What's the Future of Linux and Solaris at Oracle?

Several of the concerns about Oracle's acquisition of Sun have revolved around how Unix technologies led by Sun would continue under the new ownership. As it turns out, Solaris users might not have much to worry about, as Oracle executives on Wednesday affirmed their commitment to preserving the efforts. Ellison outlines Oracle's open source direction now that the Sun acquisition has closed.

In the case of Solaris, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) had already been a big supporter of the rival Linux operating system. Oracle has its own Enterprise Linux offering, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. For Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the idea that Linux and Solaris are mutually exclusive is a false choice.

"I don't think it's an either/or proposition, as UNIX does very well on the high-end," Ellison said during a Webcast Q&A session about the technologies. "I think where you'll see Solaris going is running not so much as an operating system for a standalone computer. You'll see Solaris as an operating system for a cluster of computers."

Under Sun, the OpenSolaris open source effort can be used on standalone computers. It also represents the next generation of Solaris as a testbed for future technologies. Though Ellison did not specifically mention OpenSolaris during his talk, he did address how Linux will fit into the equation.

"I love Linux. We're big supporters of Linux, [but] Solaris is an older and more capable operating system," Ellison said.

While he expects to see Solaris primarily at the high end, it will go all the way down to the desktop for development. Nevertheless, he stressed that the high end is the home for Solaris, which could be a cloud of x86 or SUN SPARC machines.

"We think it will be a long time before Linux ever catches up," Ellison said. "But again we will have Linux -- I'm a Linux fan and if you want Linux we have the best Linux in the world. If you want UNIX, we have the best UNIX in the world. And again, they are different and I don't think the high end is in trouble at all."

Ellison's comments on the position of Unix relative to Linux are similar to those voiced by rival Unix vendor HP (NYSE: HPQ). With HP-UX, HP also offers both Linux and Unix to its users, while it is positioning Unix specifically for high-end mission-critical deployments.

"We've been in the open source business a very long time. We've been a distributor of Apache and we have our own version of Linux," Ellison said. "We have no problems having both Linux and Solaris and we want to make them both better."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Jan 28, 2010
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