Oracle announced strategic alliances with four of the most important Linux vendors last week, reinforcing its commitment to the free operating system as a cheap alternative to Windows NT for deploying its database products. The four vendors are Red Hat Software, SuSE, VA Research and Pacific HiTech. Red Hat sells the most popular Linux distribution in the US, and claims a user base of over seven million, while SuSE, based in Germany, sells mainly into the European market with its distribution. Pacific HiTech, based in Japan, has sold 500,000 copies of its distribution in the past six months. VA Research, a Linux hardware vendor based in the US, is heavily involved in Linux development, benchmarking, compatibility testing and system configuration. Although no clear plans have been drawn up, Oracle expects to enter into joint marketing and technology agreements with these companies, including reciprocal links on the companies' Web sites, deals bundling Oracle software with Linux distributions, and links offering Linux developers access to free membership in the Oracle Technology Network (technet.oracle.com). In July, Oracle announced its intention to port its flagship Oracle 8 database to Linux (see PC Week 28 July). "The response to our recent decision to support Linux was a collective sigh of relief from developers worldwide who are looking for a low-cost alternative to Windows NT," said Mark Jarvis, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing at Oracle. "With such obvious momentum behind our Linux database, we decided to go even further and commit significant resources to the existing developer infrastructure." Linux developers warmed to the news, although some are still sceptical of Oracle's intentions. One developer on an online forum questioned Caldera's absence from the list of Oracle partners, arguing that Caldera's distribution was considered to be the most commercially oriented. "Is it because of Caldera's ADABAS D commitment?" he said, referring to Caldera's inclusion of the database in its distribution. Andy Bailey, product marketing manager at Oracle, said that Oracle would also offer integrated support for companies running Oracle 8 on Linux, but ruled out funding Linux marketing directly. "We don't put marketing bucks behind operating systems," he said.
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