Oracle Grid Infrastructure 18c patching part 1: Some history

Down the memory lane

Although sometimes I think I have been working with Oracle Grid Infrastructure since it exists, sometimes my memory does not work well. I still like to go through the Oracle RAC family history from time to time:

  • 8i -> no Oracle cluster did exist. RAC was leveraging 3rd party clusters (like Tru Cluster, AIX HACMP, Sun Cluster)…
  • 9i -> if I remember well, Oracle hired some developers of Tru Cluster after the acquisition of Compaq by HP. Oracle CRS was born and was quite similar to Tru Cluster. (The commands were almost the same: crs_stat instead of caa_stat, etc)
  • 10g -> Oracle re-branded CRS to Clusterware
  • 11g -> With the addition of ASM (and other components), Oracle created the concept of “Grid Infrastructure”, composed by Clusterware and additional products. All the new versions still use the name Grid Infrastructure and new products have been added through the years (ACFS, RHP, QoS …)

But I have missing souvenirs. For example, I cannot remember having ever upgraded an Oracle Cluster from 9i to 10g or from 10g to 11g. At that time I was working for several customers, and every new release was installed on new Hardware.

My first, real upgrade (as far as I can remember) was from 11gR2 to 12c, where the upgrade process was a nice, OUI-driven, out-of-place install.

The process was (still is ūüôā ) nice and smooth:

  • The installer copies, prepares and links the binaries on all the nodes in a new Oracle Home
  • The upgrade process is rolling: the first node puts the cluster in upgrade mode
  • The last node does the final steps and exists the cluster from the upgrade mode.

This is about Upgrading to a new release. But what about patching?

In-place patching

Patching of Grid Infrastructure has always been in-place and, I will not hide it, quite painful.

If you wanted to patch a Grid Infrastructure before release 12cR2, you had to:

  • read the documentation carefully and check for possible conflicts
  • backup the Grid Home
  • copy the patch on the host
  • evacuate all the services and databases from the cluster node that you want to patch
  • patch the binaries (depending on the versions and patches, this might be easy with opatchauto or quite painful with manual unlocking/locking and manual opatch steps)
  • restart/relocate the services back on the node
  • repeat the tasks for every node

The disadvantages of in-place patching are many:

  • Need to stage the patch on every node
  • Need to repeat the patching process for every node
  • No easy rollback (some bad problems might lead to deconfiguring the cluster from one node and then adding it back to the cluster)

Out-of-place patching

Out-of-place patching is proven to be much a better solution. I am doing it regularly since a while for Oracle Database homes and I am very satisfied with it. I am implementing it at CERN as well, and it will unlock new levels of server consolidation ūüôā

I have written a blog series here, and presented about it a few times.

But out-of-place patching for Grid Infrastructure is VERY recent.

12cR2: opatchauto 

Oracle 12cR2 introduced out-of-place patching as a new feature of opatchauto.

This MOS document explains it quite in detail:

Grid Infrastructure Out of Place ( OOP ) Patching using opatchauto (Doc ID 2419319.1)

The process is the following:

  • a preparation process clones the active Oracle Home on the current node and patches it
  • a switch process switches the active Oracle Home from the old one to the prepared clone
  • those two phases are repeated for each node

12cr2-oop

The good thing is that the preparation can be done in advance on all the nodes and the switch can be triggered only if all the clones are patched successfully.

However, the staging of the patch, the cloning and patching must still happen on every node, making the concept of golden images quite useless for patching.

It is worth to mention, at this point, that Grid Infrastructure Golden Images ARE A THING, and that they have been introduced by Rapid Home Provisioning release 12cR2, where cluster automatic provisioning has been included as a new feature.

This Grid Infrastructure golden images have already been mentioned here and here.

I have discussed about Rapid Home provisioning itself here, but I will ad a couple of thoughts in the next paragraph.

18c and the brand new Independent local-mode Automaton

I have been early tester of the Rapid Home Provisioning product, when it has been released with Oracle 12.1.0.2. I have presented about it at UKOUG and as a RAC SIG webinar.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaB4RWjYPq0
http://www.ludovicocaldara.net/dba/rhp-presentation/

I liked the product A LOT, despite a few bugs due to the initial release. The concept of out-of-placing patching that RHP uses is the best one, in my opinion, to cope with frequent patches and upgrades.

Now, with Oracle 18c, the Rapid Home Provisioning Independent Local-mode Automaton comes to play. There is not that much documentation about it, even in the Oracle documentation, but a few things are clear:

  • The Independent local-mode automaton comes without additional licenses as it is not part of the RHP Server/Client infrastructure
  • It is 100% local to the cluster where it is used
  • Its main “job” is to allow moving Grid Infrastructure Homes from a non-patched version to an out-of-place patched one.

I will not disclore more here, as the rest of this blog series is focused on this new product ūüôā

Stay tuned for details, examples and feedback from its usage at CERN ūüėČ

Ludo

Port conflict with “Oracle Remote Method Invocation (ORMI)” during Grid Infrastructure install

After years of installing Grid Infrastructures, today I have got for the first time an error on something new:

Looking at the logs (which I do not have now as I removed them as part of the failed install cleanup ūüôĀ ), the error is generated by the cluster verification utility (CVU) on this check:

The components verified by the CVU can be found inside $ORACLE_HOME/cv/cvdata/. In my case, precisely:

This check is critical, so the install fails.

In my case the port was used by mcollectived.

The port has been taken dynamically, and previous runs of CVU did not encounter the problem.

A rare port conflict that might happen when configuring GI ūüôā

Ludo

Grid Infrastructure 18c: changes in gridSetup.sh -applyRU and -createGoldImage

Starting with release 12cR2, Grid Infrastructure binaries are no more shipped as an installer, but as a zip file that is uncompressed directly in the Oracle Home path.
This opened a few new possibilities including patching the software before the Grid Infrastructure configuration.
My former colleague Markus Flechtner wrote an excellent blog post about it, here: https://www.markusdba.net/?p=294

Now, with 18c, there are a couple of things that changed comparing to Markus blog.

The -applyRU switch replaces the -applyPSU

While it is possible to apply several sub-patches of a PSU one by one:

it was possible to do all at once with:

Now the switch is called, for consistency with the patch naming, -applyRU.

E.g.:

Still there are no options to avoid the run of the Setup Wizard, but it is safe to ignore the error as the patch has been applied successfully.

The -createGoldImage does not work anymore if the Home is not attached

I have tried to create the golden image as per Markus post, but I get this error:

To workaround the issue, there are two ways:

  1. Create a zip file manually, as all the content needed to install the patched version is right there. No need to touch anything as the software is not configured yet.
  2. Configure the software with CRS_SWONLY before creating the gold image:

 

HTH

Ludo

Setting Grid Infrastructure 18c Oracle Home name during the install

A colleague has been struggling for some time in order to get the correct Oracle Home name for the Grid Infrastructure18.3.0 when running gridSetup.sh.

In the graphical Oracle Universal Installer there is no way (as far as we could find) to set the Home name. Moreover, it was our intention to automate the install of Grid Infrastructure.

The complete responsefile ($OH/inventory/response/oracle.crs_Complete.rsp) contains the parameter:

However, when using a responsefile with such parameter, gridSetup.sh fails with the error:

After some tries (and a SR), this happens to actually work:

  • strip the ORACLE_HOME_NAME parameter from the responsefile
  • pass it as a double-quoted parameter at the end of the gridSetup.sh command line

HTH

Oracle Database 18c and version numbers

The Oracle New Release Model is very young, and thus suffers of some small inconsistencies in the release naming.
Oracle already announced that 18c was a renaming of what was intended to be 12.2.0.2 in the original roadmap.
I though that 19c would have been 12.2.0.3, but now I have some doubts when looking at the local inventory contents.

I am consistently using my functions lsoh and setoh, as described in my posts:

Getting the Oracle Homes in a server from the oraInventory

and:

Oracle Home Management – part 5: Oracle Home Inventory and Naming Conventions

What I do, basically, is to get the list of attached Oracle Homes from the Central Inventory, and then get some details (like version and edition) from the local inventory of each Oracle Home.

But now that Oracle 18.3 is out, my function shows release 18.0.0.0.0 when I try to get it in the previous way.

The fact is that prior to 18c, the component version was showing the actual version (without patches):

but now, it shows the “base release” 18.0.0.0.0, whereas the ACT_INST_VER property shows the “Active” version:

You can see that ACT_INST_VER is 12.2.0.4.0! does it indicate that 18.3 was planned to be 12.2.0.4?

like …

12.2.0.2 -> 18.1

12.2.0.3 -> 18.2

12.2.0.4 -> 18.3

?

This is in contrast with MOS Doc ID 230.1 that states that 18c was a “sort of” 12.2.0.2, so probably I get it wrong.

My first reflex has been to search, in the local inventory, where the string 18.3.0¬† was written down, but with my surprise, it is just a description, not a “real value”:

Again, the ACT_INST_VER property reports 12.2.0.4.0.

So, where can we extract the version we would expect (18.3.0.0.0)?

Oracle 18c provides a new binary oraversion that gives us this information:

Note that 18.3.0.0.0 differs from the description:

which is, as far as I understand, just a bad way to use the old notation to give the idea of the release date of such release update.

Also note that baseVersion has always the format <MAJOR>.0.0.0.0.

In the future I expect that ACT_INST_VER will be consistent with the compositeVersion, but I cannot be sure.

Ludo