Oracle minimises the Exadata minimal pack

As of Exadata Storage Software version 11.2.3.1 released in March 2012 the “minimal pack” has now been deprecated. This is a component of the storage server software patch which is actually applied to the database servers in order to bring them up to the same image version.

Those who have been patching Exadata for a while now may remember the days when the database servers were patched using the ironically-named “convenience pack”. At some point in 2011 that was renamed to be the minimal pack. Well now it is gone entirely, to be replaced with a yum channel on the Unbreakable Linux Network.

There appears to be a channel per software version, e.g. exadata_dbserver_11.2.3.1.0_x86_64_base.

In a way that sounds like a better solution – but it does of course mean some logistical changes if you are going to do it the way Oracle suggests. For a start you will need the database servers to have direct network access to the repositories on the ULN. Or failing that you may need to create your own mirror repositories somewhere on the internal network and point the Exadata machines at those.

One thing which isn’t made explicitly clear in the patch readme for 11.2.3.1 is that this will update the kernel on the X2-2 to 2.6.18-274… meaning your database servers are effectively moving from Oracle Linux 5 Update 6 to Update 7. The X2-8 on the other hand updates to 2.6.32-300.

It’s also interesting to note that Oracle is still persisting with the 2.6.18 Red Hat compatible kernel on the X2-2 database servers despite the 2.6.32 Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) being out for years. In fact there’s even a UEKv2 out now.

Another thing I notice is that those customers who were brave enough to choose to run their Exadata database servers on Solaris 11 Express have now been served a desupport notice and have six months to upgrade to Solaris 11 proper. It’s not a drastically difficult upgrade to perform but I’m surprised about that six month limit, it seems a little unfair considering the one year grace period customers usually get with database patchsets.

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