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Oracle CEO ponders future as a Linux distributor

Apr 26, 20062 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinuxOracle

* OracleLinux: Is Larry Ellison all talk? (What's new?)

OracleLinux? Ellisonix? MigLinux?

Whether Oracle CEO Larry Ellison names his Linux distribution after the company, himself, or his personal antique Soviet jet fighter toy remains to be seen. News last week that Oracle is considering creating its own Linux distribution was dismissed partly as Ellison “thinking out loud,” which he is famous for. But the idea is interesting, and maybe not so far-fetched.

Following Red Hat’s buyout of open source application server JBoss- which analysts said could start a Red Hat/Oracle feud – Ellison told the Financial Times that he had in fact researched a buyout of Red Hat. But he determined that it was not worth the money – especially when it would be easy for a company the size of Oracle to whip up its own Linux distribution from free, open source code.

“The reason I have a hard time writing cheques for billions or hundreds of millions of dollars for things that are open source is that if we could do this, other people could do this too,” he is quoted as saying in the article.

Many companies that are not in the operating system business use Linux as a robust, freely available appliance operating system platform for IP PBXs, digital video recorders, security appliances and even all-in-one mail server black boxes. An Oracle black-box database appliance might be useful to companies looking for an all-in-one server/DBMS platform. But even Oracle’s rival IBM – a competitor in DBMS and Web apps – has stayed away from going all-in to the Linux operating system market, even though the company has pumped billions into the development of the technology. And IBM even has a mature Unix-based operating system business and support infrastructure with the AIX group. For now, it’s probably safe to assume that OracleLinux is just talk.