Oracle rolls out “unbreakable” Linux kernel

Sep 20, 2010

Oracle today unveiled an “Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel” for its branded, Red Hat-based Linux distribution. The company describes the new kernel, which will now be offered as an option for Oracle Linux, as a “fast, modern, reliable kernel … optimized for Oracle software and hardware.”

Oracle has offered a branded Linux product — initially dubbed “Unbreakable Linux” — for several years. It’s essentially a repackaged version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux along with Oracle-supplied support.

Oracle doesn’t go head-to-head with Red Hat in the general enterprise Linux market. Rather, it positions what’s now called “Oracle Linux” as an OS platform for use with its own database and other application software and systems. Used in that manner, Oracle Linux is claimed to offer “enterprise-class support … with premier backports, comprehensive management, indemnification, testing and more, all at significantly lower cost.”

Now, however, Oracle will begin delivering a modified Linux kernel as an option for its Linux distribution. The newly-released Unbreakable Linux Kernel is a modified version of the current mainline Linux kernel, which has been tweaked to optimize the performance of [Oracle’s] enterprise software and systems, according to Wim Coekaerts, Oracle’s senior VP of Linux and Virtualization Engineering.

Specifically, the modified kernel is claimed to provide…

  • More than 75 percent performance gain demonstrated in OLTP performance tests vs. a Red Hat Compatible Kernel; 200 percent speedup of Infiniband messaging; 137 percent faster solid-state disk access
  • Optimizations for large NUMA servers; improved power management and energy efficiency; fine-grained CPU and memory resource control
  • Support for the Data Integrity Extensions and T10 Protection Information Model, to stop corrupt data from being written to storage; hardware fault management improves application uptime; low overhead performance counters for tracing
  • Compatibility with Oracle hardware, databases, and middleware with the best Linux performance and reliability available

Coekaerts adds that “the combination of Oracle Linux and the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, [gives] customers fast access to optimizations, new enhancements, and bug fixes.” He notes that because “today’s hardware innovations are fast and frequent,” it’s “very important that the Linux distributions evolve quickly to leverage the latest hardware.” Apparently, Red Hat didn’t meet the company’s expectations in that regard.

Further information regarding Oracle’s Linux distribution may be found here. An interesting take on the Oracle announcement may be found at Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’s blog, here.

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