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Oracle's "new" kernel for RHEL clone: The real truth

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Oracle made a big noise in the Linux community yesterday by announcing its own spin on the Linux kernel on top if its so-called Unbreakable Linux. Oracle presented the announcement as offering a "modern" Linux kernel on top of its own clone of Red Hat. Underneath the hype, what's Oracle really offering, and what does it mean for Linux?

For years, Oracle has ridden Red Hat's coattails and tried to present it as a good thing to its customers. Oracle rebrands Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), slaps its own support package on it, and lets Red Hat do all the heavy development lifting while it tries to poach Red Hat's customers. All perfectly legal according to the licenses that RHEL is shipped under, but a bit skeezy nonetheless. Or perhaps parasitic might be a better word.

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. So, what's Oracle doing to perform this miracle? They're shipping a kernel based on the 2.6.32 mainline Linux kernel and comparing it to the 2.6.18 series kernel that RHEL 5.x supports. That's it, that's the big announcement — Oracle is simply offering a newer kernel.

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we don't need a third distro It's well known that Novell and Red Hat still rule the roost when it comes to enterprise Linux, but Oracle is trumpeting a new Linux offering that it hopes will improve its fortunes in the Linux market. Will this latest news tilt the market toward Oracle? Industry observers are “totally unimpressed” with this announcement.

Perhaps a better question is: Does the market even need a third Linux distro?

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