Oracle will provide technical support for businesses running its software on operating systems from the UnitedLinux group, it announced at CeBIT on Thursday.
The move extends Oracle's "Unbreakable Linux" platform, which currently covers Red Hat Inc.'s distribution of the open source operating system, to include distributions from the four members of the UnitedLinux program: Connectiva SA, The SCO Group, SuSE Linux AG and Turbolinux Inc.
"Customers told us they wanted to use UnitedLinux, but that what was slowing them down was, it was not part of the Unbreakable Linux campaign like Red Hat," said Dave Dargo, vice president of Oracle's Linux Program Office.
To get the technical support for UnitedLinux, customers must have an Oracle support contract for Oracle products and an operating system support contract with one of the four UnitedLinux founders, Oracle said. The cost of support contracts varies.
"Companies already have multiple support contracts, but we are giving them this extra level of support at no extra cost," Dargo said.
"If you run Oracle on a distribution of Linux that is part of the UnitedLinux program, and you have problems, Oracle will get you up and running -- even if the problem is with the operating system: we will provide a fix for the operating system," he said.
UnitedLinux has already been certified with the full stack of Oracle products, he said.
Dargo expects the first customers to be using UnitedLinux in production systems by August.
Oracle is already running many of its own functions on Linux, and intends to run its entire business on that operating system, Dargo said. However, when that will happen is still unclear. Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison "wants it to happen now," Dargo said, but there is still much work to do. "We are in the process of sizing the back-end database functions that run the company."
By working with the development team for UnitedLinux Oracle has added new features to the operating system, in particular in the virtual memory management unit and input-output subsystems, he said.
Businesses needing to cluster several UnitedLinux servers together to run very large applications will need support from companies like Oracle for now.
"Clustering is not in the UnitedLinux version," said Richard Seibt, chief executive officer of SuSE.
However, Oracle has plugged this gap, according to Dargo.
"Oracle provides that capability with our real clustering software. It's specially designed to allow a cluster of Linux machines to work on a large database problem, and we have open-sourced our Linux cluster file system," he said.
For now, Oracle will support UnitedLinux on the x86 platform only.
"We will be opening it up to other platforms as they go through certification," Dargo said. "There are some processes that need to be worked out with the driver manufacturers in the Linux operating system. We don't have a delivery date yet."
UnitedLinux Version 1.0, the first version of which was released last November, is available in English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, French and Hungarian.
Local language and local time zone support for the operating system is available worldwide through more than 16,000 resellers, according to Oracle.
"Level 3 support for UnitedLinux is provided by SuSE," Seibt said.