Oracle Releases 'Unbreakable' Linux Kernel - InformationWeek

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9/21/2010
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Oracle Releases 'Unbreakable' Linux Kernel

Competition with Red Hat heats up with a modified Linux that Oracle says is best for running its software on its hardware.

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Oracle has launched a version of the Linux kernel, called the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, optimized for running Oracle software on Oracle hardware under Oracle's version of Linux.

Formerly called Oracle Enterprise Linux, with its support program known as "Unbreakable Linux," the Oracle distribution has been renamed Oracle Linux, with customers having the option of choosing a look-alike version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux or one with the Oracle-modified Unbreakable Kernel at its core. The term "unbreakable" has no precise significance among Linux developers; it's an Oracle marketing term.

While making it clear Oracle was departing from its past practice of offering only a Red Hat compatible version of Linux, Edward Screven, Oracle chief corporate architect, tried to emphasize, "We are not forking Linux. We are as compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux as before." He made his comments in Monday's keynote address to attendees of Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

On the other hand, he also emphasized that the modified kernel in Oracle Linux "is best for running the Oracle database and Fusion middleware." One of the modifications is to make Linux run faster on large, non-uniform memory access (NUMA) servers. Screven didn't cite particular examples, but the former Sun Starfire, Stratus Technologies servers, and models from Sequent Computer, now part of IBM, all produce NUMA servers considered power database servers.

Linux kernel development has not paid as much attention to issues related to running on NUMA architectures as it has on more mainstream two-way and four-way servers. The Unbreakable Kernel will provide finer controls over the many CPUs in a NUMA system, said Screven.

The Unbreakable Kernel also incorporates T10 Data Integrity, a standard written by a group of storage vendors, which ensures data doesn't become corrupted while in transit between an application server and storage in a database. If packets are lost in transit or a piece of equipment acts erratically, current versions of the Linux kernel go ahead and store the data anyway. Storage vendors typically institute checksums to make sure no change in the bit count has occurred to the data as it moves from device to device.

"Data integrity extensions stops corrupt data from being written to disk," said Screven.

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