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. 🙂



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

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

13 thoughts on “Which Linux do you pick for Oracle Installations?”

  1. There is also one very strong argument for RHEL:
    RHEV is a much better, cheaper and more stable virtualization platform whereas Oracle’s can’t even run a Windows partition without something seriously breaking while it steadfastly refuses to live together with vmware…

    Yes, we tried both. Guess which one we ended up using?

  2. How can you claim something is “vastly superior” when fundamentally it’s just a rebadged / rebundled version of RHEL?

    ..and lets face it. All linux distros are still rubbish compared to real *nix products such as Solaris, AIX and of course the greatest of them all… TRU64.

  3. Bryan: The “vastly superior” was in relation to the UEK kernel, not the whole distro.

    True, the distro is a rebadged RHEL (binary compatible clone), but it ships with a different kernel which has nothing to do with RHEL.

    Ahhhh… TRU64



  4. We use SUSE Linux, because the application uses it and that we we have a single distro throughout the environment.
    Of course it means for every SR we waste time explaining to Oracle support that we are not on Redhat/OL and they are even less likely to have a test database to investigate on than normal.

  5. @Chris_c:
    funny thing of course is that Oracle started out in the Linux world with Suse as a preferred platform. Somewhere along the course that message was completely lost…

  6. Rob: Yeah. Not the most convincing page. It seems certification is the most political thing going at the moment. All sides are refusing the certify each others products. 🙂



  7. Hi Tim,
    First of all thank you very much for your tutorials !
    I love oracle-base !

    I just finished an 11gR2 installation on oracle linux 6.1. (even if it is not certified 😉 ) for testing purposes.

    you wrote “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.”
    I didn’t know that. So that means that at home I can have Oracle Linux for free ? good !


  8. Hi.

    Yes. You can have OL at home and run it legally for free. You can update using public-yum.oracle.com. This doesn’t provided package updates as they are produced, just major respin updates, like 5.6, 5.7 etc.



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