Oracle to Announce Linux Distro Tomorrow

It’s a rumor, and in all fairness my track record on the last couple has not been good, but according to a number of open source industry insiders, Oracle is going to announce at LinuxWorld tomorrow their own branded version of Linux based on the Red Hat distro. Previous speculation had them announcing something at their analyst meeting in October, but with the penguin festival this week in SF it makes perfect sense.

This is a smart move on their part for a couple of reason. First and foremost, by forking off Red Hat they compete with Red Hat without having to deal with product issues. It’s all about support and the ability to offer a top-to-bottom stack. I think it also sets up the eventuality that Oracle could acquire Red Hat and realize the all important consolidation objective. Either way, this is a problem for Novell.

It’s a problem for SAP as well, although not as severe as Oracle would like to believe. We’re finally turning the corner on open source at a couple of levels, even though we haven’t been publicly talking about much there is in fact a lot going on.

UPDATE: Oracle’s investor relations group is now saying that the announcement will be pushed out possibly past OpenWorld in October. Will keep you updated as I hear more, but they are now saying not to expect anything at LinuxWorld. What does this mean? Probably not a lot other than there is a lot of “chatter” but the signal to noise ratio is low. It may be that this is something that Larry wants but the rest of the management team is less sure about.

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14 thoughts on Oracle to Announce Linux Distro Tomorrow

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  6. Jeff,

    I am hearing this, too, and it shouldn’t surprise people. Ellison left that door wide open in just about any interview he’s given the last few months. I know he explicitly addressed the matter in the FT interview, and even alluded to the possibility on the last earning’s call if I’m not mistaken.


  7. Jeff,
    I have to partly disagree with you on that. I don’t believe that this would be a really smart move on Oracle’s part.
    1. Why would you want to invest in creating the whole infrastructure needed to build and maintain your own Linux distro? Besides the three big ones Red Hat/Fedora, SuSE and Debian, there are already a dozend other distros out there competing for attention. Why not “piggybacking” on one of those projects, pump some money into them and start driving the direction of that distro that way?
    2. The market wants choice and that move potentially takes choices away. There is a likely chance that Oracle will start only focussing on their distro and support their products mainly on that platform. However, if companies have already invested in Linux, they want to stick with their distro and want Oracle to continue supporting their platform of choice which is not necessarily Oracle.
    3. Oracle is basically “hijacking” the Open Source movement and especially Red Hat with such a move and I am not sure how the community will react to that. I have seen a few “forks” so far in the OSS community, but all of them were initiated by core developers of the original project that somehow had a political reason to start their own thing. This “fork” would only make sense if Oracle can attract some key people from Red Hat and/or Fedora Core which I don’t see happening yet.


  8. 1) The why is easy, deliver a top-to-bottom IT stack optimized for Oracle databases, fusion, and applications. Why piggyback on an existing project with little brand recognition (Red Hat and Novell are competitive to Oracle anyway) when you can use your direct sales capability to build your own brand off existing code, in this case RH. Aside from all the logical reasons, Ellison’s ego drives him to compete with Microsoft by attempting to offer everything they have…. Ellison’s Linux ambitions don’t begin and end with the server.

    2) The market wants choice in the presence of stability, were that not the case then Oracle would not have successfully acquired a bunch of large software vendors. There’s already a duopoly in the datacenter with Windows and Linux, no choice is being taken away, in fact Oracle is adding more choice. In the U.S. RH is dominant, if you fork the code you will do little to disrupt the existing market.

    3) Yes.

  9. and by “little brand recognition” I mean those distros outside of RH and SuSe.

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