Someone had a question for me – does patching a sparse zone take less time than patching a whole-root zone? My first instinct was “yes”, because there would be much less data to copy into each zone, as some file systems like /usr are shared with the global zone. I decided to test both scenarios.
Here is the procedure I used:
Rebooted server to clear inode cache, memory pages, etc. With 3 whole-root zones installed, used PCA (http://www.par.univie.ac.at/solaris/pca/), and patched, adding 106 patches to the system. Rebooted, removed the zones and backed out the 106 patches. Rebooted and installed 3 sparse zones and performed the same patching again.
Patching whole-root zones: 88 minutes to install 106 patches
Patching sparse zones: 72 minutes to install 106 patches
Hmm not all that different. Not quite what I expected, but good to know.
Setup : SunFire V440, using all local disk/ SVM mirrored, 4GB RAM, Solaris 10 update 4, patching to the EIS May 2008 level.
UPDATE: I patched the server without any zones also, and it took only 30 minutes. My sub-par math tells me each sparse zone took 14 minutes to patch, and each whole root took 19 minutes.