered with this type of backup - so you may want to
combine both types of OS backup. The general recommendation is
to use the default built-in backup procedure when running dbnodeupdate
to make easy rollback possible. But also backup the entire OS and
customized filesystems outside of the database server with an interval based on your own

Rene Kundersma

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Comments ( 3 )
  • Waseem Parkar Thursday, July 28, 2016


    During patching from 11.2.2.x version to is it possible to have lost custom LVM say /u02 ?

    I believe the patching activity had taken the hot spare disk and made it a part of active use.


  • Rene Kundersma Monday, August 1, 2016

    Hi !

    Its possible the fs is not mounted (because it's removed from fstab).

    Please follow up by opening an Service request for further analysis.


  • John L Fak Wednesday, July 12, 2017
    How do you tell when last snapshot was mdae for the SYS2 lvm
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