Oracle Linux components

A few weeks ago I was visiting a customer where we were discussing Oracle Linux and Oracle VM advantages compared to some of our competitors. One of the comments from the customer at some point in the discussion was "And you get -all that- for just -$that-?"... Why, yes, you do, sir. I wanted to take the opportunity to list some of the included advantages of having Oracle Linux support. Next time I will do the same for Oracle VM.

Oracle Linux is a complete enterprise Linux solution available from Oracle. In fact, it is, we firmly believe, the best enterprise Linux solution available. Both for generic use of Linux and in particular and especially when using any Oracle product on top of it. So it is important to remember and understand that Oracle Linux is not just for running Oracle products on top of Linux. Oracle Linux is a complete generic Linux distribution that's fully supported underneath any Linux application. There are no restrictions from our end as to what you can run on it (as long as they're apps built to run on Linux, of course and any application that runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux will run the same on the corresponding Oracle Linux version). You can run 3rd party Linux applications just fine. Use it as an NFS server, as a webserver or whatever you want to use the system for. Many customers I talk to somehow believe that it's unique for Oracle products and I have to point out that while we have great, unique advantages and extra benefits running Oracle products on Oracle Linux, it's certainly not in anyway restricted for that. It's the opposite, all you needs is Oracle Linux for any and every Linux server in house.

Why the best, you ask? Well, we do an incredibly amount of testing on a daily basis (1000's of servers run various types of QA on Oracle Linux amounting to over 100,000 hours of QA happening every single day), we have a huge amount of internal use as consumers (end-user/customer use), we have many years of experience helping enterprise customers in general and we extend that down to Operating System support. We can scale using the greater Oracle infrastructure, etc.

The support team is a large group of dedicated professionals globally that are trained to handle serious issues, deal with mission critical environments and cases, know their product, have a focus on server use first and foremost, understand, in particular, also the other products around it enough (like, to be able to understand that ASM doesn't stand for -assembler language- (in our customer-base) but stands for automatic storage management (you laugh? I can assure you it's not a joke)) A single phone call: if a database problem is an OS issue, no worries, we deal with it internally, no need to go call someone else that might think a database is a dirty word, or someone that 's an expert in gnome (no offense) but not quite in a complex environment where you have a product use 50GB of RAM and has 2000 processes running and is doing massive amounts of IO and woops something is going wrong. "Reboot?" doesn't cut it.

When we do Linux development, the focus is basically on two things. 1) find ways to enhance Linux to run our products better (in ways that are generic, and also help other applications). A database does disk/network IO, lots of processes, lots of memory access, if we make our product run better, others also benefit... 2) help make Linux a better OS. improve stability, help add features that an OS needs, unrelated to our own product stack but important for customers to run the operating system, no matter what application. Having access to in-house hardware such as very big x64 servers like the x4800 (4TB ram, 160 threads) and TB and TB of storage allows us to test things at very, very large scale. This allows us to publish benchmark results like the 5M tpc-c result a few months ago. Offering the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel(UEK) as part of Oracle Linux alongside what we call the Red Hat-Compatible kernel gives us the ability to provide current, modern, tested code to customers without reducing reliable and availability.

A CTO of another company a little while back implied on twitter that UEK is too current and reduces reliability because the code is new. Can I point something out here? One thing we decided to do, with UEK, was to not backport features but instead just focus on stability. The goal is to stay close (but not too close as we don't ship a development tree) to the "Linus kernel" and focus on testing the heck out of it and fixing any bug that we would find, any regression.. This is good for the Linux community because when we do find a problem, we fix it and it's immediately also relevant to the mainline kernel. This helps us and the kernel community. We spend time testing and fixing, we develop on mainline and we don't waste time backporting new stuff into old versions. It's a symbiotic relationship. The alternative : take a version of Linux that's 3+ years old and take code from a more or less current version, after 100's of 1000's of lines of code changes and architectural changes have happened, and make that new code, somehow work in the old tree. The result : old patched up, totally unique code. Someone spending all their time retrofitting complex features into an old version. Testing is unique, bugs found are mostly only relevant in that version and not so much in newer versions unless they're greater design bugs or one liners. No one else really ever tested it because, well, it's unique, no other company is providing that seriously forked kernel that has 1+M of lines of differences. Somehow, I prefer our approach. At least the folks at SuSE seem to believe the same.

One advantage we have with our kernel is that we made it possible to install in an existing Oracle Linux 5 environment and you are not required to move to Oracle Linux 6 to get the benefit of new kernel features and new drivers and new performance benefits. Moving from one major version to the next is a very costly effort because you basically always end up doing a re-imaging of the servers. Most customers are driven to new major releases for a hardware refresh. We don't require you to do that, you can run both OL5 and OL6, your choice, your timeframe. You can reboot between 2.6.18 and 2.6.32 or even 2.6.39 (3.0.24) without problem, at any time.

The complete source code for Oracle Linux is available from oss.oracle.com (OL5 or OL6). The source code for our UEK and UEK2 kernels is available in a public GIT repository (UEK 2.6.32 or UEK2 2.6.39. Don't worry, it's not just a tar file and you don't have to go browse webpages behind a userid/password to figure out what all changed and try to piece it together yourself. It's all there, both the mainline kernel changelog and our changes on top. Transparent.

The binaries for Oracle Linux are available from edelivery in the form of ISO images of the installable DVDs for the major releases and all the update releases (OL5.1...5.8, OL6, OL6.1, OL6.2 etc). You are not required to first get a support subscription, you can just go and download the software, no activation keys, no trial period, production use OK, distribute to your friends? no problem, no need to remove logos. Errata/bug updates are available through ULN (ULN is our Oracle Linux customer portal where we have extra channels with extra software bits for subscribers, or from public yum (public yum is an open, free, no registration, no subscription site). All Oracle Linux errata/packages are published on both sites at the same time. If you have a set of servers where support is not needed, just a standard Oracle Linux, and then a set of servers where you do need support because they're production systems etc, you can install OL on both and you subscribe for the systems you need to have support for. One distribution installed across the entire company. No need to find a free distribution and a pay to use distribution. If you no longer need support services for a system, don't worry, we won't ask you to de-install.

But wait, there's more..

How about managing Oracle Linux... well, included in Oracle Linux support subscriptions, is the use of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c and Oracle Enterprise Manager OpsCenter 12. This is management software that can handle 1000's of servers from a single managed web-based interface. It offers features like :

  • bare-metal provisioning of Oracle Linux servers
  • configuration management, collecting and analysis and auditing
  • lights-out or ad hoc patching
  • availability and performance monitoring
  • event management and job systems
  • yum repositories
  • grouping of servers, custom jobs, custom action/corrective action scripts
  • this is all included, for no additional fee. Any server with Oracle Linux support subscriptions include the above. No extra pack, no per server additional fees. Or if you don't really care for that and just want a very simple yum based setup, you can do that as well, just grab the rpms, put them on a server, create a repository and have your servers connect to that. So, very basic and simple, to very complete and comprehensive. Same cost.

    And there is even more...

    Oracle Real Application Clusters makes use of the Oracle Clusterware(CRS). CRS is cluster software that is capable of protecting any kind of application in a failover cluster. Not just Oracle. It is the basis for any clustered environment and provides generic availability eliminating the need for other third party cluster solutions. You can protect your own application using this enterprise grade clustering stack. Without additional fees. It's included in Oracle Linux support subscriptions (basic/premier).. have your own nfs server? webserver? want to monitor it and restart it in a cluster no problem? Go for it. Using the exact same software we use for the most mission critical clustered systems. Want to run Oracle Linux virtualized? 1 guest? 10 guests? 20 guests? You only need one subscription per physical server and we don't charge more if you run 1 or more than 1 guest. And how much for all this?

  • Oracle x86 based systems with Premier support for Systems includes all this, both the Oracle Linux subscription and the use of the management features and Oracle CRS
  • Non-Oracle x86 based systems : 2 socket server $499 for all of the above or 4+ socket server $1199 includes all this, both the Oracle Linux subscription and the use of the management features and Oracle CRS
  • This is 24/7 support, not just office hours. Complete 24/7 support and real indemnification not based on subscription fees paid.

    We also have a premier support subscription which adds the ability to use Oracle ksplice technology to apply your kernel security fixes online, while the system is running at full speed, while the applications are running, while the users are working, without downtime. And I mean apply, not just install. The installed fixes are instantly effective at runtime. zero reboots. zero downtime scheduling. zero administrative program/planning management.. Or premier backport support, critical fixes for a specific bug in the specific version of the rpm you run in a mission critical environment. Or lifetime support, now with virtualization more useful than ever before. Virtual hardware can remain the same for much longer than the support lifecycles.

  • Oracle x86 based systems with Premier support for Systems includes all this, both the Oracle Linux subscription and the use of the management features and Oracle ksplice and premier backports and lifetime support
  • Non-Oracle x86 based systems : 2 socket server $1399 for all of the above or 4+ socket server $2299 includes all this, both the Oracle Linux subscription and the use of the management features and Oracle CRS and Oracle ksplice and premier backports and lifetime support
  • See our store for pricing, and our Oracle Linux site for policies and references to the above.

    Ok there you have it. Almost a novel but we just have that much to offer, and wait 'til I get to Oracle VM.. it just gets even better.

    Comments:

    Hello,

    I enjoy reading your blogposts about Oracle Linux.

    I'm currently teaching a one week Solaris course for Oracle in Utrecht with remote access to sparc computers.

    Instead of using ssh to reach those machines, we are now obligated to use a vpn inside Firefox on a Solaris to connect to a Windows XP Desktop computer which opens an ActiveX component inside MSIE6 that connects to Sun Global Desktop which in itself connects to a Gnome Desktop where we can run a terminal session on the sparc.

    Is there any way that you can tell your people at Oracle Benelux that there are better ways to connect to a Unix ?

    (during the Sun days we got a simple ssh config file to connect to those sparc machines directly from any Unix, now they force vpn with connection info hidden behind ActiveX components)

    paul

    Posted by guest on May 21, 2012 at 12:48 PM PDT #

    That's what my customer (a large UK Supermarket) was told when they chose OEL over RHEL. It turned out that Oracle support staff knew nothing about any kind of Linux, and all we had was a CentOS equivalent with slightly faster updates, and extra (RHEL-incompatible) updates were pushed in along with security updates.

    Not impressed. I can't recommend OEL for customers based on this real-world experience.

    (anon for hopefully obvious reasons)

    Posted by guest on May 23, 2012 at 05:34 PM PDT #

    It is a great explanation about Oracle Linux. I just want to ask about the CRS. The only way to use CRS is by support subscription. If after a period of subscription time I decided not to extend the subscription does it means I have to drop the CRS from the instalation ? Allthough of course I could still use the OS.
    Why don't you give the CRS to the the comunity also like OCFS2 because it is a complement product. Is there any beter way to utilize OCFS2 other than use your clusterware product ?
    I can understand if you could only give the Management Suite and KSplice through support subscribtion, but seperating OCFS2 from your CRS is wierd, didn't it ?

    Posted by guest on May 23, 2012 at 11:14 PM PDT #

    @guest2 I am sorry to hear about your experience. Please do email me details and I can follow up as that's not supposed to ever happen. I can assure you I will follow up on it. But I'd need some specific info as to what happened. please do let me know.

    Posted by wim on May 24, 2012 at 07:32 AM PDT #

    @guest3 re crs.
    CRS is a product that's part of the Oracle database solution stack. It's not "part" of Oracle Linux. Its a commercial offering for which we grant free use for customers under a support contract.

    CRS has nothing to with ocfs2 - they do not talk to eachother they 're independent. ocfs2 has its own clusterstack built in that's specific to the filesystem and is part of oracle linux and part of the mainline kernel. CRS is not needed at all to use it.

    if you want to do general purpose HA then you would not need to use ocfs2, and crs is a separate product. hope that helps

    Posted by wim on May 24, 2012 at 07:34 AM PDT #

    @guest1 hm ok :)

    Posted by wim on May 24, 2012 at 07:35 AM PDT #

    Wim,
    Thank you for your explanation about CRS an OCFS2. I still get the impression that OCFS2 needs CRS as the cluster manager. Could you give a documentation reference about building general purpose HA with OCFS2 ?

    Adrie

    Posted by Adrie T on May 24, 2012 at 10:05 PM PDT #

    look at the following : http://osdir.com/ml/file-systems.ocfs2.user/2008-02/msg00057.html
    http://oss.oracle.com/projects/ocfs2/src/branches/ocfs2-1.2/dlmfs.txt

    that gives you some idea on how to use dlmfs in your own apps.

    Posted by wim on May 24, 2012 at 10:53 PM PDT #

    also, again, if you want to just do generic HA. you do -not-need ocfs2. ocfs2 is a cluster filesystem part of oracle linux (and linux in general) CRS is a general purpose clusterware that by itself can run on any OS really where we run oracle real application cluster. if you install CRS. you don't need ocfs2. if you use ocfs2, you don't need crs. if you just want to manage/monitor an application for HA purposes, you can use crs. and ignore ocfs2 (ie use nfs for instance).

    Posted by wim on May 24, 2012 at 10:58 PM PDT #

    Wim,

    I just found this article http://wiki.sysconfig.org.uk/display/howto/Clustered+Filesystem+with+DRBD+and+OCFS2+on+CentOS+5.5

    Can I refer this as an example of building a general HA system using OCFS2 without CRS ? Those article talked about O2CB, I can not found a reference about this O2CB in Oracle documentation. Is this O2CB still valid and current ?

    Adrie

    Posted by Adrie T on May 25, 2012 at 02:56 AM PDT #

    o2cb is part of ocfs2 and is the internal heartbeat code. this makes ocfs2 HA but it will not automatically start/stop applications.

    Posted by wim on May 25, 2012 at 08:14 AM PDT #

    Adrie,

    not sure what you are trying to go for.

    1) we created a cluster filesystem many years ago, ocfs2, which we contributed back to the kernel. this filesystem is a general purpose cluster filesystem that includes a clusterstack (dlm/nodemembership/heartbeat) that's very specifc to dealing with the filesystem - it 's small and does the job well.

    2) we have our traditional oracle products, like the oracle database, unrelated to linux, the oracle database product has a feature/product called real application cluster. Part of RAC is a clusterware that's designed for the database but -also- can handle other applications. As part of the port of the database including RAC to linux, this is also ported and it is possible to monitor/manage other applications.

    3) normally. to use that clusterware you need to run at least an oracle product in the cluster. in the case of Oracle Linux customers, we allow people to use this clusterware without the need to run another oracle product in the cluster.

    that's is all there is to it. this is not a linux extension, this is not a product that's linux specific or oracle linux specific. this is a standard oracle product. that's also ported to linux.

    Posted by wim on May 27, 2012 at 07:56 PM PDT #

    Hi Wim,

    Can I ask you about Oracle ASMlib and Redhat 6 please.

    Oracle seem to be forcing customers to install the UEK(2) on their RHEL 6 systems if they want to use the ASMlib, can you tell me why this is, please and will the position likely change?

    Regards

    Andy

    Posted by guest on June 13, 2012 at 01:13 AM PDT #

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    About

    Wim Coekaerts is the Senior Vice President of Linux and Virtualization Engineering for Oracle. He is responsible for Oracle's complete desktop to data center virtualization product line and the Oracle Linux support program.

    You can follow him on Twitter at @wimcoekaerts

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