Oracle’s Solaris take-over, SUSE angst top Linux stories of the year

Oracle’s takeover of Sun’s Solaris franchise, leaving its Linux priorities questionable, as well as Novell’s uncertain future fascinated readers in 2010.

There was a lot of action in the enterprise Linux world in 2010: Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and its storied Solaris franchise, leaving uncertainty about the future of Linux support from Oracle, and OpenSolaris and MySQL development. In Q2, a private equity firm proposed a not-so-friendly buyout of Novell Inc., spurring speculation about the future of SUSE Linux. The latest Ubuntu release and shift of Linux distributions away from Xen virtualization also caught reader attention.

1: Linux is now Oracle’s low-end offering
A month after Oracle completed its $7.4 billion buyout of Sun Microsystems closed, Oracle execs blessed Solaris as its high-end enterprise-class operating system. This came after many years of pushing Linux as the de facto standard OS for Oracle’s market-leading database and middleware. In some ways the new Solaris love was a return to Oracle’s roots. Before Linux, Sun and Oracle were pretty much joined at the hip with Sparc/Solaris as the preferred platform for Oracle software. The more things change…..

2: SUSE Linux users nervous as Novell explores options
In late May, Novell Inc., apparently  put itself on the block two months after an unsolicited -- and unwelcome -- $2 billion buyout bit by Elliott Partners. The company, which made its name on NetWare, joined the Linux fray with its purchase of SUSE. Novell SUSE Linux struggled against Red Hat Linux in big accounts,  but retained a devoted base of users who now worried about what Novell's plans meant for their favorite Linux distribution.

3:  New Ubuntu for desktops adds Windows file integration
With the Ubuntu 10.10 release Canonical Ltd. tried to build on Ubuntu’s fan-favorite status in desktop Linux. And, it sought to woo disaffected Windows users with new synchronization for Windows files. The release, available in October, targeted both  desktops and the hot-selling  netbook category.

4: Ubuntu Server makes gains at SUSE Linux' expense
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) remains the most commonly used Linux distribution in large companies, but the number two slot was under contention with Ubuntu Server gaining steam against SUSE Linux. Granted, Ubuntu’s server market share remained tiny compared to  Windows Server and RHEL, but it was closing the gap with SUSE, according to TechTarget’s Data Center Decisions 2010 survey.

5: Linux community turns away from Xen virtualization
Xen was the early favorite virtualization among the open-source crowd. But this year, KVM virtualization started to take off  as Red Hat blessed it as its virtualization technology of choice. Many argued that Xen sustained mortal damage  with the Linux community could not get the Xen Domain 0 (Dom0) merged into the mainline Linux kernel. KVM, by contrast, was merged into the mainline kernel with Linux 2.6.20 three years ago.

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