Oracle-Ubuntu tie-up coming?

A trail of breadcrumbs seems to be connecting database powerhouse Oracle with the Ubuntu version of Linux.

The most recent crumb was a report last week by Jeffries & Co. analyst Katherine Egbert. "Our independent checks in the past two weeks indicate that Oracle seems to be close to introducing its own software 'stack,' featuring Ubuntu Linux. We have heard that Ubuntu is currently working to certify its recently introduced server operating system to all of Oracle's major products, including database and middleware," Egbert said.

A likely time to announce such news, she said, would be the Oracle OpenWorld conference next week. The remarks sent Red Hat's stock down 7 percent the next day, and it remains down.

Ubuntu is a newly popular version of Linux funded by a South African company, Canonical, which is trying to profit from selling Ubuntu support.

Christopher Kenyon, Canonical's business development manager, offered another crumb in a recent interview, when he said Oracle makes sure its 10G Express version works on Ubuntu.

Oracle 10G Express, a free product limited to single-processor servers with up to 4GB of memory, is only a first step, but Kenyon spoke encouragingly of a broader alliance involving the full-featured 10G product: "They have been great at ensuring that Oracle 10G Express works on Ubuntu. We also know that an increasing number of their customers would like to see Oracle fully certify Oracle database 10G on Ubuntu," he said.

Earlier crumbs came from , who ignited the Oracle-Linux speculation in April with remarks in an interview that he wants to own a "full stack" of software and that the company may support or bundle the Linux operating system.

Oracle already has some deep in-house Linux expertise, but packaging and maintaining an entire operating system is a massive task. Marc Fleury, head of Red Hat's newly acquired JBoss division (which competes directly with Oracle application server software), has said he thinks an .

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