I’ve had quite a few people ask me over the last several weeks for my take on the Oracle Linux announcement. Here’s my take: Oracle needs to prove that they have the ability to create, support, and maintain a Linux distribution. I don’t believe that they can execute on these basic necessities.
It’s one thing to say that you’re releasing your own Linux distribution. Anyone can say that. It’s quite another to actually release the distribution and then spend the time and resources necessary to maintain the distribution. From what I’ve gathered, Oracle’s Linux will be nothing more than Red Hat Enterprise with rebranded logos. From there, Oracle will claim to make fixes and backports as necessary in order to maintain the distribution. This is easier said than done. Does Oracle even have the expertise in-house to do such things? It’ll be nice if they do since more eyes and hands means more benefit to the rest of the community. However, I fear that they won’t be doing so much bug fixing as they will be back porting other people’s fixes into their distro.
Further, I don’t believe that Oracle has a clue when it comes to securing a Linux environment. Oracle’s stated recommendation is to install “Everything” rather than picking and choosing the individual packages necessary to support their database. This means one of two things. Either they don’t know enough about Linux to know which packages their database requires or they’re recommending an utterly negligent approach to installing a database server. I can’t remember the last time that I used the “Everything” option, yet that’s the official recommendation from Oracle support staff.
Let’s step back even further for a moment. Neither Red Hat nor Oracle comprise the majority of Linux (or maybe even database) deployments. How could a move by a company such as Oracle really matter to the underlying open source community? The answer is that it doesn’t. Oracle Linux, like so many other things announced via press release, is irrelevant to Linux and open source. This is where people unfamiliar with Linux and open source get tripped up so frequently. There is no one company or even group of companies that make up the bulk of the Linux and open source movement. It’s much more grass-roots than that. Therefore, a press release by Oracle does precious nothing to affect the next version of the kernel.