Thursday Aug 13, 2009

New SunSolve release, wget, and patch access entitlement update

SunSolve 7.3.0 Release, Akamai, and Vintage Solaris 8 patch access entitlement

The SunSolve 7.3.0 release was deployed to production August 11th. 

It includes major changes to back-end processes designed to provide a more robust, reliable, and consistent customer experience.  All patch downloads are now serviced by Akamai, which is the same process used by Sun's patch automation tools smpatch, Update Manager, UCE, and xVM Ops Center.

Firewall rules may need to be changed to permit the access to the following systems:

  • sunsolve.sun.com
  • getupdates2.sun.com
  • a248.e.akamai.net
The move to using Akamai to service download requests should resolve the transient "500" error issues in Squid which was impacting the reliability of patch downloads in the old SunSolve download infrastructure.

This release also removes Member Support Center (MSC) from the critical path for Solaris 8 Vintage Patch access entitlement.   Prior to this release, Vintage Solaris 8 customers needed to register in MSC in order to access Vintage Solaris 8 patches (created after April 1, 2009).  This was difficult for some customers who needed to undergo a contract clean-up process prior to full registration in MSC.  Now, such customers can simply associate their Vintage Solaris 8 Patch Plan contract number with their Sun Online Account (SOA) using the "Change Contract" link at the top right hand corner of SunSolve pages once they have logged on.  This is now sufficient to grant patch download entitlement to patches covered by any support contract, including Solaris 8 Vintage patches.

Note, customers who are registered in Member Support Center (MSC) will not see the "Change Contact" link as their contract associations are automatically handled by MSC.

For non-MSC users, to ensure access to all patches to which you are entitled, please ensure your associate your Support Contracts with your Sun On-line Account.

Recognition of Support Contract Changes

Support contracts naturally get renewed, upgraded, extended, or expire.  

When a support contract changes - for example a new line item is added to provide support for additional products - then, for non-MSC registered users, to get this additional entitlement "recognized" quickly to enable manual download of access-entitled patches covered by this additional line item, either remove and re-add the Contract number to your Sun Online Account (SOA) using the "Change Contract" link on SunSolve while logged on or else simply log out and log back in again.  Both methods will grant the additional access entitlement as long as the back-end IBIS Contract database has been updated with the modified contract information.

For Member Support Center (MSC) registered users, the contract association will be handled automatically by MSC.    (BTW: A bug in the refresh of IBIS Materialized Views has now been fixed, so delays in automate updates of contract associations by MSC should no longer occur, once the contract amendments have been inputed to the backend database.)

Patch access entitlement information

We will be improving the ability for customers to clearly determine what they are / are not entitled to access in the next release of SunSolve and the new PatchFinder tool (due in October).

In the meantime, when logged into SunSolve, go to the "Change Contract" link at the top right hand corner of SunSolve pages.

This will display the "Entitlement Classes" provided by the support contracts which you have currently associated with your Sun Online Account (SOA).  Displaying the internal "Entitlement Class" names is not ideal and will be improved in the next release, but here's how to interpret them:

  • "Public": You are entitled to access Public patches - i.e. patches which don't require a support contract to access them.
  • "Solaris8VintageSoftwareUpdates": You have a Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Service plan and are entitled to access Solaris 8 Vintage patches produced after April 1, 2009.  (See previous blog posting on the Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Service plan.)
  • "Solaris8SoftwareUpdates": You are entitled to access non-Vintage Solaris 8 patches.
  • "Solaris9SoftwareUpdates": You are entitled to access Solaris 9 patches.
  • "Solaris10SoftwareUpdates": You are entitled to access Solaris 10 patches.

There are a couple of additional entitlement classes, some of which are historical artifacts which overlap with the above.  These will be cleaned up in due course.

Did you know:

  • You need a support contract to access most patches
  • You must have a Solaris 8 Vintage Patch support plan in order to access Vintage Solaris 8 patches created after April 1, 2009
  • A SunSpectrum support plan or a Solaris 8 Software Subscription entitles you to access non-Vintage Solaris 8, 9, and 10 patches
  • A Solaris 9 Software Subscription entitles you to access Solaris 9 and 10 patches
  • A Solaris 10 Software Subscription entitles you to access Solaris 10 patches

Another "did you know":

Many documents on SunSolve have a "Document Audience:" of "PUBLIC".  However, in the case of patch README files, this does not necessarily mean that the patches they refer to have "public" access entitlement - i.e. that anyone can download the patch without a support contract.  The README is designed to make folk aware of the existence of a patch they may need.  However, they may still need to purchase a support contract in order to access the patch itself.

Using 'wget' to automate patch downloads

'wget' is a popular and efficient way to automate patch downloads.   Popular patch automation tools such as 'pca' and TLP utilize 'wget' for patch downloads.  Authentication is via the user's Sun Online Account (SOA), so customers should associate their support contracts to their SOA using the "Change Contract" link at the top right hand corner of SunSolve pages once they have logged on.

A version of 'wget' which support https transfers is now required in order to download patches.  For example, the 'wget' version in Solaris 10 supports https transfers.  To check whether the version of wget you are using is linked to SSL (to provide https support), you can use the following command:

# wget --help.

For example, the current development releases of wget (1.12-devel) shows:

   Options: +digest +ipv6 +nls +ntlm +opie +md5/openssl -gnutls
           +openssl +gettext

You also have to have your proxy configured to allow https connections through the proxy with the 'connect' command.

When contracts are added, renewed, or changed, MSC registered 'wget' users now need to attempt a download of a access-entitled patch (which will fail) in order to trigger a resynchronization of their contract data between the backend servers servicing the patch download request.  The modified contract entitlement will then be activated within 8 hours of this initial download attempt.

See Information on using wget for http download including example download script for further information.

Solaris 2.5.1 patch access entitlement removed

Solaris 2.5.1 is past its End Of Service Life (EOSL).   Access to Solaris 2.5.1 patches has therefore been removed.

Vintage Phone support, which includes access to existing patches (but no new patches will be created) is still available for Solaris 2.6 and Solaris 7 until the end of 2009, after which all access to Solaris 2.6. and Solaris 7 patches will also be removed.

Monday Jan 21, 2008

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 http://www.sun.com/servicelist/ 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 http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patchpage , and where it says:-

  Product Patches
  Obtain latest product patch bundle
  Software

    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.

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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