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Author Topic: Another one 'bytes' the dust  (Read 1949 times)


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Another one 'bytes' the dust
« on: July 22, 2011, 04:27 PM »
Here's a bit of bad (or good depending on who you talk to) news being reported over at the Phoronix website:

Oracle Just Bought Out Ksplice
Posted by Michael Larabel on July 21, 2011

Oracle's latest acquisition is that of Ksplice Inc, the company behind the software to apply updates to the Linux kernel in real-time without requiring a system reboot or other downtime. "Never Reboot Linux For Security Updates," as Ksplice says.

Ksplice works on an unmodified stock Linux kernel and functions by examining a unified diff and the original Linux kernel source code, then analyzing that compared to the running kernel to be able to update the areas of the kernel where the security update resides. Processes are automatically turned off while loading the new kernel code into system memory and then automatically resumed afterwards. Ksplice is mainly targeted for enterprise environments where downtime must be at a minimum and security updates are critical.

Up to now, Ksplice has been offered for free to Ubuntu and Fedora users while a product subscription is required for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, etc. Oracle is looking to use Ksplice to bolster its Oracle Linux operating system and to make Oracle Ksplice part of their Oracle Linux Premier Support program.

Link to full article here.

This is the letter Oracle sent out to its customers (emphasis added):

Dear Oracle Customer,

On July 21, 2011, Oracle announced that it has acquired Ksplice, Inc., the creator of innovative zero downtime update technology for Linux. The transaction has closed. Ksplice's management and its highly-regarded team of engineers bring significant domain expertise to Oracle.

Ksplice was founded in 2008 and since the launch of the Ksplice service in 2010, the customer base has grown to over 700 companies. Today, organizations across many industries including High Tech, Public Sector, Utilities, and Media and Entertainment continue to use Ksplice for its unique ability to apply software updates without rebooting. Ksplice Uptrack is a subscription service that lets customers apply kernel updates without rebooting.

The combination of Ksplice technology and Oracle Linux Premier Support is expected to be the only enterprise Linux provider that can offer zero downtime updates, and Oracle plans to make the Ksplice technology a standard feature of Oracle Linux Premier Support. Customers are also expected to be able to introduce and remove diagnostic patches without business disruption and make Oracle Linux easier to manage and more secure, Ksplice technology is expected to improve the uptime of Oracle Linux based environments.

Oracle Linux Premier Support Customers:
As the feature is made available, Oracle Linux premier support customers will get immediate access at no additional cost to their subscription.

Oracle Linux Basic or Network Support Customers:
By upgrading to Oracle Linux premier support you will gain immediate access when the feature is made available.

Oracle does not plan to support the use of Ksplice technology with Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Enterprise Linux. The Oracle Linux Premier Support subscription applies to Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel.

To learn more about the proposed combination of Oracle and Ksplice, please visit

We appreciate your continued support.


Wim Coekaerts
Senior Vice President
Oracle Linux and Virtualization

This document is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into a contract or agreement.

Oracle is currently reviewing the existing Ksplice product roadmap and will be providing guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle's standard product communication policies. Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle's review of Ksplice's product roadmap are at the sole discretion of Oracle.

All product roadmap information, whether communicated by Ksplice or by Oracle, does not represent a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract.

Expect to see this wunderutility pulled from general distribution very shortly. :(

Also be interesting to see if the USTPO grants either of the two pending patent applications Ksplice Inc. (Oracle now!) filed (1,2) for the methodology used by their product.

I can see the trolls salivating already... :-\

« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 04:36 PM by 40hz »


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Re: Another one 'bytes' the dust
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2011, 05:08 PM »
Bad. Defi-fscking-tely bad.

Hopefully it was originally licensed GPL and will be forked. That'd mean prior art... not that the corrupt and incompetent USPTO would care.
- carpe noctem


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Re: Another one 'bytes' the dust
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2011, 09:19 PM »
I searched around the interwebs, and it appears the actual software (client, kernel patcher) are GPL2, but the service and and actual kernel patches are (were) available on a subscription basis.
So, if this is going to fork, then every distribution that offers it is going to have to dedicate a team to preparing, testing, and deploying appropriate kernel patches.
If it's true that it is GPL and a fork is possible, I could definitely see this as a way for distros to make money from their server lines (SLES, RHEL, etc.) by offering a comparable service.

On a side note, apparently Microsoft has patented the idea, but as far as actual implementation goes, Raymond Chen says they can, but won't.


Steven Avery

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Re: Another one 'bytes' the dust
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 01:58 AM »
Hi Folks,

Thus, there are legitimate reasons why upgrades and patches tend to be system-dedicated. Last week I had a very long evening bringing an iSeries from 5.4 to 7.1 with various PTF and license stuff involved as well, first the 5.4 had to be patched to allow the 7.1 !  And sometimes the patch is a two-step, the first patch reboot allows the second reboot and further patches. (I ferget the name they had for that.)

The number of systems that actually need real-time non-boot patching is probably small.  And even the best implementations could be problematic.  How would Linux avoid similar dependencies as referenced in the Windows article ?  It may be that this technology is handy for small security patches that can check for dependencies.

However, I understand that this type of thing is a major problem or attack on the open source OS and utilities, with Oracle acting as the bully.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 02:03 AM by Steven Avery »