DBA.nl is increasingly being asked from the market how to deal with Oracle’s new patch set policy. The following describes these changes as best as possible and how to deal with them.
Oracle 18c and 19c are just a patched version of Oracle 12.2. Giving a different name only makes it clearer that it is a full release. Besides the change of the patchset name and patchset update, one of the most important changes is the ability to create a read-only database home. This places all dynamic directories and files outside the Oracle Home, simplifying both patching and management. This will also become the new DBA.nl standard.
As of Oracle 18, the Security Patches are no longer made available as individual patches, but only as part of RUs and RURs. Applying Security Patches means that the application managers will also have to test their applications after applying these patches. In principle, we as DBA.nl will advise against applying RURs because the newest RU will also be released at the same time.
The moment Oracle 19c is released for On-premise, this version will also become the new “12.2” DBA.nl standard.
As you probably know, Oracle has changed its approach to Patchset. Apart from the name, nothing else has changed which means that the new Patch Sets are still full releases but with a different name, namely the year in which this Patch Set was released. So where previously Patchset 1 for Oracle 12.2 was given the name 184.108.40.206 is now 18.1. So Patch Set 2 (220.127.116.11) becomes Oracle 19.1.
Patch sets are full releases since 18.104.22.168. From that point of view it makes sense that these get their own name to make it clear that they are full releases. The downside is that it seems like 18c and 19c don’t have much to do with Oracle 12.2 anymore, but the fact is that both are patched versions of 12.2. This is important to keep in mind because Oracle 19 will be the last release (long term support release) of 12.2. See the roadmap below.
The fact that Oracle 19 is a long-term release means that 12.2 and also 18c are not. MOS Doc ID 742060.1 is the guideline when it comes to the database roadmap. It (now) states that Premier Support on 22.214.171.124 will expire on 11/20/2020. Premier Support on 18c will expire 2 years after 19.1 is released for On-Premise. That will likely be in Q2 this year. This means Q2 2021 Premier Support will end at 18c. It is possible that this will be adapted for 12.2 and 18c database with applied RUs, but that is not clear at the moment.
In addition to these annual Releases, Oracle releases Quarterly Release Updates (RU). You should see a RU as a Bundle Patch. In a RU, fixes fall into the following 4 categories:
*View v$system_fix_control contains all optimizer related fixes. The optimizer fixes in a RU are normally disabled (value = 0). The changes per RU are returned with the following statement:
SQL exec dbms_optim_bundle.getBugsforBundle();
Bug: 28072567, fix_controls: 28072567SQL select bugno, value ,sql_feature, description
from v$system_fix_control where bugno = 28072567;
BUGNO VALUE SQL_FEATURE DESCRIPTION ---------- ---------- --------------------- --------------------------------- 28072567 0 QKSFM_STATS_28072567 reuse table stats for column if UA view has remote table
As can be seen applying RU 18.5 bug 28072567 installed but not activated.
The RUs will be released for all versions from version 12.2 and up and will continue to be released as long as the version is in Premier Support. RUs are cumulative patches so the latest RU can be applied to any 18.x version. See the screenshot below with the different RUs and RURs.
In addition to these RUs, Release Update Revisions are also released. These RURs contain the RU + additional fixes. A maximum of 2 RURs are issued per RU. An RUR is only released a quarter after the RU is released. For this reason, it is recommended to use the latest RU in that case.
Both are “just” patch sets on 12.2 and can also be treated as such.
As indicated, 19c will be the final release based on Oracle 12.2 and the latter is a “long term support” release. See below:
The only problem that could arise is that an application supplier has not certified its application(s) against these new versions (18c/19c). For example, in the past Centric has long only supported version 126.96.36.199. In those cases, it is important that we as database experts emphasize to the customer and the application supplier that this concerns a patched version of Oracle 12.2.
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