This is a single cloud service, and it’s not available on the free tier, so it’s only available for paying customers that want to use this particular service.
At the time of writing there is no Autonomous Database service for this version, and there is still no full on-prem release.
I thought it was unavailable in my data centre, but Jeff Smith told me 23c GA is only available for Intel shapes at the moment. Once I switched from the default AMD shape to an Intel shape and 23c release was in the database version list. Happy days.
Oracle Database 23c Free
In addition to the OCI Oracle Base Database Service, the announcement post mentions a new version of Oracle Database 23c Free. It is now a “Developer Release”, not a “Developer Preview”. You can get hold of it here.
The slightly confusing thing is there is no difference in the file name, so my immediate impression was it had not actually been released yet. I downloaded the file and did an installation, and sure enough it was version 23.3. It would have been nice if there was an indication of the update on the page, or a version number in the file name…
For those that previously used Oracle XE, Oracle Database 23c Free is now the natural replacement, so go crazy with it. 🙂
The documentation links we’ve been using for 23c Free are no longer marked as “Free”. It is the normal GA documentation now.
My 23c Articles
You can see all my 23c articles here. There are still some I can’t publish until the on-prem GA release happens…
As mentioned previously, there is no full on-prem release for Oracle 23c, so you can’t start planning your upgrades from 19c yet. It’s really good to have an updated version of Oracle Database 23c Free so quickly for home use, but from a work perspective 23c won’t really exist for me until there is an on-prem release.
I’m hoping that won’t be long, but time will tell.
Upgrading a database is not about the technical side of things. It’s about the planning that is required. I can upgrade a database in a few minutes, but the project to upgrade all the environments for a specific application can take months to complete. In this post I want to discuss some of the issues we are discussing at the moment regarding our future Oracle 23c upgrades.
What support dates are relevant?
Here are the support dates for the Oracle database.
To upgrade directly to 23c we must be running Oracle 19c or 21c.
All our databases are on 19c, so this puts us in a good position. It took a lot of pain and effort to get us to 19c, but it was worth it!
PDB or non-CDB architecture?
The non-CDB architecture was deprecated in 22.214.171.124, but it has remained supported up to, and including, 19c. So Oracle 23c will be the first long term release where the non-CDB architecture is not an option. If you’ve not got up to speed on pluggable databases, you better get started soon! (Multitenant Articles)
With one exception, we have PDBs across the board, so there is nothing new for us here. It sometimes felt like I was swimming against the tide by pushing PDBs so hard over the years, but it all seems worth it now.
What OS are you running on?
I’m going to conveniently forget that anything other than RHEL/OL exist, because other operating systems don’t exist for me in the context of running Oracle databases.
It took us a long time to migrate from OL6 to OL7. The majority of our Oracle databases are currently still running on OL7, which is fast approaching end of life. Since Oracle 23c will not be supported on OL7, we are going to need to migrate to a newer operating system. I wrote about my scepticism around in-place RHEL/OL upgrades (here), so that leaves us two choices.
Move our existing databases to a new OS now, then upgrade to 23c later.
Wait for the 23c upgrade, and do a big-bang OS migration and database upgrade.
What’s stopping us from doing the first option now? Nothing really. We could migrate our 19c databases to OL8 servers. It would be nicer to migrate them to OL9, but it is not supported for 19c yet. I recently wrote a rant about product certifications on Oracle Linux 9, which resulted in this response from Oracle.
“Oracle Database product management has confirmed that when Oracle Database 23c ships, it will be certified for both OL8 and OL9. Also, Oracle Database 19c will be certified on OL9 before end of 2023.”
That’s really good news, as it gives us more options when we move forward.
Will Oracle Linux exist in the future? Yes!
Just as I thought I had got my head around the sequence of events, RHEL dropped the bombshell about how they would distribute their source in future (see here). This raised concerns about if RHEL clones such as Oracle Linux, Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux could even exist in future.
Without knowing the future of our main operating system, we were questioning what to deploy on new servers. Do we continue with OL or switch to RHEL? Rocky and Alma released some “don’t panic” messages, but Oracle were very quiet. I wasn’t surprised by that, because Oracle don’t say anything until it has passed through legal, but as a customer it was a very nervy time.
A couple of days ago we got a statement from Oracle (here), with a firm commitment to the future of Oracle Linux. I immediately spoke to our system admins and said OL8/OL9 is back on the table. Phew!
I have my own opinions on the RHEL vs clones situation, but as a customer it’s not about politics. I just need to know the OS we are using is still going to exist, and will be supported for our databases. In that respect the statement from Oracle was very welcome!
Do you need a hardware refresh?
If you are running on physical kit, you need to check your maintenance agreements. You may need a hardware fresh to keep everything up to date.
We run everything on virtual machines (VMs), so the hardware changes to the clusters have no impact on our VMs. We’ve had at least one hardware refresh during the lifespan of some of our database VMs.
We use a lot of third party applications, and some of the vendors are really slow to certify their applications on new versions of the database and operating systems.
Ultimately we will make a choice on destination versions and timings based on application vendor support.
Manual or AutoUpgrade?
In Oracle 23c manual upgrades are deprecated (but still supported). I was late to the party with AutoUpgrade, but now I’ve used it I will never do manual upgrades again. We will definitely be using AutoUpgrade for our 23c upgrades!
If you are new to AutoUpgrade I have some examples of using it when I was doing 21c upgrades (see here). That should help you get started.
What are you going to test?
Testing is always a big stumbling block for us. We are not very far down the path of automated testing, which means we need bodies to complete testing. The availability of testing resource is always an issue. There are times of the year when it is extremely unlikely people will be made available, so planning this resource is really important.
So what’s the plan?
It’s always a balancing act around support for the OS, database and application vendors. Ultimately each project will have to be dealt with on a case by case basis, as the allocation of testing resources and potential disruption to the business have to be factored in. Everything is open to change, but…
Our default stance is we will upgrade to Oracle 23c on OL9. We will build new OL9 servers and install 23c on them, then use AutoUpgrade to migrate and upgrade the databases. For some of our internal developments I feel this could happen relatively quickly (kiss of death).
Application vendor support is often a sticking point for us, and timing will have to factor in the OL7 end of life. If support for 19c on OL9 comes in time, we may migrate our 19c databases to OL9, while we wait for a vendor to support Oracle 23c. Alternatively we could pay for extended support for OL7, and do the OS and database in one go once the application vendor is happy.
I realise this has been a bit of a ramble, but I just wanted to write it down to get things straight in my own head. 🙂
PS. I have some technical posts on upgrading to 23c that will be released once the on-prem version of 23c goes GA.
Every time there is a new database release on the horizon it’s worth looking at the deprecated and desupported features in that release, so you can start planning for the future. Here is the full list from the documentation.
I’m going to comment on a few things that standout for me. You might find other things more interesting…
DBUA and Manual Upgrade Deprecation : About time! From 21c onward AutoUpgrade is the preferred upgrade approach. Signalling the deprecation of the other approaches is welcome in my opinion. If you’ve never used AutoUpgrade you can see some examples here.
Oracle Persistent Memory Deprecation : Intel killing Optane was the writing on the wall for Oracle Persistent Memory Database (PMEM) and Oracle Memory Speed (OMS) File System. This is not really a surprise.
Deprecation of the mkstore Command-Line Utility : Not a major thing, but I will probably need to revisit a handful of articles to do some small edits. As pointed out by Piotr Wrzosek, the mkstore utility is used for credentials when using a secure external password store. I’m guessing this will be baked into another utility like orapki going forward, but we will see. (see update 2)
DBMS_RESULT_CACHE Function Name Deprecations : I love this move. References to “black lists” are changed to “block lists”. I personally try to use “allow list” and “block list” instead of “white list” and “black list” in conversation. Regardless of any other motivation, I think they are more descriptive.
Non-CDB Architecture : This was deprecated in 126.96.36.199 and desupported in 21c. I’m listing it here because 23c is the first long term released where this is desupported. Most people won’t have progressed past 19c, and may have resisted the multitenant architecture. You can’t resist any longer. I’ve written loads about pluggable databases here. Please get up to speed with it.
Original Export Utility (EXP) Desupported : For some reason this feels like a “WOW” moment, but in reality I can’t remember the last time I used imp/exp. The IMP utility is clearly still supported to allow direct upgrades from older releases. Can you believe it’s about 18 years since Data Pump was introduced? 🙂
Oracle Enterprise Manager Database Express (EM Express) Desupported : This feature never really hit home with me, so I’m not sorry to see it gone. For most stuff you can just use SQL Developer which replicates the functionality. Of course, if you have Cloud Control, you wouldn’t be using the express feature anyway.
Transport Layer Security versions 1.0 and 1.1 Desupported : Great! If you do still need to make database callouts to old services that don’t support TLSv1.2 or above, just put a load balancer or reverse proxy in front of them and you are sorted. We usually do that anyway to ease certificate management for database callouts. See here.
Traditional Auditing Desupported : Cool. I prefer unified audit policies anyway, and it’s been the preferred method since 12.1, so it’s hardly a surprise. I mentioned this here.
Desupport of 32-Bit Oracle Database Clients : I can’t remember the last time I used a 32-bit client or server, so this doesn’t phase me.
Deprecated is not desupported. You can continue to use deprecated features, but you should be looking to move away from them before they are desupported in a future version.
The desupported stuff shouldn’t come as a big surprise as most things have been deprecated for some time. In some cases over many releases.
Make sure you check the full list for yourself, as there might be something important you need to think about.
Update 1: As mentioned in Mike Dietrich’s blog post (here) the public docs are currently for Oracle Database 23c Free, so the final on-prem release may include some changes. Keep your eyes open. 🙂
Update 2: Martin Bach confirmed by assumption that the credentials functionality would be included in a later version of orapki, as mentioned in this post.
It’s been a couple of weeks since Oracle 23c Free was released. I’ve already put out a getting started post to help people start their journey, but I wanted to say something about why, in my opinion, you should start learning 23c now, rather than waiting.
Learning stuff takes time
I’ve written some tips about learning new things, and one of the posts was about time and repetition. It’s going to take a long time to get used to using 23c. If the latest version you have used is 19c, you’ve got the 21c and 23c new features to catch up on. If you’re using something older than 19c, then you’ve got even more to do. Sure, you can use Oracle 23c like it’s Oracle 7, and for the most part things will be fine, but really you should try and get the most out of the products you are paying for.
The sooner you start, the easier it will be, and the less rushed you will feel when you eventually have to start.
I’ve already put out a lot of 23c posts, but remember I’m on the 23c beta program, so I’ve been writing these posts for over 5 months now. They didn’t happen overnight.
Feeling comfortable with a new release takes me years. There is a difference between writing a post about something, and feeling comfortable using it in my day-to-day life. It will take some time before some of this stuff is a natural part of my toolbox. I want that to happen as quickly as possible, so that means getting stuck in now, so when the full blown 23c goes GA I can hit the ground running.
It might make you change the way you do things now
Sometimes, knowing what is coming around the corner will alter the way you approach a problem today. You may use the way Oracle has implemented a new feature as inspiration for how to solve your current problem in an older release. If possible, you may code it such that you can do a straight swap when you upgrade to 23c, throwing away your code and replacing it with built in functionality.
You don’t know what you don’t know
My initial reaction to new releases is often, “there’s nothing there I care about”. Then I start working through the new features and things jump out at me. The more I work with it, the more interesting it gets. I already feel like I can’t live without the IF [NOT] EXISTS DDL clause. On the surface it seems so trivial, but it makes a massive difference. 🙂
The Oracle 23c Free release contains mostly developer focused new features. We won’t see some of the administration features publicly until we get the full release, but there is still a lot to work through.
23c is new to everyone
I say this with each new release, but remember there are no Oracle 23c experts. Even Oracle staff and people in the beta program haven’t got something I would consider as significant production experience. Just remember this when you are reading posts about the 23c new features. We are all noobs! That doesn’t mean there is no value in these posts, but just remember what they represent.
It’s your choice
You are going to have to learn this stuff eventually, so you have two choices.
You can wait until the last minute, try to cram, and inevitably make mistakes when you are doing something real in your job.
You can start now and coast into the new release, so when you have to do something real with 23c, it’s not a problem.
It’s up to you, but you know what I think you should do. 🙂
In summary Oracle 23c Free is the replacement for what would have been Oracle 23c XE, but it is a developer release, so it’s not the final form of Oracle 23c Free. We should get an updated version of 23c Free once the main Oracle Database 23c release becomes GA.
Where do I get it?
If you want to install it from the RPM you can download it from here.
There is a VirtualBox appliance and a Docker image available from Oracle, so you don’t actually have to install it if you don’t want to.
I have a 23c page on the website ready to post Oracle 23c articles here.
I’ve written a bunch of articles against the 23c beta 1 release, but I’ve not published any of them yet because of the beta program NDA. I’m going to work through them against the 23c Free developer-release, and anything that I’m allowed to publish I will. Some of the articles will have to be held back until the GA release of 23c, as they are not covered by this release.
Basically, if it is documented in Oracle Database 23c Free, I can write about it. If not, I’m still under NDA, so I will release those articles later.