Patch Access Entitlement

Sun changed its Software business strategy a few years ago.

Customer's used to have to buy most Sun Software while most support, such as patch access, was free.

Now, Sun's Software frequently uses a model similar to many Linux vendors, where the software is often given away for free, but a customer must pay for most support.

From the perspective of accessing patches, patches which address Security issues remain free.  So do patches which provide new hardware drivers.

Customers must have a valid support contract to access most other Solaris patches, including the Solaris patch clusters such as the Recommended Patch Cluster or Sun Alert Patch Cluster.

The following support contracts include access entitlement to Solaris patches (BTW: Software Update = patch), plus a wide range of additional support services:  Solaris Subscriptions, which includes Basic, Standard, Premium, and Solaris Everywhere Service Plans (compare here); Sun Software Service Plans, including Basic, Standard, Premium, and Premium Plus; Sun System Service Plans for Solaris, which includes Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum options (compare here); or a Sun Spectrum Enterprise Service Plan.  See for country specific details.

The infrastructure behind SunSolve is in transition at the moment.  Customer's may notice changes to patch entitlement as these changes are rolled out.

Additional support services for customers with support contracts will continue to be expanded and enhanced over the coming months.

The changes are largely being implemented by the Services teams.  I have relatively little insight into the specific changes and timelines.  Please use your normal support channels to get further information.

The roll-out of patch entitlement changes has been somewhat patchy (excuse the pun), but the general direction of stricter patch access entitlement is likely to continue.

For example, to see which Solaris patches are currently free, go to the SunSolve patch page , and where it says:-

  Product Patches
  Obtain latest product patch bundle

    ยป Solaris

...use the pull-down menu to select the relevant Solaris version.

The resultant list shows which patches are free or not using a key symbol.  You will only see this key symbol if you are not logged in as a user with a valid support contract, since nothing is locked for you if you have a valid support contract.


Unfortunately one thing has been overlooked during this transition - the patchdiag.xref file does not include information about whether a patch is free or restricted. Therefore it's a process of trial and error to determine free patches.

Any chance that this might be fixed eventually?

Posted by Martin Paul on January 21, 2008 at 05:22 AM GMT #

Hi Martin!

I would be a little surprised if patchdiag.xref will be updated to include patch entitlement information.

There are a number of changes under way regarding the SysNet organization's patch tools strategy. It's hard to tell at this point whether patchdiag.xref will be part of their plans.

I will ping the TLP developers to see if they are aware of anything.

Best Wishes,


Posted by Gerry Haskins on January 21, 2008 at 10:10 AM GMT #

Pardon me for commenting on an older post, but can you let us know if there is any way for a "home" user of Solaris to get some sort of patch-only subscription to SunSolve? I don't need any "technical support"; I just want access to the recommended patch sets. I'd rather run Linux -- for which the patches are free, even if the support isn't -- than shell out over $300 just to download some patches.

Posted by Jim Flanders on August 05, 2008 at 09:36 PM IST #

Hi Jim!

Most of Sun's patches remain free, including patches for Middleware (Java Enterprise System), Java, SunStudio, and other application layer products.

Only access to Solaris patches is restricted to customers with support contracts, and even then the following categories of Solaris patches remain free:

\* Patches which address Security vulnerabilities;
\* Patch utility patches;
\* Prerequisite patches for Solaris Live Upgrade;
\* Prerequisite Solaris patches for Java; Enterprise System middleware;
\* Prerequisite Solaris patches for Java Standard Edition;
\* Any patch which patches both Solaris and another Sun product (e.g. Cacao, App Server, Directory Server, StarOffice, etc.);
\* Any patch required by the above.

Furthermore, all available Solaris 10 patches are pre-applied into the next Solaris 10 Update release, which remains freely accessible to all customers. Therefore, to get all Solaris patches at no cost, you can upgrade to the next Solaris 10 Update release when it becomes available. Upgrading to an Update release also enables you to use the latest and greatest features of Solaris 10. I recommend this option for "home" users.

The current Update release is Solaris 10 5/08 (Update 5). The next is due 11/08 (Update 6).

So, you only need a Solaris subscription for patch access if you want to access "entitled" patches before the next Solaris 10 Update release ships. As you state, Solaris 10 subscriptions start at $324 for "Basic" level which includes all patches, updates, upgrades, intelligent updating, basic installation phone or email assistance and more. See for further details.

(Note, for customers on Solaris 8 or 9, there are no more Update releases planned for these OS versions, so a Solaris subscription is required to access Solaris 8 or 9 patches outside of the above "free" list. Alternatively, you can upgrade to Solaris 10 and get all Solaris 10 patches for free via the Solaris 10 Updates.)

I hope you find this useful!

Posted by Gerry Haskins on August 06, 2008 at 04:14 AM IST #

I've got to say that I've been making a living with Solaris and SunOS since they first came out and I am really disappointed by Sun's requirement to have a spectrum contract to download patch clusters. I'm a consultant and flit from client to client and am never given access to their spectrum IDs. This type of behavior by Sun hurts the little guy, me. I use Solaris on my home machines (2xe420r, 2xultra 5, 1xUltra80 and a host of x86 machines) that I use to learn new techniques on so that I can provide a better service to Sun's clients. Paying just so that I can get patch clusters (which as fixes for bugs in your OSes) does make me inclined to move to Linux and free opensource software instead of staying with the best operating system, Solaris. I do not believe that providing free access to patch clusters would cost Sun anything in money terms (you've already made them for your "paying" clients, and would, instead, garner great good-will amongst senior systems admin staff such as myself who've stuck by you for decades now!

Disappointing, and disingenuous.

Sorry, but it's how I feel about it.

Posted by Craig Morley on November 08, 2008 at 06:54 AM GMT #

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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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