Sunday, June 16, 2024

Oracle Updates Linux, Sticks with Intel and Promises Solaris

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Oracle remains committed to Intel and to Linux even as it continues to promise the delivery of Solaris 11. That’s the message that Oracle executives delivered during a keynote at the OpenWorld conference this week.

The commitment to Intel is particularly key, since Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s comments during the company’s recent earnings call. Ellison said that he didn’t care if Oracle’s Intel x86 server business dwindled down to zero. Oracle Executive Vice-President John Fowler said during his OpenWorld keynote that he received a few calls about his boss’ comments. He stressed that Oracle remains comitted to Intel.

“We have an enormous amount of activity here with Intel,” Fowler said. “We see Intel as being a key building block for building whole families of systems.”

Fowler explained that Oracle is not focused on the large-scale commodity x86 server business, running Windows. He added that Oracle’s value is around enterprise computing and the higher-level software stack. Oracle will continue to build on Intel and ensure that the Oracle software stack works on Intel.

“Don’t think of us as just a commodity play,” Fowler said. “Think of us as adding valued in the software stack, with engineered systems to create better end results.”

One of Oracle’s key software plays on Intel’s x86 is with Linux. Oracle Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven noted that Oracle Linux is what runs the Exadata, Exalogic, Exalytics and Big Data appliances.

“Oracle Linux is the only Linux that we recommend for use with Oracle software,” Screven said.

Oracle Linux is compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, though Oracle has its own kernel called the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, which debuted at OpenWorld in 2010. According to Screven, Oracle’s kernel is 75 percent faster than Red Hat’s.

Oracle is now updating that kernel to version 2, delivering even more performance thanks to an improved scheduler for high thread count applications like Java. The Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 2 release also provides transmit packet steering across CPUs, which Screven said delivers lower network latency. There is also a virtual switch that enables VLAN isolation as well as Quality of Service (QoS) and monitoring.

The new kernel also provides Linux containers, which are similar to the Solaris containers, for virtualization isolation.

“Linux containers give you low-overhead operating system isolation,” Screven said.

In another nod to Solaris, Oracle is now also bringing Solaris’ Dtrace to Linux. Dtrace is one of the primary new features that debuted in Solaris 10 and provides administrators better visibility into their system performance.

While Solaris 10 features are now making their way into Linux, Oracle is pushing forward on Solaris 11. In November of 2010, Oracle debuted Solaris 11 Express as a preview release of their next generation Unix platform. Final testing and qualification is now underway for the platform with a final release due out this November.

“Solaris 11 runs on SPARC processors and it also runs on x86 Intel,” Fowler said. “We worked very hard to run as best as we possibly can on both.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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