Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9
superior system speed and system patches by a conservative base of paid developers
Ksplice the only real killer app
The best thing about Oracle linux 6 is its affordable support and excellent kernel features. Oracle linux has received harsh grades from its skeptics who state that its closed development cycle make it dangerous to use. What these detractors fail to note is that all commercially licensed linuces have closed development cycles to preserve quality of the final product (compare the development of FreeBSD, Slackware, OpenBSD and the ubuntu server). OS's with closed development cycles are able to produce higher quality products based on the fact that their developers work in close proximity to each other.
Oracle is faster, more fully supported and more unified than any of its open-developed cousins. Further, Oracle releases upstream patches and security advisories within days and sometimes hours of their appearing on the Upstream vendor's repositories. CentOS often takes months to release their version of the patches. Since Oracle is virtually the same as CentOS and its cousins, the slowness of security patches and new releases can become a deciding factor for those who need high performance and consistent quality.
On the other hand, it is not certain that Oracle wholeheartedly supports the future of this version of linux. Oracle remains devoted to big-ticket items such as their high-end Solaris UNIX products and their database product MySQL. Oracle products are, they claim, a defining factor in a customer buying service from Oracle. This is how Oracle seems to be leveraging their UEK Linux and it is slowly working.
Oracle sells its product based on its version a no-downtime updating feature called Ksplice (provided with Premium Support contract). Ksplice is a feature that allows a user to install security updates without the need to restart the system or network. This, according to Oracle, eliminates downtime. I am skeptical of this claim because rebooting a network doesn't seem to take very much time.
With the same applications available to Scientific and CentOS linuces (and the source code always available), I have a hard time telling how the Oracle kernel (and Ksplice) can be a game-changing feature for a desktop user or small business owner. Oracle certainly releases fixes much faster and also provides a polished system from the get-go. Scientific and CentOS are much smaller operations and have fewer dvelopers (although just as dedicated and qualified as those at Oracle).
Oracle offers user-friendly paid support that is much cheaper than RedHat support. Support can be purchased without the need to reinstall the OS (again, a feature of Ksplice).
I doubt that CentOS development model can compete with Oracle's unified and controlled approach to recompiling the upstream source code. Oracle argues that its enterprise linux is far superior to CentOS because Redhat patches may be applied to Oracle linux almost instantly.
Other EL clones need to recompile the source code for the Red Hat patches thus increasing the delay time between the actual security advisory and the time that a patch shows up on the CentOS repositories. Onc again, Oracle uses this factor as a major selling point, even claiming that its linux product is vastly superior to CentOS and Scientific
Please take my "review" as an expression of personal opinion based on my experience running Oracle 6.5 on my own production machines. I have serious praise for Oracle, but also serious doubts for this product. I just want to make it clear that I am basing this on my own research and personal use of Oracle, CentOS and Scientific Linux.
Unlike CentOS and Scientific, an Oracle account is required to gain access to the ISO files. This was a bummer for me because I am not sure I will become a paying customer. If, after trying Oracle, you would like to switch back to CentOS, Scientific, ClearOS and etc, the process is rather dificult. The ol6_latest repository contains 18 seperate repository files (for MySQL, SpaceWalk20 and other things). It is labor intensive to erase these 18 repo files from /etc/yum.repos.d so I don't recommend switching back to RedHat unless you are willing to do a clean install.