January 15, 2007
Back in October, Oracle announced Unbreakable Linux, a re-packaged version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat quickly replied with a stunt playing on the similar sound between Unbreakable Linux and Unfakable Linux to point out that Unbreakable Linux is just a copy of RHEL.
The reasons Oracle created their own distro are undoubtedly multiple, but I think the leading one is to provide their customers with a single vendor solution. I think that the fact that Oracle decided to base their version on RHEL is the most sensible decision. In fact, most of their customers are already using their products on RHEL. RHEL is, therefore, already a very well-supported platform for Oracle products. And, finally, RHEL is the leading Linux in the enterprise space.
Although Oracle’s move is entirely legal, due to the GPL and similar licenses requirements, I understand that Red Hat is not too pleased by Oracle’s move. This development could become a risk for some Red Hat businesses, even if I doubt this.
I think that the Oracle move will not have a significant impact on the Linux ecosystem. Oracle’s offering is built on top of the great RHEL codebase, but in those situations, the codebase is only a tiny part of the value. The level of support that the customer thinks they will receive as part of the contract provides the most value. Red Hat has a huge amount of Linux developers employed, which creates a situation where, if any issue arises, Red Hat will be able to debug, mitigate, and eventually fix it in a quicker way than anyone else.
Will Oracle be able to promise and deliver similar support? I think it will not happen, but only time will tell.