Oracle has announced it will offer "full support" for Red Hat's Linux distribution to both Oracle and non-Oracle customers.

Giving the closing keynote at his company's OpenWorld conference, CEO Larry Ellison was widely expected to announce an Oracle-branded version of Linux. Ellison said back in April that Oracle had weighed up the benefits of acquiring either of the leading Linux distribution players, Red Hat or Novell.

But in the end it was "true enterprise support" on offer, something Ellison said was one of the key issues slowing the adoption of Linux. If a customer has a problem with the Linux kernel, often the bug is fixed by distributors in future versions of the operating system, not the current release the customer is deploying. Linux support has also tended to be costly and some users would welcome IT vendors indemnifying against any potential lawsuits.

"We'd like to fix [all] that," Ellison said, unveiling the second iteration of Oracle's Unbreakable Linux support offering. Pricing for Oracle support for Red Hat Linux will start from $99 per system per year for bug fixing and patches rising to $1,199 for premium support, which includes indemnification.

Ellison denied that Oracle's out to kill Red Hat. "This is capitalism; we're competing," he said. "We're trying to offer a better product at a better price. Our goal is to make all versions of Linux better." He stressed that Oracle also doesn't intend to further fragment the Linux market. "We're not trying to differentiate from Red Hat code," Ellison said. "We're going to stay synchronized with the Red Hat version."

Oracle will make all the bug fixes it comes up with freely available to all Linux distributors as well, he said. Ellison showed video clips of support from the heads of its partners including AMD, EMC , HP and Intel. In his clip, Michael Dell, the chairman of Dell, welcomed the announcement and said his company will use Oracle for its Linux support.

Oracle first launched Unbreakable Linux support in 2002 as a way to convince customers to use Oracle database grids running on the open-source operating system. Since that time, Oracle has built up its internal support for the OS.

Oracle and Red Hat have appeared on something of a collision course this year. Oracle had been widely expected to buy open-source middleware vendor JBoss, but instead Red Hat acquired the company for $350 million. With that move, Red Hat entered the middleware market where Oracle already has a strong presence with its Fusion offering.