Can I use Oracle Linux Without Vendor Lock-In?


Don't get locked in Image source

One of the things I like about the Oracle Linux (OL) offering (over Solaris/AIX/HP-UX/zOS/OpenVMS etc) is that since Oracle Linux is a copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), it's mostly covered by the GNU General Public License. 

That means that Oracle must give you the source code, and you can do whatever you like with it.  This makes vendor lock extremely difficult because, for example, you can give the source code to Red Hat and ask them to support it (which, of course, is exactly what Oracle is doing in reverse).  This Free Software feature of RHEL and its derivative OL forces some measure of competition and openness in these offerings which Solaris/AIX/HP-UX/zOS/OpenVMS aren't subject to.

BUT!  There is nothing to stop Oracle from pursuing a certain other vendor’s "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish!" policy when hacking on RHEL.  If Oracle builds a new feature on top of RHEL to, e.g. "enhance performance", that feature might not be covered by the GNU GPL, if Oracle codes in an API style rather than a library style.

So, if one wants to avoid vendor lock while using OL, the key will be to avoid any nonFree additions to OL that Oracle makes.  Knowing Oracle's proprietary proclivities, that will likely equate to all "performance enhancements" beyond RHEL.

So the upshot is - run OL exactly as RHEL or risk vendor lock.  But if you're running OL as RHEL, why aren't you just running RHEL?  Because the OL support for the RHEL feature set is better?  I think not.  But that’s a different blog.

In GNU/Linux, as everywhere else in IT, beware unique-to-vendor features.