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22 July 2011, 11:40

Oracle buys runtime kernel patcher Ksplice

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Ksplice logo Oracle has bought the Ksplice company which offers services and technology for correcting vulnerabilities and errors in the Linux kernel on the fly. Oracle plans to incorporate the technology into its Unbreakable Linux kernel, as used by its "Unbreakable Linux", and expects this to increase the operating system's reliability, security and availability.

Ksplice originated at MIT and was introduced by Jeff Arnold in 2008. It works by first analysing a security patch and comparing it with the source code of the currently running kernel. It then creates a set of kernel modules to perform the update; these modules determine where the running kernel can be paused and, while paused, adds redirections to the new code where appropriate and then unpauses the kernel.

Initially the Ksplice developer sought to have the open source technology included in the official Linux kernel but these efforts became dormant after a while. More recently the company had tried to make money with a service offering called "Ksplice Uptrack" which offers runtime security updates for different distributions' kernels. Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (and its derived distributions such as CentOS and Scientific Linux) were supported under Uptrack, with Fedora and Ubuntu desktops being supported for free.

This will change though because, according to a customer letter, Oracle is reviewing the Ksplice product roadmap, but aims to make Ksplice primarily available through their Oracle Linux Premier Support offering. Although that offering does include support for Red Hat and SUSE Linux distributions, Oracle will not be supporting the Ksplice technology for those platforms – only Oracle's Unbreakable Linux will be supported.


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