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Wednesday Sep 14, 2011
Saturday Jul 02, 2011
By Gerry Haskins on Jul 02, 2011
I've long been of the opinion that there should be a single generic set of Solaris recommended patches which customers are consistently recommended to install in proactive maintenance windows for issue prevention. It's something I've been working towards for quite a while.
A collaborative effort between the Software Patch Services, Enterprise Installation Standards (EIS), Sun Risk Analysis System (SRAS) - now renamed Oracle Risk Analysis Services (ORAS) - and the Explominer team in the Oracle Solaris Technical Center (TSC), has achieved this goal with the creation of the Recommended Patchset for Solaris.
Up until now, while the Solaris OS Recommended Patch Cluster was the core basis for Solaris patch recommendations, various teams tended to recommend their own favorite patches on top of this core set. This wasn't just by whim. Each team was looking at patching from a slightly different angle - for example various angles of proactive patching (issue prevention) versus reactive patching (issue correction).
The Recommended Patchset for Solaris is the result of the combined wisdom of the various teams. It is designed for proactive patching (issue prevention). The contents are generic and should be suitable for most customer configurations. You should still read the README file and follow its instructions to ensure all of the patches included are appropriate to your specific environment. You should test the patchset on a test system which closely mimics your production systems prior to deployment.
You may still legitimately be asked by support to install additional patches to fix issues specific to your environment in reactive maintenance situations (issue correction). But this should only be after due diligence to ensure that such patches are likely to fix the specific issue encountered.
The Recommended Patchset for Solaris is the new name for the Solaris OS Recommended Patch Cluster. It's available from MOS (including 'wget'), EIS, Ops Center, etc. We've changed the name to use the Oracle standard terminology "patchset". I never liked the name Solaris Patch Cluster as there was a risk of it being confused with the Solaris Cluster product to which it bears no relation. In due course other patch "clusters" and patch "bundles" are likely to transition to the name "patchset".
The install script and code word needed to invoke it (which is contained in the README file) have been renamed to reflect the name change from "cluster" to "patchset".
Customers who have installed the Solaris OS Recommended Patch Cluster may notice the additional patches included in the Recommended Patchset for Solaris the first time they install it. After that, it'll be business as usual. Many of these additional patches are already pre-applied into Solaris Update releases, so customers on later update releases should see little difference.
As before, the Recommended Patchset for Solaris will continue to be updated whenever a patch matching its inclusion criteria is released. This can happen several times a month. Just take the latest which matches your proactive maintenance window schedule.
And as before, once a quarter, the Recommended Patchset for Solaris will be archived and renamed as the Critical Patch Update in line with standard Oracle practice. (See previous blog postings.)
To create the Recommended Patchset for Solaris, we took the Solaris OS Recommended Patch Cluster and analyzed the additional Solaris patches which the Explominer team recommend be added on top of it for the monthly EIS patch baselines. Where those additional patches added real value - i.e. were of significant benefit to many customers - we added them to the recommended patch set. Where they didn't add real value, we discarded them. We then made sure that a system on which the resultant Recommended Patchset for Solaris was installed passed with a clean bill of health from the ORAS risk analysis audits.
So now, the Solaris OS patches in the EIS patch baselines will be the Recommended Patchset for Solaris with input from the Explominer and other teams included, and will be tested with ORAS. These are the patch baselines available in Ops Center. We have set up a panel of patch experts from the teams mentioned above to adjudicate on future potential additions to the Recommended Patchset for Solaris.
Previously, the criteria for including a patch in the Solaris OS Recommended Patch Cluster was quite strict: a patch had to address a Security, Data Corruption, or System Availability issue; be a patch utilities patch, or be required by the above. In future, other patches which add real value for many customers may be included - for example, a patch for a commonly used driver which delivers significant performance improvements. The goal remains the same - to include the most critical generic patches which we recommend customers install in proactive maintenance windows for issue prevention.
Additional patches outside of the patchset may still be required:
- For other Oracle products - the Recommended Patchset for Solaris only includes Solaris Operating System patches. Other products such as Oracle Solaris Cluster, Oracle Solaris Studio, Oracle Database, etc., may have their own patch recommendations. The monthly EIS update includes patch sets for Oracle Solaris Cluster, SAMFS, QFS, and SunVTS in addition to the Recommended Patchset for Solaris.
- For specific platforms - for example a Solaris driver patch if a particular network card is installed or where firmware updates are required
- For specific configurations - for example if the system is connected to 3rd party storage solutions such as EMC Powerpath or Veritas
- For specific issues in your configuration - for example, break/fix situations where an additional patch fixes the issue encountered
You can download the patchsets or view their Readmes directly, using the following links:
To downloads the patchsets (you must be logged into MOS):
To download the patchset Readme files (no need to be logged into MOS):
The above works for both flash and non-flash (html) MOS users. Just substitute "9" for "10" to get the Solaris 9 Recommended patchsets and Readmes.
You can also download the patchsets using 'wget' for scripted access as normal. (See previous blog postings.) For example, the download filename for Recommended Patchset for Solaris 10 SPARC is still 10_Recommended.zip.
If, like me, you like to know how to do things from first principles, here's the way to construct the search on My Oracle Support:
For Flash compatible systems (full function MOS version):
- Login to My Oracle Support (MOS), https://support.oracle.com
- Click on the "Patches&Updates" tab
- Click on "Product or Family (Advanced Search)
- Type "Solaris Operating System" into the product search box
- Select the Releases you are interested in - e.g. Solaris 10 Operating System and Solaris 9 Operating System
- Select the Platforms you are interested in - e.g. Oracle Solaris on SPARC (64-bit) and Oracle Solaris on x86-64 (64-bit)
- Click on the "+" sign next at the end of the "Platforms" line to add additional search criteria
- Click of "Select Filter" and select "Type" from the drop-down menu
- Select "Patchset"
- Click "Search"
For non-Flash users (html MOS version):
- Login to the html version of My Oracle Support, https://supporthtml.oracle.com
- Click on the "Patches & Updates" tab
- Click on the Advanced Search tab in the search box
- Type "Solaris Operating System" in the product search box
- Select the Releases you are interested in - e.g. Solaris 10 Operating System and Solaris 9 Operating System
- Select the Platforms you are interested in - e.g. Oracle Solaris on SPARC (64-bit) and Oracle Solaris on x86-64 (64-bit)
- For Type, select "Patchset"
- Click Search
MOS remembers your previous selections and they'll be shown top of each drop down menu on subsequent invocations. You can also save searches for future re-use.
I want to thank Don O'Malley, Ed Clark, Howard Mills and the EIS team, Juergen Schleich and the Explominer team, Dr. Rex Martin and the ORAS team, and Rob Hulme and Walter Fisch from the Oracle Technical Support Center (TSC) for all their work in making a single consistent Recommended Patchset for Solaris a reality.
As always, I'm interested to hear your feedback.
Tuesday Oct 12, 2010
By Gerry Haskins on Oct 12, 2010
The October 2010 Solaris OS CPU (Critical Patch Updates) containing all available Security, Data Corruption, and System Availability fixes are now available from My Oracle Support (MOS) and SunSolve.
See http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/security/alerts-086861.html and in particular Document 1446032.1 on My Oracle Support (MOS), http://support.oracle.com, which includes CVE mappings for Oracle Sun products.
To access the Solaris OS CPUs on MOS, login, select the "Patches & Updates" tab and in the "Patch Search" box, click on "Product or Family (Advanced Search)". Select "Solaris Operating System" from the product drop down menu, select the Release(s) you are interested in, e.g. "Solaris 10 Operating System", select "Type" and "Patchset" from the drop down menus on the next line, and click "Search". This will show all the available patch clusters and bundles for your search criteria. The October 2010 CPUs have titles of the form "CPU OS Cluster 2010/10".
The Solaris OS CPUs are archived copies of the Solaris OS Recommended Patch Clusters. See http://blogs.sun.com/patch/entry/solaris_critical_patch_updates_cpus for further details.
Director, Software Patch Services
Thursday May 20, 2010
By Gerry Haskins on May 20, 2010
The Solaris "Recommended" and Sun Alert Patch Clusters have been merged (June 4th 2010).
The merged clusters are called the "Recommended OS Cluster Solaris <release> <architecture>", for example "Recommended OS Cluster Solaris 10 SPARC".
The old "Recommended" and Sun Alert Patch Clusters only ever contained Solaris OS patches (with rare exceptions), so we've added "OS" to the new merged cluster name to make this a little clearer.
The merged Recommended OS Clusters have the same access entitlement as the old clusters - namely, you need a support contract which covers Solaris to access them.
The old "Recommended" patch cluster contains the latest revision of Solaris OS patches which fix Sun Alert issues (i.e. Security, Data Corruption, or System Availability issues). That is, the top-of-tree patches which fix Sun Alert issues.
The Sun Alert patch cluster contains the minimum revision of Solaris OS patches which fix Sun Alert issues. Thus, the Sun Alert patch cluster provides the minimum amount of change required to get all available Solaris OS fixes for Security, Data Corruption, and System Availability issues.
The contents for the two clusters are very similar, which causes unnecessary confusion as to which one to use. When the Sun Alert Cluster was released several years ago, it should have replaced the older "Recommended" Cluster, and this merging of the Clusters is to correct that omission.
The inclusion criteria for the Sun Alert cluster is more logically correct, as in the Recommended Cluster there's no more value in adding the latest revision of a patch whose earlier revision provided a fix to a Sun Alert issue than in adding any other random patch. Many folks assume "latest is greatest", and Oracle Sun wouldn't release a patch unless it is important, but this is slightly simplistic. Change implies risk, and as many patches address issues which are only seen in very specific configurations, and while Oracle Sun patches are thoroughly tested prior to release, there is little advantage in taking more change than is necessary in minor maintenance windows or reactive patching situations. Therefore, providing a minimal patch cluster which provides all available fixes for Solaris OS Sun Alert issues for use in minor maintenance windows makes sense.
The old "Recommended" Clusters were often updated several time a week, simply because a later revision of a patch whose earlier revision fixed a Sun Alert issue was released, even though the later revision didn't fix any additional Sun Alert issues. Since the "Recommended" flag on SunSolve and in the patchdiag.xref metadata file matches the contents of the old "Recommended" Cluster, we were releasing many more patches which were flagged as "Recommended" than customers really needed to apply.
After the merge, new patches added to the Recommended OS Cluster and hence the "Recommended" flag on SunSolve and in the patchdiag.xref metadata file will be the specific revision of patches which address Sun Alert issues. Only when an obsoleting patch provides a new fix to a Sun Alert issue will it be included and the obsolete patch removed. The merged Recommended OS Clusters will update on the same cadence as the old Sun Alert clusters, which is typically about once a week for Solaris 10 (5.5 times a month, on average). We will continue to update the merged Recommended OS Cluster whenever a patch matching the inclusion criteria is released.
To avoid the potential confusion which may be caused if we were to remove the "Recommended" flag from any patches, we will take the "Recommended" Cluster at the beginning of June 2010 as the basis for the merged cluster and then apply the Sun Alert Cluster inclusion criteria going forward.
The merged Recommended OS Cluster was initially released on June 4th, 2010. The download link (target) file name of the merged cluster will be the same as the old "Recommended" Cluster, e.g. 10_Recommended.zip, to minimize the changes users need to make to automated download scripts.
Customers who have traditionally downloaded the Sun Alert cluster will need to update download scripts to use the merged cluster file download names as the old Sun Alert cluster are no longer available.
In major maintenance windows, the Best Practice recommendation is
to upgrade to the latest available Solaris Update release or at least to apply the
equivalent Solaris Update Patch Bundle available from the patch cluster download page.
In both cases, the latest Recommended OS Cluster should also be applied as it will contain any additional Solaris OS Security, Data Corruption, and System Availability fixes released since the Solaris Update contents were finalized. Solaris Updates are intensely tested, and hence this strategy provides a well tested, stable, and feature rich baseline for production systems.
In between major maintenance windows, the Best Practice recommendation is to try to keep as up to date as
possible with the contents of the merged Recommended OS Cluster during
minor maintenance windows.
Let's look at an example, to make the rationale for the change clearer:
In the old model, if a security vulnerability in /usr/bin/ls is fixed in patch 123456-03, then both the old Recommended and Sun Alert clusters will initially include it. If code interdependencies caused by subsequent code putbacks - e.g. the major Trusted Solaris Extensions feature - result in the contents of the "/usr/bin/ls" patch 123456-07 being accumulated into a feature Kernel patch associated with a Solaris 10 Update, e.g. 234567-14, then the old "Recommended" Cluster would include 234567-14 instead of 123456-03, even if 234567-14 contained no additional fixes for Sun Alert issues (i.e. Security, Data Corruption, or System Availability issues) compared to 123456-03. The "Recommended" flag on SunSolve, in patchdiag.xref, and elsewhere would be updated every time a patch revision obsoletes the original patch, even though these later patch revisions contain no additional fixes to Sun Alert issues. This can lead to customers who try to stay up to date with "Recommended" patches patching more content and potentially more often than is really necessary. In contrast, 123456-03 would remain in the Sun Alert cluster for as long as no additional fixes for Sun Alert issues are contained in obsoleting patches.
In the new merged Recommended OS patch cluster model, while the starting point will be the old "Recommended" Cluster as of the start of June 2010 (to avoid dropping the "Recommended" from any patches, which might cause confusion), further changes to the cluster will follow the old Sun Alert cluster inclusion criteria - that is, the merged Recommended OS patch cluster contents and corresponding Recommended flag in SunSolve and patchdiag.xref will only be updated if a new patch delivers a new fix for a Sun Alert issue. This means that only patches which we really recommend will be included in the Recommended OS patch cluster and flagged as Recommended in SunSolve and patchdiag.xref. Since the rate of change will be less, it'll be easier for customers to see what's really recommended and allow more informed decisions regarding when to apply such patches.
Please note that this change has nothing whatsoever to do with the integration into Oracle. This is an enhancement I've been looking to do for some time to avoid the confusion caused by having two very similar patch clusters and a corresponding "Recommended" flag which was updated much more frequently than was necessary.
My team has been working with known consumers of the "Recommended" patch flag such as TLP, Ops Center, 'smpatch', Update Manager, SRAS, EIS, and 'pca' to ensure that the transition goes smoothly.
For example, TLP and 'pca' consume the patchdiag.xref file which up to now typically only contained entries for top-of-tree (latest) patch revisions. From June 4th 2010, patchdiag.xref will contain whatever revision of a patch is flagged as "Recommended" as well as the top-of-tree patch revision. Hence, a single base PatchID, e.g. 123456, may have two entries in the file, e.g. 123456-03 marked "R" for Recommended and "O" for Obsolete and 123456-08 which is the latest revision of that patch but which won't carry the "R" flag as it contains no additional Sun Alert fixes over rev-03.
From my discussion with Martin Paul, author of 'pca', my understanding is that initially, he plans to propagate the "R" flag forward to the latest patch revision in his 'pca' metadata as currently 'pca' only handles the latest revision of patches, but he'll look at some stage in the future to leverage the more precise "Recommended" flag data we'll be providing with this change.
Monday Jun 09, 2008
By Gerry Haskins on Jun 09, 2008
Last week, the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) Patch Bundle was released on SunSolve. The patch bundle provides another option to customers when deciding their patching strategy to maintain their Solaris systems.
What is the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle ?
The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle contains the equivalent set of patches contained in the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release image.
Why use the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle ?
The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle was created as a result of direct customer feedback after the Solaris 10 08/07 (Update 4) release. New hardware may require a specific minimum Solaris 10 Update release such as the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release. Some customers may wish to bring their other existing Solaris 10 systems up to the same patch level as the new hardware running Solaris 10 05/08. The recommended way to do this is to upgrade the existing systems to the Solaris 10 05/08 release using either regular Solaris Upgrade or Solaris Live Upgrade. But some customers may have policies in place which make it difficult to upgrade but OK to patch a system. The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle facilitates such customers to bring their existing systems up to the equivalent patch level to the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) Release. In theory, this should mean that pre-existing functionality on all of the customers' systems should react the same, warts and all. This makes for a more homogeneous environment which may help lower support costs.
The Solaris 10 Update releases are very intensely tested by a wide variety of QA teams within Sun. Therefore, the functionality contained in the patches within the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle have been intensely tested as a unit through the testing performed on the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release image. Additional testing of the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle has also been performed by the Patch System Test team. Therefore, the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle provides a well tested "baseline" option on which to standardize systems.
So while the patch bundle may deliver more change than some other patching strategies, that change has been well tested as a unit and hence may actually reduce the risk of introducing regressions when compared to "dim sum" patching (i.e. choosing an arbitrary combination of patches). Note that intensive processes are also in place to ensure "dim sum" patching works, and it's rare to encounter a problem caused by "dim sum" patching.
How does the Patch Bundle differ from the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release image ?
The Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release is a complete Solaris release image. It contains new packages to support new features in the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release as well as all Solaris patches which were available when the Update was built. The patches are pre-applied into the Solaris 10 05/08 release image. This means that one doesn't have to spend time adding the patches using 'patchadd'. On the flipside, since the patches are pre-applied into the release image, they cannot be backed out using 'patchrm'. This isn't generally a problem as the Solaris Update release images are very intensely tested. One can do a fresh install of the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release, or upgrade to it from an earlier Solaris release.
The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle contains the equivalent set of patches to the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release. The patch bundle does not include the new packages contained in the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release. Therefore, new features in Update 5 which depend upon new packages introduced in that release will not be available in the patch bundle. However, as discussed in a previous blog entry, any change to pre-existing code is delivered in a patch. This includes features as well as bug fixes. Therefore some feature enhancements will be available in the patch bundle. ZFS, for example, is typically self-contained in patches and hence ZFS enhancements will typically be available via the patch bundle as well as via the Update release image. So will most Zones enhancements. The patch bundle is simply a collection of patches with an install order file (patch_order) and an install script wrapper (installbundle.sh) around 'patchadd'. Patches in the patch bundle can be backed out using 'patchrm', so long as the '-d' (no save) option wasn't used when applying the patch bundle.
There are a number of "special" or "script" patches included in each Solaris Update release. These patches are used to correct issues in how patches are pre-applied into the Solaris Update release image and have no purpose whatsoever outside of the Solaris Update release process. Therefore, these "special" or "script" patches are not released to SunSolve and are not included in the patch bundle. See the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle README file for further information on these and other minor differences between the patch set pre-applied in the Solaris 10 05/08 release image and the patch set included in the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle.
The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle is available from the usual patch cluster location.
Log onto Sunsolve, click on Patches and Updates, then Recommended Patch Clusters and scroll down the box under "Recommended Solaris Patch Clusters, J2SE and Java Enterprise System Clusters" to the Solaris 10 SPARC 05/08 Patch Bundle and Solaris 10 x86 05/08 Patch Bundle entries.
The cluster is chunked to aid download. There are 2 chunks for x86 and 3 chunks for SPARC.
Follow the download instructions to the right of the scroll-down box or read the README file for any chunk.
As with all patch clusters, you need a valid support contract to download the cluster. The following support contracts include access entitlement to Solaris patches and Patch Clusters (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 also http://www.sun.com/servicelist/ for country specific details.
Read the Patch Bundle README file for full installation instructions.
The patch bundle can be installed either on the active boot environment (i.e. the live system) or an inactive boot environment.
Patching an inactive boot environment is recommended as, depending on the starting patch level of the target system, it may involve less system downtime as only a single reboot is required at the end to activate the boot environment.
If you patch the active boot environment (i.e. the live system), then depending on the starting patch level of the target system, you may need to reboot an x86 system up to three times (twice at specific points during the installation process and once at the end) and a SPARC system up to two times (once after installing Kernel patch 118833-36 and once at the end). See the patch bundle README for details.
The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle includes a new install script, installbundle.sh, which guides users through the installation process.
The patches are ordered in such a way as to process any reboots required when patching an active boot environment as near the start of the installation process as possible. This is to facilitate System Administrators by allowing them to get over the interim reboots early in the process and kick off the final patching sequence and let the process complete.
The screen output and logfiles produced are also designed to be as clear and self-explanatory as possible, providing both overview and drill-down capabilities.
Approximate Installation Time
How long it will take to install the Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle will depend upon a number of factors:
- The speed of the hardware and its I/O.
- Which Solaris 10 release is installed on the target system and what patch level the system is at. The higher the Solaris 10 Update release or patch level, the quicker the patch bundle will apply.
- Whether Zones are installed on the system and which type of Zone. Currently, the time to apply the cluster to each whole root non-global Zone will be approximately linear - i.e. multiple the install time by the number of whole root non-global Zones on the system. Sparse root non-global Zones will be a little faster. (BTW: Sparse root non-global Zones is the recommended option when creating non-global Zones.) As mentioned in a previous blog posting, there is a project in development to improve Zones patching performance.
For example, I installed the Solaris 10 x86 05/08 Patch Bundle on a v65x running the original Solaris 10 3/05 "FCS" (First Customer Shipment) release with no additional patch applied (worst case) and no non-global Zones. I applied the patch bundle to the active boot environment. Installation took a total of 3 hours and 58 minutes plus 3 reboots (see the Patch Bundle README for an explanation of the reboots when patching an active boot environment).
The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle will not suit everyone. It is a large collection of patches and hence is slow to download and install.
As described in a previous blog posting, the Sun Alert patch clusters (available from the same location on SunSolve - see above) provide the minimum amount of change to address the most critical Solaris issues. The Sun Alert cluster contains all available Solaris patch fixes for Security, Data Corruption, and System Availability issues. New versions of the Sun Alert cluster are posted whenever a new patch to fix a Sun Alert issue becomes available. Customers should try to keep as current as possible with the contents of the Sun Alert clusters.
For customers who want to bring all their systems to the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) release patch level, installing or upgrading to the Solaris 10 05/08 (Update 5) Release image remains the recommended option where feasible. The Solaris 10 05/08 Patch Bundle was simply created in response to a demand from customers for an alternative option where upgrading was not feasible due to internal customer policies.
Since Solaris Update releases are intensely tested, the patch bundle provides a good quality patch "baseline" on which to standardize systems.
From customer feedback to date, the next Patch Bundle for the equivalent set of patches for Update 6 is likely to also be a complete set of patches from Solaris 10 3/05 "FCS" (First Customer Shipment - i.e. the original Solaris 10 release) and not an incremental bundle just containing the patch set delta between Updates 5 and 6 as I had previously suggested. Feel free to post a comment with your preference.
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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