Solaris Live Upgrade and Patches

/solaris-live-upgrade-and-patches 2008-05-09T16:04:51+01:00

I encountered a bit of a challenging question today...

Suppose I have Solaris 10 1/06 (update 1) installed and I've patched it with various patches that are actually provided as part of a much later release, for example Solaris 10 11/06 (update 3). Will I have to reapply those patches if I perform a live upgrade to and intermediate version, eg Solaris 10 6/06 (update 2)?

At first I thought: "No. The patches have been applied, the pkgs updated to reflect these patches and the upgrade tool should be able to workout that a later version of the pkg has already been applied".

Patches are essentially partial pkgs after all, and there is version detection within the patching and packaging.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it couldn't be that simple, especially considering that the Solaris patch, packaging, installation and upgrade systems are a bit of a mess under the hood (it's being sorted in Nevada/OpenSolaris). So I did some investigating.

As the question pertained to Live Upgrade, I started my investigations there - in the live_upgrade(5) man page. This is where I spotted the answer to the question. Right down at the bottom of the man page is this little paragraph...

     It is possible for an operating  system  upgrade  to  remove
     installed   patches.   Prior   to   such   an  upgrade,  use
     analyze_patches, as described in luupgrade(1M), to determine
     which, if any, patches will be removed.

I'd seen that "analyze_patches" script somewhere, but couldn't remember where. So I checked the luupgrade(1M) man page as suggested, where I found the following little sections...

     Before upgrading a boot environment, do the following:

         o    Run analyze_patches.

         o    Install Live Upgrade  packages  for  the  operating
              system version to which you are upgrading.

     The analyze_patches command is available in the /Misc direc-
     tory  on the Solaris software DVD (formerly the Solaris ins-
     tallation CD). This command determines which  patches  would
     be  removed  as a result of the upgrade. Then, following the
     upgrade, you can reinstall the list of patches  provided  by

So now I have the answer, and a way to determine which patches are likely to be removed, but I still didn't have an answer as to why.

A quick trawl through the upgrade source code soon gave me the answer. Live Upgrade, and the normal Solaris upgrade tool, just perform a simple pkgrm of the old pkg and a pkgadd of the new.

As patches are effectively partial pkgs, the pkgrm would remove all changes supplied by the patch, so the patch changes would no longer be applied.

I have to admit, I've seen the analyze_patches script, but never actually known what it was for, and thus have never used it. I can say I'll certainly be using it as part of my live upgrade procedures from here on, and will definitely be advising others to do the same thing.

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