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OpenWorld Memo to Red Hat: never buy something Larry Ellison covets 'cos you'll regret it.

Five months after Red Hat snatched JBoss from under the Oracle's nose, his company has struck back with a service and support package designed to gut Red Hat like a fish.

Dressed in the guise of promoting adoption of Linux in mission-critical environments, Ellison today at Oracle Openworld, announced three-tiered support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions 3 and 4 starting at $99 per system per year. It's not necessary for Red Hat customers to be running Oracle products.

Barely able to suppress excited giggling, Ellison claimed Oracle would undercut Red Hat by up to 60 per cent. Oracle middleware and application users on Red Hat and switching in the next 90 days get Oracle's support for an additional 50 per cent off.

This could hurt Red Hat, a company that looks to support and maintenance for the bulk of its revenues.

"We want to make all the Linux better," Ellison said. "The better Linux gets the more successful we will be." He confirmed Oracle would "absolutely" deliver an entire open source stack running from operating system to applications.

Asked if the death of Red Hat was part of the plan or an unintended side effect, Ellison said he expects Red Hat will come back with better offerings. "I don't think Red Hat is going to be killed... I'm sure they are going to compete on quality of support. This is capitalism, we are competing. We are trying to offer a better product at a lower price. We expect them to improve their product and price."

He added Oracle would consider supporting additional packages.

Oracle has created the Unbreakable Linux Network alternative to Red Hat Network, to pump out bug fixes and updates. Oracle will take Red Hat's source code, pull it into Oracle's core control systems, remove trademarks, make fixes, compile code and publish resulting programs and libraries.

According to Ellison, Oracle is within its legal rights to take and update RHEL by simply removing trademarks, as Linux is open source. "It's an open source product, this is open source... open source means the code is available to who ever wants it for free."

He denied Oracle would fork Linux, as it will return bug fixes to the community and make fixes available to Red Hat. "Each time Red Hat comes out with new code we'll synchronize with that version. We will add our bug fixes to current, future and back releases. Your application will run unchanged. We are going to stay synchronized with the Red Hat version. We are not trying to fragment the Linux market."

Oracle's three levels of Linux support are: network, for software updates; basic with 24 hours a day seven days a week support; and premier with week long, 24 hours a day support with back ports and Oracle Lifetime Support. Network starts at $99 per year, basic is $399 for machines with two CPUs and runs to $999 for big systems like a Hewlett Packard Superdome with unlimited CPUs; premier-level support is $1,199 per system with two CPUs and $1,999 for unlimited CPUs.

Backing Oracle were Dell, Hewlett Packard, Intel, IBM, AMD and BMC. ®

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