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Oracle Accelerates Linux With Unbreakable Linux Kernel 2

By Sean Kerner (Send Email)
Posted March 13, 2012


Oracle Linux is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), but that doesn't mean they have to use the same Linux kernel.

Oracle announced Tuesday the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2, which is an Oracle kernel that can be used to replace the stock Red Hat kernel for Oracle Linux. Instead of the 2.6.x kernel used in RHEL 6, Oracle's kernel is based on the 3.0.16 mainline Linux kernel.

"Moving to a newer baseline kernel, in this case the 3.0.16 Linux kernel, comes with better support for modern hardware," Sergio Leunissen, VP for Linux Product Management at Oracle, told InternetNews.com. "It comes with resource management features and brings improvements to memory management with Transparent Huge Pages."

Leunissen noted that overall, customers like the idea of having a new kernel and being able to use their new hardware.

Although Red Hat has not yet adopted a Linux 3.0 kernel for RHEL, that doesn't mean it's missing support for new hardware. RHEL 6 is actually based on the 2.6.34 kernel; however, Red Hat frequently backports features and support for the most modern new hardware including Intel's new Xeon E5.

As to what the difference is between the Oracle Kernel and what Red Hat already provides, Leunissen noted that Oracle didn't backport the support.

"Our kernel is based on a mainline kernel, and another difference is that we tested it with Oracle workloads," Leunissen said.

Going a step further, Oracle is now also providing full support for Btrfs, which is a next-generation Linux filesystem effort. Btrfs provides snapshotting capabilities and can scale up to 16 exabytes. The Oracle Unbreakable Linux 2.0 kernel release also provides support for Dtrace as a technology preview. Dtrace is a technology that first debuted in Solaris 10, providing application tracing capabilities.

From an application certification perspective, having the new Unbreakable Linux 2.0 kernel will not require new application certification.

"If you have an application that is certified to run on Oracle Linux, it is certified to run on Oracle Linux with the Unbreakable Linux 2.0 kernel," Leunissen said.

If an application was certified to run on RHEL, Leunissen noted that it depends on the vendor. If it was a userspace application, the certified should be valid since the kernel doesn't change anything in userspace.

Oracle debuted its first Oracle Unbreakable Linux kernel 18 months ago. The kernel itself is freely available and open source. As such, Oracle does not have precise numbers on exactly how many people are using the Unbreakable Kernel. That said, Oracle uses it extensively on its own engineered systems. Monica Kumar, senior director, product marketing told InternetNews.com that Oracle's Exadata database machine and the Exalytics analytics machine both use the Unbreakable Linux kernel.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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