Thursday, March 23, 2006

Oracle XE on Mac: if not now, when?

As soon as Oracle announced XE lots of people asked the question, "When will it be available on Mac?" I'm not aware of any statement from Oracle about why XE is not available for Mac - or Unix come to that. I'm not interested in running XE on a Mac but it turns out this question offers an interesting perspective on Oracle's database licencing policy.

If you look at platforms which are supported for XE - Windows and Linux - what they have in common is the Intel chip. So perhaps the answer to the question lies in the need to restrict Oracle XE to a single CPU. XE does this by binding to a processor at start-up, and apparently this is a lot easier to do with Intel chips than other chip architectures. So my guess is we might see ports of XE to Solaris for x86 and also those new Macs running on Intel chips but not for other *nix flavours.

Incidentally, this came up when I was talking with a Unix sysadmin about Oracle per processor licences and the possibility of Oracle limiting non-XE databases to the number of processors licenced. The conversation started with a discussion of whether Oracle really consider capped Solaris 10 Containers to be hard partitions for the purposes of per processor licensing. Sun say yes, but he thought Oracle might take a harder line on this, seeing as how Containers are essentially dynamic. Anybody have a definitive ruling on this?

Anyway, the upshot is, just because Oracle have built a CPU restriction into the XE install it doesn't mean we're likely to see similar enforcements in the licenced products any time soon. And that means if you've got a tweleve CPU server you need twelve per processor licences, even if you want to run Oracle on only one of them.


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