We’ve heard rumors that Silicon Valley software giant Oracle is about to announce their own branded version of the Linux operating system, based on the Red Hat distro. It could come as soon as tomorrow.

Jeff Nolan, who works for SAP, an Oracle competitor, has also heard the rumor, and is understated in his post this evening. If true, this is a big deal. It will put Oracle in direct competition with Red Hat, and also scare the other major player, Novell. And it will shake up the entire world of open source, as Oracle invites developers to play on their platform instead of on all the others. It would put pressure on the stock price of Red Hat and Novell, and thus allow Oracle to consume them just as they have digested dozens of other players lately.

And as Jeff politely puts it, it is a problem for SAP as well.

(Update: Oracle didn’t respond to a request for comment. So we rely on Jeff, who dissects Oracle’s every move closer than just about anyone. He says: Oracle’s investor relations group is now saying that the announcement will be pushed out possibly past OpenWorld in October. Will keep you updated as I hear more, but they are now saying not to expect anything at LinuxWorld. What does this mean? Probably not a lot other than there is a lot of “chatter” but the signal to noise ratio is low. It may be that this is something that Larry wants but the rest of the management team is less sure about.)