The work will help bring several high-end features to an upcoming version of the Linux operating system from Red Hat. However, development of many of those features is already under way at Red Hat and other companies.
Among the improvements: software to run Java programs, the ability to address larger amounts of memory, a "journaling file system" to help Linux computers recover from crashes faster, and an update to Linux to get it to run on Intel's upcoming 64-bit chips.
In addition, Oracle and Red Hat will jointly promote the Oracle 8i database software for Linux. Oracle will sponsor independent testing of how fast Linux systems handle transactions such as requests for information from databases.
Oracle invested in Red Hat earlier this year. Red Hat chief executive Bob Young has said the investments by Oracle and others were part of Red Hat's strategy to bring more attention and credibility to Linux.
Oracle and Red Hat are working to make sure Oracle software works well on Red Hat Linux, the companies said.
The new version of Red Hat Linux will be optimized for Internet business operations, the companies said in a statement. All improvements will be released under Gnu's General Public License (GPL), the open-source license under which Linux is released and to which all additions to the heart of Linux must also be released.
Many of the efforts are under way at various companies and organizations. SGI, for example, is working to make Linux better able to handle large file systems and plans to release source code for its XFS file system under the GPL for use in Linux. Red Hat programmer Stephen Tweedie is working on that project.
In addition, Blackdown is working on Java for Linux with help from Java creator Sun Microsystems. IBM also is working on a Java-Linux effort. And many companies are working on the Trillian project to get Linux working on Intel's 64-bit chips.
Red Hat spokespeople were not available for comment.