Oracle has said that the Linux version of its new 11g database will ship in Q3, probably in August.

"It's our intention to do a pricing announcement closer to the release date," said Chuck Rozwat, executive vice president, server technologies at Oracle at a launch event in New York. "It's just a matter of weeks before we make that announcement."

Oracle wouldn't comment on when 11g would be available for Microsoft's Windows operating system.

What also remained unclear was which of the 400 features on display would end up being part of 11g and so free to customers upgrading from previous versions of the database and which functionality Oracle will charge users for as additional options on top of 11g. Rozwat said he couldn't make that call on Wednesday, but that the information would also be forthcoming next month.

Earlier during the launch event, Oracle President Charles Phillips tried to set the 11g release in context.

Oracle is currently celebrating its 30th year in business since beginning life as Software Development Laboratories, later Relational Software, a startup working on building a relational database.

Since that time, Oracle has expanded, often through acquisition, into providing a wide range of other software, notably middleware and back-office applications. Databases remain an important source of revenue for the vendor and also provide a 275,000-strong customer base into which it can try to sell its other products.

The name ‘Oracle’ originally came from the code name for a project the startup was working on for the CIA, said Phillips, a comparatively recent addition to the company, who joined Oracle in 2003. He recalled an anecdote he'd been told by Larry Ellison, Oracle's co-founder and CEO. The startup had expanded to two offices but had no way to run cabling for its servers between the two rooms. It appeared an intractable problem, but Ellison picked up a hammer and banged a hole in the wall, resolving the issue. "That's why we're Oracle today and he still carries that hammer around," Phillips quipped.

Customers' data needs are highly diverse and Oracle is trying to cater to all of those different requirements, Phillips said. He drew a comparison with modes of transport. Some users are riding tricycles while others are flying first class on a Boeing 747 jet, he said, so running the gamut from a basic need to store and access data up to highly sophisticated requirements around database security, management, storage and compliance issues.