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10/25/2006
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Oracle To Support Red Hat Linux, Using Red Hat's Own Product Against It

Oracle will exploit the open source license by offering its own customers a version of Red Hat's software with the labels stripped off. Oracle will charge for support, competing with Red Hat using Red Hat's own products.

Oracle plans to supply its support customers with a version of Red Hat Linux that has the trademarks and Red Hat symbols stripped off and Oracle bug fixes added, company CEO Larry Ellison said Wednesday.

"Our support costs way less than half of what Red Hat's does," said Ellison. Oracle will charge $99 a year to support a two-CPU system with software and updates, Ellison said at a Q&A at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

In a Q&A after his talk, a questioner asked whether "killing Red Hat was an unintended consequence of Oracle launching Linux support," and Ellison said: "We're speeding the adoption of Linux... It's extremely important that open source standard software win in the marketplace."

Oracle will devote the same level of attention to supporting Red Hat Linux as it does for its own products, said Ellison.

He received applause when he said Oracle wants to provide "unbreakable Linux support."

Oracle's support team will find Linux bugs, fixing them and then sharing them immediately with its customers, other Linux vendors, and Linux users in general, he said.

Linux, on x86 servers, is Oracle's fastest-growing platform. But a bug discovered and fixed in the Linux kernel doesn't become generally available until the kernel gets updated. An enterprise that discovered the bug must wait, along with other Linux users, for a fix, Ellison said. "This is the most serious problem facing the Linux community today," he said.

Another issue slowing down Linux adoption, Ellison said, is intellectual property confusion, such as the SCO Group claiming that its intellectual property has found its way into Linux. Support purchasers will be indemnified against any claims that the Linux they use has legally contested intellectual property in it.

Ellison called two employees on the stage to illustrate the ease of switching from the Red Hat support network to the Oracle Unbreakable Linux Network by typing a new URL into a browser form.

Oracle is a longtime contributor to Linux, including developing a cluster file system that's now part of the Linux kernel, Ellison said.

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