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|System Administration Guide: Basic Administration Oracle Solaris 10 8/11 Information Library|
The term packaging generically refers to the method for distributing and installing software products to systems where the products will be used. A package is a collection of files and directories in a defined format. This format conforms to the application binary interface (ABI), which is a supplement to the System V Interface Definition. The Solaris OS provides a set of utilities that interpret this format and provide the means to install a package, to remove a package, or to verify a package installation.
A patch is an accumulation of fixes for a known or potential problem within the Solaris OS or other supported software. A patch can also provide a new feature or an enhancement to a particular software release. A patch consists of files and directories that replace or update existing files and directories. Most Solaris patches are delivered as a set of sparse packages.
A sparse package contains only those objects that have been altered since the packages were first delivered as part of the Solaris distribution. Sparse packages accommodate patches that are smaller than if they were redistributed as complete packages to provide software updates. Delivering sparse packages also minimizes the changes that are made to the customer's environment. For more information about patches, see Chapter 23, Managing Patches.