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Oracle Linux? 250

Posted by Zonk
from the could-be dept.
eldavojohn writes "There have been rumors floating around of Oracle working on their own distribution of Linux. If this is true, it is widely believed that this enterprise edition of Linux would be in direct competition with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. What is spurring the rumors? Well, Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison said, 'I'd like to have a complete stack. We're missing an operating system. You could argue that it makes a lot of sense for us to look at distributing and supporting Linux.' I know that Oracle has been doing a lot more than databases recently, will they go the extra mile and create their own stripped down Linux kernel? If they do, will companies switch to database solutions that are running Oracle only software for the benefits of support and (hopefully) stability?"
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Oracle Linux?

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  • by viniosity (592905) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @11:57AM (#16470373) Homepage Journal
    If this trend continues I wonder how many orgs would be willing to go along for the ride? Imagine a mail server running on Debian, your web server running on Sun Linux, your database server on Oracle Linux, your application server on Red Hat, etc.

    All similar but different enough to drive an IT guy batty. Too much of a good thing?
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:06PM (#16470571) Homepage Journal
    Good point. But an OS stripped down and tweaked to run Oracle will most likely have the least maintenance issues. Right now Oracle has to support their DB on multiple Linux distros, plus Solaris and Windows. If they have their own OS and push it as "preferred" they'll save their customers and themselves some support cost. I think sys admins will be happy to have their database servers built specifically for their task, plus supported directly by Oracle right down to the OS level. Oracle would be adding value to their databases, so I'm surprised this hasn't happened already.
  • Good for Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by otacon (445694) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:07PM (#16470607)
    If Oracle began to distribute and support Linux, it would mean good things for Linux in general, while Red Hat deploys Linux to the enterprise sector, they are a Linux based company, whereas Oracle is a much wider known and respected brand, their adoption of Linux for Enterprise could cause a slew of companies to adopt as well.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:10PM (#16470661) Homepage
    I use Oracle 10g everyday at work. It's a good database and does the job nicely. Unfortunately I have to use another solution made by them: XSQL [oracle.com]. I can honestly say that it's probably the worst framework I've ever used in my life. Sure, some parts of it make for rapid development and deployment, but other parts of it are a complete nightmare and sometimes I wonder why they bothered.

    Basically I'm wondering why Oracle want to pinch consumers away from Fedora and Ubuntu instead of just working with them to help intergrate their databases more seamlessly into these distros?
  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:10PM (#16470669) Journal
    What Oracle should do instead is take RHES4U4 or whatever and merely tweak it for oracle performance and release that. I think they'd do well to just get into conjunction with Redhat and make a "RedHat Enterprise Oracle optomized" version of the OS.

    Yeah, it would be a subtle fork, but Oracle has enough trouble keeping track of it's DB. I don't think they clearly understand the headache involved in maintaining an operating system.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:13PM (#16470745) Homepage Journal

    Except as a platform to run Oracle on. Oracle doesn't really understand fairness or openness, in large part because its founder doesn't. I'm not saying that they can't figure it out - IBM, after all, went from the most closed of corporations to one of the main sources of energy into commercial open software - but I've always considered IBM to be kind of a special case anyway. Regardless, I have a hard time seeing the industry embrace an Oracle-controlled linux distribution.

    It is possible that an acquisition of Novell could bring in enough fresh blood to turn this around... And it would bring in an already-respected Linux distribution.

    On the other hand, it makes a whole lot of sense that Oracle would start shipping a Linux LiveCD that runs the Oracle installer, which can be a bitch to get running anyway, and upon which you can run Oracle if you install it to the hard disk. After some time they could switch it to be the only supported platform for Oracle. If you don't want to run it directly on the iron, run it in a virtual machine - although unless you're on ESX or something (whatever it's called now) that's probably going to come with a dramatic performance penalty.

    Regardless, it only makes sense for Oracle to provide their own Linux. Why help Redhat? Redhat makes competing products.

  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:18PM (#16470881) Homepage
    Larry likes to expand Oracle's reach by purchasing competitors. Consider the world of ERP, where he bought Peoplesoft and JD Edwards. It makes little sense for Oracle to build their own distro to compete head-on with Red Hat. It makes a lot more sense to threaten to build a Linux distro in the hopes of driving down RHAT shares, thus facilitating a takeover. Larry wanted to buy JBOSS, but Red Hat beat him to it. If he buys Red Hat, he gets JBOSS as well. And all of Red Hat's customers. Buying Red Hat would make Oracle the #1 Linux company overnight.

    Besides, if Oracle tries to build their own distro, market it via their existing sales channels, and support it via their existing system, Oracle Linux will truly suck. The pricing will be outrageous, the sales process will be the "car dealership" model, and the support will be the offshore model that is not all that great. Oracle makes a great product, but they are their own worst enemy sometimes.

    If I were Larry, I would create a great deal of hype about doing my own Linux distro, to soften up the price of Red Hat in anticpiation of a takeover.
  • by iabervon (1971) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:18PM (#16470895) Homepage Journal
    I'd run Oracle on Oracle Linux instead of some other distro. (I wouldn't bother with Oracle for any database that didn't need its own server for disk bandwidth reasons; this applies to any server that runs a single service.)

    The IT guy's main headache for a database server is going to be the interaction between the database and the OS. The issue is that the server is supposed to run best on a version of Red Hat with some weird extra things enabled. Red Hat doesn't entirely understand this stuff, because they don't use it for any other configurations. Oracle understands it (they wrote it), but they're not doing tech support for Red Hat. The OS is sufficiently different from a usual Linux box that the IT guy has no clue when things are breaking. When the company I was working for got one of these, it was further complicated because the hardware didn't come with anything set up, and came from a third vendor. So we got a machine from Dell, the OS from Red Hat, and the database program from Oracle, each shipped separately, and they couldn't be tested independantly.

    I think it would make perfect sense for Oracle to distribute and support a Red Hat-derived Linux distribution exclusively for production servers. At least then there would be a vendor who would understand the thing.
  • by s4m7 (519684) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:25PM (#16471061) Homepage
    I hope not to start a flamewar but, BSD tends to be more stable than Linux for enterprise purposes (uptime, high load, etc.) even if not by a lot, why wouldn't you choose BSD over Linux for something like this? The other reason I think this would be a good thing is for licensing: They could keep their proprietary tweaks to the BSD architecture as a proprietary edge over other vendors.

    Mind you, crusaders, that I am posting this from my Linux-enabled laptop.
  • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:28PM (#16471111)
    Regardless of whether it was Linux or OpenSolaris as another poster commented, this would be a **VERY** good thing for people who have to install and maintain an oracle. Especially if Oracle puts a decent updater similar to RedCarpet or RedHat Network. No more fiddling with kernel shared memory parameters, no more worrying about patchsets, no more worring about "if I update the OS, will it break Oracle" (which is the whole point of the OS installation anyway- to support the DB), and no more juggling java versions ( now managed during the install/update). They could just do the "eveything on one disk" software approach, or perhaps they could move into hardware/appliance plug-and-play clustering - just add a node and it configures and integrates.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:33PM (#16471219)
    Suppose Oracle supports their own, reduced, version of Linux (with any performance enhancements that they deem necessary). If they "partnered" with a hardware vendor, you'd have a single stop for your database server needs.

    You'd get your BIOS updates, OS updates and database updates from a single company that could afford to do the testing so the load on your IT department would be reduced.

    You could even order it in a cluster configuration.

    But what good is a database server on its own? With a bit more work, you'd be able to buy a webserver box (hardware, OS, Apache, etc) pre-configured to hook into the database server they sold you.

    From Oracle's point of view, this would be a great way to get even more of the market and to stop any gains from MySQL or others.

    From the corporations' point of view, this would be a great way to reduce IT costs by reducing the load on your internal IT department.

    If Oracle does it right, they'd even be able to offer you dial-on-demand DBA services for their products. Why pay 6 figures to hire an Oracle DBA when you can pay 5 figures for a DBA service contract with Oracle?
  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:08PM (#16471973)
    With this news, I better get rid of my Redhat stock. This news cannot be good news for ReaHat or any other Linux vendor. I hope I am not too late.

    I doubt it is terribly bad news for Red Hat. Even if Oracle create their own distro I doubt they would get away with ceasing to certifying their products for any other Linux distros. There are simply to many people with already established contractually sealed working relationships with SUSE and Red Hat. Of course Oracle will recommend the use of Oracle Linux® (can they even register that as a trade mark if it contains the word 'Linux'?) and all updates to Oracle products will appear for Oracle Linux® first and only 2-3 weeks later for SUSE, Red Hat etc. but that's about it.... unless Larry wants to piss off every last one of the sizable number of IT professionals world wide that haven't been assimilated into the Microsoft collective yet. Even if they do stop certifying Oracle products for anything but Oracle Linux® I doubt it would be much of a problem to get Oracle products working on un-certified Linux distros. It would simply take a bit of debugging and howto files for Oracle instalations on un-certified Linuxes are easy to find.
  • Re:OpenSolaris? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by juan2074 (312848) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:16PM (#16472103)
    That depends on OpenSolaris hardware support. I doubt Oracle wants to lose any opportunities on unsupported hardware, and it would be a lot of extra work for them to create drivers.

    Without total world domination, Larry Ellison can't become the richest man in the world, right?
  • by tigre (178245) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:19PM (#16472169)
    As much a fan of Linux as I am, I would dearly love to be able to dtrace to track down performance bottlenecks on my Oracle server.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:37PM (#16472553) Journal
    Oracle could work with an ISP and mail out a CD or DVD with the OS, allowing home owners to try it ala AOL. While I am sure that they are thinking of a server space, this would get users AND semi-geeks use to it. While AOL is derided here, this approach apparently worked for them. The time for Oracle to push this is while they have a good name. Otherwise, they will become like Aol, Novell, or Wordperfect and then be unable to do this.
  • Not buyin' it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:50PM (#16472823)
    If Oracle can deliver a stripped down, optimized version of Linux or, specifically, Red Hat, then they can simply deliver the instructions to configure a stock system. Then any SA can configure, document and maintain the system (and/or similar system), rather than a special "Oracle Linux SA".
  • by StandardDeviant (122674) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @02:13PM (#16473339) Homepage Journal
    You see, the people who BUY oracle are not in the vast majority of cases the people who USE oracle. Mixing magic buzzword pixie dust into oracle lets some C-level bumblefuck put on his resume that he "bravely integrated cutting edge solutions with the whitespace of synergistic proven data management technolgies in the enterprise to improve our core competencies and effiencies for increased shareholder value" or similar. Linux, AJAX, Ruby on Rails, anything new and Shiny will do. Journalists for eWEEK or whatever other industry rag will write glowing articles, POs will be written, and a great round of back-patting will ensue. Somewhere a poor bastard will have to figure out how to actually manage/integrate/use the terrible bloat to do something useful for the business, but fuck him anyway, he's expendable.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @05:00PM (#16476097) Homepage Journal
    Not really. Vertical market companies are alive and well.
    Just about every restaurant, self storage company, florist, doctors office, and goodness knows what else uses vertical software. And guess what? Odds are pretty good they bought the computer, cash drawer and what ever from the same place.
    If technology isn't your business it makes a lot of sense to just buy a package and support so you can go about your job.
    Just like buying a Tivo is a better solution for a lot of people that building a MythTV box.
    I took me a long time to learn this but for most people a computer is just a thing they have to use to do their job.
  • by 51mon (566265) <Simon@technocool.net> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @07:05PM (#16477647) Homepage
    HP-UX use to ship with the kernel settings all correct for a small Oracle database (small then being 9 to 20GB IIRC). Of course being a conscientious system admin, it didn't stop me double checking them against the Oracle documentation each time in case some advice had changed.

    This didn't happen by chance. But it meant that you could be reasonable certain no obscure kernel settings were incorrectly set (at least not by an oversight, didn't stop people setting the wrong settings when tuning).

    At the time Oracle were talking with Hewlett Packard about a stripped down HP-UX to build "Oracle Servers" on PA-RISC. It made sense then, and it still makes sense, except HP-UX is no longer the "obvious choice" for an Oracle server.

    To be honest, I think in the GNU/Linux world, it is choice of certified hardware that is probably as important, if not more so, for Oracle, than choice of distribution. Since I've been bitten by underdocumented, under tested, RAID hardware or Linux drivers for same (the effect is the same, no matter where the fault lies). If you are aiming for really high availability on an Oracle database, buying the solution as one stop from Oracle makes sense.

    I doubt cost-wise it would be that competitive with DELL and Redhat, at least initially, but for some applications hardware cost is irrelevant compared to unplanned downtime.

    Something like Debian, or Ubuntu, with long support periods, and completely freely redistributable base (with builtin rebranding -- "no Mozilla says you can't call it..." hazzles), is the obvious sort of base. Although presumably BSDs might be an option as well. Or Oracle might still want a big corporate backer for their distro variant.

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