PSU or BP? Patch Set Update or Bundle Patch?

Well, in my new role as unofficial Junior Product Manager for Patching (just kidding) I get asked once a day (at least!) via email or in customer meetings or workshops: Should we take the PSUs or the BPs?

Should we take the PSUs or the BPs ?

PSUs are Patch Set Updates, BPs are (sometimes called: Proactive) Bundle Patches.

And the answer is very simple:

  • If you have an Oracle Engineered System: Take the Bundle Patches for Engineered Systems
  • In all other cases:
    • If you are on Oracle Database 12.1.0.x or newer: Take the Bundle Patches
    • If you are on Oracle Database 11.2.0.4: Take the Patch Set Updates
    • If you are on a release below Oracle Database 11.2.0.4: Upgrade!

Is there an official recommendation or guideline?

Yes, of course, there’s one. Very well explained in MOS Note: 1962125.1 – Overview of Database Patch Delivery Methods:

Bundle Patch Recommendation

Recommendation for Oracle 12c: Bundle Patches

What else do you need to know?

  1. Q: Is there a difference between “Bundle Patch” and “Proactive Bundle Patch“.
    A: It’s the same thing.
  2. Q: Can I apply Exadata Bundle Patches on non-Exadata Systems in Oracle 11g?
    A: Even though this is technically possible for Linux, there are certain restrictions. This is only supported in a standby configuration where one part is operated on an Exadata. See the FAQ at the end of MOS Note: 1962125.1 – Overview of Database Patch Delivery Methods
  3. Q: Can I flip from PSUs to BPs?
    A: When you approach a release or patch set upgrade (i.e. Oracle Database 11.2.0.3 to Oracle Database 12.1.0.2, or Oracle Database 12.1.0.1 to Oracle Database 12.1.0.2) you will start from scratch and have the full choice. But in-between a release you’ll have to deinstall at least the sql changes and roll in the new sql changes when you change between PSUs and BPs or vice versa. See my previous blog posts about switching from PSUs to BPs: https://mikedietrichde.com/2016/05/03/can-i-apply-a-bp-on-top-of-a-psu-or-vice-versa/
  4. Q: Why does Oracle still deliver PSUs in Oracle 12c even though it recommends to use the BPs?
    A: I don’t know. I can just assume that some customers insist to get the PSUs having a smaller number of fixes meaning potentially lower effect on their systems. But personally I totally disagree. When you look up the current issues list for Oracle 12.1.0.2 you will find out that many of the fixes are included in the BPs but not in the PSUs. If it would be my choice, I can perfectly (and better) live without PSUs but only getting BPs instead.
  5. Q: I have issues with the patches’ readme – can you explain it to me?
    A: No. Please log an SR. I get the “readme complaint” from almost every customer I see. And I see all the points and agree in most of them. Still, I’m not the owner of patching nor the owner of the readme’s. Telling it me is good – but telling it Oracle Support via an SR, and force a bug to be logged is the much better solution. Please please please, do log SRs when you are not happy with the patches’ readme, when things are unclear or wrongly carried over or whatever. The readmes get written by humans and they will need your feedback to improve the readmes.

–Mike