Re: RHEL (final release) isn't free
"BTW, am I the only one who still can't work out why there are free clones of free clones like Scientific Linux out there? I keep thinking that the free clones should all merge into one free clone to rule them all, but maybe that's just too sensible and obvious."
History I guess.
There are four main RHEL clones that I know of: CentOS, Scientific Linux, Springdale Linux (aka PUIAS Linux) and Oracle Linux. These are direct clones of RHEL7 as far as I can tell, not clones of clones.
Scientific Linux and Springdale Linux arose because of the need of CERN and Fermilab and Princeton/IAS and some other universities for a Linux that they could modify and localise easily. Historically, they developed alongside CentOS, and you may remember that White Box Linux (an earlier RHEL clone) came to a bad end. CentOS has had its moments as well, and this announcement means that there will be more paid developers working on it. Very few projects have a Mark Shuttleworth to bankroll a staff of dozens. Think more like a couple of people part time for one of these projects.
Oracle flog support for their clone, but you can install the clone without support. Many people think Oracle are being a bit cheeky using the srpms that Red Hat must distribute as a consequence of the GPL licence, and then branding it and flogging support. That is capitalism. There is nothing stopping a company with a lot of experience with (say) CentOS flogging support to other smaller companies using CentOS on servers and funding extra staff that way. I'd love to know if anyone has examples of that happening in the wild.
I can imagine Scili and Springdale perhaps moving over to CentOS core with customised repositories for their special requirements (you can already use those with CentOS if you are into processing terabytes of detector data), but, equally, I can imagine these clones remaining separate for now while they watch what happens!
RHEL want their cloudy things out there for free so people can use them and decide if they need to buy support. Sounds ok to me.
"The current RHEL 7 beta is indeed a free ISO you can download and install but, like the final release (which requires a sub from day one), you can't do installs/updates to it without a subscription."
Don't anyone be put off by the 'beta'. I'm posting this on RHEL7 beta running on a recycled laptop (as I do, hence tramp icon, simply a skint end user here) and it is a lot more solid than the finished releases of some other well known Linux distributions I could mention, but won't.
The external repositories (Elrepo/Repoforge/EPEL/Nux &c) as well as CentOSplus can be added and may have modified kernels for things like the missing wifi drivers for older hardware.
For laughs: a fork of CentOS 6 that uses the linux libre kernel and has all the non-free firmware removed? Blag Linux for the 21st Century anyone?