Oracle's wooing of CentOS users called FUD

Oracle's recent launch of a campaign to convert users of CentOS -- a free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux that uses community support, rather than an paid option -- is being met with skepticism by some members of the business Linux community.

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U.K.-based open-source support company Bashton said in a blog post that Oracle's claims to be more secure than CentOS amounted to nothing more than FUD. While Oracle asserted that its version of Linux receives security updates to the RHEL 6 kernel far more quickly than CentOS, Bashton criticized this as misleading.

"The graph data has been carefully selected, ignoring the CentOS continuous updates repository, and selecting a period when mainline updates were slow due to the new way in which Red Hat kernel updates are released. In fact, if we look at kernel security updates this year ... we will see that every single CentOS kernel update has been released at the same time or before the corresponding Oracle Linux kernel update," the company asserted.

Another point made by Oracle, however, has attracted no such criticism -- Oracle Linux users running the free, unsupported product can purchase a support contract from the company with no service interruption. CentOS users who want to move to the commercial, company-supported version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux have to install a whole new set of packages.

That said, many questioned the worth of the support offered by Oracle. One Reddit user sarcastically summed up the Oracle argument: "Instead of paying Red Hat for service, pay us. Because we have a vague sense of what the Red Hat engineers must have been thinking when they contributed all this source code we have repackaged for you. And don't you just hate getting it straight from the horse's mouth."

Still, while there was no shortage of criticism for Oracle in the discussion, many questioned why Red Hat didn't re-adopt a similar model, which the company had done before the advent of RHEL.

"Red Hat may have been well within their rights to restrict binary distribution, but it certainly was a sad move for the user community, one that might even have hurt them as it encouraged people to use Debian, Ubuntu Server, or at best CentOS or SL," wrote another commenter.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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