Friday Sep 23, 2011

Getting started with Oracle Linux and ksplice updates

Since early September Oracle Linux customers with a Premier or Premier limited support subscription, or Oracle customers with Oracle Premier Support for Systems and Operating Systems, have access to the newly added Oracle Ksplice technology.

Oracle Ksplice updates are kernel updates that can be applied on a running system. Note that we are not just talking about being able to install a new update of a package while the system is running and it then have take effect after a reboot or restart. The ksplice patches are immediately applied to the running Linux kernel and are effective immediately. On subsequent reboot, these patches are applied at bootup, or if a customer has installed a newer version of the kernel rpm itself, then of course the new kernel would just be loaded.

This technology allows a system administrator to apply the latest kernel security errata (CVEs) while their applications are running, a database, a webserver, etc. It does not halt the system, it does not restart applications, the updates are just applied in the background with a totally negligible impact (a milisecond pause for instance). In an environment where you have multi-tiered applications running across multiple servers, this becomes even more cost effective, very often if a backend server needs to be brought down for patching, the app/sys admins have to schedule downtime for the entire stack, apply the patches, then bring back all the services, even if only one of the servers in the hierarchy needs changes. The goal here is to 1) make patching trivial on the kernel side 2) reduce any sort of impact on sysadmin time, the patches can be done automated on a schedule 3) increase security of the systems because security vulnerabilities can be patched much sooner 4) because of all the others drastically reduce TCO.

We have published a white paper on how to get started with ksplice updates here. More documentation is coming. This is very exciting stuff. Also, as before, Ubuntu and Fedora users can continue to make free use of the service. go to the ksplice website and click on Try it Now. http://ksplice.com.

About

Wim Coekaerts is the Senior Vice President of Linux and Virtualization Engineering for Oracle. He is responsible for Oracle's complete desktop to data center virtualization product line and the Oracle Linux support program.

You can follow him on Twitter at @wimcoekaerts

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