New PatchFinder tool now available

The new PatchFinder tool is now available on http://sunsolve.sun.com/patchfinder/

It's linked off the main SunSolve Patch page, http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patchpage.  Look for the following link immediately under the old PatchFinder search box:

The PatchFinder

Why a new PatchFinder tool ?

The old PatchFinder tool was a pet peeve of mine.  You needed to know at least the 6 digit base PatchID of the patch you were trying to find in order to find it.   Rather self defeating IMHO.

The new PatchFinder tool directly leverages Sun's internal Patch Metadata Web Services to provide a much richer search experience.

Features of the new PatchFinder tool

You can still search by PatchID if you want.  This will override all other search options.

But you can also search for all Recommended or Security patches, and restrict that search, for example, to Solaris 10 SPARC.

By the way, "Recommended" means it's part of the Solaris Recommended Patch Cluster, which contains the latest revision of all Solaris OS patches which fix Security, Data Corruption, or System Availability issues.  See the cluster inclusion criteria definitions by clicking the appropriate heading on the Patch Clusters & Patch Bundles download page, http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patch-access.

"Security" includes all patches which address Security issues, including Solaris OS patches and application and middleware patches for other products.

If you click the "OS Patches Only" box, the search results can be restricted to patches for the Solaris OS only, which will exclude application and middleware patches which are not bundled as part of the Solaris OS.  

Advanced Search Capabilities

Click on "Show Advanced Search" for more options.

This gives you options such as searching by CR (Change Request, a.k.a. BugID) number, so if you suspect you've hit a particular bug, you can check whether a patch for that CR is available yet.

Or you can search for patches with particular words in the patch synopsis or keywords fields - e.g. ldap, "patch util", "package util", "pkg util", etc.  These options have limited value as it's difficult to guess the values.

The "Released Before" option is handy if your company has a policy of waiting for patches to "age" a specified number of days after release before you consider applying them.

The "Released After" option is useful to restrict the search to patches released since the last time you checked for patches.

The "README Modified After" option is subtly different to the "Released After" field and is a superset of the "Released After" results in that is also shows patches whose README or patchinfo metadata files have been updated since the patch was initially released - for example, Special Install Instructions may have been added to the README to specify workarounds for issues found post-release which do not warrant the patch being withdrawn from SunSolve (i.e. the patch still does more good than harm for the majority of customers).

You can filter the search further to see only those patches whose README file was modified since you last downloaded patches by using the following search filter combination: For example, if you downloaded patches 30 days ago, you can see which patches which were release 30 or more days ago have had their READMEs modified since then by using the combination: "Released Before" == 30 && "README Modified After" == 30

In all of these time related fields, you can specify actual dates instead of a specified number of days.

The "Patch Property" field enables you to search for things like "Interactive" patches which require manual intervention during installation, "NonStandard" which means they aren't applied using the standard 'patchadd' utility (e.g. firmware patches), or patches which require downtime (Single User Mode, Reboot\*) if applied to the live boot environment.  (Remember, Live Upgrade can be used to minimize the downtime and risk associated with applying patches by applying the patches to an inactive boot environment, thereby avoiding such downtime requirements during or immediately after patch installation.  You can reboot to set the inactive boot environment live at a time that suits you.)

By default, only patches which are currently available for download (i.e. patches which haven't been withdrawn due to issues) are returned in the search results.    You can select "Withdrawn" patches instead to get a list of patches which have been withdrawn from SunSolve due to serious issues.   This is useful to ensure you don't have any withdrawn patches installed on your systems.  I recommend you also select "Show Obsoletes" along with "Withdrawn" so withdrawn patches which have been superseded by replacement good patches aren't masked.  (Note, a Sun Alert is issued whenever a patch is withdrawn, so if you keep abreast of Sun Alert notifications as is advisable, this step is simply a check and balance.)

Fields such as "OS Release", "State", etc., allow multiple options to be selected concurrently from the drop down menu.

Patch Metrics Gathering 

The new PatchFinder tool is also useful for helping you to calculate patch metrics - e.g. the number of Solaris 10 SPARC OS patches released in the last year.

Display and Bookmarking Options

You can also select the number of patches to display in each page of search results returned (default 20), hide the search form so that only the results are displayed (the option is in the top right hand corner of the tool), and order the results by PatchID, Released date, or Synopsis, in either ascending or descending order (by clicking on the appropriate column heading of the results returned).

You can click on a PatchID in the search results returned to display the Patch README.

You can also bookmark the search results returned for future reference.  This is handy if you wish to run the same query regularly. 

Help! 

There's a "Help" summary in the top right hand corner and each search field has it's own help summary marked "?".

What's next ? 

I hope you find this initial version of the new PatchFinder tool useful.

This is a start, not the finished article.   In future versions we plan to provide options to resolve patch dependencies and patch installation order, enable patch download, etc.  

Feedback - what else would you like to see ?

Feel free to provide feedback on features which you'd like to see to the software-update-finder-feedback@sun.com alias or directly to me, Gerry.Haskins@sun.com .  

Our goal is to improve your patching experience.

Comments:

Looks great. At last a Patchfinder worth the name - thanks, Gerry! Some ideas for a future version:

Show the public/private state in the result list. One can search for "Public Patches Only", but it might be useful to search for a certain subset patches, but to see immediately which of them are public and which aren't.

The "Readme Modified After" touches an issue, but doesn't give a real solution. I'd like to have an option to search for all patches where the README was modified after the release date of the patch - that would be a checkbox instead of a date field in the advanced search options. When this box is checked, only patches whose README has been modified after patch release would be shown.

Martin.

Posted by Martin Paul on May 28, 2009 at 04:19 AM IST #

Hi Martin,

Brian Kidney here, a member of Gerry's team and the project lead for the new Patch Finder tool.

Thanks for the positive feedback, I'm glad you like it.

> "Show the public/private state in the result list. One can search for "Public Patches Only", but it might be useful to search for a certain subset patches, but to see immediately which of them are public and which aren't."

Yes, we plan on adding fine grained entitlement information in the next phase of the project.

> "The "Readme Modified After" touches an issue, but doesn't give a real solution. I'd like to have an option to search for all patches where the README was modified after the release date of the patch - that would be a checkbox instead of a date field in the advanced search options. When this box is checked, only patches whose README has been modified after patch release would be shown. "

Well you can sort of do that now. If you put 30 in the "Released Before" field and 30 in the "Readme Modified After" field, you will get patches that were released more then 30 days ago, but their readmes have been modified in the last 30 days.

While it isn't exactly what you are looking for, it may help.

We will look into this functionality for the next phase of the project.

Thanks,
Brian

Posted by Brian Kidney on May 28, 2009 at 02:12 PM IST #

The new patch finder is a most welcome enhancement -- thank you very much! =-)

A couple of very minor feature requests:

o It would be nice to be able to provide a list of multiple Patch ID's, in addition to a single ID.

o It would be nice to be able to see one result with patches that are either Recommended, or Security, or both. If you check the R and S boxes, you see only patches with both flags.

Thanks a bunch... -c

Posted by Craig S. Bell on June 01, 2009 at 12:27 PM IST #

Thanks Craig!

I'll pass your comments on to the development team for consideration. They both seem reasonable requests.

I'm glad you like the tool.

Best Wishes,

Gerry.

Posted by Gerry Haskins on June 02, 2009 at 04:55 AM IST #

Thanks for your information, i have read it, very good!

Posted by ed hardy clothing on November 01, 2009 at 04:52 PM GMT #

Hi,

The links http://sunsolve.sun.com/patchfinder/ and http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patchpage are not currently accessible. Please let me know about the alternatives to find required patches in Solaris for a JRE upgrade of my software.

Thanks
Amalan Philip

Posted by Amalan Philip on May 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM IST #

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About

This blog is to inform customers about patching 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 Engineer

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