back to article Oracle extends Linux support to 10 years

Oracle has reaffirmed that it's in the Linux business to stay by extending the support lifecycle of its own-brand build to ten years, and tempting Red Hat users with a trial offer of its Ksplice patching system. While the extended lifecycle may provide enough reassurance to win over a few customers, Oracle hopes the 30-day free …

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Vic
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I don't really understand this ploy

Ksplice is an interesting technology. I've used it - just to see how it goes. But I can't see me using it again - it was too much effort for too little return.

So why does Oracle see this as a big deal in the Enterprise space? It saves you a couple of minutes of downtime during a kernel change. If that puts the system out of its SLA requirements, then I would suggest there isn't enough hardware there.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't really understand this ploy

Exactly. First, it is equivalent to "technology preview", Oracle plays with kernel fast and loose and is unafraid to say they support a feature even if it actually does not work (OCFS anyone?). I have serious doubts as to long term net effect of this feature given its current maturity level. I guess the probability of bug-related business outage is far higher than a few minutes saved during agreed upon maintenance window. If you need high availability, you go either the way of stateless multiple nodes with load balancer or you go the cluster way.

To depend on single OS image with ksplice for high SLA requirements is plainly deranged.

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Linux

Re: Re: I don't really understand this ploy

+1

For secure environments (which probably includes your "must be up" environments) you don't want the ability to patch the kernel online. A graceful failover should always be possible.

This is why proprietary unix has struggled a bit - robustness and long uptime requirements have now been replaced with fail-over systems on x86.

Having said that, it might be handy on a mainframe... :)

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fch
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Re: I don't really understand this ploy

The "rebootless kernel updates" aren't a new technology - Sun shipped something akin under the name "Dynamic kernel updates" with Solaris 8, and later withdrew it because it was too cumbersome - both for customers to use as well as for Sun developers to create such a "dynamic patch". That was, like, a decade ago ? Someone must've thought it a good idea to spawn a few more patents in the area ...

The problem is complex not because code modification at runtime is hard (SystemTap, DTrace and various other frequently-used tracing/instrumentation/monitoring utilities and - gasp - all Hypervisors - do that all the time), but because different kernel versions combined with different module/driver revisions and possibly (a series of) compounded "hot" updates makes determining all necessary patch points / updates a very difficult exercise to get guaranteed-right.

Snapshot boot environments, even as simple as "patch cold side of mirror, reboot into that, if ok re-sync, else reboot again into old config", have a far more predictable behaviour. Hypervisor snapshots / system+app live migration allow you to live-split patched/unpatched envs if you really wanted to. Whatever I'd build my reliability proposal around these days, ksplice it ain't. I agree that hardware is cheap enough these days that reliability-by-redundancy ("the cloud") makes much more sense.

That might be different for "nine-nines" environments, which are still rumoured to exist, the use cases where a server is installed, configured, powered on and never rebooted till decommissioning five years later. Never worked with this, would love to hear more about it.

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Vic
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Re: I don't really understand this ploy

OK, I give up.

Why are people downvoting my initial post here? I thought it was rather innocuous...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't really understand this ploy

Actually, you're wrong on at least too counts.

Ksplice provides you with the patches, you don't need to roll your own. That makes applying patches so simple you would not believe it. If you want security patches without having to schedule reboots then you really want ksplice.

The second place you're wrong is a "couple of minutes downtime". That's how long it takes to reboot the OS, but as I was reminded just a few weeks ago, the apps running on some of this big iron can take half an hour to cycle. That's not good.

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Oracle vs. Red Hat?

Now, I'm very biased here mind you but the way I see it its "Friendly enterprise vs. draconian enterprise".

To me it seems RH knows where its roots lie and seems to respect that. While their main distros were fun they also weren't too special IMO. As such it seems to me as if RH focused on key strengths, as any company should do. The result should be obvious. But what I can then respect is that they also allowed others (CentOS) to utilize the whole open source aspect as well; so basically allowing them to use RH and give it away for 'free'. Quite frankly; thanks to CentOS I came into contact with RHEL (most of my linux servers run CentOS) and I have to say that I quite like the environment.

Still, this is something I don't see Oracle do anytime soon. I'm convinced that their first reaction to a move like CentOS' would be "We'll sue!!".

To me Oracle is the kind of company which knows how to charge big time for average services. Its probably a good player if you want to pay off your responsibilities, but if you'd like a little more quality coming out of it then I don't think this is the right place to be.

I mean; there is more to enterprise than long support terms alone.

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Re: Oracle vs. Red Hat?

@ShelLuser

"...To me Oracle is the kind of company which knows how to charge big time for average services..."

Many people dont agree with you. The best database in the world is the Oracle DB. It has the highest performance, and best characteristics. Several world records are set by SPARC T4 and Solaris has many unique features that everybody wants to copy or port: ZFS, DTrace, Crossbow, Zones, etc. Oracle has some of the best tech, and highest performing in the world.

Oracle is not like IBM that charges astronomical amounts for low performance. For instance, the IBM Mainframe cpus are slower than a decent x86 cpu, and a Mainframe costs millions. Or, when IBM charged $500.000 for one POWER6 P570, and IBM needed six P6 servers to match one Sun T5440 at $76.000 - in Siebel v8 benchmarks. So if you want medium/low performance for a high price, you go to IBM.

What Oracle does not have, is low prices. You get what you pay for. There is a reason Oracle has recently increased the prices, whereas IBM has lowered prices. Lowering prices is a sign of weakness, if you give something away for free, you are desperate. Increasing prices are sign of strength, you are confident in your products because people will continue to buy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Oracle vs. Red Hat?

"You get what you pay for"

Did you notice the lack of logic in your post ?

IBM mainframes poor but cost a lot - Oracle DB great but cost a lot

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Vic
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Re: Oracle vs. Red Hat?

> they also allowed others (CentOS) to utilize the whole open source aspect as well;

RH didn't actually have much choice there; it ships GPL code, and the GPL explicitly permits obtaining source & rebuilding for any purpose whatsoever.

Where RH is really to be praised is the amount of effort RH engineers put in to helping the various rebuild projects to get the job done. This is *way* beyond what the GPL requires of them.

And it pays dividends; CentOS/Scientific/Whitebox/whatever aren't competition, they are *feeders*. This is, ultimately, where much of RH's business comes from.

> Still, this is something I don't see Oracle do anytime soon.

Oracle doesn't get the choice. This is GPL software.

If Oracle decides to try to stop someone rebuilding the GPL sources they ship - that's the end of Oracle's licence, and there will be no more Oracle Linux...

> I'm convinced that their first reaction to a move like CentOS' would be "We'll sue!!".

That would be interesting. They would both fail (having explicitly licenced exactly that operation) and also have to stop shipping their own Linux product. Oracle's lawyers have done some daft things lately, but I don't think they'd be quite that stupid...

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Re: Re: Oracle vs. Red Hat?

You know that raw clock speed is absolutely not the point of a mainframe, right? A good analogy is a Porsche compared with a freight train...i.e. not really comparable! For all the criticism of mainframes, for many workloads they are untouchable, with some very clever features like sysplex that commodity x86 hardware struggles to provide...you get what you pay for, etc

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Re: Re: Re: Oracle vs. Red Hat?

"...Did you notice the lack of logic in your post ?

IBM mainframes poor but cost a lot - Oracle DB great but cost a lot..."

No, I did not notice the lack of logic in my post. Can you point it out?

There is nothing illogical with my post. Reread it. Mainframes cost much because of vendor lock in. IBM has in practice, a monopoly on Mainframes. Thus, IBM can charge whatever they want. No matter how slow the Mainframe cpus are. Sure, a Mainframe has good I/O (because of lot of help cpus) but if we only speak of the cpus, the cpus are slower than a decent x86. This is a fact. Nothing illogical here. It seems that your logic is flawed.

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Re: Re: Re: Oracle vs. Red Hat?

"...You know that raw clock speed is absolutely not the point of a mainframe, right? A good analogy is a Porsche compared with a freight train...i.e. not really comparable! For all the criticism of mainframes, for many workloads they are untouchable, ..."

I agree with your post. What you say is true. There are workloads that Mainframes are better than anything else. Absolutely. I have never ever denied this.

BUT, if we speak of the Mainframe cpu, that IBM dubs "worlds fastest", they are slower than a decent x86 cpu. Of course the entire system can be fast on some workloads - I have never ever denied this. But let us reason a bit. How can a slow cpu, replace a faster cpu? I mean, IBM claims that 24 of these slow Mainframe cpus, can replace the workload of 1.500 x86 servers. Does it sound reasonable?

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Megaphone

RHEL6 & Oracle Products

Meanwhile Oracle _stil_ haven't certified any of their products with RHEL6. The deliberate feet-dragging here is just scary to behold. If this were a football match Oracle would have been booked for time-wasting by now.

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Re: RHEL6 & Oracle Products

More to the point, they haven't certified any of their products against OEL 6.x. Oracle are shipping an OS which doesn't run any of their product set...

I've heard a speculation that there's some bug in RHEL/OEL 6.x which breaks Oracle products, there was apparently something in the gcc compiler in the early RHEL 5.x days which got fixed in 5.2 and it /may/ be similar. Of course, this is all speculation and it could simply be corporate incompetence/laziness.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: RHEL6 & Oracle Products

There is no bug and it is Oracle's corporate strategy. Red Hat sent RHEL6 certification report to Oracle in August 2011 (Oracle's certification is done by software supplier with Oracle then verifying the result only). Oracle pushes its OEL5 with kernel 2.6.32 saying that you don't have to change anything and you have new kernel, unlike, ahem, Red Hat.

Oracle will not certify its products on RHEL6, however they support their products on RHEL6 on case by case basis (when customer wants it and is big enough...).

Yes, it is corporate bullying, but that's business.

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Facepalm

Re: Re: Re: RHEL6 & Oracle Products

Not forgetting that the oracle_validated package now has the Oracle UEK kernel branch as a prerequiste...which also has a habit of breaking Oracle's own software!

Genuis!

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Anonymous Coward

Support

10 Years support is good, it shows that Linux suppliers are starting to understand that companies like to keep software hanging around for a long time.

As for Ksplice I don't really see the need - if your uptime is so important, you need to be using a cluster of some sort to mitigate hardware failures. If you are doing this then taking out your n+1th (ie: spare) server for a reboot in order to update the Kernel isn't really a biggie.

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Anonymous Coward

Oracle extends Linux support to 10 years

What exactly has Oracle contributed to Linux, and specifically under the GPL license?

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Re: Oracle extends Linux support to 10 years

"...What exactly has Oracle contributed to Linux, and specifically under the GPL license?..."

Have you heard about Btrfs? Or DTrace (which is coming to Linux)? Or Zones (which is also coming to Linux - I think)?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oracle extends Linux support to 10 years

Believe they have a couple of webpages on that:

1. http://www.oracle.com/us/technologies/linux/026042.htm

2. http://oss.oracle.com/

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Oracle extends Linux support to 10 years

But since the 2010 decision to run with its own version, the company has made its competition with Red Hat increasingly plain, with all the tact and subtlety of a typical Larry Ellison onslaught.

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