Article

Oracle Enterprise Unbreakable Linux forks over Red Hat

Matt Stansberry

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle last night rolled out a new Linux distro, Oracle Enterprise Unbreakable Linux, optimized for running on its latest high-end hardware.

Over the past four years,

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Oracle has offered its own version of Red Hat Compatible Linux, claiming 5,500 customers. Our 2010 data center survey showed around 11% of our audience running Oracle Linux.

But Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claimed that Red Hat does not apply patches and updates to its kernel fast enough for his taste.

Some Linux backers disagreed with that contention.

"Red Hat's kernel version doesn't tell the full story, as they employ a number of kernel hackers who backport any necessary fixes from newer kernel releases to their current version, so while the kernel number itself might seem old, the latest release typically contains any important security updates and fixes," said a Linux admin and author who asked not to be named. "It sounds to me more like Oracle simply wants to not have to rely on Red Hat to apply their personal kernel patches they would like to apply"

Ellison assured the crowd that Oracle will continue to support Red Hat Compatible Linux on Oracle for the long term. Customers can choose to run the Red Hat Compatible Kernel if they prefer strict Red Hat compatibility over a system optimized to run Oracle and other enterprise software.

Red Hat Linux Kernel out of date?
During his Sunday night Oracle OpenWorld 2010 keynote, Ellison threw Red Hat under the bus. "Red Hat is very slow to take up enhancements from the Linux community," he said. "It runs a four-year-old version of the Linux kernel, it's slow to introduce community enhancements. We can't afford to be four years behind on the mainline of Linux."

Oracle Enterprise Unbreakable Linux is supposed to offer some big benefits for large-scale Oracle users:

  • 75% performance gain demonstrated in OLTP performance tests over a Red Hat Compatible Kernel;
  • 200% speedup of Infiniband messaging;
  • 137% faster solid state disk access optimizations for large NUMA servers;
  • Improved power management and energy efficiency;
  • Fine-grained CPU and memory resource control.
  • Possible integration of Solaris features like dtrace, which was not in the press release, but Ellison mentioned by name in the keynote.

"Oracle has optimized their distribution to get the best database and storage performance. The question is at what price to other functionality?" said Gregory Rosenberg, Chief Technology Officer of Tinley Park, Ill.-based VAR RICIS Inc. "I see Oracle as having a niche market and not a mainstream market -- which isn't a bad thing by any means. But I don't think Oracle will ever have a strong game like SUSE in the real-world. They may, on the other hand, win at marketing wars."

Linux community doesn't trust Uncle Larry
The Linux community shrugged off the announcement, noting that Solaris features like dtrace would be nice to have, but Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Linux wouldn't have much impact outside of existing Oracle customers.

"I think dtrace would be a compelling feature that might be enough to encourage people to make the move to Oracle Linux, however I would be disappointed if they kept the port closed source," said one Linux admin. "After all, Oracle is taking advantage of all of this free operating system software and user space software, so it would be a shame for them to not do the same with dtrace."

Barbara Darrow contributed to this article.

Matt Stansberry is Executive Editor of SearchDataCenter.com. Let us know what you think about the story; email Matt Stansberry.

Related Topics: Linux servers, VIEW ALL TOPICS

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