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Workings of GDR and QFE Branchess

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#1
Ascii2

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Do updates on GDR branch not contain functionality updates? For example, if security fix is released that updates "ntkrnlpa.exe" to version 5.1.2600.5000 on GDR branch and a hotfix is released that can update "ntkrnlpa.exe" to version 5.1.2600.4999 on the QFE branch, and the GDR security update is applied, would the system not have the functionality changes that could have been introduced by the hotfix, were it applied?

I have noticed that many hotfix packages that are meant to change functionality have GDR branches, often in addition to the QFE branches. Do such hotfixes select the GDR branch by default if only the GDR branch has been used in the past?

What happens, in terms of selection of GDR and QFE branches or files, when an update patch has both QFE and GDR branches with multiple files for update and is applied to a system that already has the relevant but older files installed? Also what would happen if the system files are older but on a different branch? For example, suppose the following exists:

System copy of files prior to patching:
File Version Branch
File.one 1.2600.5000 GDR
File.two 1.2600.5500 GDR
File.thr 1.2600.5000 QFE
File.fou 1.2600.5500 QFE


Suppose that a hotfix package exists and has the following file versions:
File Version Branch
File.one 1.2600.5300 GDR
File.two 1.2600.5300 GDR
File.thr 1.2600.5300 GDR
File.fou 1.2600.5300 GDR

File.one 1.2600.5300 QFE
File.two 1.2600.5300 QFE
File.thr 1.2600.5300 QFE
File.fou 1.2600.5300 QFE



What should be the the resulting files and version of fixes on the system after the hotfix is applied?

In practice, does what should happen regarding the file selection actually happen?


There are also update packages that do not contain explicitly specified QFE branches (the older Windows 2000/XP hotfixes, for example). Are these patches assumed to be of GDR type?


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#2
dencorso

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Read this, this and this.

#3
Ascii2

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Thanks dencorso.

I have read the web pages you linked to, examined update packages, and performed some experiments, and I believe that I have determined the answers to my questions.

The http://blogs.technet...fe-ldr-wth.aspx article contains much misinformation and should be ignored. KB824994 and also somewhat KB328848 contain plenty of useful information.

#4
cluberti

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I'm not sure what misinformation you speak of in that technet blog post, as it is accurate - however, those KBs are quite useful as you have noted. Ultimately a GDR (general distribution release) almost always contains security fixes only - rarely (if deemed a large enough issue that everyone running that OS the world over should get a fix) a GDR will contain a non-security-related bugfix (or fixes, I suppose). Most non-security (bugfix/functionality change) updates release in the LDR code branch (Limited Distribution Release, previously known as a QFE prior to Vista - Quick Fix Engineering). An LDR or QFE update will contain all of the GDR (security-related) update code to that point, but also contain the non-security bugfix or functionality changes as well.
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#5
Ascii2

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I'm not sure what misinformation you speak of in that technet blog post

There are many inaccuracies. The most blatant is probably the references to Limited Distribution Release or LDR. Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 family operating systems do not have LDR releases and there are no LDR versions of files; there are only the GDR and QFE releases, and some other non-LDR files (these often do not have consistent version identification information as specified in the KB824994 article). Even after the release of Windows Vista, binary files are not LDR, but are often GDR or QFE releases. For WIndows NT 5 series operating systems, Limited Distribution Releases were never once (correctly) known as Quick Fix Engineering releases. It is possible that Windows Vista has or has had both Quick Fix Engineering releases and/or Limited Distribution Releases, but that is something I do not know (nor that I am interested in).

Ultimately a GDR (general distribution release) almost always contains security fixes only - rarely (if deemed a large enough issue that everyone running that OS the world over should get a fix) a GDR will contain a non-security-related bugfix (or fixes, I suppose). ...An LDR or QFE update will contain all of the GDR (security-related) update code to that point, but also contain the non-security bugfix or functionality changes as well.

I have noticed that GDR release of files contain non-securty releated bug fixes (as well many times new bugs) and that non-security functionality changes have been included in the GDR releases may times in the past.

#6
dencorso

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What you said is true only if you take a very narrow view of what Win XP is... otherwise, yes, there can be LDR files in XP all right: all it takes is to install updates to IE7 or IE8, by hand, using the /b:SP3QFE switch, once, and then, all subsequent updates to those files will always come from the LDR branch. :)




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