Which Linux do you pick for Oracle Installations?

There was an interesting thread on the OakTable mailing list the other day regarding the choice of Linux distros for Oracle installations. It was started by one member (the name has been withheld to protect the innocent :)) who said,

“I cannot imagine (but want to understand) why anyone would pick RHEL5.6 for Oracle as opposed to the vastly superior OEL with the UEK.”

I must admit I’ve kinda forgotten that any distro apart from Oracle Linux (OL) exists as far as production installations of Oracle software are concerned.

Some of the reasons cited for people not to pick OL include:

  • The customer has a long relationship with Red Hat and doesn’t want to jump ship.
  • RHEL is the market leading enterprise Linux distro, so why switch to Oracle?
  • The customer doesn’t want to be too dependent on Oracle.
  • The customer has lots of non-Oracle servers running RHEL and doesn’t want a mix of RHEL and OL as it would complicate administration.
  • The customer uses some software that is certified against RHEL, but not OL.
  • The customer prefers Red Hat support over Oracle support. Wait. Red Hat and support in the same sentence. Give me a minute to stop laughing…
  • The customer is using VMware for Virtualization and the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) is not supported on VMware.

I guess every company and individual will have differing justifications for their choice of distro.

So why would you pick OL and Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) for Oracle installations?

  • You can run it for free if you don’t want OS support. Using OL without support doesn’t affect the support status of the products (DB, App Servers etc.) running on top of it.
  • It’s what Oracle use to write the Linux version of the products.
  • It’s what Exadata uses.
  • Oracle products are now certified against the OL + UEK before they are certified against the RHEL kernel.
  • UEK is typically a much more up to date version of the kernel than that shipped by RHEL and includes all the patches vital for optimum Oracle performance.
  • Single vendor, so no finger pointing over support issues (from Google+ comment).
  • It is the only enterprise Linux distro that supports kernel patching without reboots thanks to Oracle’s newly aquired Ksplice.

For more information you might want to read this whitepaper or watch this webcast.

If you are looking at things from a purely technical perspective, I guess you are going to pick OL and UEK. Of course, many of us don’t work in a world where technology is picked purely on its merits. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Update: Check out this post by Jay Weinshenker for a different angle on this issue.