Oracle: the penguin-pusher (and pumpkin PC pranks)

What you say! In today's IT Blogwatch, Oracle sets Red Hat up the bomb. Not to mention a PC encased in October's favorite vegetable...

Marc Songini sings this:

Oracle Corp. has unveiled ... a support program for the Red Hat Linux operating system ... CEO Larry Ellison used his keynote speech at the [Oracle OpenWorld] conference to unveil the new support offering for ... Red Hat Inc.'s implementation of Linux. The "Unbreakable Linux" program provides support offerings that are similar to those offered for the Oracle middleware, applications and database products. The program will be priced from $99 per system per year.
Matt Asay is "A bit shocked":

Oracle, longtime partner to Red Hat, is rolling out the next phase of its Unbreakable Linux program, designed to kill Red Hat and Novell ... With partners like Oracle, who needs competitors? Now, Oracle will say that it's offering a level of support unmatched by Red Hat ... but ... there were better ways to deliver superior support without undermining one's partner


Maybe this is why Oracle has been aggressively recruiting kernel developers out of Novell ... Oracle understands that to support a community-based product, it has to be part of that community. This, incidentally, is still the best reason for Red Hat customers to stay with Red Hat for support: Red Hat is doing more to innovate and develop the kernel than anyone else

Later, Matt thinks some more and adds:

I can't let this go. The more I think about Oracle's move, and the more emails/comments flood in, the more I want ... to call "foul." ... The pricing Oracle gave is completely bogus ... Oracle uses its discounted pricing against Red Hat's list pricing. It's a clever but deceptive tactic ... Oracle said that Red Hat forces customers to upgrade to future releases to get bug fixes ... This is 100% wrong, as Oracle knows ... Are you going to trust Oracle to make sure your non-Oracle applications work? Like your SAP, IBM, etc. implementation?


Could it be that Oracle's real goal is to contain open source penetration? ... open source [is] isolating Oracle's relational database as a dated container, while web services, contemporary extraction tools, virtualization, and the cache file system hamper Oracle's growth and economics ... What (or whose) problem is Oracle trying to solve?

Novell CMO John Dragoon has this guarded response: [you're fired -Ed.]

While Red Hat customers running only Oracle on Red Hat could benefit from Oracle support, customers who run applications on Linux in addition to Oracle need broader support for their Linux environments. So do customers looking to deploy open source on the desktop or in other types of workloads ... Linux is indeed ready for the enterprise. It’s no longer about cost. Linux is being deployed in the enterprise because of its performance, reliability and security advantages. Having another major technology company support this reality is good.

I say, “come on in, the water is fine”.

Ingres CTO and Oracle veteran Dave Dargo steps off the fence and into the...

Bull*&#%! ... Essentially, Oracle is taking the work that Red Hat is doing and charging less for it in an attempt to bypass Red Hat as a vendor. I’m not sure how long that model, if successful, can last. If Oracle is tremendously successful in taking Red Hat’s business then, ultimately, Red Hat won’t be around. Oracle will then either need to acquire Red Hat or staff up to include the same resources that Red Hat has in building, distributing and supporting their product. Is this their plan, to get Red Hat’s valuation low enough to acquire them?


If the limiting factor of adopting Linux is the price of support, are we going to see Oracle lower their prices? Oh, that’s right -- Linux is open-source and has a competitive support model and Oracle is closed-source with a monopolistic support model. That’s why they can charge nearly $200,000 for their database, with no options, for a four processor box. Monopolistic vs. competitive; which is better for the customer? Hmmm, let’s think about that one.

But Jeff Nolan thinks Dave's "missing the point":

CIOs want to deal with fewer vendors not more so if Oracle can come to them and say “applications, check, database, check, operating system, CHECK” well that’s a pretty good proposition to be selling into ... The open source community painted this picture and now Oracle is adding their own signature, I think it’s a little disingenuous of Dave to cry foul when Oracle is doing nothing but taking advantage of the model that the open source companies proudly promote as their advantage.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is "ticked off":

This ... implies that bugs aren't fixed [by Red Hat] ... nonsense ... This isn't Oracle where important software bugs can stay unfixed for months ... Red Hat does a darn good job of supporting its Linux, and charges a fair price for it.


Oracle ... doesn't mention distributing the source code. I wonder if the company fully realizes that it'll have to provide it to every one who asks for it? Even if all Oracle did was remove Red Hat's trademarks, it would still have be obligated to supply all the code.

Pamela Jones groks the issue:

The CEOs of Dell and HP, among others, say this is a great leap forward ... Things are beginning to smell funny, folks. There does appear to be some kind of enterprise makeover attempt, to remake Linux in their image ... What the corporate dudes never do grasp is that you can't coopt FOSS past a point, because FOSS programmers won't work for nothing to buy them yachts. That's not why they did this. And Linux is a living product, a process that never stands still. That means the enterprise need the programmers to keep toiling away. But if it gets any more smarmy, most of them just won't. So when it gets to looking like their code is being misused, they'll just leave the enterprise to try to write it all themselves, and you know if they could do that, they would have already.


The Open Source process is built on the the same principles that work in any scientific environment. You share knowledge. You cooperate. Business always wants to balkanize. They very nearly killed Unix doing exactly that. And here they go with Linux, trying the same stupid thing. Brand X Linux. But you know what the song says, and it's true: There Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby.

Buffer overflow:

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And finally... the Great Pumpkin computer mod

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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