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Oracle launches "a better alternative to CentOS" (oracle.com)
157 points by wdaher 1681 days ago | hide | past | web | 212 comments | favorite

I'm pleased to see that evil deeds have consequences, though I'd like to see Oracle suffer a little (OK, a lot) more before getting over the hump. People don't use Oracle Linux because the Open Source community doesn't trust Oracle (and they shouldn't; that mistrust has been well-earned over a couple of decades).

There's a lot of reasons not to use Oracle Linux, most of them non-technical. Oracle is simply not an ethical member of the Open Source community, and if you trust them, they will screw you, some day, some way. Red Hat may have their flaws, but they've never sued over patents and they've never attempted to destroy competing projects or companies through legal threats and bullying. CentOS may be slow to jump on updates sometimes and to get out new releases, but at least it's a good Open Source citizen.

As an aside, if you want a faster moving RHEL rebuild that has paid developers working on it, you might try Scientific Linux. It is built by CERN and Fermilab, and tends to be very solid and fast to update and invisible (i.e., I don't think about it, at all, and it Just Works). We switched from CentOS to SL back when CentOS 6 was so late being released; couldn't be happier with it. We added support in Virtualmin for SL for just that reason...so many of our customers wanted 6, it was worth the effort to add a new OS.

So, yeah, Oracle is gonna have to have a "come to Jesus" moment if they want to participate in the Open Source community. They've got a lot of repenting to do.

This is the exact same feeling that I'm getting from this announcement. To me this just feels like a publicity stunt, where Oracle is aiming to get a slice of the CentOS/RHEL market with very little investment.

As far as I'm concerned this isn't even a valid attempt on their behalf to earn the trust of the Open Source Community. Taking something that already works and touting your own horn about how you can provide faster updates isn't really something that a big corporate player that wants to get into the open source market should be doing. I'm sure there are plenty of technologies at Oracle, that if open-sourced would have a much bigger impact, and would put them in a better relationship with the open source community.

Finally, when you are an enterprise/corporate player, and your press release for a new product is littered with "this is not a gimmick" there is definitely something wrong. In all honesty this just sounds like one of these "come with me kid I'll give you some candy! It's gonna be ok don't worry, just a little further". This is not something I would expect from such a big company.

I was trying to go for a "for linux nerds, by linux nerds" vibe, so I'm amused that your complaint is "This doesn't sound corporate enough".

At the end of the day, my view here is that Oracle has actually produced something useful, but lots of people are blind to it, in no small part because of what ultimately boils down to zealotry (which doesn't seem like an awesome reason to me). Hence the point of trying to get this out there.

I assume you're on the Oracle Linux team? I'm sure you're sincere, and I'm sure the Oracle Linux team has many good folks working on it (likewise, the rest of Oracle). But, when you work within the belly of a beast, an absolute horror show of historic and ongoing wrongdoing, you have to expect pushback and mistrust from the Open Source community.

Oracle is a corporate sociopath. If you wish to label me a zealot for expecting ethics from the people and companies I work with, that's fine. But, it's not going to alter the reality that I am not alone. Many people mistrust Oracle, and just because one unit within Oracle seems to be trying to do right, it doesn't alter the fundamental nature of that creature. It'd be easier to overlook past misdeeds if Oracle was not currently behaving in unethical ways on a massive scale, and attacking Open Source on several fronts.

Oracle cannot have it both ways. It cannot wage war against Open Source and software freedom, and expect the Open Source community to just look the other way and choose Oracle products. At least, I sure as hell won't be looking the other way.

Look, with all due respect we're not blind to it. I'm sure Oracle Linux is a fine piece of software, I bet it's just as good as RHEL and I'll even spot you that your support team is equally good as Red Hat's. We do not have technical objections to the work you've done.

We simply don't trust your employer to behave with anything even approaching good faith in any interaction. What happened to Solaris alone is a huge warning flag, those of us who have interacted with Oracle in a professional capacity have...more reasons to believe this.

What has happened to Solaris?


So, FUD then.

No, not FUD...not really. Solaris is a complicated tale.

The short explanation is that when Oracle acquired Sun, all of the hopes and dreams of Solaris users, particularly OpenSolaris users, were dashed. Many great technologies were pushed onto the back burner. All of Sun's Open Source portfolio saw a massive shake up and very little came out the other side healthier. Pre-acquisition, Solaris/OpenSolaris was a reasonable OS choice for new server deployments, particularly in cloud environments. Post-acquisition, you'd have to be a little bit nuts to deploy Solaris. Solaris has a lot of die-hard fans, with good reason...so this was a bitter pill to swallow for a lot of folks.

Oracle is simply ham-fisted when it comes to dealing with Open Source technologies that it comes into possession of. It's a really good example of a company that doesn't "get" Open Source. It's not limited to Solaris, Solaris is just one of the most popular, and the most difficult to replace for people who are relying on it.

I am a long-term SunOS/Solaris user (~20 years) and what killed Solaris is they neglected Solx86 for years for fear of cannibalizing SPARC sales. What happened was devs got Linux boxes to replace SPARCstations (using them as cheap X servers) then x86 and x64 got good enough for servers, and everyone ditched Solaris in order to get onto the commodity hardware (Linux wasn't really a factor in this decision, it just happened to be the dominant Unix on that hardware at the time, could easily have been FreeBSD). Thanks to Microsoft and their NT pretensions, supporting hardware vendors (e.g. storage) were manufacturing compatible kit too. It didn't help that Sun managed to forget that they were a business, and a hardware business at that. Giving stuff away to drive sales is a proven strategy, but no-one was buying SPARCs. Turns out it was cheaper to buy PCs and accept failures and workaround them, than to buy a "real" server that wouldn't fail and if it did, you could hot-swap anything. Call it the Google method.

Sun could have had a compelling desktop-to-datacentre story, all Solaris, on Intel PCs all the way to SPARC near-mainframes. But they succumbed to short term thinking and killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. The alternative to the Oracle acquisition was for them to go the way of SGI...

I'm trying very hard to be as neutral as possible (as opposed to "Oracle bad. Raaaaar!"), but I've been part of the HPC community for a long time, and Oracle has done their best to tell us that we don't matter at all to them (Grid Engine, Lustre, etc.). I understand that the margins on HPC aren't great, so I don't necessarily fault them, but it leaves a very bad taste. That's just one community of many who feel like they've been wronged by Oracle.

You say that they've produced something useful; can you say a little more about what Oracle has specifically produced with respect to Oracle Linux? My strong impression is that they've taken 99.9% Red Hat's hard work, dumped their own 0.1% on top (OCFS2, some IB enhancements, etc.), slapped a big price tag on it and then exclaim, "look what we made!"

Removing that price tag doesn't change much. I'm open to being reasoned with, though, so please tell me why I'm wrong.

There's a ton to talk about in the "Why Oracle Linux and not RHEL" department, but I'm not trying to sell you anything, so I want to set that aside for now. (I have to say, though, even the "big price tag" is significantly smaller than RHEL's).

Instead, I want to look at the following case: you're a sysadmin running CentOS. You don't pay anyone for support, and you have no intention of ever doing so.

There, I think the benefits are, in brief, the things you're able to achieve when you have large-scale resources: timely releases and better QA, while maintaining 100% RHEL compatibility. Basically "what you love about CentOS", minus "what you hate about CentOS".

But yes, it comes from Oracle :)

I dont get why your QA is better than red hats. They have a much longer experience with their product.

It's cheaper.

Not following. Their QA is cheaper so it must be better?

Assuming their QA is good enough for most customers, being cheaper is a pretty obvious benefit.

Useful it may be, but after more than 10 years of having to work with Oracle products and consultants, the first thing that jumped at me was

...doesn't Oracle Linux cost money? A: Oracle Linux support costs money

That "support" word, right there, is the thing that makes me stay as far from Oracle as I can. It's like "Dude, here's the software. Have it, it's cheap/free." When things go wrong you get stung for exorbitant support/consulting fees, because, hey, you're tied in. With nowhere to go.

Sadly, too many organisations still go by the mantra of "The answer is Oracle. Now, what's the question?". That's no basis for a business case.

And yes, this is a rant, and I do have an axe to grind. I'm sorry if that offends (not my intent).

I'm totally with you on fear of lockin, but for what it's worth, this particular case is basically the opposite of lock-in.

You can, at any time, switch away to CentOS, Scientific Linux, or Red Hat (if you're willing to write the check) and not have to totally reinvent your stack from scratch, since they're all binary-compatible.

Then why mess with Oracle to begin with?

There are so many mature linux distros to choose from and plenty have trustworthy, battle-tested, commercial support-options if that's what you need.

I can't come up with a plausible reason why anyone would even consider Oracle.

Because "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".

Because if it is more secure and offers more functionality than CentOS then why wouldn't I consider it ?

I can only see centos2ol.sh on that page. Was looking really hard, but failed to notice ol2centos.sh anywhere...

Oh, I need to write my own? Or will Oracle help me? For free?

'--reverse' is on my wishlist as well, and I want to see it implemented, if nothing else because it makes the whole situation less scary-looking.

Uhh, you know RHEL costs money too? A lot of money.

If you're using Oracle, the cost of RHEL is a trivial factor.

Not zealotry: bad experience.

Your plug for faster updates, for example: Security updates for Solaris used to be free.

So while I know that Oracle is large enough to host many different philosophies in many different departments, what Oracle has done to the former Sun departments really makes me wary of trusting any free offers by Oracle.

Exactly right. I know of several mid- and large-scale companies that replaced (or are replacing) all of their Sun Solaris infrastructure as soon as they heard Oracle acquired them, because of their bad experiences with Oracle.

And from a technical perspective, if the OS is managed anything like the database or client tools, I wouldn't touch it with a 1000ft pole.

I think you did a good job with the vibe, although it was somewhat odd-feeling coming from an oracle.com site.

It did make me double-check the URL bar with the "If you find yourself needing to buy support, have fun reinstalling your system with RHEL before anyone will talk to you". But is perfectly valid.

The problem with Oracle Linux is that it's from Oracle. And I just don't trust them at all. I know I can revert back to CentOS or SL or whatever, but that's a pain. Trust is the problem.

You have a steep hill to hike, but it sounds like you may be cut out to take that on.

> ... I can revert back to CentOS or SL ...

It looks like this script is one way as well. Joel provided good advice ages ago - make sure people can switch away again: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000052.html

I agree, I didn't see anything wrong with the press release. The negative comments here are based on Oracle's long-term reputation. In the wake of the Sun acquisition, they've publicly mismanaged (Hudson) or outright destroyed (OpenSolaris) open-source communities.

I think it's going to take a lot of work for Oracle brand to gain any trust in the eyes of Linux nerds.

You did a good job of the "for linux nerds, by linux nerds" thing. However, when you work for Oracle writing as a linux nerd just comes off as insincere. Your employer is actively working to hurt the linux community, and your continued employment implies your consent of their actions. Your target market needs to be other evil companies that don't care what Oracle does in the courtroom, not linux nerds. "Our product is good" is not a sales pitch that matters right now, because we don't care about your product. It may technologically be the best product for my use case, but that is irrelevant if i don't trust the company behind it. You can call it zealotry if you want, i call it trust and pragmatism. I'm not going to build a business on top of a product that might be used next week as a tool to sue me or my friends. This was the only deciding factor when I chose Postgres over MySqL earlier this year for my company.

If you want to market to linux nerds, you need to change the perception of the company, because that's what matters most right now. Stop being evil, and then we'll give your products a chance.

In all honesty I can understand where you're coming from. However, there is a discrepancy as far as I'm concerned between what you're selling and how you're selling it. In this case you are trying to sell quicker updates, better stability and performance to mostly enterprise customers, with a "we all like to geek around on linux" attitude. If you were trying to sell me on using Oracle Linux for my own development PC the tone would have been quite fine, but for your target audience it seems slightly out of place.

Furthermore, if you are indeed correct and Oracle Linux is something useful that a lot of people will benefit from I seriously doubt that zealotry will stand in the way of its adoption. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Honestly, my target audience with this page is precisely Linux enthusiasts.

Presumably the enterprise customers are all either running RHEL or are already buying Oracle Linux support contracts, and wouldn't be interested in "Oh, I could just run this CentOS-like thing for free".

So, my question is: What's the story on ZFS and DTrace?

I realize I could answer my own question with a little searching, but the main reason I would consider an Oracle branded Linux distribution would be for a reasonably 'official' way of getting some of what made Open Solaris compelling. Whatever the story is, I think my curiosity is predictable and common enough to warrant a mention in your article.

I should note that I am completely uninformed, and only have a passing interest in these things. What little I know is second-hand and years out of date. Although I just did just do a 'sudo yum search zfs' on RHEL 6, which is the only search I should need.

My understanding is: There's a DTrace beta for Linux. There are no plans to port ZFS to Linux (but, Oracle is investing a lot in making btrfs kick ass).

[1] https://blogs.oracle.com/linux/entry/dtrace_for_oracle_linux... [2] https://forums.oracle.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=234227...

I'm not looking for a 'kick ass' file system... ZFS does have some features I am interested in though, and I would appreciate having it made available to me somehow.

I was going to leave you alone about the 'messaging' aspects of your post, but now I'll point out that your reply exhibits a similar tone.

The ZFS on Linux release candidates are pretty solid, http://zfsonlinux.org/

The press release has a very us-vs-them mentality that I have seen about 0% other distributions do.

How did it come to this? I mean, did it require lobbying to achieve this, or was it sunshine and rainbows all the way?

For my part, I think this is a good effort.

Or pragmatism borne out of watching Oracle be a slimy, evil steaming pile of douchebaggery that has only been recently surpassed by Apple in the corporate warmongering department. It's like CentOS, with a heaping helping of evil in every bite.

Unfortunately, I don't think SL holds up in a in all cases. CentOS (and Oracle) strive for binary compatibility. I've had cases where I needed to run vendor supplied binaries which were sometimes buggy on a non-centos EL system. Yeah, it sucks that the vendor only supplies binaries, and only tests against specific RHEL release points, but that's life sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, Scientific Linux is great, but it's not for everyone.

Yes, the priorities of SL are different from CentOS, and binary compatibility isn't quite as high on the list, from what I can tell.

But, so many people are only using Open Source software, and just want a really popular, really stable, really long lifecycle Linux distro for their servers. That's the boat I'm in. I don't currently run anything that I can't get in source form on our servers, so I don't have any concerns about binary compatibility.

That said, both of our products that specifically support SL and have binary packages in their repos (Virtualmin and Cloudmin) use the same yum repository of binaries across RHEL, CentOS, and Scientific Linux. We've never had any bug reports caused by that sharing of binaries. So, binary compatibility is pretty good in our admittedly limited experience (we only provide a handful of binaries).

Yeah, Oracle's brand/goodwill is completely dead if we're talking about consumers. However, does this effect business decisions at all? Any paid thing is aimed at businesses, and the business doesn't care about open source/ethics issues in the same way.

Which business doesn't care? My business does. I know a lot of other businesses that do. It's time to alter the idea that corporations should be free from ethical concerns. Any Open Source supporter working within a company should be helping that company make ethical decisions about software. I'm not suggesting "never buy commercial software" here, I'm just saying that discouraging dealings with demonstrably unethical companies like Oracle is worth doing and it makes business sense.

That's the thing that always kills me about the mindset that ethics don't matter, when you're talking about business decisions. Why would you believe that a company that has repeatedly screwed customers and competitors won't screw you when there's even modest economic benefit to doing so? History indicates you will be screwed, at some point, by Oracle, if you rely upon them. And, by supporting them, you're supporting the ongoing damage they do to our community and the tech industry in general. That's lose-lose.

So, doing the right thing has a pretty good business case.

I have a technical reason for not using Oracle Linux: it's easier to install Oracle on RHEL than Oracle Linux.

By the way, Scientific Linux isn't perfect when it comes to these delays either. I wanted to make a similar graph plotting SL, but laziness prevailed. (I crawled the RHEL, CentOS, and OL mailman archives to get the data, but SL uses listserv.)

It's just one data point, but: Red Hat released RHEL 5.6 on January 13, 2011, but Scientific Linux didn't release SL 5.6 until June 21, 2011

[1] https://www.redhat.com/archives/rhelv5-announce/2011-January... [2] http://www.scientificlinux.org/news/sl56

The SL Wikipedia entry shows you the historical delays:


If you run CentOS, it's probably because you're running something that wants to run on RHEL and isn't re-compilable for another platform because it isn't free software. Such as, say, Oracle.

CentOS has for years been the go-to for running Oracle without paying anyone for the OS (RedHat EL or Windows). Now that Oracle has it's own Linux, it makes perfect sense for them to provide a free path into that offering.

I just want a server OS that is stable as hell, has a long lifecycle, and won't break when updating. None of those are quite as true of Debian and Ubuntu (though Debian and Ubuntu have their own benefits, they just don't match the priorities I have for a server OS), and I prefer yum to apt-get, anyway.

And, most of our customers think the same way. CentOS is, by far, the most popular OS for running Virtualmin/Webmin/Cloudmin. Ubuntu has been gaining pretty fast, particularly now that LTS releases have become relatively stable (6.06 LTS had some awful breakages, 8.04 has some minor breakages, 10.04 and 12.04 seem to be pretty stable so far), but RHEL-based systems still have a strong lead in web hosting.

For people already having to sign a deal with the devil, using Oracle may make sense. But, I don't have that requirement. Everything on all five of our servers works fine on CentOS, RHEL, and SL (and Ubuntu, Debian, etc.).

I came here to say I wouldn't touch any Oracle product with a 10-foot pole, but you put it so much better.

This isn't an Oracle product. It is a Red Hat product repackaged by Oracle.

I've run 200+ server environments on centos4, a 40+ server cluster on centos5, and now run a 50+ server cluster on rhel6. I'm pretty much dead on their target audience here.

This seems almost mean. Its a billion dollar company calling out a volunteer group of a couple of guys for being slower than them.

Part of the reason I switched to rhel was exactly this graph, I didn't have a lot of faith in centos as a going concern given the delays on 6. But also, its clearly not easy for a reason. There is a lot of work to be done, and the farther you trace your way up the rhel/epel/fedora tree the more you realize this is a community providing an insane amount of value and deserves to be funded.

So if Oracle is going to sell me on using and/or paying for their distro, being faster than a handful of volunteers isn't gonna do it. Going toe-to-toe with redhat on funding, contributing, producing and supporting open source software such that I want to fund you is what'll do it.

(Disclaimer: I had a hand in a lot of this)

That's not quite the intent. Look, here's the deal: I know we all like to think that corporations are evil and the presence of corporate interests actually messes stuff up.

But this really is one case where you want the oomph of bilion-dollar company making sure that you get your security updates in time.

No one else is providing that. Oracle happens to be doing so, and we're making it available to you for free, so why shouldn't you benefit from that? (And seriously, I get that you're not paying for CentOS, and I'm not interested in getting you to pay for Oracle Linux either.)

> I know we all like to think that corporations are evil and the presence of corporate interests actually messes stuff up.

But Oracle actually is evil.

> But this really is one case where you want the oomph of bilion-dollar company making sure that you get your security updates in time.

Don't be naive, Oracle wouldn't be doing this if they didn't see a substantial business advantage.

> No one else is providing that. Oracle happens to be doing so, and we're making it available to you for free, so why shouldn't you benefit from that?

Awww. Oracle is so altruistic!

Oracle has proven time again that they can't be trusted, and giving Oracle more control can only be bad.

The guy you're replying to has implied he works for Oracle and helped bring this to fruition. Instead of asking what the advantage they see is or diving into it, you've accused him of lying and being a part of an evil organization.

Oracle's a business--they make good products that many businesses rely on. While they've done some stuff that this crowd greatly disproves of (see: Java copyright/patents lawsuits), their motivation for doing this could be as simple as keeping the brand's security image in place.

I just want you to know that you had a good opportunity here, and you wasted it.

The "guy you're replying to" is Waseem Daher, who was COO and co-founder of KSplice, a startup acquired by Oracle. KSplice provides a mechanism for streaming updates to Linux Kernel and used to support CentOS, Ubuntu and Fedora. After Oracle acquired KSplice, they discontinued support for CentOS while continuing to support the other distros. Oracle also no longer makes available the formerly GPLed code of KSplice.


About half of this is accurate.

We didn't discontinue support for CentOS; our legacy customers can continue to get access to Ksplice for all the distros we used to support. We did stop accepting new customers for anything other than Oracle Linux, though.

The same source code that Ksplice made available at http://ksplice.com/software is also now currently at https://oss.oracle.com/ksplice/software/

The bottom line is that CentOS is now a second-class citizen with regard to support from KSplice, compared to Ubuntu and Fedora. See the KSplice download page at http://www.ksplice.com/uptrack/download in which CentOS is missing.

Regarding the source code, yes the original code was GPLed is still available. But are you saying that Oracle/KSplice will continue to make available ongoing versions of KSplice?

The link you provided is to a source tarball that was mostly last updated in August 2009, except for a small change in July 2011 (removal of zlib detection). Therefore, either the KSplice code is not being maintained at all, or there are ongoing updates to it that will no longer be released in source form.

Sounds like the classic bait and switch. Down the road there surely will be more interesting features (virtualization comes to mind) that can unfortunately not be supported in the free version of Oracle linux. But hey, special deal, just $999/yr and you won't have to migrate to a different distro for that one feature!

Plus included with the price you get our awesome support-plan which you never call, but when you do it will only take weeks before they return a canned response designed to make you buy more products instead of actually solving your problem!

Personally I don't regret sticking with deb-based distros. They have problems of their own, but at least none of this extortion-bullshit.

As long as we're noticing how you guys sold out, I'd like to bring up the Ksplice blog.

It used to have some really interesting stuff on there, but after the move to Oracle, the interesting posts disappeared.

I'm talking specifically about 'Coffee shop internet access'. Man that was a cool post and it taught my brother and I a LOT. Then it disappeared, along with most mirrors of it. I was able to find one left, here: http://www.getoto.net/noise/2011/01/18/coffee-shop-internet-...

after around a full 60 minutes of searching-- and it doesn't have the images from the original.

I emailed you guys, and J was kind enough to send me the text of the post, but again no images. She said she hoped the coffee shop post would make it to the oracle blog, but this was about 6 months ago so I don't think that'll happen. Anyway, I hope you're able to do good at Oracle, and I hope that you're still trying to, and I hope that you don't get taken advantage of.

And with this they posted it. It seems like a time issue, not Oracle censoring a 'hacking' post. And now I feel a bit like a cynical doofus.


Yeah, getting these posts back up has largely been a casualty of our lack of resources, not any sort of coordinated malicious plot against them. But we're glad you like 'em! (and I think your comment was the little bit of kick we needed to just go and bring it back.)

Maybe so, but if I was Oracle I would take this as great feedback. My guess is that the majority of people running CentOS have a very similar attitude, so they should understand that this will be the reaction, whether it is fair or not.

It is up to Oracle to figure out how to build the required trust to market this, not up to consumers to accept it given Oracle's history. Millions of people are missing billions of opportunities every day (and you're probably one of them!) but you don't blame them for it, you figure out how to market a product more effectively instead.

It's quite possible, that, being a huge company, they do a lot of bad crap (they are not high on my list), but there are some good people there trying to do good things.

That fish rots from the head down.

I've met a lot of smart and friendly developers who work for Oracle (or companies acquired by Oracle) so I know for a fact there are many people in that organization which are genuinely good and really smart.

However, it seems to be a culture which promotes aggressive "shark" type personalities into leadership positions - people who, in my experience, have less focus on ethical business practices and more focus on increasing profits, crushing competition, and advancing up the ladder.

It obviously makes for a successful company but it's a not one which I would trust to have my business' best interests at heart.

so when centos is dead and buried and oracle turns round and shafts us we should say "well, there were some good people there...."?

Given that Red Hat still can't get some people to move off RHEL 3, I'm amused that you think this could actually kill CentOS :)

And in the unlikely event that it were to happen, you could just switch to Scientific Linux, or whatever new RHEL clone would crop up in the wake of the news.

or we could stick with the guys who have given us centos.

i am not sure why your compassion is so selective. people who work for fucking oracle are misunderstood saints, while the poor sods that put centos together - who have never done anyone any harm - should be thrown to the wolves.

I don't think I've ever espoused that opinion! I like CentOS a lot. I had a beer with Karanbir in London in 2009, and I'm totally impressed that they're able to put out an incredibly popular Linux distribution with next to nothing, resource-wise.

But if I were a sysadmin, would I run CentOS in production? Is CentOS perfect? I'd say no on both counts, and I think there's nothing wrong with saying "There's room for improvement, and we think we've done better."

but at what price? at the price of losing centos because oracle are a predatory monster driven solely by greed?

put it another, more constructive way: wouldn't it be better to help centos rather than try to kill them? why not take that route?

I'm having problems with seeing why CentOS may cease as a result of this move from Oracle and Mr Daher.

CentOS is free, so as long as the sponsors continue to sponsor the work on CentOS and as long as whoever pays for the servers &c continues to do so, the project can continue.

Scientific Linux and PUIAS exist for other reasons than commercial server provisioning and those reasons will probably stay around.

The CentOS and Scientific Linux forums contain useful information, the mailing lists contain more technical information. Oracle won't to my knowledge be providing self-help forums or other community features as they wish to package support as a product. I can imagine Oracle Linux users who do not require support dropping into, posting to and contributing to the CentOS and SciLi forums.

How will CentOS (or another clone) be impacted to the point of extinction by Oracle Linux? Am I being dense here?

Most users of either one will likely not contribute anything at all back besides simply being part of the "network effects". I'm not a fan of Oracle either, but your rhetoric is in the red zone...

you're right i'm angry. i'm sorry if it offends you. but still, i don't see what you're argument is. are you saying that because i am angry and "rhetorical" it's ok to switch to oracle?

is noticing that i am angry somehow going to make everything work out? when centos folds and oracle decide to "raise margins" me being angry will make centos come back?

because if not, i would suggest worrying a little less about my emotional state and a little more about the future of your operating system.

I don't use CentOS actually, I'm fairly happy with Ubuntu, and if I didn't use that, I'd go back to Debian.

For many years I was a Debian package maintainer, and Debian got by ok without much corporate support, despite the existence of Redhat.

In other words, your thinking is way too zero-sum. I think there's room for both. Perhaps the competition will make Redhat think about their model some too, improving things for everyone.

The Nazi party had some good people trying to do good things too. Just sayin'.

But Oracle actually is evil.

Evil is stomping a kitten to death.

Evil is the gulag, the concentration camp, the cultural revolution.

Oracle is just a business.

An example of software-industry practices by Oracle: After Oracle bought ATG (e-commerce software vendor), they assigned an engineer to remove the code that detected and limited the number of concurrent users. ATG software is licensed by the number of concurrent users, and had for a long-time a mechanism to limit usage to the actual number of licenses for that specific customer. Oracle removed the limit code so that some customers would unwittingly exceed their licensed number. The intent was that these customers could be targeted by Oracle's license police, who'd extract high financial penalties.

A hard-nosed business decision. Potentially lucrative, profitable. Not illegal. But demonstrating utter contempt and manipulation of their customers. If this is how Oracle treats its own customers, how do you think they treat competitors like CentOS and the OSS community?

I am quite familiar with ATG, having worked with the product since 2001. I don't believe that Oracle removed the license limitation on purpose, but rather to make ATG consistent with their other products which you can download, install and develop with, but as soon as you use them for production you have to pay.

You also have to factor in that ATG's old licensing department was chronically incapable of delivering the correct license files: they used to send out production licences for the wrong IP addresses, session limitations or bad expiration dates, and it wasn't uncommon to have 3 or 4 runarounds with them in order to have what you paid for.

That said, I'm not looking forward to use Oracle Linux in any of our production servers, unless my clients specifically asks for it and pays for the support. And this support has to be of very high quality, it will take me just one canned reply to put CentOS back in.

Businesses can be evil. Crushing your competition via patents is evil. Damaging others way out of proportion to your own gain is evil. Buying elections with a flood of money is evil. The Libor scandal is evil because it screwed millions of contracts. Stomping a kitten is pretty tame by comparison.

You have a weak grasp of the definition of evil.

Have a good day.

You're completely warped view on life warrants serious psychiatric help.

And surprised that you think defending patents is evil because almost every major IT company right now is doing that.

Non sequitur. If everyone does something and it's an evil thing to do, then everyone is being evil and should stop being evil.

Don't argue that patents are good because everyone uses them. Find a better rationale for your patent love!

>And surprised that you think defending patents is evil because almost every major IT company right now is doing that.

If all the sheep walk off the cliff then it's the right thing to do!

They tried to make APIs copyrightable. That's about the same magnitude of evil as legalising software patents.

>>Oracle is just a business.

It's just that it's the kind of business that makes me glad kitten stomping doesn't have an appreciable ROI .

Businesses are sociopathic - especially since corporations claim the rights of a "person" under law.

Current North American society appears to deem sociopathic behavoir as being evil - so it's not much of a stretch to claim businesses are evil.

Not saying they can't act good or do good in society though as many obviously do. It's also worth noting that good/evil are not objective binary things - so your definition of evil is likely different then the GP's.

Current North American society

If this is an actual opinion held by North American society - whatever that is - then NAs needs to re-think it's definition.

It's also worth noting that good/evil are not objective binary things - so your definition of evil is likely different then the GP's.


I hold to the - possibly old-fashioned - notion - that there is good, there is evil, and they are objective binary states.

"Oracle is just a business."

True, and one that exists to maximise shareholder value. Alas, that aim may not contribute positively to the larger picture, hence various forms of regulation that exist in many countries.

This is an issue too large for this particular page.

And the GP was giving his honest opinion. An opinion that is held by many people I've interacted with in the open source community regarding Oracle. Maybe instead of browbeating him over it you could consider encouraging Oracle to pay attention to things like this and do something about recovering their image. BTW, it isn't illegal in any jurisdiction I am aware of to harbor personal feelings towards brands and companies. That's what marketing is all about anyway.

For a large segment of us (presumably the target market) there's no point in Oracle trying to recover their image. Based on direct personal experience I will fight tooth and nail against giving Oracle one red cent or one idle second. I can't think of anything they could do in the short or medium term that would change my mind so why waste time trying? Buying purchasing managers steak dinners and lapdances has a much better return on investment.

And the GP was giving his honest opinion

I was giving my honest opinion of his honest opinion.

An opinion that is held by many people

These people have a weak grasp of the concept of 'evil'. In my opinion.

Maybe instead of browbeating

I wasn't doing that. My opinion.

You could consider encouraging Oracle

I'm nobody Oracle is going to listen to. I say this as a guy who has been dealing with Oracle for about a decade, supported database and application servers.

Oracle pays attention to guys that write checks. And not just any checks but big checks.

If the CIO of (say) AT&T brings this up with his sales rep, things will happen. Me .. not so much.

BTW, it isn't illegal

I believe you are reading things that I did not write.

Anyone decrying Oracle as "evil" is falling into a trap that I have warned about[1]: they are making the mistake of anthropomorphizing Larry Ellison -- they are infusing Oracle with humanity that it does not in fact have. Oracle is, as another commenter put it, a corporate sociopath. The inability to empathize is fine for a monopolist (and indeed, it's a terrific asset -- and after five months of working there, I concluded that it's the only thing that I think Oracle has any real talent for), but it's terrible for a technology company. In particular, the inability for Oracle to see anyone other than themselves leads to decisions that don't just erode trust, they destroy it beyond all repair. What you are seeing here are the costs of Oracle's decisions: it's what Oracle did to Hudson, to MySQL, to Java and to OpenSolaris. If you honestly don't understand that -- if you truly believe in your heart that the dismissal of Oracle is somehow merely Occupy-esque anti-corporate sentiment -- then you yourself probably have an inability to empathize that should bode very well for your future career at Oracle.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zRN7XLCRhc#t=33m0s

You're awesome. I watched the full vid of that talk a month ago or so and it really hammered home what matters.

What we do as developers matters. Our time on this world is short enough already. What reason is there to spend years of our lives to further the aims of a company that doesn't share our goals and hopes, and in the end may be acting completely opposite to what we believe is fair and honest competition? What a waste...

Looking forward to seeing more and more of the OpenSolaris/SmartOS/Lumiere innovation spread to the rest of the community now that Oracle has caused everyone to jump ship. In some really cool technical ways SmartOS is really advanced, but the usability definitely needs work... things should improve as more people start hammering on it. Would be good to see more cooperation/coordination between SmartOS & Linux distros.

The fate of OpenSolaris is quite sad. Do you think SmartOS and similar efforts will significantly diverge from Solaris in the future?

This thing with Oracle Linux - I always felt that Red Hat should've made RHEL (+ Desktop) freely available (including updates) since the beginning.

It depends on what you mean by "significantly diverge." If you mean "innovate", then yes -- absolutely. We already have tons of evidence of differentiated innovation in illumos[1][2][3] -- none of which can be brought back into Solaris.[4]

[1] http://blog.delphix.com/matt/2012/07/11/performance-of-zfs-d...

[2] http://dtrace.org/blogs/bmc/2012/06/07/dtrace-in-the-zone/

[3] http://dtrace.org/blogs/rm/2012/07/16/per-thread-caching-in-...

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zRN7XLCRhc#t=43m55s

>they are infusing Oracle with humanity that it does not in fact have.

Corporations are people too, you insensitive clod!

What has Oracle done to Java ?

As a developer they've done nothing but deliver very welcome new features to the platform and add stability that Sun could never bring.


You are saying that Oracle's goal is to make sure that CentOS customers can access the resources of a billion dollar company in order to get security patches on time.

If that were all that was going on, then Oracle would just provide funding and engineering support to CentOS.

Since you aren't doing that, one of two things must be happening:

1. This is part of a long term strategy, which means it will somehow make a play for my wallet on some future date.

2. This is not part of a long term strategy, which means it is a low-level initiative. Most likely it will chug along until the responsible middle manager retires, transfers or gets bored with it. If by some happenstance it becomes successful enough to attract the attention of top management, then goto #1.

Bottom line - Oracle is a business and wants my money. I know it, and you know it. Using free products from Oracle is like accepting a favor from Tony Soprano. Sooner or later, the bill comes due.

"We do want big companies behind the Linux ecosystem. There are already many out there (Red Hat, Canonical, among them) doing just that."

Canonical isn't that big on a scale of Red Hat, and is rounding error on a scale of Oracle. They punch well above their financial weight and good luck to them

I believe they're playing Microsoft's Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. Right now, they're at the Embrace stage.

I don't think corporations are evil. In fact, I bet most people on HN don't think that.

We do want big companies behind the Linux ecosystem. There are already many out there (Red Hat, Canonical, among them) doing just that.

So if I have a budget for paying for a Linux distro, where do I want my money to go? Red Hat, Oracle, or Canonical? In my mind I'm ranking them

1. Canonical 2. Red Hat 3. everyone else in the world 4. Oracle

You need to fix that perception before Oracle Linux will go anywhere. Freatures won't do it. You could offer free support for a year and I wouldn't do it.

At the end of the day, most of us know that the value out of a 'support' contract isn't really the support. It's knowing that the product will continue forward. So who do I want my budget to fund?

>I don't think corporations are evil. In fact, I bet most people on HN don't think that.

I don't think that anything is evil per se, but I do think that corporations and modern businesses are defective by design. Why are they defective? Several reasons.

A) They are frequently more populous than can be effectively managed (also see: Dunbar's number).

B) They are unethical by design since money can be made by simply throwing money in a particular direction. This make no fucking sense whatsoever. Imagine if money didn't exist and we only had physical goods. It would be the equivalent of having 100 logs, putting them on a particular patch of ground then ending up with 200 logs a week later. This just makes no sense.

C) The are unethical by design since the wage gap is huge and the scenario is essentially that many hundreds or thousands of people are working to make a tiny minority extremely rich. It ain't slavery, Bob, but it sure as fuck smells like it.

C part deux) They are unethical by design because when a worker creates something, it is by default not his. Common sense dictates that what comes from your hands belongs to you. The rules of business are such that what comes from thousands of peoples' hands belongs to one person. If there was ever a scam...!

D) The purpose of the business is to ensure it's own survival. A more enlightened approach would be a business which ensures the parent society's survival. This makes more sense because when an entire society flourishes, so do all the businesses contained in it. When a single business flourishes, other businesses and, by extension, parts of society will suffer for it. In other words, the world ain't zero sum and modern business practices do not appear to take this into account.

Still no good answer... why is Oracle doing this?

I don't see how this story doesn't end with a whole bunch of people having to convert back to CentOS when someone at Oracle questions the value in offering this distribution for free.

I could imagine Oracle's long term goal would be to replace Red Hat's role as The Linux Distribution for commercial stuff. One way to do this would be to start this way. Without giving their stuff for free, they would never gain significant share of the total market.


I've tried to analyze this a dozen ways and so far the only one that makes sense is that Oracle has decided to kill RedHat. They want a billion dollar OS business and RedHat has that, but they can't just buy RedHat because with Linux the guys just quit and set up service as 'BlueHat' and continue on their merry way and the customers follow them.

So. The only way to kill RedHat is to take all of their customers. Since RedHat has a GPL'd product Oracle has just as much right to give it away as RedHat does. They try to convert 'free' customers to 'support' customers when a problem comes up.

If they are successful, people migrate to their version of Linux, RedHat dies, Oracle gets the support business because they are not dependent on Linux support revenues to survive. "Poof" Oracle 'owns' a billion dollar OS business. Their investment in getting it is probably less than a 'normal' buyout price if RedHat was a commercial software company.

Of course if they don't convert customers fast enough I'm sure Larry will grow tired of this ploy and flush it down the toilet. At which point people on Oracle Linux will be either sudden new RHEL customers or back to CentOS/SL.

You really need more upvotes :)

Well, price dumping, I would say.

Normally centos users would "grow into" payed support from RH. Now Oracle claims to give them that support without cost.

Unbreakable Linux was never an attempt to have their own distribution, it was to undercut RH, and now they're found a new way to do that through Centos. It may cost Oracle money, but it costs RH more money, because, after all, they actually build a distribution.

Ideally, kill/buy RH, phase out Unbreakable, and cram in proprietary Solaris. But for now just destabilizing the RH ecosystem has to do.

It's obvious why Oracle is doing this. It's the same reason Red Hat does Fedora. It doesn't cost anything and eventually, you might reach a size or a problem where you need support. If you do, and you are running the free version of a company's Linux, that is the company that you will inevitably turn to (with your cash) for support.

Not to mention Red Hat is their competition in the Java space. Capturing people from Red Hat's ecosystem and moving them towards Oracle's is a pretty aggressive move. It's war on Red Hat. And also on Microsoft, which is using CentOS as a weapon against Red Hat on its Azure platform.

Because if you're running Oracle Linux for free, when you need support you're more likely to start paying Oracle than you would be if you were running CentOS or Scientific Linux.

> why is Oracle doing this?

Red Hat must have pissed them off or something. Maybe they realized how many people are leaving Solaris for RHEL.

If you switch to Oracle Linux and if you have some major problem you can't fix, then the next logical step is to pay for support. It would be a simple step to take since you're already running the official version.

Particularly because this is a weak point for Red Hat: they've even orphaned paying customers in the past and there's currently no supported migration path for CentOS. If you're using CentOS or Scientific and decide you want support, there's significant value to being able to pay for support without being told to do a bare-metal reinstall of everything first.

I'm not an Oracle hater (I just dislike them a little). But if this is true, then they have an economic incentive to _not_ issue free fixes in a timely manner. Or, (not to sound to tinfoil-hattish) to release _slightly_ broken things that don't impact an individual installation, but impact clusters.

Again, I'm not saying that they _will_ do the above; just that there is economic incentive for them to bring users into paying for support, and as long as they give it away for free, no one will bite.

There's an old wives saying (used in a different context), that says "why would a guy buy a cow, if he can get the milk for free?"

I could see one good thing that could come out of this - Redhat offering their distribution for free.

It doesn't have anything to do with "corporations", people dislike/distrust Oracle specifically.

I'd prefer to use RH company's oomph, instead of Oracle

Using Oracle is a liability as the Google trial showed us.

wdaher, I don't question for a moment your intent and your altruism for this project, and please don't take my criticism of Oracle as anything personal.

I agree with you that corporations are not inherently evil. However, I am of the opinion that Oracle is inherently evil, and it's their business practices, pricing practices, and licensing practices that are ruining their reputation in the industry.

I form this opinion from personal experience dealing with Oracle over hardware, database, middleware, support, and operating system issues with my current employer. Oracle here is not well loved and the concept of converting CentOS instances to Oracle Linux is greeted with peals of laughter at the very suggestion.

I wish you luck in your endeavors, but in your enthusiasm please also keep in mind that Oracle is not known as the most trustworthy company on the block and people are righly justified in being wary of Oracle's intent in providing a "free" product or service.

Just an FYI but I'm fairly certain wdahher is Waseem Daher who is the cofounder of Ksplice. So if you're wanting to hear it directly from the "horse's mouth", this is probably a good place to ask some questions.

Yes, that's me!

This is a really smart move. I started typing a huge write up why, but there are too many reasons why this free product/paid support model are good for both Oracle and their future clients.

OK, just pop some bullet points here so we can all benefit from your perspective. I don't think anyone will criticise a rough draft.

CentOS now have sponsorship to pay two developers full time, and had their 6.3 clone out much more quickly.


That matches Scientific Linux in terms of full time paid packagers/QA &c

I'm not sure how much paid development time PUIAS has but there is some as it is the system used at the host institutions.

I imagine that the Oracle Linux team has plenty of extra people providing the paid support.

What I find interesting is that you can't simply download an .iso, you have to create an account or run a dodgy script. Strange combination of free and corporate approaches.

You can download an ISO from any of these mirrors: https://wikis.oracle.com/display/oraclelinux/Downloading+Ora...

I stand corrected, but why on earth not add a link to the main page or the landing page linked to in this HN post?

An excellent question. Honestly, because the page was intended at people already running CentOS -- I thought people would be much more inclined to switch a system they already have than to reinstall a brand new one. Clearly I was mistaken :)

Would you expect those who tend servers to run a script that changes the update repositories and installs new packages as root on a production server without testing the operating system first?

I take the point that the script and the reversion of the changes introduced by the script could be tested on a development box running CentOS.

Disclaimer: I am not part of the target market for your product. Just a desktop RHEL clone user.

> I take the point that the script and the reversion of the changes introduced by the script could be tested on a development box running CentOS.

Yes, that was my thinking here. That you'd spin up a CentOS VM or run it on a test system, see if you were happy, and then you'd run it for a while. Once you were happy, you'd then run the script everywhere.

I've dealt with both RHEL and OEL support contracts over long periods of time, in large scale environments (a few orders of magnitude larger than your example). OEL was free as we had other Oracle licensing in place and the thought was "Why not switch and save money?"

We eventually switched back to RHEL. It's well worth the money for any serious player. The "support" from OEL seemed fairly amateurish -- for example broken hotfix packages that appeared to be one-off builds.

Oh yeah! Please lock me in to your crappy Red Hat knock-off so you can screw me royally if Larry changes his mind and wants to extract some money from its users.

IMHO, Oracle is certainly the LAST company you should use any product from unless you are absolutlely forced to (like Java, unfortunately, or their bloated DB if your are in the financial industry). Once you are dependent on them, no matter if you are a partner or customer, they will definitely find a way to screw you over. If you want supported Red Hat linux, just buy it from Red Hat.

[UPDATE]: Also, how nice of the to mention Ksplice in the announcement as a quick reminder how they like to screw existing user bases of their products.

I'd be interested in hearing what you are referring to about Ksplice.

ksplice was supported in rhel.. when oracle purchased it, they announced they were going to drop rhel, and then turned it into a 30-day free trial-- after the 30-days, you must switch to oracle linux to continue using ksplice.

Everyone we sold Ksplice to on RHEL is still running Ksplice on RHEL. So it's more accurate to say that we closed the door on new subscriptions for anything other than Oracle Linux, but all existing subscriptions remain unaffected (and those customers can even add new systems, if they'd like to.)

FWIW, I think if you actually talked to any of our legacy Ksplice customers and asked them if the Ksplice experience has changed for them after the Oracle acquisition, the answer would be "no".

Why are you doing this?

This is not some gimmick to get you running Oracle Linux so that you buy support from us. If you're perfectly happy running without a support contract, so are we. We're delighted that you're running Oracle Linux instead of something else.

At the end of the day, we're proud of the work we put into Oracle Linux. We think we have the most compelling Linux offering out there, and we want more people to experience it.

Hihihihi. Sure you are.

I think it's more like "you are meaningless to us unless you want to buy a support contract". They do the exact same thing with MySQL. Download it and use it, but don't bug us unless you have cash in your hand.

Thanks for the brtfs, but no thanks. I'll only touch your stuff with a GPL pole and with a non-oracle maintainer.

If you want support for Centos, please consider redhat *

I'm sure there are some good people at Oracle, and maybe this is a genuine project by some of them, but the hierarchy Oracle is under is just too fickle (as what happened with OpenSolaris).

*Not redhat affiliated. Not even running redhat or fedora anywhere. But on enough mailinglists to see that RH isn't a respected open-source company for nothing.

While Oracle doesn't have the trust of the open source world, the enterprise IT world does trust it (and Ksplice is pretty awesome, too!). This is likely to become an important distribution over time.

I've known companies that used CentOS for all the dev boxes and Redhat for production to save money. That has downsides because you are running different distros in the end (there can be subtle and not-so-subtle differences) and, if you have a problem on a non-prod box, your forced to use community support.

Oracle Linux will become a viable alternative here. Run the same distro on all boxes and only pay for production boxes. Then, if you have a problem on an unsupported box, you can bump it up to supported without altering the box.

The key here, for Oracle, is whether that support is actually worth paying for.

Oracle launches Oracle Linux -> People port over from CentOS -> CentOS community dies -> Oracle stops updating Oracle Linux for people without support contracts

I'd call anyone claiming this strategy a looney if it weren't for the fact that the company doing this is Oracle and I'd put nothing below them as far as a business strategy.

The issue with that strategy is that it's totally untenable. As soon as Step 4 happens, someone else makes a new CentOS that everyone switches to.

Fundamentally, there is a market need for something to fill the niche of CentOS. I happen to think that free-Oracle-Linux can be a better CentOS than CentOS, but if they were both to suddenly go away, something new would come to fill the obvious void.

> Fundamentally, there is a market need for something to fill the niche of CentOS.

You know what fills the niche of CentOS pretty well? CentOS. If CentOS goes away, you know what will fill its niche? -- Scientific Linux.

> I happen to think that free-Oracle-Linux can be a better CentOS than CentOS

I think Oracle (which is already not having a stellar reputation in the open source community) just worsened its position. People with money pay Redhat for support. People who don't want to pay, will use CentOS, and a large proportion of those don't like Oracle and out of principle will avoid it.

It seems after the litigation debacle, Oracle could have done something to improve its standing the programming community and maybe donated to CentOS, for example. That would have been nice. Instead they keep shooting themselves in foot.

Will this affect Oracle's bottom line. Perhaps not. Maybe in the longer future. But don't be surprised at the negative reaction from other programmers on HN or other tech sites.

Contrary to what you might think, switching distros is not a decision that can be made overnight.

For the uninitiated, RedHat was so unhappy with Oracle repackaging/reselling a nearly identical system that they started obfuscating their patches:




It took me some moments to realise that Oracle Linux 6.3 as a clone of RHEL will, of course, include libreoffice as the office package for the desktop installation as opposed to previous RHEL versions that included OpenOffice.org.

There is a degree irony in this, but I imagine the number of customers using Oracle Linux as a desktop OS is small. I gather a number of financial institutions do use CentOS on desktops and RHEL on servers however.

This has to be the funniest thing I've read today.

A permanent reminder to whoever looks into Oracle Linux of how they've treated the Open Source community.

The sweet, sweet irony.

What a bullshit comparison.

They mean to replace RHEL (paid support) but try to win over CentOS customers (who surely won't pay for support, if they would want to, they would use RHEL and thus would have even faster security patches then Oracle Linux).

Stay away.. as far as possible.. thanks.

Readers please note this is the same 'Oracle Unbreakable Linux' they've been peddling for a while. If you can read that product name without feeling some sort of incredulation, this may the distro for you.

Oracle is the last company I would trust after opensolaris, etc.

But, if I wanted a better alternative to CentOS, wouldn't I just go and use Red Hat? Why would I lock myself into a company that has this bad a track record?

Because with Red Hat you have to pay for access to updates.

Agreed. And I think "lock-in" is an unfair characterization. It's not like you can't switch back to CentOS or Scientific Linux.

How so? You guys are providing a script to switch from CentOS to OL, but I don't see a comparable script to switch back to CentOS.

Where is the script to easily switch back when Oracle decides to screw everyone over as many have already brought up?

druiid: If that happens, I will personally help you switch back any systems you switched over this way :) My email address is in my profile.

As for everyone else, yeah, a '--reverse' was somewhere in our set of desired features for the script, but ultimately this became about some combination of "Launch early, launch often" and "MVP", two topics I know we all love here :)

Perhaps I'll take you up on the offer. I actually am one of your hoped cases, where there's the possibility for moving to support at some point. Not the biggest fan of some Oracle decisions, but it's also difficult to justify paying for RH support and using it once every few years.

I suspect that the development of the --reverse switch would significantly increase the credibility of your offer. CERN is around for the long haul and Princeton isn't about to disappear, so there will always be a backout vehicle for refusniks.

Can we get that in writing and approved by Oracles legal department? Or is this some kind of personal guarantee, if so can you please spell if out exactly. Thanks. Also is it for druiid only, or the community as a whole?

That offer is for druiid only :), but --reverse is in the works.

(And seriously, editing the script and hacking together a quick reverse is pretty easy, but I just want to make sure we take the time to get it right in all the annoying little edge cases that inevitably crop up.)

yeah, sure

Right, except it's from Oracle.

No, thanks.

Funny how they addressed the fact that its from Oracle and there might be some hidden gimmick. At least they are self-aware. I want to not be skeptical and believe but I can't.

Just as someone ripping you off will go to lengths to explain that they aren't ripping you off.

Oracle tries to do a Linux distro again? Also, that web page easily has the least appealing and professional looking layout I've seen in a long time.

If they think they have the most compelling Linux offering out there, why go to all the trouble of explaining how close you are to Red Hat?

Because RHEL compatibility is an important selling point, at least in the US Linux market.

You got a very good point here. Look like the big names, it's good for image. Especially when you have a terrible image like oracle starts to have. ( or did it have it since a few years already? )

It goes further than that: There's a certain set of people and corporations that started out with Red Hat Linux, and prefer to stay in that ecosystem (known tools, available work force).

By claiming you're RHEL compatible, you "merely" compete against Red Hat, Cent OS and some other clones that some might not even have heard of (eg. Scientific Linux).

You automatically exclude Ubuntu, Debian, Suse and so on, but while reasserting that RHEL compat is somehow important, you push them to the defenses, not yourself (except from the point of view of Ubuntu, Debian, Suse, ... fans, but you won't convince them anyway, so why bother?).

That might be a reason why Red Hat doesn't bother too much about the clones: they make the RHEL ecosystem stronger, provides incentives for RHEL certifications, and RH can still try to upsell Oracle Linux users for the "original".

There is lots of commercial software out there that only runs on RHEL or is only support to be run on RHEL.

because is the least thing they could do, since they are basically just providing you with a rebranded Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Frankly, given how well they've managed every other FOSS element in their charge, I have no doubt that this is not only NOT a "better" alternative to CentOS (disclosure: I have no particular love for CentOS, but you do know what you are getting with them up front...your releases will be slow, a little far from bleeding edge, but deliberate and solid) and likely has some kind of business booby-trap attached.

I have Oracle Linux and RHEL servers. The support from Oracle does not meet our needs, or expectations. When I open a ticket with them, they respond via e-mail. I cannot respond to the e-mail. I have to go back to their website to update the ticket. 99% of the time I have resolved the problem myself. Some I just gave up on after a few weeks of not being able to talk to a human, or someone who has a clue. I tried to show them some of the older tickets that I was complaining to them about their service on, but their system had already deleted them which increased my ire. In fairness, someone once got back to me at about 2am, after their call center rolled over to Asia. This person actually knew what he was talking about, (Once I got past the accent). However, I always get MUUUUUCH better support from RH, and IBM-(AIX). I don't call often, but when I call, I need an answer, not "Web Ticketing System tag". If you are going to Oracle for their support, go to RH instead, or you will be sorry. I sure am.

What's their track record with Java, MySQL etc?

Fantastic, actually. They've really embraced the OSS Java community and MySQL is stronger than it has ever been.

The OpenSolaris community is also thriving, and Oracle's partnership with Google has helped move Android forward leaps and bounds.

You should've put a </sarcasm> tag in the end ;)

Yes, fortunately, I was on my work PC that has a £10 keyboard when I was reading this.

Seriously: what a palaaver that a huge company has to shove a tiny project aside.

Ha ha! Thanks for the best laugh I have had today

Fantastic from the Java side.

They have made a number of very useful improvements to the JVM e.g. addition of JRockit, new parallel GC etc at no cost. It is annoying that they don't offer a repo to allow for easy updates but there are scripts to help.

And they just seem eager to push the platform forward with a confidence that was lacking from Sun.

I'm not in the least a fan of Oracle, but I think this could still be a safe move for a free EL distribution.

It don't see a major drawback here:

- You get faster and more reliable updates, especially important for security updates.

- The release schedule will be more predictable (I know a lot of people moved to ScientificLinux while waiting for the CentOS6 release)

- It's binary compatible with RHEL (and therefor CentOS). Meaning, that you can drop the Oracle repos and move back if you don't like the behavior you're seeing upstream.

I think that's an accurate summary. And I think the point that you can always switch back to CentOS or Scientific Linux is an important one. Ultimately, this is a topic where a lot of people have religious devotion, so for me it's really a question of whether pragmatism outweighs zealotry.

I don't think labeling people who distrust Oracle as religious fanatics will turn the discussion into a constructive direction.

Yes, you're absolutely right, and that wasn't my intent. (If I could edit it, I'd tone it down a little.)

My goal is just to have people consider the case on its merits.

If you've thought about it and concluded "OK, I see what you're offering, but I'm distrustful of Oracle based on past behavior, and that outweighs your benefits", awesome. I might not agree, but at least we had a reasonable discussion about it.

As opposed to, e.g. "Oracle bad. Google good. Microsoft bad." (Which I'm totally guilty of myself, so I get where people are coming from.)

Well, in people's minds it's not only "past" behavior, but also the quite current Android/Oracle/Java argument. These things (just like the Microsoft UEFI topic) are discussions about very fundamental issues that could have impact on the freedoms and livelihoods of people here.

I'm not sure how much success you'll have getting people to separate their issues with the larger entity from considering your project. After all, when it comes to business decisions it is understandable that people would want to take these issues into account.

What I could imagine to happen is your project building its own separate (and good) track record from Oracle. I think some people asking for a reverse-to-original option/script might have come off as insincere, but I think it would be a crucial part. If you can say "try it, use it, and if you don't like it or anything happens, there's an up-to-date and tested way of returning to the original", it could alleviate peoples fears for lock-ins.

But it'll be hard to work against things like peoples fears that one of the reasons is an attack on RedHat. The only way to deal with that will be time and good behavior (not doubting that you'll do that, but you came out of a perceived lions cage. So the gazelles will watch you for a while to make sure you aren't a lion after all).

I compliment you on your enthusiasm, wish you success in bringing Oracle better reputation in the Linux community, and respectfully submit that I am distrustful of Oracle based on past behavior - specific to my experiences, not altruistically to the community in general.

And for zealotry analytics, Oracle:bad Google:bad Microsoft:bad Apple:bad. Just because I use an OS (or several) doesn't mean I completely trust the intents of the companies supplying that OS (or several).

He had some good points until that negative turn. Too bad I can't downvote him. He just made me dislike Oracle even more.

So there are migrate-away scripts, too?

I suppose they wouldn't be very hard to do (essentially drop Oracle specific packages, and point yum to the original repos).

There isn't a reverse script yet, but you're right, making one would be fairly straightforward.

'--reverse' is something I'd like to see implemented, though, if nothing else because it'll assuage people's fears, and makes it feel less risky to experiment.

do that, it is key

I "heard" oracle folks got help from "centos" folks to rebuild "all" packages from redhat. Some packages just wouldn't build on koji. centos folks reportedly helped them.

This is pure "evil"

The advantage of Oracle Linux that I see is the newer supported kernel version, On both Oracle Linux 5 and 6 you get 3.0, compared to 2.6.18 for RHEL5 and 2.6.32 for RHEL6.

Are you sure about this? the public repo seems to show 2.6.18/2.6.32.. This would actually be a dis-advantage in many cases, as a number of vendor utils (I'm looking at you HP) don't play nice w/ 3.x kernels.

They have the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK), as well as a RHEL-compatible kernel. I'm not sure which is the default in new installs.


From the release notes: "By default, both the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel and the Red Hat Compatible Kernel are installed on the x86_64 (64 bit) platform, and the system boots the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel by default. If needed, /etc/grub.conf can be modifed to make the system boot with the Red Hat Compatible Kernel by default."


So for the avoidance of doubt, the CentOS upgrade script will preserve the RHEL/CentOS 2.6.32.x kernel, but a fresh install from the netboot or dvd will install the UEK 3.0 install?


Debian Squeeze is on 2.6.32 and, in my opinion, it is solid as a rock. If your hardware works, I don't see why you would want to upgrade the kernel (besides potential security fixes).

So if one were to run the script mentioned on the landing page that we are discussing, the result would be a kernel change on a server?

Disclaimer: I do not support servers, I just have an interest in CentOS/SL on the desktop.

Absolutely not!

(The confusion stems from the fact that Oracle also has the "Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel", which it also offers, but you need to explicitly install that with the "kernel-uek" package.)

Why all the vitriol towards Oracle?

Not that I care either way, I don't have any stake in the matter. I just don't have much experience with them outside of limited usage of Java.

1. Their database software is overpriced and bloated.

2. They participate in strong lobbying to get governments all over the world to purchase their overpriced products.

3. And support.

4. They recently sued Google over seven lines of code for billions of dollars.

5. They've let some technologies purchased from Sun languish, and have contributed to the fracturing of the OSS communities around these technologies.

6. Larry Ellison bribed his way out of a billion dollar insider trading deal.

In short, Oracle is the poster child for why OSS users need to be vigilant and why government contracting needs serious reform.

I know that 'hackers news' folks (Google employees?) don't like Oracle, the enterprise IT world does trust Oracle. They trust Oracle much more than they trusts Google (not hard).

From outside, neutral point of view, all these corporations Oracle, Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. are equally "evil" - especially from point of view of Open Source community. Am I wrong here?

Exactly, you are not, that's why i'd rather trust RedHat with my OS then Oracle.

BUT, strange enough, i'd say Sun had a pretty good reputation as software company, great engineers and minds. In the past, i'd rather agree to use Sun Solaris rather then some Oracle Linux. (Now, that Solaris is from Oracle, i wouldn't do that anymore)

I don't know what to say....

On one hand, good for Oracle, this actually sounds like a good initiative. On the other hand, Oracle consistently gives us reasons to distrust them. Consequently, while I think this is a good effort, I certainly wouldn't install it. In fact, I somewhat suspect that I'd find a way to make A/UX work before I install Oracle Linux.....

haha, yeah switching to an Oracle-backed version of CentOS is going to be 'better'.

Better like Solaris? Needlessly different for it's own sake!

Hah, no thanks.

Regarding trust issues, I went from trusting the CentOS team (and defending them against some criticisms that turned out to be quite valid) to being kind of disgusted with them during the CentOS 6 fiasco. There are different kinds of trust and I really don't see either CentOS or Oracle Linux as a good risk.

Is there any way to find out the statistics about number of "Oracle Linux" installations as compared to CentOS?

Ksplice and a few other technical features could make this a technically better choice than RHEL (although I'd focus on adding security features beyond RHEL, which breaks some compatibility).

LOL! So they took it against RHEL and failed, not they're picking on CentOS (and they will fail). This is just hilarious! Can Oracle get any more pathetic than this?

Pure corporate term "Oracle Linux is the best Linux distribution on the market today"

Well done Oracle!


img alt="Meme Generator - Image: Futurama's Fry with slitted eyes; Text: Can't tell if trolling / or brilliant"

// I don't visit HN for memes, and don't like to have to click through to follow discussions.

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