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06 October 2011, 16:58

Oracle works on Dtrace for Linux

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Oracle plans to include support for Solaris' well-known Dtrace analysis software in its "Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 2"; the latter will probably be included in a future version of Oracle Linux based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This is according to reports in The Register and Datamation in reference to a slide that Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven showed at a speech given at Oracle OpenWorld 2011 this week.

There is no word on what the Linux port of "Dynamic Tracing Facility" (also known as Dtrace) will look like, but it is considered a major function in newer versions of Solaris. A blog post by Dtrace co-inventor Adam Leventhal indicates that few details are known, though he does say that it will be interesting to see how Oracle clears up licensing issues.

Dtrace is licensed under CDDL, which is considered incompatible with the GPLv2 used for the Linux kernel; it will therefore not be easy to combine or swap them. By licensing kernel components under both the GPLv2 and CDDL, Oracle could solve the problem if it holds the rights. The company could, however, also try to get around the licence problem, for instance by not adding Dtrace support directly to the kernel, but allowing it to be added as an extension.

It will also be interesting to see what effects Oracle's efforts have on the rest of the Linux world. For years, Red Hat has supported the Dtrace alternative called SystemTap, but it has yet to become widely used. The lack of support in the official Linux kernel was probably part of the problem. Over the past two years, kernel developers have, however, considerably expanded the ways to trace kernel events; also IBM's Uprobes, which allows userspace applications to be profiled and analysed, could soon become part of the Linux kernel. If so, acceptance of the tool could increase as SystemTap can already use some of these interfaces.


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