Oracle spins off new “unbreakable” Linux kernel

September 21st, 2010 | by Aaron Tan

Constrained by Red Hat’s tardiness in keeping Red Hat Enterprise Linux up to speed, Oracle has decided to spin off a new version of the Linux kernel dubbed the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel.

To date, Oracle Linux, which has claimed 5,000 customers, is built on the Red Hat Compatible Kernel that allows customers to continue running Red Hat applications.

In his keynote address Sunday, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison highlighted key issues the company faced with retaining full compatibility with Red Hat.

“Oracle spends a lot of time finding bugs in Red Hat Linux and fixing them. However, when we find the bugs, Red Hat has been very slow in incorporating those bugs into their software,” he said.

Ellison also noted that Red Hat has also been slow to take up enhancements contributed by the community.

“They currently run a four year old version of Linux and that’s a huge problem for us because we build high-end Exalogic and Exadata machines that run Linux. We can’t afford to be four years behind in software,” he said.

Oracle Linux’s Red Hat compatible kernel, however, will still be available to customers, in addition to the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel that’s derived from the stable 2.6.32 mainline Linux kernel.

With the new development, Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel will continue to track the mainline Linux kernel and users will benefit from Oracle innovation and community enhancements at a much faster rate, Ellison said.

Oracle has also packed in several enhancements in the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel including data integrity extensions that stop corrupt data from being written to storage plus hardware fault management for improved application uptime.

Existing Oracle Linux and RHEL 5 users can upgrade to the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel with no reinstallation of the OS. Third-party apps that run on RHEL 5 should run unchanged on Oracle Linux with the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel with greater performance and reliability, Oracle said.

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