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Oracle Linux

The Real Truth About Oracle's 'New' Kernel 177

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-we-said-it-was-new dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Yesterday at OpenWorld, Oracle announced a 'new' Enterprise kernel for its so-called Unbreakable Linux. What's the real truth? The company is simply sticking a 2.6.32-based kernel on top of its re-branded Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone and trying to spin it as a new and innovative development."
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The Real Truth About Oracle's 'New' Kernel

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  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Docboy-J23 (1095983) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @10:58AM (#33650178)
    This Barbie has a new hat!
    • It's Malabu Stacy with a new hat!
    • Really?

      I knew something looked different about Barb, but my first guess was she had her natural breasts replaced with manmade ones. A new hat would be cheaper.

    • If Linux Had Modern Corporate Marketing maybe it would be in wider use. You make fun of it, but the masses of people respond to this kind of marketing. And by 'respond to it', I mean they buy more of the product that the bullshit marketing is, well, marketing. Microsoft does well because of it marketing. Apple does well because of its 'a light will shine out of your ass if you use Apple' marketing. Make a product look cool to use and people will come. The masses are like small children who watch a commercia
      • by hoggoth (414195)

        Take another look at those plastic doll commercials. The hook is "your mom and dad will stop ignoring you if you have this doll."
        Cut 1: Lonely child, Mom and Dad in background ignoring him/her.
        Cut 2: Child excitedly opening package.
        Cut 3: Mom and Dad laughing and playing with no-longer-lonely child.

        I can just picture the child psychologist at the ad agency getting a woody imagining all the miserable children that will obsess over the latest ad.

  • But...but...but...Theirs is unbreakable!
  • by NevarMore (248971) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:05AM (#33650328) Homepage Journal

    Oracle is simply offering a newer kernel than Red Hat and fine-tuning it for Oracle's own software.

    This could be glossing over quite a bit of useful work for Oracles customers. "Fine tuning" could be anything from tweaking some compiler settings to actually patching things in the kernel. Its hardly a trivial task given the size and complexity that most Oracle customers bring.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      oh please, oracle customer complexities are a result from the oracle usage and not the motivation for it.

      oracle is one of those business providing useless solution so they can charge you twice for the consultancy.

      • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:28AM (#33650788)
        Ooooo, a placebo solution!?!

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        We guarantee that by purchasing from us, a CIO will have continued employment with plenty of bonuses and appear to be innovative!

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      • oh please, oracle customer complexities are a result from the oracle usage and not the motivation for it.

        Oh wow, what a revelation. Using a complex software causes usage complexity. Here, have a banana as a price.

        Yeah, usage of Oracle causes usage complexity. Does that mean that fine tuning a Linux distro to ease the pain of configuring a box suitable for Oracle products is something trivial, or non important, or what? What was exactly the point?

        It doesn't even have to be for running Oracle database-related problems. When you run a EE container, be it JBoss or WebLogic (now a Oracle product) on a HP-UX, Li

        • by Junta (36770)

          There are sometimes unavoidable complexities, however I know first-hand companies providing 'product' and 'services' rapidly prioritize services. At first, the services may be a 'necessary evil' to enable the complex software, but the revenue quickly becomes intoxicating and soon any effort toward ease-of-use and out-of-the-box usability becomes a threat to services revenue.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            There are sometimes unavoidable complexities, however I know first-hand companies providing 'product' and 'services' rapidly prioritize services. At first, the services may be a 'necessary evil' to enable the complex software, but the revenue quickly becomes intoxicating and soon any effort toward ease-of-use and out-of-the-box usability becomes a threat to services revenue.

            This is absolutely true, but at least my experience with Oracle (for supporting Oracle databases), former BEA for their EE containers, and Sun and HP (for supporting their hardware) has not been like that. Rarely in the companies I've worked with I've seen the constant remora-like latching of consultancy as described here. In 10 years working in Solaris/HP-UX/Linux environments, I can count with less than half of my fingers a need of bringing expensive vendor consultancy. In fact, I can only remember three

        • And the fact that people actually grade the post I'm replying to as insightful shows the actual degree of industrial exposure sported by many of these /. fanboys. I mean really, can't these fools think in engineering terms without choking into whatever flavor of pseudo-liberating koolaid currently en vogue?
        • by steelfood (895457)

          Furthermore, it's not like these things come out of nowhere. I'm sure there's a huge body of internal research from customer surveys and the like that point to a demand for such a product.

          Now, one can say that their customers are stupid, and Oracle is milking them by offering a product of little or no additional value. Or one can say that Oracle is trying to milk the Linux cash cow by attaching their name to what's effectively a rebranded existing Linux distro. One can also say that their execution is incom

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Doc Hopper (59070)

            Now, one can say that their customers are stupid, and Oracle is milking them by offering a product of little or no additional value. Or one can say that Oracle is trying to milk the Linux cash cow by attaching their name to what's effectively a rebranded existing Linux distro. One can also say that their execution is incomplete or poor. But by no means would such a product be useless.

            Or one could say that Oracle Enterprise Linux fulfills its role: an Oracle-controlled software platform that allows the Oracl

      • by Thaelon (250687)

        Unlike the Gordian-knot, not every complex problem has a simple solution. Especially in business where you can't just throw the shit out and call a Mulligan.

      • by bheer (633842)

        > oracle is one of those business providing useless solution so they can charge you twice for the consultancy.

        I thought that was IBM.

    • This could be glossing over quite a bit of useful work for Oracles customers.

      You are glossing over the point of the article.
      1. Redhat writes lots of great Linux stuff that make the kernel better (11.6% of the kernel).
      2. Oracle passes it off as their own. (They only contribute 1.3%, less that 1/10 that of Red Hat).

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        This could be glossing over quite a bit of useful work for Oracles customers.

        You are glossing over the point of the article.
        1. Redhat writes lots of great Linux stuff that make the kernel better (11.6% of the kernel).
        2. Oracle passes it off as their own. (They only contribute 1.3%, less that 1/10 that of Red Hat).

        Cry me a river. That's what happens when you base your company on OSS. This isn't a surprise. At all. People warned of this at least a decade ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blitzkrieg3 (995849)

      "Fine tuning" could be anything from tweaking some compiler settings to actually patching things in the kernel.

      They patched quite a few things, but at the same time thought it important to be as close to mainline as possible. Here's the lowdown from Chris Mason [lwn.net] over at LWN:

      Hi everyone,

      One of the goals of this kernel was to stay as close to 2.6.32.stable as we could. The sources are here in git, they won't be rebased:

      http://oss.oracle.com/git/?p=linux-2.6-unbreakable.git;a= [oracle.com]...
      git://oss.oracle.com/g

  • Ohhh the truth!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gtirloni (1531285) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:07AM (#33650374)
    If the idea was to cause panic or start a conspiracy theory, it failed miserably. Nothing to see. Oracle is simply making a new kernel available which is newer and has more enhancements. Instead of waiting for RH, they are taking control of that piece of the distribution (if customers want it). Oracle should do the same with the rest of the OS and try to innovate there, instead of simply distributing pristine RHEL with their logos. But then, they already have Solaris which is much more suited for the markets they are aiming at (high-end enterprise servers), so why waste the time ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      But then, they already have Solaris which is much more suited for the markets they are aiming at (high-end enterprise servers), so why waste the time ?

      Drivers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gtirloni (1531285)
        The high-end server market doesn't need as many drivers as desktops. Oracle has all the agreements with Intel, LSI and whoever helps them build servers to have drivers developed. For the high-end, they aren't going to expect the community to do that for them. Oracle is wasting time on Linux because Sun failed to bring Solaris to the masses. Now Linux is the mainstream datacenter OS and Oracle can't ignore that. But I'm sure we'll see they pushing Solaris a lot more now.
        • Re:Ohhh the truth!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:23AM (#33650708) Homepage Journal

          Oracle has all the agreements with Intel, LSI and whoever helps them build servers to have drivers developed

          I have a server with a year-old Intel gigabit chipset where only one LAN port works under Solaris, both work under Linux. Last month the Solaris bug was sitting at "3 - Yes, that's a problem". I think the bug was reported about 10 months ago.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by gtirloni (1531285)
            You know the official Oracle answer for that: get a support contract on a supported hardware and they'll fix it for you.

            Sadly as it is, that's how they are running the business now. They want mid-range and high-end servers and support contracts for everything.

            They dumped OpenSolaris and have repeatedly said they have no interest in the entry-level server market. I also have many bugs opened (for whitebox hardware) that have had to attention from Oracle after the acquisition.

            Personally I think they
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Nerdfest (867930)

              They want mid-range and high-end servers and support contracts for everything.

              Well that's very nice, but aren't they interested in the business of those of us who don't? Large companies are strange beasts. They always seem to forget how they got to be large companies.

            • You know the official Oracle answer for that: get a support contract on a supported hardware and they'll fix it for you.

              Will they really or will they just offer that to close the sale? I can see where it would be worth it for certain classes of users to buy a support contract to have known-good hardware selections.

          • by drsmithy (35869)

            I have a server with a year-old Intel gigabit chipset where only one LAN port works under Solaris, both work under Linux. Last month the Solaris bug was sitting at "3 - Yes, that's a problem". I think the bug was reported about 10 months ago.

            What's the server vendor and model ?

        • by codepunk (167897)

          "But I'm sure we'll see they pushing Solaris a lot more now."

          I am not sure what fantasy world you live in but every large enterprise I have experience with are getting rid of Solaris as fast as they possibly can.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > But then, they already have Solaris which is much more suited for the markets they are aiming at (high-end enterprise servers), so why waste the time ?

      No. It makes far more sense to ask them why they bothered with Sun in the first place.

      Oracle's reference platform has been Linux for a long time now.

      The idea that you need Solaris to run an Oracle database is an argument that is very much out of date.

      In truth, they probably care more about Java than Solaris.

    • by dr.newton (648217)

      Oracle should do the same with the rest of the OS and try to innovate there...

      Agreed, and they probably will.

      If Oracle wants to continue to sell Xen-based virtualization products, they're looking at much deeper changes to their distro than this. A secondary goal of this could be to get Oracle ramped up to diverge further from Red Hat's enterprise offering, since the writing is on the wall for Xen support in RHEL.

      • Solaris has been able to function as a Xen dom0 for several years now, so it's not like they don't have other options...
    • by dbIII (701233)
      I was hoping to see zfs, nfs with solaris performance or other nice stuff they own under all that hype instead of a vanilla kernel (unless of course they add that nice stuff to the vanilla kernel).
  • So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle (975789)
    What did you expect, that Oracle will have coded their own kernel from scratch? Every distro uses a version of the same Linux kernel. TFA is a troll.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sprag (38460)

      Not a troll, but a pointing out the obvious. The "major" announcement was nothing more than 2.6.18+patches -> 2.6.32.

      What doesn't get mentioned is that the oracle kernel would invalidate any ISV certifications that oracle's linux might have "inherited" from RHEL...

      • Not a troll, but a pointing out the obvious.

        No, it's a troll. Otherwise they'd point out that other obvious fact -- that RHEL's kernel is [**gasp**] "just" a custom configured 2.6.18 Linux kernel. No distro is coding their own kernel from scratch.

      • by jgrahn (181062)

        The "major" announcement was nothing more than 2.6.18+patches -> 2.6.32.

        And $deity knows what 2.6.18+patches (what Redhat uses) actually means, and if the differences are all that big from the recent 2.6.3x kernels. They have been backporting stuff on top of 2.6.18 for years and years now; I think RHEL5.4 is on the 160th revision on top of 2.6.18 or something.

      • What doesn't get mentioned is that the oracle kernel would invalidate any ISV certifications that oracle's linux might have "inherited" from RHEL...

        All the major storage vendors are already lined up for this, it's in Oracle's press release.
        How else could this matter to anyone using the new kernel to improve Oracle DB performance on an Oracle Machine?

  • We see what you did there, oracle...

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:10AM (#33650460) Homepage

    They made direct comparisons to RedHat kernels claiming performance, security and stability enhancements? If it is the same, then those claims cannot possibly be true. This is confusing... and troubling.

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      You have it backwards. They took RHEL and replaced the Kernel. The Kernel is the only thing in there that ISN'T from RedHat. The "Fraud" is that TFA is crying emo tears about how "all" Oracle did was replace the custom RedHat Kernel (2.6.18 iirc) with 2.6.32 (plus custom patches). Apparently to call it a "new" kernel TFA feels they should have started entirely from scratch. Otherwise it's not "new" it's only new to the distribution, with new, coded by Oracle, patches added. Just like if you buy a use
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by blitzkrieg3 (995849)
        Full Disclosure: I work for Red Hat, but these opinions are my own and not representative of RHT.

        The Kernel is the only thing in there that ISN'T from RedHat

        This is wildly misleading. Almost everything Red Hat ships in Enterprise Linux is not from Red Hat. Projects like GCC, RPM package manager, Gnome, Glibc, KDE are all too big for Red Hat to develop on its own. The only things I can think of that are completely from Red Hat are layered products like Directory Server or projects where Red Hat has maintain

  • Good for databases (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:18AM (#33650614) Homepage Journal

    Just one example of why this is good - iotop.

    I've been watching the RHEL bug for adding iotop since at least RHEL 5.3. It keeps getting bumped, now RHEL 5.7 IIRC.

    It would require a bunch of backporting work from the kernel beyond 2.6.18. But once sysadmins get used to knowing which disks are busy they really get used to that. And doubly so for optimizing database servers.

    Redhat's strategy gains them certainty and loses them opportunity. That's certainly a niche that's done well for them, but there are also users with other needs. Oracle's strategy will be very popular with some of them. When Redhat brings RHEL6 to market there will be lots of required subsystem changes to get the new kernel. Some people will just want the new kernel and not want to change all their underlying dependencies, and Oracle is meeting that need. Eventually Fedora will adopt a rolling-release model and RHEL will track that (probably with more QA) but it's a hard problem and not well-solved yet.

    It's great that we have such a vibrant market that there's room for so many approaches.

  • by sco08y (615665) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:19AM (#33650622)

    To innovate means to make something new happen. It doesn't have to be radically new, just something that wasn't available before. In the real world, most innovations are pretty humble, but humble doesn't imply not useful.

    Do you ever look at Crapware 7.0 and think they just added some 3D arrows for absolutely no reason? Now look at TFA and the reactions here, this is *precisely* why the marketers demand idiotic features.

    If you've actually set up Oracle on a system, you quickly realize that a. it's hugely complicated but b. it's a solved problem so c. why am I going through all this pain when Oracle has done this already? Of course, they have, calling it OEL just makes it easy to explain to the boss.

    And for anyone trying to maintain an Oracle system, this is a big deal. It is not an understatement that for the typical business, their Oracle database more or less *is* the business. You want something that's going to work, with no nonsense, and you want to keep it up to date.

  • by theendlessnow (516149) * on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:19AM (#33650626)

    Oracle Linux is Unbreakable and better than Linux.

    BUT Linux is bad mojo.... if you want a real OS and not a toy, use Oracle's Solaris.

    Somehow they failed to add that last bit. Mixed messages from a VERY mixed up company.

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      I don't get it. Does this mean that Oracle is run by Mr. Glass?
      • by xant (99438)

        God, I wish. Someone should push Ellison down some stairs and find out.

    • by bheading (467684)

      In fairness, they're not the first to try this. IBM have done the same vis AIX. Peace, love and Linux .. but use AIX if you want to do real work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:20AM (#33650642)

    People may want to check the LWN discussion on the topic, which includes comments from Chris Mason and others concerning their improvements over vanilla 2.6.32:

    http://lwn.net/Articles/406242/

  • Unbreakable Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:26AM (#33650760) Journal

    Whenever a company starts calling their product unbreakable or indestructible or unhackable or whatever, I start thinking Titanic.

    • by c0lo (1497653)
      Sidenote:
      Infinite recursion: whenever I'm seeing posts as the parent, I start thinking Pavlov.
      Introducing break condition: start thinking "iceberg"... comes with a chance of breaking in the IT security business and, when it happens, thinking of Titanic will stop being wasted CPU cycles.
  • And here I thought they'd only just adopted Hurd.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:36AM (#33650938)

    this kernel is not the same as RedHat's, there are improvements geared toward Oracle's DBMS

    • by bheading (467684)

      Are you going to keep them a secret too ?

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        eh? look about six threads up, the one about differences from mainstream....follow the link and see list, or check out the code from repository.

  • Troll Harder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:51AM (#33651256)

    So, let me get this straight. Oracle is "bad" because they announced that their distribution had a "modern" kernel, but it's "only" 2.6.32 with custom patches, not 2.6.35 which is totally almost 2 months old now so there's no excuse for it not to be in there!!!! And, Oracle is a jerk who just takes and takes without contributing back, because they are "only barely" in the top 20 contributors to the kernel (and the kernel is only one small part of Linux so basically they don't contribute at all). What a troll! At least the article is up-front about being written by a Novell employee. (Wait no it's not, it sort of slips that into the middle).

    And Mr. Sour Grapes Novell employee is just pleased as punch over pointing out the "dirty secret" Oracle tried to hide, by publicly announcing that Oracle Linux would be running the 2.6.32 kernel, with custom patches to improve performance on certain hardware, and for Oracle software. How sneaky of them, you could never tell by reading that, that it's actually the 2.6.32 kernel (WHICH IS SO OLD HOW DARE THEY CALL IT MODERN).

    • by diegocg (1680514)

      They are "bad" because they are claiming they have some magic to be faster than Red Hat, when the fact is that Red Hat supplies modern kernels for people who wants to run them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by youn (1516637)

      you make a very good point... but be aware the guy mentions he is a FORMER employee of novell... it may sound like a tiny difference but it is significant... that means he moved on and he is not paid anymore by novell. generally when people quit it is because they are not satisfied with their former employee..

  • by vegiVamp (518171)
    Yesterday's slashticle already specified that they put a 2.6.32 kernel in. Nothing to see here, move along.
  • Sure, you can use OEL for anything you might want - but, the folks using this are probably folks using Oracle for the OS, applications, and possibly even hardware. What this means the Oracle *applications* are going to have better support and tuning.

    The big news from Oracle is that it's offering a "modern" Linux kernel that's supposed to offer better performance and support for newer hardware (like solid state disks), and is optimized for Oracle hardware and software.

    In practice, it works out something li

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @01:02PM (#33652298) Homepage

    There are things Oracle could use if they really wanted "unbreakable". There are some very tough microkernels available. LynxOS is certified to DO-178B leval A for safety-critical software, yet it can run Linux ABI binaries.

    LynxOS drives quite a number of systems with serious firepower. The Navy Shipboard Self-Defense System, the "Multiple Missile Kill Vehicle", stuff like that. On the civilian side, LinxOS powers the Airbus navigation system.

    There's a performance penalty over Linux, and LynxOS is not free. But if it really has to work, there are options.

  • The article is missing the point. The key pitch here is that you need to be running Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 Update 6 or newer to work on the latest generation of Sun x86 hardware. It's a big deal inside of Oracle because Oracle wants to be running on Oracle hardware, but is about 80% Dell stuff on the x86 side right now in the Oracle data centers that weren't Sun acquisitions. There's a substantial hardware refresh effort inside the company right now, temporarily making Oracle one of Oracle's biggest h

  • That is new and interesting for an "Enterprise Linux".

    RedHat and CentOS still use 2.6.18. That's 4 years old - ancient, relatively speaking. We're talking CFQ with ext3 filesystems, which is a complete nightmare in terms of performance.

    There have been quite a few improvements since. So yes, using a modern kernel on RedHat derived stuff is indeed "revolutionary".

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