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Thu 26 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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Oracle makes its move on Red Hat

Oracle will sell support to Red Hat Linux customers and make its own version of the open source operating system, chief executive Larry Ellison said at the firm’s annual user conference.

Oracle will sell support to Red Hat Linux customers and make its own version of the open source operating system, chief executive Larry Ellison said at the firm’s annual user conference.

Red Hat Linux customers would be able to “very easily switch from Red Hat support to Oracle support,” Ellison told delegates at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, US, during the keynote he gave on October 25.

Oracle will offer bug fixes and support for Red Hat’s Linux variant for lower prices than Red Hat itself, Ellison said.

In an exclusive interview with IT Weekly in July, Ellison had said that his firm was looking at such a move (see IT Weekly 8-14 July 2006). “The next open source target for us is an operating system because our customers tell us they are not happy with Red Hat support,” Ellison said at the time. He said then that the firm was looking at offering “enterprise-class support” for Red Hat Linux that would be better and cost less.

By announcing that it will provide a clone of Red Hat’s Linux, Oracle seems to be going even further, leading to fears that this could fragment the Linux market. However, Ellison said that Oracle’s version would be identical with that of Red Hat. The Oracle version will be badged under the “Unbreakable Linux” brand.

Dell chairman Michael Dell endorsed the move. “Dell customers can choose Unbreakable Linux 2.0 running on Dell PowerEdge servers,” he claimed, adding that Dell itself is a customer.

Red Hat shares fell 16% following the announcement, on fears that the move would see it lose customers. However Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik told Cnet that he was unconcerned by the move.

Industry watchers also suggested after Oracle’s announcement that the move could actually strengthen Red Hat, as its Linux variant has now received the endorsement of a major player that it is the strongest Linux flavour available.

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