OOW11: Best Session So Far

I’ve been a little slack getting my words down with respect to OpenWorld 2011 so far. There are many others faster at getting the news out as it breaks, so I won’t even try to cover the big announcements. You can find that elsewhere.

Without a doubt the session that got me most excited so far was “Overview: New Features in Oracle Linux 6”. I’m a DBA, but take a very keen interest in Linux. I’ve been choosing Oracle Enterprise Linux (note that it has actually been renamed as Oracle Linux now) as my OS of choice for pretty much everything I do in my personal lab environment, not just for database servers. This is something that a couple of my Linux geek friends have questioned. They have extolled the joys of Debian and criticised Oracle for being lazy with Linux – “Just taking Red Hat and re-branding it.” I really wished they’d been in this session. I came away with a very strong impression that Oracle really do care about Linux, they do invest in Linux and they have some very smart guys onboard who really know what they are doing. It’s hard for me to cover everything that was discussed during the session here, but here’s an attempt to summarise:

  1. Oracle Linux is not a desktop distribution – Obvious, but worth stating
  2. Focus is on the kernel – Hence Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel
  3. Aim to stay close to the mainline as possible – Aim to release around once a year
  4. 9 month grace before expecting the new kernel to be used
  5. Network optimisation such as receive packet steering (RPS) and transmit packet steering (XPS) sound very significant
  6. Oracle Linux 6.2 is beta now or very very soon – This is wrong (see comment from Lenz below)
  7. Transcendent Memory
  8. Btrfs – “Build around snapshots” (Chris Mason)
  9. Task Control Groups (Cgroups) – Offer fine grained control of resources and particularly useful for NUMA systems
  10. Linux Containers – Yes, that’s right
  11. Ksplice – Patch your kernel with zero downtime… Oh, and you can rollback with no downtime too

If you do nothing else after reading this post then checkout Ksplice! Read the official site and this on wikipedia

I should stress that there was the usual disclaimer about the information provided and there is always the possibility that I’ve misrepresented what was said, so do additional research before making big decisions based on the above.

Also mentioned was Open vSwitch which sounds like something I should look into.

While writing this I have been prompted to think about what matter to me with respect to Linux and I’ve concluded that exactly how much money (by paying kernel developers) Oracle have put into the Linux kernel is something that I don’t have the time or inclination to work out. What matters to me is that Linux is developing, Oracle are contributing and Oracle provide me with a completely free version that I can use in my lab for database servers and anything else I want to do.

3 thoughts on “OOW11: Best Session So Far

  1. Hi Martin,

    I’m glad you are enjoying OOW11 and I can see that Oracle marketing as good as always 😉

    It is true that Oracle contribute a lot to Linux kernel, and in recent months/years they are always in the top 10 contributors. The best way to verify it is to check release stats published after every kernel release by kernel guys, and they are a lot more trustworthy then Oracle in this respect. However Oracle Linux is a re-branded RedHat. The only major difference is the Ksplice, and of course the Oracle kernel (but that is most likely not by choice but by the fact that RH stopped publishing all patches they apply to their kernels to make it more difficult for companies like Oracle to copy their work).

    Unfortunately, despite Oracle contribution to the kernel, Oracle don’t care about Linux even close to what they would like people to think, and it’s not exactly difficult to give some examples of that. A good one showing how much Oracle really care about Linux is fact that after Oracle acquired Ksplice they stopped offering rebootless kernel patching to other Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Redhat and so on. The list is a bit longer then that. You can read about it on http://www.ksplice.com/uptrack/supported-kernels#

    But if you want have a chance to go to another presentation you could ask why more then 6 months after Oracle Linux 6.0 was released none of their products is certified to run on it (not even mention 5.6 or 5.7) ? They claim more then 80k hours of QA per day in their development environments and more then 6 months later even their main product Oracle Database is not supported on Oracle Linux 6. To be even more cynical I will say that Oracle database (and probably other products) will be certified to run on Oracle Linux 6 at the same time it is on RedHat Enterprise 6 because RedHat will do all the work …

    Have a good rest of the OOW11, some of the new products especially engineered systems look great !!!.

  2. Hi Martin, thanks for the nice writeup, glad you enjoyed our session at OOW and thank you for your support. I’d like to clarify one of your notes above (just in case) – “Aim to stay close to the mainline as possible – Aim to release around once a year” refers to our kernel, not the actual distribution. We will continue to track RHEL releases closely while remaining userland-compatible. The upcoming beta release we were referring to was not Oracle Linux 6.2, it was the second revision of the UEK, which is available from http://public-yum.oracle.com/beta/ now and can be installed on top of Oracle Linux 6.

    Pawel, we actually started publishing the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel way before Red Hat changed the way they published their patches. We needed a kernel that fully utilized the power of our new Exadata systems with many sockets, Infiniband and large amounts of memory. The 2.6.18 kernel that shipped with RHEL5 did not perform well on these systems at all, hence we needed to roll our own anyway. We spent some significant resources and time on improving Linux for systems of this scale and all of these modifications have been contributed back upstream.

    With regards to Ksplice, we continue to support existing customers on non-Oracle Linux distributions and you still get updates for Fedora and Ubuntu Linux for free from ksplice.com.

    You might want to take a look at a recent interview with Wim Coekaerts for details on what we announced at OOW: http://medianetwork.oracle.com/video/player/1187441784001

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