Feeds

Oracle: Get your Red Hat Linux patches from us, it's easier

New service lets public browse kernel fixes

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

In the latest episode in its ongoing pissing match with leading Linux vendor Red Hat, Oracle has set up a new service that allows Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) customers to more easily browse the source code of changes Red Hat has made to its version of the Linux kernel.

Called RedPatch, the new service is a Git repository that holds every patch Red Hat has applied to the kernel source, broken out as one code commit per patch.

Red Hat itself used to distribute its patches in a similar fashion, but in early 2011 it changed its policy. It now distributes all of its modifications for each new version of its kernel as a single, giant patch file, making it harder for RHEL users to identify specific changes.

"For most people who work in the kernel this is merely an inconvenience," wrote Oracle's Tim Hill in a blog post announcing RedPatch. But the change is particularly cumbersome for Oracle's Ksplice team, he said, which is why it created the new code repository.

Ksplice is a technology that allows Linux kernel patches to be applied to running servers with no downtime. To facilitate this, the Ksplice team needs to build binary update files from individual patches, one at a time, and many of Red Hat's patches aren't even particularly relevant. For example, as Hill wrote, a patch that makes a server boot faster isn't very important for a server that never reboots.

But although the unique requirements of the Ksplice development process explain why the Ksplice team wanted to develop and maintain RedPatch for internal use, Oracle may have other reasons for making it public.

Oracle and Red Hat have clashed repeatedly in the enterprise Linux market, with Red Hat supporters arguing that Oracle Linux is nothing more than a clone of RHEL designed to undercut Red Hat's business.

Oracle denies the charge, claiming that not only is its Unbreakable Linux Kernel superior to the RHEL kernel, but that a Linux support contract from Oracle offers a better value than one from Red Hat, whether a customer's servers are running Oracle Linux or RHEL.

Last year, Red Hat reps admitted to El Reg that Larry Ellison's aggressive attempts to poach RHEL customers were the main reason why Red Hat decided to start shipping its Linux kernel patches in one big batch.

"We made the change, quite honestly, because we are absolutely making a set of steps that make it more difficult for competitors that wish to provide support services on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux," Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens said at the time.

But Red Hat's attempts to obfuscate its kernel code didn't slow down Oracle for long, and now with the public launch of RedPatch, RHEL customers can once again access kernel patches in an easy-to-browse format, free of charge – they just have to go to Oracle's servers to do it, rather than Red Hat's.

Expect to hear Larry Ellison's talking points about how much more open and transparent Oracle Linux is than RHEL, coming soon to a speaking engagement near you.

It seems unlikely that RedPatch alone will convince many Red Hat Linux customers to jump ship to Oracle, though. According to Wim Coekaerts, the database giant's Linux chief, most current Oracle Linux users are customers who had existing Oracle support contracts and who migrated their Linux support to Oracle mainly out of convenience.

But the public launch of RedPatch does seem to weaken the case for Red Hat's current patch delivery method. It remains to be seen whether the Linux vendor will rethink its approach, but as long as anyone can access RedPatch free of charge, the issue seems largely moot.

Red Hat has yet to issue a public statement regarding Oracle's new service, and it did not immediately respond to The Register's requests for comment. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Yes, Virginia, there IS a W3C HTML5 standard – as of now, that is
You asked for it! You begged for it! Then you gave up! And now it's HERE!
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.