Red Hat: Unfakeable Linux

Red Hat: Unfakeable Linux

Summary: Red Hat counterpunches with a hard hitting rebutal of Oracle's recent "Unbreakable Linux" announcement. It's called "Unfakeable Linux", and here are some of the highlights...

TOPICS: Open Source

After Oracle's surprising announcement that they would support Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat has posted a hard-hitting rebuttal on their site entitled "Unfakeable Linux" (a word play on Oracle's "Unbreakable Linux"). Some highlights:

Q: Oracle says their Linux support includes the same hardware compatibility and certifications as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Is this true?

A: No. Oracle has stated they will make changes to the code independently of Red Hat. As a result these changes will not be tested during Red Hat's hardware testing and certification process, and may cause unexpected behavior. Hence Red Hat hardware certifications are invalidated.

Q: Will Oracle's product result in a "fork" of the operating system?

A: Yes. The changes Oracle has stated they will make will result in a different code base than Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Simply put, this derivative will not be Red Hat Enterprise Linux and customers will not have the assurance of compatibility with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux hardware and application ecosystem..

This is a key point. If you read the fine print, what Oracle is planning to do is start with the source code for Red Hat's version of Linux, remove all the Red Hat trademarks (logos, etc.) and "add Linux bug fixes". Thus, Oracle's developers be faced with some onerous merging whenever RH comes out with a new version.

Q: Can Oracle produce timely security updates to Red Hat Enterprise Linux as they stated?

A: No. There will be a delay between the time a Red Hat Enterprise Linux update is issued and the time the source code makes its way to Oracle. There is no guarantee that the source code for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux update will work correctly when integrated into Oracle's Linux code base; this integration and test will take additional time. In the case where the update corrects critical security flaws, Oracle customers may be exposed to additional risk.

How about Red Hat's other open source products, besides Linux? They're not included:

Q: Does Oracle's announcement include support for the Red Hat Application Stack, JBoss, Hibernate, Red Hat GFS, Red Hat Cluster Suite, and Red Hat Directory Server?

A: No. Oracle does not support any of these leading open source products.

So if you want, say, the GFS file system, it looks like you would need to get part of the OS from Oracle and part from Red Hat.
The Oracle move may give Linux a little more credibility in enterprise shops, but realistically its credibility is pretty high already. Expect Red Hat to feel some pressure to reduce prices, make more frequent releases, and try to out-innovate Oracle in ways that are not easily copied. Customers will benefit no matter who comes out on top.

Topic: Open Source

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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  • Tempest in a Teapot

    This is obviously a set piece to get attention by at least Oracle and maybe even Red Hat as well. I'll bet a dime to a dounut within 3-6 months they'll call a truce and claim to be working together for their collective customers.

    Besides who really cares..after all this is a Windows world.
    • Nice try...

      "Besides who really cares..after all this is a Windows world."

      Not exactly. For most people, Windows is just the known default. When they get a better experience with something else, for a non-gouging price, they will switch. It's only a matter of time.
  • Buy Redhat stock

    I'm gonna grab some of that 15 dollar stock when I get home!
    • Too late?

      Looks like the stock rebounded 5% today. The stock buy-back plan probably helped a lot.
      Ed Burnette
      • buy?

        dunno, I remember buying RHAT at 3.25/share a couple of years ago
  • Whoopee... And I thought only M$ did this!

    Sorry, We are changing Red Hat Linux so much the applications won't work on it, the updates won't work on it and you'll probably have compatibility fixes until 2010...

    Sounds like what happened when Windows became XP, and even more like when XP became Vista.

    If Oracle's 'Linux' becomes standard, eclipsing Red Hat, we'll see the start of the death of Open Source OS systems...
  • Patent Theft

    My comments about Unbreakable Linux patent theft can be found on my blog:
    • Ways to innovate

      There are plenty of ways for RH to innovate. They could even innovate in the free source code which would have the effect of making re-merging ever more difficult. They could innovate in their service plans, in virtual machines, in proprietary code that is distributed along side Linux, in the developer network, in deployment, in administration, etc., etc..
      Ed Burnette
    • So what does this have to do with patents?

  • And what about Novell?

    In terms of enterprise acceptance, apparently SuSE was already the other Linux.

    Now Red Hat has the tacit (and unappreciated) support of Oracle, while Novell's financial results remain weak. A company deciding to use Linux has another good argument in favor of Red Hat's strain.

    IBM will probably prop up (thought not buy) Novell to keep competition in the Linux market. But now it's a question how much competition SuSE will be.
    Anton Philidor
    • What about IBM and HP and ...?

      I wonder if a better answer might be for the players that are left to form an industry consortium (ala Apache or Eclipse) to put together a consolidated, organized, and solid enterprise version of Linux that could replace AIX, HP-UX, and others. Zillions of distros are fine for hobbyists, but your average bank or telco needs something a lot more... predictable.
      Ed Burnette
      • Predictable?

        Absolutely, like the numerous security flaws that are discovered weekly in various Micro$oft products? Or that Micro$oft will never stick with a deadline, yep that's pretty predictable too. Ooo what about high cost and licensing issues, you bet that is predictable.
        Y'know the <i>"too many"</i> Linux distro argument is running pretty thin. Red Hat, SuSe, Mandriva, Debian, and Slackware...there's your core distributions. <b>Develop for those distros and make the rest come to you.<b/> How difficult is it going to be to port apps to a different distribution? It won't be difficult.
        • RE: Predictable?

          >>...Develop for those distros and make the rest
          come to you...<<

          Better yet, develop for the Linux Standard
          Base(LSB)and they all have to come to you.
      • Can Linux replace Unix?

        You wrote:
        I wonder if a better answer might be for the players that are left to form an industry consortium ... to put together an ... enterprise version of Linux that could replace AIX, HP-UX, and others.

        AIX and HP-UX are two of the major remaining varieties of Unix, on which IBM and HP still expect to make money.

        I'll assert that Linux won't be ready to replace them for some time. And that IBM and HP won't be anxious to lose that revenue.

        You're right that enterprises are not going to accept the Linux distribution of the week. Certifications are the least of the reliability demanded. So the Linux situation is also stable.

        For the moment the significant companies guiding Linux (and Unix) are satisfied.
        Anton Philidor
    • In my mind...

      ...SUSE is still the enterprise choice. It sounds to me that Oracle, like Red Hat, is looking to play mostly in server space, whereas SuSE Linux aces the desktop.

      If I want to deploy Linux to my users, I'd consider SuSE first. But if I want to deploy Oracle on Linux, I'd consider support from Oracle for that.
      • Who needs Oracle anyway!

        We just chose Intersystems' Cache in stead of Oracle as Object Oriented Relational Database for XML in a new ERPII project. It is lightning fast for web applications! Now investigating OpenSource Object Oriented DataBases like ZOPE (See:

        With SAP (unfortunately still an old ERP philosophy) we prefered DB2-UDB. I attended system integration tests in Waldorf Germany where IBM and SAP are working on 'streamlining' SAP-BW processes with DB2 (See: SAP actively evades Oracle. Oracle is just too much hassle.

        And what is best, it all works better on Linux; Oracle should best remain with M$Win, they are of the same ilk.

  • Opening moves?

    Could this be the opening move for Oracles to reduce Red Hat profitability and stock price, as a precursor to a buyout?
    Hmmm. The plot sickens.
  • Quarterly Updates cycle for critial updates????

    Oracle is too slow to produce fixes to trust with
    an OS,

    They also seem to be as guilty as MS in the
    severity of their flaws maybe more so.,289142,sid14_gci1225022,00.html
  • This is a non-story...

    ... and after two minute's reflection you realise why.

    If Oracle wants to buy RedHat, good luck to Larry if he's stupid enough to do it. If he buys RedHat lock, stock and barrel they will take his money, move into new premises and continue where they left off with Larry's money in their pocket. THEY'VE GOT THE SOURCE CODE - we all have.

    Anyone can be RedHat. I'm sure the new RedHat will be publicised by the press to the point that we'll all know who they are.