Monday Mar 10, 2014

ORAchk Health Checks for the Oracle Stack (including Solaris)

Cross posting from my Solaris 11 Lifecycle blog, https://blogs.oracle.com/Solaris11Life/entry/orachk_health_checks_for_the  as this is applicable to Solaris 10 too:

My colleagues, Susan Miller and Erwann Chénedé, have been working with the nice people behind the ORAchk tool (formerly RACcheck) to add Solaris health checks to the tool.

ORAchk 2.2.4, containing the initial 8 Solaris health checks, is now available:

ORAchk includes EXAchks functionality and replaces the popular RACcheck tool, extending the coverage based on prioritization of top issues reported by users, to proactively scan for known problems within:

  • E-Business Suite Financials Accounts Payables
  • Oracle Database
  • Sun Systems

ORAchk features:

  • Proactively scans for the most impactful known problems across your entire system as well as various layers of your stack
  • Simplifies and streamlines how to investigate and analyze which known issues present a risk to you
  • Lightweight tool runs within your environment; no data will be sent to Oracle
  • High level reports show your system health risks with the ability to drill down into specific problems and understand their resolutions
  • Can be configured to send email notifications when it detects problems
  • Collection Manager, a companion Application Express web app, provides a single dashboard view of collections across your entire enterprise

ORAchk will expand in the future with more high impact checks in existing and additional product areas. If you have particular checks or product areas you would like to see covered, please post suggestions in the ORAchk community thread accessed from the support tab on the below document.

For more details about ORAchk see Document 1268927.1

Friday Sep 18, 2009

Patching Pre-flight Checks (ppc) tool now available

The new Patching Pre-flight Checks ('ppc') tool is now available to all customers who have a support contract.

The idea for this tool comes directly from customer feedback.  

The customer wanted to reduce the cost of patching Solaris systems by enabling more junior Sys Admins to successfully patch Solaris 10 zones systems.   Their concern was that potential zones patching issues in versions of Solaris prior to Solaris 10 8/07 (Update 4) meant that they needed to assign senior System Administrators to patch such systems to identify and resolve potential issues.  

Furthermore, the customer was concerned that such issues had the potential to derail planned maintenance windows - for example, if during the patching session an unexpected issue was encountered and the patching session couldn't be completed as planned.

To address these concerns, my colleague, Ronan O'Connor, has written the Patching Pre-flight Checks tool, 'ppc'.  It can be run prior to a planned patching session to check that the target system is in a clean state ready for patching.

It's important to understand the scope of the tool.  It checks a target system (and a patch set, if supplied) for a variety of inconsistencies which could cause problems.

It looks for left over lock files from previously aborted patching or packaging operations, inconsistencies in the contents database, IDRs installed on the target system, zones "mountability", space issues, etc.  Some of these issues can occur on early versions of Solaris 10, particularly in a Zones environment.  Many of the underlying causes of such issues are fixed in the latest versions of the patch utility patches (119254 SPARC / 119255 x86), which is why we always recommend you apply the latest patch utility patches before applying other patches.

If you have a directory of patches to be applied, 'ppc' checks the integrity of those patches, and cross-checks whether any of the patches patch pkgs which have been locked down by any IDRs on the system and warns if there is a conflict.

The 'ppc' Release Notes provide information to help interpret the messages produced.

The idea is that 'ppc' can be run by a junior Sys Admin prior to a planned patching session, and any potential issues uncovered can then be analyzed by a more experienced Sys Admin.  This helps avoid nasty surprises during patches sessions and also helps to reduce the level of expertise required to patch Solaris systems, leading to cost savings for customers.

It is outside the scope of the 'ppc' tool to do root cause analysis of why the inconsistency arose or what actions may be needed, if any, to correct the situation.

If 'ppc' returns without noting any problems, you can be pretty confident that the patching session will succeed.  If 'ppc' notes potential issues, they can be investigated prior to the planned maintenance window.

The next version of 'ppc' will include a Zones consistency check to check that all zones are at a consistent patch level.   It will also contain a more sophisticated space checking algorithm.  There's no planned release date yet for Version "2.0" yet as we're awaiting feedback on Version 1.0.x first.

Some of the ideas in 'ppc' may find their way back into 'patchadd', although it's probably appropriate to keep 'ppc' as a separate tool.

You can download the Patching Pre-flight Checks tool, 'ppc', here.  It's an attachment to the knowledge article.  The Patching Pre-flight Checks tool, 'ppc', and the Customer Patch Forum are only available to customers with a support contract, so you'll need to login to SunSolve to access the knowledge article.

We're very interested in your feedback as to the usefulness of this tool and how you'd like to see 'ppc' develop going forward.

Many thanks to Ronan O'Connor for all his work on the tool!

Best Wishes,

Gerry Haskins
Director, Software Patch Services

Thursday Sep 03, 2009

Patch Forums now available for contract customers

Ever wanted to run something past a patching expert ? 

Want to pick the brains of your peers in other companies ?

Lobby to get a patching enhancement implemented ?

Debate what is an appropriate patching strategy and associated best practices ?

Ask other customers if they are seeing the same issues you are ?

Your wait is over.  There are new Patch Forums available to customers with support contracts on http://forums.sun.com.

If you haven't accessed the private contract customer forums on forums.sun.com before, I'm told there's a bit of a "secret-handshake" procedure you must follow for your initial login:

  • Go to https://identity.sun.com/amserver/UI/Login?org=self_registered_users&goto=http://sunsolve.sun.com/cwpGoto.do?target=home
  • Log in with your Sun Online Account (SOA) username/password as normal.
  • Click on "Edit Personal Information" in the menu on the top right of the screen and ensure that you have a "Screen Name" set.  If not, set one here.  This will be the name displayed when you post on forums.sun.com.
  • If you are not an Member Support Center (MSC) registered user, click on "Change Contract" in the menu on the top right of the screen and ensure you have one or more support contracts associated with your Sun Online Account (SOA).  If not, associate your support contract number(s) to your SOA.  For MSC registered users, contracts are automatically associated to your SOA.
  • Go back to http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=home and click on the "[ Access ]" link under the "Sun Community Forums" section.  This link is only visible if you have a support contract associated to your Sun Online Account.  Your initial access to the Patch Forum must be via this link.
  • Scroll down the page you are redirected to, you will now see a Forum called "Patches" in the "Private" section.
  • Click on "Patches" will bring you to the Patch Forum, http://forums.sun.com/category.jspa?categoryID=162
  • If you do not see the "Patches" link, please try and logout of forums.sun.com and then log back in, as sometimes there are issues with single sign on preventing you from seeing the correct links in the "Private" section.  (Alternatively, clear your cookies and follow the above steps.)

Please note that the above process need only be followed once, in order to register your "Screen Name" for access to the private contract customer forums on forums.sun.com

For all future access, you may go directly to the Patch Forums and login via the "Login" link on the top right of the screen to see the Patch Forum content.

Patches Forum

http://forums.sun.com/category.jspa?categoryID=162

You can use the "Let's talk patching!" Community Forum to discuss Patching Strategy and Best Practices with peers and Sun folk, including potential enhancements to improve your patching experience.  It is important to note that this is not an official Support channel.  To ensure optimal support, you must continue to raise Service Requests for specific patching issues through the normal support channels, although you may use the Patch Issues sub-forum to see if others have experienced similar issues and know of workarounds or available fixes.  As with other forums of this nature, Sun does not guarantee to answer all questions posted. We'd like your feedback on how you would like to see this forum evolve and keep the questions coming so we can better serve your patching needs!

There are two sub-forums available:

Patching Strategy, Best Practices, and Enhancements

http://forums.sun.com/forum.jspa?forumID=1029

Discussions on patching strategies, best practices, news, and potential enhancements to improve your patching experience.

Patch Issues

http://forums.sun.com/forum.jspa?forumID=1028

Please note that this is not an official Support channel. To ensure optimal support, you must continue to raise Service Requests for specific patching issues through the normal support channels, although you may use the Patch Issues sub-forum to see if others have experienced similar issues and know of workarounds or available fixes.

I hope you find these forums useful!

They are designed to facilitate dialogue between you and other customers and with Sun subject matter experts to help improve your patching experience.

Best Wishes,

Gerry Haskins
Director, Software Patch Services

Friday May 08, 2009

Patch News Update

Solaris 10 5/09 (Update 7) and subsequent Kernel PatchIDs 

The Kernel patch included in Solaris 10 5/09 (Update 7) has now been released to SunSolve.  The PatchIDs are 139555-08 (SPARC) and 139556-08 (x86).  The rest of the patches included in Solaris 10 5/09 are either released or in the process of being released over the next week or so. 

I've updated the Solaris Kernel PatchID sequence listed in http://blogs.sun.com/patch/date/20080416 to reflect this, including the PatchIDs of the post Solaris 10 5/09 (Update 7) sustaining Kernel PatchID and the Solaris 10 Update 8 Kernel PatchID.

We will be releasing a patch bundle containing the set of patches included in Solaris 10 5/09 in the next couple of weeks.  This will be available from the "Solaris Updates Patch Bundle" section on the new look SunSolve Patch Cluster and Patch Bundle page, http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patches/patch-access, which now includes a description of the purpose, contents, and update frequency of each patch cluster and bundle.

As always, customers need to have a valid support contract in order to download Solaris patch clusters and bundles.

New PatchFinder tool coming

We plan to release a new PatchFinder tool on SunSolve at the end of May.   This leverages the patch metadata in our release database to provide a much richer customer experience to search for patches.  Further enhancements are planned after the initial deployment.  The old PatchFinder tool will remain available for a transition period.

Zones Parallel Patching Performance Enhancement

The Zones Parallel Patching performance enhancement continues on schedule.  It has been successfully beta tested by a number of key customers who confirm a 3x performance improvement patching zones.   It is on schedule to be released in a revision of the patch utilities patch (119254 SPARC / 119255 x86) in June.

Solaris 10 "Recommended" and Sun Alert Patch Clusters

Improvements to the Solaris 10 "Recommended" and Sun Alert Patch Clusters are on schedule to be deployed before the end of June.  The improvements include an improved install_cluster script (currently available in the Solaris 10 Live Upgrade Zones Starter Patch Bundle and the Solaris 10 Updates Patch Bundles) and other process improvements designed to improve quality.

Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support Program

The Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support Program is now up and running.  The first Vintage Solaris 8 patches have been released.

Patches which fix SunAlerts which were issued prior to the April 1 start date of the Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support program will be released as "normal" (i.e. non-vintage) Solaris 8 patches. 

But all other Solaris 8 patches created after April 1, including patches which fix security issues, require customers to have a Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support contract to use them.

See http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/topics/vintagepatch/  for further information.

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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