back to article Oracle Linux honcho 'personally hurt' by Red Hat clone claims

Oracle has taken its share of knocks for marketing a version of Linux that's package-for-package compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), but according to Oracle senior engineering veep Wim Coekaerts, Oracle Linux's reputation as a copycat is entirely undeserved. "I often read things on Slashdot or blogs where folks …

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Bronze badge

stability problems

counter argument of course is back porting features to an older kernel causes less stability problems then using a newer kernel. One feature for example is SCSI UNMAP support which from what I've read is in the 3.x kernel, which Red Hat back ported to 2.6 in their 6.0 release. (I have the same kernel version 2.6.32 running on both Ubuntu 10.04 and CentOS 6.0 and Ubuntu most certainly does not have UNMAP support in that release - tried it and I got errors)

The only major place I recall off the top of my head where red hat seemed to violate their tradition is when they replaced Xen with KVM as the default hypervisor in the 5.x series mid stream.

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Re: stability problems

Replacing Xen with KVM was wise - a great improvement. Xen had lots of promise but never quite lives up to it. Not really stable and crappy documentation ... it was hard to do some things that should have been easy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: stability problems

I'll give you documentation, but KVM wasn't much better. They're fronting both with libvirt anyways.

But stability? I have yet to run into a Xen-induced stability issue running production versions of Xen.

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Trollface

For a moment

It looked like "Oracle head honcho" & reality began to warp, but then normal service was resumed.

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Thumb Down

Car analogy

Obligatory car analogy:

Red Hat is to Oracle as Ford is to Mercury.

Oracle doesn't control the destiny of the product. They fit slightly different fenders, change the engine tuning slightly, then feel miffed when someone says it's just a slightly different Ford.

Oracle, want to impress? Take the product in new directions! Bolt on ZFS and a 'yum install oracledb' option.

Until you do, you're just another rebuild of Red Hat.

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Re: Car analogy

They can't "bolt on zfs" because the ZFS licence is incompatible with GPLv2 which is what Linux (the kernel) uses.

It is true however that Oracle owns ZFS and could therefore re-licence it in such a way that it is compatible with the GPL but then if they did that then there would be nothing to stop Redhat going ahead and sticking ZFS in RHEL as well.

In fact, Oracle could just change the ZFS licence today, wait a year or three and voila, RHEL 7 would come out complete with ZFS and they could simply roll that into their RHEL clone without having to do any of the porting work themselves.

The chances of them doing this is approaching zero however, because if you can have only one word to describe Oracle it would be "control"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car analogy

Uh, no. Oracle owns ZFS, they put it in their Linux kernel if they damn well want to. DTrace is CDDL, just like ZFS, and it's already in the Oracle Unbreakable Linux kernel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car analogy

Oracle Linux already has a "Oracle Software for Oracle Linux" repo. It doesn't install Oracle SE/EE yet (although it has the validator in it), but it does have the client libraries, ASMlib, php-oci8, and VirtualBox!

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Re: Car analogy

"...DTrace is CDDL, just like ZFS, and it's already in the Oracle Unbreakable Linux kernel...."

Yes, DTrace is in Oracle Linux now, but have you read more on the port? It is utterly useless right now. Bryan Cantrill, the inventor of DTrace has tested it on Linux and it is useless. Read his blog for more information on DTrace on Linux.

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Headmaster

Re: Car analogy

the guys at Lawrence Livermore Lab are running Lustre on ZFS on Linux now. while they only distribute source one of their reps said yesterday they do not see a license incompatibility. I don't think I believe him, but as long as it's sources and not binaries, both requirements can be met.

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FAIL

Re: Car analogy

There is a reason that you can get ZFS in FreeBSD but not Linux, and it is not that FreeBSD development is more agile than Linux.

Read up on how open source licensing works, especially the differences between GPL2 and CDDL.

If it was possible to stick ZFS in the Linux kernel than it would have been done already because, frankly, ZFS rocks and kicks the butt of every other file system out there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car analogy

Erm, no. As the copyright *owner* Oracle would be free to license ZFS any way they chose and to exclude other vendors from using it. The Linux kernel copyright owners may then feel they have a claim that Oracle's distribution of the resulting work breaches the terms of the GPL under which the kernel code that ZFS interfaces with is licensed but that's a separate issue from any ZFS licenses that Oracle may grant.

I also think you're oversimplifying when you claim that if the ZFS code was dumped on the community today it would just "appear" in RHEL7; that's very unlikely to be the case. A file system like ZFS takes time to port, even when it's already relatively stable on-disk and in another OS kernel. That work would likely take years to make it upstream and then you need to start integrating tooling for it downstream; installer support, boot script support etc. Since ZFS is rather different to most Linux local file systems that would also likely involve considerably work (I'd guess if it magically landed today you'd be talking 2-4 years to see it in production-supported enterprise distributions).

It's only in the last couple of years that Red Hat started to support XFS - the code had been in the mainline kernel at that point for a decade or more.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car analogy

Once Red Hat changes the game on the release of RHEL 7 with systemd, gnome 3 (haha) and grub 2, Oracle will be in a position to fork Linux and give the marketplace a choice. Those who pay for services may reject what are clearly inferior technologies. They destroy the ability of other to modify the product by making the interdependences lock tight thus in opposition of the UNIX philosophy. Believe professional IT people who don't user Fedora or other "free" distributions will make the choice. I hope Oracle hammers Red Hat and puts an end to arrogant narcissistic open source developer community.

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Linux

It's 10 years of updates now, not 4 or 5

Red Hat recently increased the lifespan of both RHEL 5 and 6 updates to 10 years, which is pretty impressive for a Linux distro (not the "4 or 5 years" mentioned in the article).

Oracle Linux to me seems a weird half-way house - it has to follow RHEL updates/releases as a base, so it's already dependent on a rival vendor for its core OS. We then get some extra stuff thrown in on top (some of it paid stuff) which I can't comment on the quality of since I don't run Oracle Linux anywhere. Sprinkle in a lower cost updates/support contract (which Red Hat could kill in one fell swoop if they offered an updates-only contract with no support) and apparently that's attracted a grant total of, er, 10,000 customers in the space of 6 years?

To me, Oracle Linux makes no logical sense. RHEL gets a lot of testing both from within Red Hat, from the CentOS community of millions (who are 100% binary compatible) and from Scientific Linux users (albeit to a lesser extent in terms of users/compatibility). Oracle gets, er, some Oracle devs and 10,000 users to play with Oracle Linux. If you are cash-poor, you run CentOS on most or all of your servers, but if you have money to spare, it makes to throw it RHEL's way rather than the misfit Oracle Linux that I would trust far less than RHEL or CentOS.

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Re: It's 10 years of updates now, not 4 or 5

"updates-only contract with no support"

Anybody who wants that will already be using CentOS.

The only reason that people pay Redhat is to get the support.

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Anonymous Coward

Huh?

So OL is based on the RHEL SRPMs, just like CentOS is, but you'd rather trust CentOS than OL?

That makes no sense!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh?

It makes sense to me. I prefer dealing with honest people and companies.

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry, but...

The _only_ reasons why Oracle Linux gained _any_ traction in the market was because (i) Oracle refused to certify 11gR2 on RHEL6 for so long (for no good reason) and (ii) Because Using Oracle VM with Oracle Linux is the only way to reduce your licensing overhead on x86 when using virtualisation (again for no good reason). As others have pointed out, Oracle want to control your stack so they can control your wallet - whilst every tech company does it to some extent, none do it quite so outrageously as Oracle - Oracle don't have customers, they have hostages.

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Anonymous Coward

We're using OEL at the moment. It's a pain in the neck but someone high up decided we had to use it. What I see is a Redhat clone with complications Redhat doesn't come with, like third party software not being certified against it (actually some of Oracle's own software isn't certified against OEL6 yet), and having to use the standard kernel instead of the 'unbreakable' one because it breaks too many things. Their support offering should you be paying for it, is immeasurably worse than Redhat - I've had to just give up a couple of times and find workarounds because the support people couldn't even understand the ticket.

As for the 'not a clone' - that's a joke. References to Redhat that they haven't replaced yet litter the distribution.

Thanks Oracle, in your scramble to own the world, you've made the lives of sysadmins worse again. Still, at least since it's not a monopoly market, at least it isn't as ruined as Solaris.

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Alien

I seem to remember - reported on this very site - that Red Hat were slightly pissed off that Oracle was essentially undercutting Red Hats' prices on support for RHEL, but essentially their support staff were simply reading out of the excellent RHEL documentation (and were unable to offer 'support' outside of what they could glean from Red Hat).

When Red Hat obscured their documentation to the point it couldn't be repeated verbatim by Oracle's cheap support staff - Oracles answer was to produce this half-baked OEL - as if somehow by cloning RHEL into their own Elisteins monster was going to somehow enable them to improve their support offering?

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Vic
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> When Red Hat obscured their documentation

Red Hat did no such thing. Their documentation is still available at no cost to everyone, and is still of a remarkably high standard.

What RH did was to roll up the kernel patchsets so that Oracle would have to do their own homework when cherry-picking the patches they wanted to use.

Vic.

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Unhappy

I seem to recall one of the ASM libs/packages/whatever only being available via an OEL subscription (for 6.x). That's one way of getting people to use OEL. Strangely, even though you can download the ASM packages for 5.x from their website when I attempted to use some of their yum repos for the same packages, one of them was strangely absent...

Most of our RHEL boxes run Oracle (the rest is CentOS), so when they get replaced/rebuilt for 6.x it'll probably have to be OEL rather then RHEL to get a fully supported DB. No point paying for two subscriptions. In fact I think some of my colleagues over the pond will be going OEL 6.x for that reason. I don't particularly like it, but it's increasingly what you have to do if you want to tun Oracle DB.

Given their nasty (DB) pricing, mangled Sun support and this sort of thing, they are probably my most disliked IT company.

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What a spectacular collection of douchebags Oracle is.

What a spectacular collection of douchebags Oracle is.

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Trollface

Re: What a spectacular collection of douchebags Oracle is.

And personally hurt they are, too!

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Douchebaggery Deluxe

Wim could not be any more full of BS. Let's break it down, shall we?

Oracle wants to own its customers' stack from hardware to OS to app. Oracle has basically arm-twisted its customers by arbitrarily refusing to certify RHEL 6 (Red Hat turned in the certification test results MONTHS before Oracle did it). During that artificial delay, Oracle spewed FUD like a firehose. I heard over and over "RHEL's not going to be certified, you just need to go with Oracle Linux." Then the story changed to "we haven't announced any plans to certify RHEL, you need to go to Oracle Linux." When it finally was certified, Oracle did one more douchebag, middle-finger move and delayed RHEL by another 90 days after the certified Oracle Linux. So out of one side of their face, they were saying "Oh, don't worry, Oracle Linux is JUST LIKE RHEL!" but out of the other side of their face, it was "Oh, no, it's different, it's not going to be certified for 90 more days." What utter, lying scumbags! No freaking way I'd ever trust my entire enterprise stack to folks who flat out lie to their customers.

Add to that Larry's outright hypocrisy of suing SAP because SAP was using Oracle's documentation at the same time that Oracle ripped off Red Hat's docs. Douche. Bag.

It's a freaking joke that Oracle is playing the "low price" card. Puh-lease. What happens to prices once customers get so locked into Oracle's proprietary hacks to Oracle Linux that they can't leave? I'll tell you - customers are going to get bent over the table and... well, you know. And Larry will be laughing his way to the bank afterwards.

I've yet to talk to anyone who has tried to use Oracle's Linux support and even had a marginal experience - they've all been terrible. Every single one.

Ask your Oracle rep what the Oracle Linux future looks like. They can only answer "I dunno, ask Red Hat." Who in their right mind is going to run their enterprise on a rip-off OS with practically zero innovation, R&D, community relationships, etc. Oracle Linux is a giant, douchebag of fail.

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Linux

Oracle Linux?

"Oracle has taken its share of knocks for marketing a version of Linux that's package-for-package compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)"

You mean they take a Red Hat distro and strip off all mention of Red Hat, then repackage it as 'Unbreakable Oracle Linux' or some such ...

'Many of our customers do this," Coekaerts said. "They have RHEL, they stop paying for support, they just switch their support phone number to us, and over time they migrate over."'

When can Red Hat start charging for Oracle support contracts?

"Oracle strongly recommends that customers start with a fresh install of Oracle Linux 6.1 if they are jumping from a prior major version of Ellison's Linux to this one"

Ellison's Linux :)

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Anonymous Coward

Oracle Might Save Linux In The End

Oracle may be positioning themselves when RHEL stumbles with the release of RHEL 7 because it includes monstrosities like grub2, gnome 3 and systemd. These three make up the 3 stooges of open source. Here is why Oracle might save Linux and Red Hat may doom itself.

grub2 is the fubar version of grub. It is not an improvement nor is it user friendly. There is noting intuitive about it nor is it easy to manipulate. Set up a default it will change it on update. Hiding complexity from the with an easy to config file would be a good improvement. You have to ask yourself what have they been doing all these years? It is just a boot loader not like say inventing the original UNIX kernel in assembly language, which by the way took way less time to do.

systemd is an ego trip like gnome 3. They have broken UNIX design philosophy and tightly bound as may functions as possible so you couldn't break them loose if you wanted to and to top it off to make changes you have figure out the C code because what you get is mostly binaries. And their buddies at gnome are making systemd a dependency. This is the a script kitty mentality. And gnome 3, OMFG. Dennis Ritchie must be turning over in his grave.

You don't have to agree. Only hobbyists have been using this "cutting edge stuff with bugs", (there is no Linux desktop for the masses, that time has come to pass). In the world of mission critical computing, the people who pay for Red Hat support will make the decision and give the three stooges a pass or fail. You can force systemd etc on people who don't pay but those that do, want systems that work, elegant and easy, repeat easy to modify.. Apple is winner, Google is a winner, LInux is turning into a #Loser.

Oracle Linux just might save Linux by giving people what they want, a strong robust system they can modify not a bundle of mangled dependencies. Systemd is becoming a Microsoft Registry clone and gnome 3, well it is gnome 3 what do you expect.

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Vic
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Re: Oracle Might Save Linux In The End

> Oracle may be positioning themselves when RHEL stumbles with the release of RHEL 7

You're presuming that Oracle won't jkust pick up the RHEL sources and do exactly the same - which is kinda what they've been doing so far...

> grub2 is the fubar version of grub. It is not an improvement nor is it user friendly.

That depends on how you define "improvement"; grub2 is far more extensible in the long term, so you won't be painted into a corner. That said, it is *supremely* user-unfriendly, and I hate it with a passion.

> systemd is an ego trip

No. systemd can give you much, much faster boot times. It is actually rather good.

Where systemd falls down IMHO is that it would be a trivial matter to wrap the systemctl start/stop in a SysV-like script, which would keep everyone happy, but no-one wants to do that :-(

> And gnome 3, OMFG

Yep. With you on that one.

> You don't have to agree.

For the most part, I don't.

> Oracle Linux just might save Linux by giving people what they want

It won't. Oracle is just a RHEL rebuilder, just like I am. Oracle is bringing nothing at all to the party.

Vic.

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