Dell and Oracle last week announced that they will combine forces to offer more database server packages. And Linux will be a lynchpin in the effort.Dell and Oracle announced that they will offer new low-cost configurations of Oracle9i for Intel-based Dell PowerEdge servers, as well as cluster systems for improved scale and availability. The server offerings will be targeted at replacing older Unix data center systems. Some offerings will start at around $18,000, with EMC-based storage systems available with the packages.The servers will support both Red Hat Linux and Microsoft Windows, but at an event at a swanky New York hotel announcing the alliance, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made it know which horse he's betting on in the data center race.Ellison said he expected Linux to "wipe out" Microsoft in the data center over the next several years, as more large enterprises adopt open source software over proprietary systems. He likened the proliferation of Linux to the path taken by Apache Web server, which he cited as the most used Web platform over rivals such as Microsoft's IIS and Sun's iPlanet.Ellison's analogy may be a bit of a stretch, and the motivation for his comments may have more to do with his dislike of all things Microsoft, rather than his love of Linux. But Linux denizens should be heartened to hear that one of the top 10 richest men in the world (according to Forbes) is so bullish on Linux.