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20 July 2012, 12:35

Oracle courts CentOS users

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Zoom Oracle's controversial security-relevant kernel update analysis
Source: Oracle

On a recently published web page, Oracle addresses CentOS users in an attempt to persuade them to switch to Oracle Linux. On the page, the company even offers a scriptDirect download that makes various changes to CentOS or Scientific Linux (SL) installations and causes them to receive future package updates and operating system packages from the Oracle Linux repositories. Ultimately, this will turn CentOS and SL installations into Oracle Linux systems.

From a technical point of view this isn't very difficult because CentOS and Oracle Linux are both Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clones that are created from the RHEL sources and aspire to achieve full compatibility with the original – if no bugs were introduced in the cloning process, all software components in these distributions should, therefore, offer identical functionality. The distributions only differ in various custom packages such as those that contain the repository definitions or the desktop backgrounds.

Since Oracle has been updating its Linux free of charge since March, the company is currently offering a similar service to the CentOS community project. With its "Unbreakable Linux Kernel", Oracle Linux is offering an option that is unavailable in RHEL and CentOS, however.

Controversy has been sparked by a graph on the Oracle web page which suggests that the CentOS developers have frequently released security-related kernel updates significantly later than the Oracle Linux developers. The analysis is based on a period last year when the CentOS project was implementing various internal restructuring measures, however. Towards the end of the analysed period, CentOS was barely slower, and on one count even faster, than Oracle Linux. Oracle doesn't provide an evaluation of the past few months.

A blogger from Bashton business consultancy also remarked that Oracle's analysis ignored the Continuous Updates Repository (CR). The blogger added that he took a closer look at the 2012 kernel updates – according to his analysis, CentOS has been at least as fast as Oracle this year, and Oracle was five or six days behind with three out of six updates.


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