RALEIGH – So just how unbreakable is Oracle’s version of Linux anyway?

Based on the news and hype out of Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, the software giant’s assault on Red Hat appears to have made substantial progress in the past six months.

From a handful of customers announced earlier this year to 1,500 – that’s the total customer “wins” for Oracle Unbreakable Linux, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison told the crowd gathered near the Golden Gate.

However, just as was the case soon after Ellison unleashed a torrid of criticism at the world’s top Linux firm some of these customers (such as Yahoo!) maintain Oracle and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Plus, despite Ellison’s comments, Computerworld noted that Red Hat has thousands of enterprise customers and is coming off a very successful third quarter. Red Hat also noted that its top customers up for renewal had signed on for continued subscription support, which is the Raleigh-based firm’s revenue sweet spot.

In a presentation after being introduced by Billy Joel (the night’s entertainment at Oracle’s 30th birthday party,” Ellison said the company was in tune with growing demand for Linux.

"Oracle has been in the Linux business for a year now. With the Red Hat code all we did for the first year was fix bugs," he said, according to one media report.

"Now Oracle is growing a lot faster than Red Hat. Red Hat has been growing too because it is a growing market."

Computerworld, in a very detailed story about the Oracle conference, noted Red Hat’s recent growth. “Yet, Red Hat appears vulnerable. Multiple users at OpenWorld — both on Oracle panels and not — cited dissatisfaction with the quality of Red Hat’s support.,” Eric Lai wrote.

However, Lai noted that Red Hat Chief Technology Officer Brian Stevens, who was in San Francisco, was defiant. “No one is going to say that Oracle knocks it out of the park on technology or service," he told Lai and stressed that Red Hat is keeping customers satisfied.

Red Hat was far from Ellison’s only target. Ellison also announced a series of new products plus the fact Oracle is moving hard into the virtualization space with red-hot VMware as a target. Red Hat is dead set on winning in the virtualization space as well, announcing its own efforts this week.

At the event Ellison also said Oracle was unlikely to pursue a bid for BEA Systems. But it will be interesting to see whether Ellison’s remarks have any impact today on Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) stock. The Oracle attack a year ago triggered lots of talk that the demise of Red Hat was at hand – or that Oracle could simply just swallow the much-smaller Linux company.

Neither has happened yet. As for just how unbreakable Oracle’s Linux efforts will be in the future, the world wonders.