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Oracle Offers Collaboration Amidst Red Hat’s Source Code Restriction

Oracle “offers” to ease the burden of RHEL development and takes a swipe at IBM.

Oracle, who maintains an RHEL Clone as “Oracle Linux”, has responded to Red Hat’s decision to restrict public access to its source code by promoting openness, collaboration, and compatibility. Oracle offers to maintain binary compatibility with RHEL while extending support to independent software vendors (ISVs) and ensuring a seamless transition to Oracle Linux. This blog post takes a subtle dig at IBM, who recently discontinued the public release of RHEL source code.

With a history of active involvement in the Linux community spanning 25 years, Oracle has consistently aimed to make Linux the premier server operating system. As per the post, their Linux engineering team has made significant contributions to the kernel, file systems, and tools, benefitting Oracle customers and the entire Linux user base.

Oracle Linux, launched in 2006 as an RHEL-compatible distribution, has gained widespread usage, powering Oracle’s engineered systems and cloud infrastructure. Its compatibility success is evident, as customers and ISVs can effortlessly switch to Oracle Linux without modifying their applications. Oracle even certifies their software products on RHEL, despite exclusively building and testing them on Oracle Linux.

The divergence in philosophies between Oracle and IBM becomes apparent in their approaches to open-source stewardship and GPLv2 compliance. Oracle has always made Oracle Linux binaries and sources freely available to all without subscription agreements limiting redistribution. At least for now!

Conversely, IBM’s subscription agreements have faced criticism for potentially hindering GPLv2 rights. IBM’s recent decision to discontinue the public release of RHEL source code has raised eyebrows, considering Red Hat’s historical commitment to both public release and compensating its engineers.

In the blog post, the author emphasizes the impact on CentOS, a popular free RHEL alternative, following IBM’s actions. IBM effectively curtailed CentOS’s viability, leading to the rise of new alternatives like AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux. By withholding RHEL source code, IBM has directly impacted these emerging contenders, potentially seeking to minimize competition and maximize revenue.

Oracle Linux 7 Server (with GNOME)
Oracle Linux 7 Server (with GNOME)

Oracle pledged to maintain compatibility with RHEL and actively develop and test software products on Oracle Linux. While they anticipate a high level of compatibility until release 9.2, Oracle acknowledges the possibility of future compatibility issues and promises to address them promptly.

To take the matter more seriously, Oracle also extends an invitation to join their team, reaffirming their commitment to supporting their cause and open source via this blog post.

Finally, Oracle presents IBM with a cost-saving suggestion: become a downstream distributor of Oracle Linux and relieve the burden of maintaining RHEL while benefiting from Oracle’s expertise and commitment to Linux.

In conclusion, it’s a strange time when Oracle swipes at Red Hat, pioneering open source for over two decades. But the post never mentioned any RHEL fork or anything else. It’s interesting to see if there would be any counter post from Red Hat on this offering.

You can read the entire post here.

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