Alan Hargreaves' Blog

The ramblings of a former Australian SaND TSC* Principal Field Technologist

SJVN’s rant on Oracle doing Linux Sustaining Support

While I don’t want to make any actual comment on whether or not Oracle can deliver on what they announced in their press release, I do take issue with something that Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has said in his rant about it.

The Oracle press release reads, “Red Hat only provides bug fixes for the latest version of its software. This often requires customers to upgrade to a new version of Linux software to get a bug fixed. Oracle’s new Unbreakable Linux program will provide bug fixes to future, current, and back releases of Linux. In other words, Oracle will provide the same level of enterprise support for Linux as is available for other operating systems.”

First, no one supports their obsolete operating systems. Want to get support for Windows NT? 2000? 98!? Good luck! In any case, with RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), you simply get the next version as part of your contract. No one has to stay with RHEL 3 unless they want to.

Come on Steven, you know better than that.

The commercial O/S vendors have always supported multiple releases. Sun (as an example that I am intimately familiar with) provides patches for Solaris 8 and 9 as well as the current release.

The press release states “Oracle’s new Unbreakable Linux program will provide bug fixes to future, current, and back releases of Linux”, they don’t say how far back. The point they made was that they want to provide the same level of patch support as enterprise customers have come to expect from other operating systems (paraphrased). You just took an extreme example to support your point of view.

To go back to what I work with, no matter how desperately I would love to see folks move off Solaris 8 to 9 or 10, I know that for as long as we provide support for 8 & 9 (and after we drop support for them), we are going to have folks out there running them, simply because that’s what some other vendor has certified their application on. To put this into perspective, Solaris 8 was released in February 2000. Solaris 8 is still actively supported.

While I don’t want to make any comment about whether or not Oracle can actually deliver, one thing that needs to be said is that if Oracle can deliver a service that is not currently available anywhere else (I’m sure someone will correct that if I’m mistaken), then they deserve the business. The corollary is that if Red Hat don’t wish to provide this service, then they really can’t cry foul if someone else wants to deliver it.

It would be interesting to see what you would have had to say if a new startup had made a similar announcement.

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Written by Alan

October 25, 2006 at 7:53 pm

Posted in General

5 Responses

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  1. This information is not correct, see the link, support exists for up to 7 years i.e. back to 1999 (if such RHEL version existed then, which is not the case):

    Q: In order to get support and maintenance for Red Hat, do you need to upgrade to the most recent version?
    A: No. Red Hat subscribers enjoy support and updates for all versions for up to 7 years. Throughout that time, Red Hat provides regular maintenance releases as part of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription. This is supplemented through our support services by a ‘hot-fix’ process that provides critical bug fixes on customer-specific basis. Oracle “reserves the right to desupport certain Enterprise Linux program releases” as part of their Oracle Enterprise Linux support policies.


    October 26, 2006 at 1:03 am

  2. Anonymous

    October 26, 2006 at 1:03 am

  3. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I was sure that if I was mistaken, then someone would.
    In this case Red Hat is in a position to compete. Competition is a good thing.
    And on the subject of the url to redhat, that’s a good read. It appears that Red Hat is not fazed by this, indeed they see opportunity. So why is SJVN so upset?

    Alan Hargreaves

    October 26, 2006 at 1:19 am

  4. One thing that I will say about the information at that url is that it appears d that aRed Hat is doing a little of their own FUDding in there too.

    For example about the common criterea certification, they say that it is against a particular software and hardware combination and therefore Oracle won’t be able to make the same claim. Strictly speaking, unless a Red Hat customer installs exactly the same hardware and sofware stack, neither can they. But I might talk more about that page more at a later date.

    Alan Hargreaves

    October 26, 2006 at 1:32 am

  5. I have blogged extensively on this at to include patent-related topics with regard to Redhat. I invite you to visit.

    Kevin Closson

    October 31, 2006 at 7:53 pm

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