Oracle announced the general availability of its enterprise OS, Oracle Linux 9, for x86_64 and aarch64 architectures.
Oracle Linux is a high-performance and secure operating system for application development and deployment. It is the second one of the “big three” RHEL-based forks (AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, and Oracle Linux) that is releasing a stable version of the recently released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.
As we announced earlier, AlmaLinux 9 was the first to be announced, and Oracle Linux 9 has now jumped on the bandwagon.
Despite being fully binary compatible with RHEL, Oracle Linux provides some additional features, so let’s look at what’s new in its latest release.
What’s New in Oracle Linux 9
One of the main things that make the difference between Oracle Linux and other RHEL-based derivatives is the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel. It is a Linux kernel built by Oracle, included and enabled by default in Oracle Linux.
Oracle Linux 9 includes two versions of the Linux kernel: the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 7 (UEK7), based on the mainline LTS 5.15 release, and the Red Hat Compatible Kernel (RHCK) 5.14. By default, the system uses UEK7.
Of course, using the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel instead of the Red Hat Compatible Kernel, only affects the operating system kernel. There are no changes to libraries, APIs, or user-space applications.
Among the highlights of Oracle Linux 9 is the inclusion of OpenSSL 3.0. The new FIPS module is the key characteristic of OpenSSL 3.0, with plans to remove a slew of low-level API methods that could cause security vulnerabilities.
For those unfamiliar, FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) are a set of US Government security regulations for data and its encryption.
Oracle Linux 9’s usage of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel results in some file system enhancements. For example, Btrfs now provides asynchronous SSD trimming, parallel filesystem sync capabilities, and fewer checksum tree lookups.
On top of that, Direct Access operations are supported by XFS, allowing direct access to byte-addressable persistent memory. This helps to avoid the latency associated with typical block I/O conventions.
Continuing with the list of benefits of utilizing the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, we can’t miss something important for VirtualBox users. It is about the fact that UEK now supports VirtualBox shared files natively. This functionality allows Oracle Linux guests and the host operating system to share files with Oracle VM VirtualBox.
For those who want to use Oracle Linux 9 as a desktop system, the GNOME desktop environment has been updated to version 40. On top of that, Pipewire is now the default audio service, replacing both the PulseAudio and Jack audio services that were previously used.
You can refer to the official announcement for detailed information about all changes.
Oracle Linux is completely free to use and distribute. It is available for installation on the x86_64 and aarch64 architectures. The following installation images for Oracle Linux 9 are available:
- Full ISO (8.5 GB) for typical on-premise installations
- Boot ISO (800 MB) for network installations
- Boot ISO (840 MB) of the supported UEK release for installing on hardware that is supported only on UEK
- Source DVDs (13.9 GB)
You can download the ISO file and use a tool such as Balena Etcher to flash it onto a USB drive. Then boot from the USB and follow the on-screen instructions.