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Oracle on Linux Is No Game

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle is continuing to push hard with its Linux efforts, today announcing a series of new open source projects and initiatives.

Among the new projects are a filesystem, a Linux test kit and a project to improve the I/O interface of the Linux kernel. The new project comes as Oracle reveals another customer win for its Oracle Enterprise Linux support program, gaming giant Activision.

"In general our focus is on deployment and supportability," Monica Kumar, senior director of open source product marketing at Oracle, told internetnews.com. "Oracle has a focus on helping enterprises to deploy Linux with confidence in their datacenter, and everything we do it is surrounding that."

One of the issues that Oracle is trying to address is filesystem scalability. To that end Kumar explained that Oracle is developing something called the Btfs filesystem, which is intended to be more scalable than existing Linux filesystems, such as EXT3.

"We're hoping this becomes the default Linux filesystem," Kumar said. "It's in alpha today and available under GPL v2."

The idea is to get Btfs into the mainstream kernel at some point, though Kumar admitted that it is too early to know which kernel it might end up in. Oracle has previously contributed its Oracle Cluster filesystem (OCFS) to Linux, which was added in the 2.6.16 kernel.

Simplifying access to the Linux kernel is what the new asynchronous I/O interface effort at Oracle is all about. Kumar explained that it will provide a single access point allowing most system calls to be asynchronous. The expected benefit is that it will reduce complexity and make it easier for the kernel to make access calls.

"Oracle databases use asynchronous I/O, so it will make it faster for Oracle and will allow others to be faster too," Kumar said.

In terms of making sure that Linux is ready to run mission-critical applications like an Oracle database, Oracle is now open sourcing its Linux Test Kit, which is intended to automate testing. The kit has been available for a year and is now being open sourced under GPL.

Kumar explained that it took some time to get the kit in shape so that third parties can use it and expand it. By open sourcing Oracle is hoping that others will take it and add more features to it.

Not only is Oracle contributing its own code into open source, but it is also taking others' code and helping to make it usable. That's what's happening with the Yast (yet another setup tool) that was originally developed by Novell's SUSE Linux as a package management solution.

Oracle has taken Yast and ported it to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Oracle Enterprise Linux, which is based on RHEL. Kumar explained that, while RHEL already has setup tools such as Anaconda, Oracle is giving users another choice by providing Yast.

Oracle began offering its own support services for RHEL in October and has long claimed that its Enterprise Linux support offering is all about providing choice.

Oracle has also claimed that switching from Red Hat's support to Oracle's is a simple exercise and apparently gaming giant Activision agrees.

Today Oracle announced that Activision has chosen Oracle Unbreakable Linux support for its infrastructure. Kumar claimed that Activision was able to switch from Red Hat to Oracle in 10 minutes.

"It goes back to the point of saying we are fully binary compatible with Red Hat," Kumar said. "They just pointed to our update server and they were setup."

She also claimed that as a result of the move, Activision recognized a 65 percent cost savings. Kumar, however, declined to provide any specific financial details of the Activision deal.

Whatever the case there is no question that Linux is a lucrative business for Oracle. Kumar cited statistics that report that Oracle had revenues of $1.95 billion in subscriptions and support for its products running on Linux.