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Oracle Loves Linux, Has Advice for Improvements

Oracle Loves Linux. Really.

  • August 10, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
Sean Michael Kerner
BOSTON -- Wim Coekaerts, senior vice president for Linux and virtualization engineering at Oracle, came to LinuxCon with a message: The open source operating system will remain a priority at Oracle even now that it owns Sun Microsystems and its competing Solaris OS.

In a keynote address here at the Linux Foundation's conference, Coekaerts detailed Oracle's Linux efforts to date and provided some guidance to Linux kernel developers on where the platform should go next.

The comments come as industry watchers, open source advocates and others are looking for signs of how Oracle will proceed with its new Sun assets -- and most importantly for the crowd at LinuxCon, what might happen now with Oracle pushing forward on both its Unix efforts with Sun Solaris as well as Linux.

<em>Wim Coekaerts</em>
Wim Coekaerts

For Linux fans, Coekaerts had some reassurance: Though Oracle has both Unix and Linux in its product portfolio, the company has no plans to favor one over the other, he said.

For starters, he said, investment and development will continue in both Linux and Solaris.

"Our competitors like to say that Oracle will kill Solaris or Linux," Coekaerts said. "We're doing neither. We will be totally open about improving both operating systems."

But he does want a similar experience for users on both systems, he added.

"We want Linux to look and feel like Unix," Coekaerts said. "It's not that Unix is better. It's that Unix works well on hardware and people are used to it."

That's why, for instance, Coekaerts said he thinks Linux needs to improve in terms of working more seamlessly with hardware. As a result, he wants the Linux distribution vendors to invest more in full stacks of hardware and software.

As an example, Coekaerts pointed out that Oracle's Exadata database machine runs on Linux and integrates hardware with the operating systems and the Oracle database.

"It's an example of how we built Linux for cutting-edge deployments," Coekaerts said, adding that with the Sun acquisition, he now has more access to hardware for development work.

Better Linux Testing

Expanding Linux testing overall is another key recommendation from Coekaerts. He noted that the Oracle Linux Test Kit (OLT) is designed to verify Linux functionality and test stability for Oracle products.

"My suggestion to kernel developers is that they should have checkin test suites in the kernel tree itself, so tests will be part of the build system," he added.

Coekaerts also said that there is so much change in Linux and there isn't enough testing in the mainline kernel. He added that each Linux distribution today is doing their own testing.

"It would be better to have things together so distros will be closer to mainline kernel development," Coekaerts said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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