back to article Red Hat teams up with community-based RHEL lookalike CentOS

Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat has announced a new partnership with the CentOS Project aimed at developing new versions of the community-developed CentOS Linux distribution that take advantage of the latest open-source technologies. "Today is an exciting day for the open-source community," Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens said in a …

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Sounds like a brilliant move

CentOS has been a great "market development" tool for Red Hat and has helped hold back any serious competitors - ala Suse, Ubuntu or others in the server market. Now it looks like Red Hat is raising the game in open source by adapting an additional model. These guys created the dual community (Fedora) and commercial (RHEL) model well ahead of anyone, and have now applied it to Jboss, Storage, Virtualization, OpenStack and their PaaS OpenShift. Splitting a community version and a commercial version. But this takes it to a different level.

I give Red Hat credit for having the guts to do this, and I bet it baffles many of the large industry vendors and cloud providers that were hoping that Centos somehow kept Red Hat from getting too strong or influential. Will see how it all plays out, but my guess is that many "strategy" folks at these large companies will be scrambling to figure out what this means. When they do, Red Hat may then shift to another level of open source models.

Good stuff, good action !

Bill

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SVV
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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

Sums up my first reaction to this very nicely too, it's a really smart move and it's nice to read some positive, constructive news like this.

I currently use CentOs for development testing and acceptance testing before deploying to a bare bones Redhat server for production, and there has never been a compatibility problem yet. (The CentOS systems run Gnome as it's convenient to be able to run Firefox and Postgres GUI admin tools on the test systems).

Getting the most up to date virtualization and cloudy stuff out to the community is going to increase adoption quicker than it otherwise would have, and the whole mix is going to be much more attractive in the corporate space which is where these products are really aimed.

And selling this to management who like to hear phrases such as "industry standard" and "fully supported" will also be easier (apologies to the fans of free desktop or other distros as usual, but this is the corporate IT world I'm talikng about here where "community supported" doesn't fly for mission critical).

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@SVV Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

(My knowledge in this area is very low, but here goes:) I thought that RHEL was free to obtain and run but you paid for a support contract? If so, why do you develop using CentOS? Even if RHEL does cost money for a installation license, surely RedHat would let you install and run pure development systems for free under agreed conditions?

I get the bit about Gnome, but why can't you use Firefox etc on RHEL?

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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

"And selling this to management who like to hear phrases such as "industry standard" and "fully supported" will also be easier (apologies to the fans of free desktop or other distros as usual, but this is the corporate IT world I'm talikng about here where "community supported" doesn't fly for mission critical)."

Yup, and also - who the fuck do we sue if it goes tits up.

That is a question I have to be aware of when making a pitch to verrrry big company

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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

Brilliant for who ?

Looks very much like a classic "if you can't beat them, join them" move. RedHat is not a charity you know, if they joined project which provides free competition to their paid product it's not because they want to enhance it and make better than their own revenue generating stuff.

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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move @Bill

I agree with you for the most part, although over here it is mainly SUSE Enterprise Server or CentOS, I have yet to see a single RHEL installation, but that probably has more to do with the roots of SUSE coming out of Nürnberg and therefore being the home grown favourite.

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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

"Brilliant for who ?

Looks very much like a classic "if you can't beat them, join them" move. RedHat is not a charity you know, if they joined project which provides free competition to their paid product it's not because they want to enhance it and make better than their own revenue generating stuff."

You could say that in regards to Fedora, but you'd be ultimately wrong. Red Hat isn't a charity, that's obvious. But doesn't it improve Red Hat's understanding and product even more if more knowledge was swapped around etc? That's exactly what happens with Fedora, new features are added and improved and when it's stable it gets folded in to the RHEL edition. CentOS will be the same, and CentOS will improve as a result of this.

Nothing against Ubuntu, but you'd be lacking in senses if you decided to pick Ubuntu over CentOS for your server needs after this news.

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Re: @SVV Sounds like a brilliant move

> I thought that RHEL was free to obtain and run but you paid for a support contract?

No. RHEL is purely commercial and is only available by buying it.

CentOS & Scientific Linux take RHEL's published source files & recompile them. Their OSes are Free and freeware: no charge, no support.

Oracle takes the sources, recompiles them, gives the binaries away for nothing but charges for support, as you describe.

Oracle is thus offering RH's own product for free & charging less for support. Various commentators, myself included, speculated that this was in an effort to reduce RH's share price for possible hostile acquisition. However, this hasn't happened. Possible reasons are:

• Perhaps people don't think Oracle can support someone else's code as well as the code's authors can.

• Perhaps people just don't trust Oracle.

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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

> Nothing against Ubuntu, but you'd be lacking in senses if you decided to pick Ubuntu over CentOS

> for your server needs after this news.

I disagree. A lot of sysadmins rate Debian as considerably better than RH. Many still prefer APT-GET over YUM and RPM, or Debian's openness over RH's lack of it.

Ubuntu Server is basically Debian with a fixed, regular release schedule and a cleaner install, minus TASKSEL, which those rolling their own don't need anyway. I know some sysadmins who prefer Ubuntu Server to Debian for this reason: /nothing/ is installed by default, not even ssh. 3rd party support for Ubuntu is also now more plentiful than for Debian or Red Hat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @SVV Sounds like a brilliant move

"CentOS & Scientific Linux take RHEL's published source files & recompile them."

It surprises me that CentOS seems less popular than Scientific Linux, given the issues CentOS had a while go with slow security updates etc, while SL remained well bankrolled by CERN and Fermi Labs (I think.)

But excellent news that RH have taken this step, understanding where their money comes from and not feeling the need, like The Cat in Red Dwarf, to touch thinkgs then claim "It's mine!" Refreshing.

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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

"Yup, and also - who the fuck do we sue if it goes tits up."

How many companies have been sucessful suing Microsoft or IBM when their products go titsup?

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Re: CentOS will be the same, and CentOS will improve as a result of this.

How come ? There's no major development happening in CentOS, not on scale of what RedHat does to RHEL for sure. CentosOS is a clone of RHEL, so how improving clone by cloned OS maintainer is going to help cloned OS or clone ?

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Re: Sounds like a brilliant move

"""Yup, and also - who the fuck do we sue if it goes tits up."

How many companies have been sucessful suing Microsoft or IBM when their products go titsup?

""

Well I have been involved in one case!

You don't get any punative damages but they send in the troops to get it all fixed

Does that work for you?

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RHEL (final release) isn't free

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. I can't say I'm keen on the fact that RHEL subscriptions can't be split into updates vs. support (Oracle did the same "all or nothing" trick with its DB software many years ago), because firms with in-house tech support don't really need RHEL support (posting to the RHEL Bugzilla is free, even without a sub).

As for this "collaboration", it seems a bit like providing a scheme like Fedora Spins for CentOS with a bit of assistance from some RHEL folks. It could be interesting, particularly if it makes the horrible installation experience with OpenStack a lot better.

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RHEL (final release) isn't free

Because they do things differently?

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Linux

Re: Free clones

It's simply a "because I can" proposition. Clones only exist in the first place because somebody, somewhere wanted to fork them, and people now want to use them. Expecting them to merge is like expecting people not to have unique preferences and the freedom to indulge them.

I once considered forking Fedora myself, for example, mainly due to the fact that they dropped support for my hardware (rebased from i386 to i686). I ended up using Gentoo instead, which solved that problem and a whole lot more I hadn't even considered up to that point.

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Windows

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?

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Re: RHEL (final release) isn't free

You can get a Red Hat subscription for updates only - no support.

For example

RH0197181 Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server, Self-support up to 2 sockets one guest

It still costs money but it is cheaper than one with support.

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Free clones of free clones

Scientific Linux is not a clone of Centos. It's also a derivative of Red Hat's source (not quite a clone, for significant reasons).

CERN(*) depended on the old Red Hat free-to-copy model. When Red Hat started charging after RHL 9, CERN had a problem. (Methinks someone at Red Hat didn't understand that CERN had thousands, perhaps millions, of systems embedded in apparatus, and really could not countenance any per-CPU charging scheme. I suspect that if Red Hat had offered CERN a no-support unlimited-copies license at a reasonable price, i.e. the status quo, they'd have paid for it, and the rest of us would be poorer for it).

Anyway, they didn't, and CERN took the only route that they could. Changing horses was not an option. Taking the source, and building their own distribution, was an option. CERN has a lot of very smart IT guys. So Scientific Linux was born (with the most inappropriate name of any Linux distribution).

Maybe it was a clone on day one, but they take the attitude that if something is needed for CERN that's not in Red Hat, it goes in, and if a bug is troubling CERN, then they fix it (even if Red Hat hasn't, or won't). However, they prefer to avoid divergence. From an ordinary use's point of view, you'll find it hard to tell the difference between Scientific Linux and Red Hat. The most obvious change, is that a default Scientific Linux install has automatic yum updating turned on. The next most noticeable thing is that SL has a fair number of (science-related, optional) packages in the distribution repositories, which are not in Centos or RHEL. I'm told that the SL kernel has a few extra things built in or removed into modules, but I've never run into anything that works on Centos or RHEL that doesn't work on the corresponding SL.

Centos used to to claim bug-for-bug compatibility with Red Hat, but since RHEL6 that has become harder for them (different build tools). Anyway do you really want to suffer a fixable bug just because some other distribution hasn't yet fixed it? So now Centos is also not quite a clone.

Perhaps it's like evolution. They're strains or races, not yet different species. The environmental change that would cause a speciation event (or a fork) has not yet happened, and hopefully won't.

(*) CERN implies "and Fermilab", everywhere.

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder if this means Johnny Hughes has to stop swearing at and being abusive to people on the mailling list?

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Historical background

The previous history is relevant.

With RHEL5, it was easy for Centos or anyone else to strip out the Red Hat copyrighted images and repeat Red Hat's build process using the open sources which Red Hat are obliged to distribute. They didn't care that Centos (and CERN - Scientific Linux) did this. They did care when Oracle did the same.

So with RHEL6 they made the build tools less open and more obfuscated, and that's why Centos 6 arrived a rather long time after RHEL6 (they had rather a lot of reverse-engineering to do). Centos was "collateral damage". Oracle was the target ( it was basically taking Red Hat's software, relabelling it, and reselling it in competition).

I'd feared that they would complete the process with RHEL7 and make RHEL 7 close to uncloneable despite the open-ness of the source. Does anyone know if they are freely licensing proprietary build tools to Centos and other free-beer distributions, while leaving Oracle to stew? If they are, it seems like the best possible solution.

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Test your bl**dy software Red Hat

Now if Red Hat could get back to their claimed dev model then I would be happy: develop in Fedora, evolve/test/evolve/test, push to RHEL.

Lately the "develop in Fedora, evolve/test/evolve/test" part has been missing, with tons of buggy software pushed straight to RHEL. It's got so bad we are beginning to consider alternatives.

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Re: Test your bl**dy software Red Hat

Which RHEL are you talking about? 5, 6 or 7?

They are all current. If you want the most stable production platform, and provided you don't *need* the newer features, 5 might still be the best choice. (Though 6 seems pretty darned stable to me).

Also you need to evaluate the anatomy of whatever bugs are hurting you. If it's a bug in, say, Samba, the chances are high that you'll find the same bug with Samba running atop SuSe or Ubuntu. I.e., it's not Red Hat's code or package-building at fault.

At least the bugs do get fixed. As opposed to being swept under the carpet until a black hat starts exploiting them, or being documented as features, or being told to migrate to an incompatible and expensive version N+1 or lose all support. Techniques frequently adopted by closed-source alternatives.

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JLH

Congratulations

Congratulations to the CentOS Team!

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No more SRPMs

Looking down the referenced FAQ in the article, it seems Red Hat are going to stop distributing SRPMs, and meet their GPL obligations by offering git access to the CentOS codebase.

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Re: No more SRPMs

"scripts and rpm metadata" will also be included in git.centos.org

Source (no pun intended):

http://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2014-January/020100.html

- - Sources that we consume, in the platform, in the addons, or the

parallel stacks such as Xen4CentOS will become easier to consume with

a git.centos.org being setup, with the scripts and rpm metadata needed

to create binaries being published there. The Board also aims to put

together a plan to allow groups to come together within the CentOS

ecosystem as a Special Interest Group (SIG) and build CentOS Variants

on our resources, as officially endorsed. You can read about the

proposal at http://www.centos.org/variants/

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Headmaster

Re: No more SRPMs

That might be difficult for several reasons, not least of which because those GPL obligations demand corresponding sources, not just any old sources, but also because Fedora uses exactly the same set of SRPMs, indeed that's where they begin, so it would be rather difficult to withdraw them without also shutting down Fedora.

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Does this...

...look to be a way for Red Hat to further marginalize Oracle Linux?

I sure hope so.

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We develop on CentOS, customers buy RHEL

All our customers run RHEL but we develop and build rpms on CentOS. It is binary compatible no need for compilers etc. Many critical systems are not allowed to have compilers installed. This works like a dream and we do not have to buy expensive RHEL licenses.

Another issue is that Opensuse and Fedora changes way too often. CentOS 5.0 was released in 2000 and I've still just 'Yum update' it up to CentOS5.10 without any problems. That is almost 13 years of patching the same binary compatible linux system. Impressive.

I've always hoped someone would do the same with Suse Enterprise. Which I consider being superior to RHEL. But their licensing is 60 day trial. No access to the patch and update service after that. It is just too much job when you have 30-40 vms lying around. Running all kinds of strange instances you might need.

Old legacy software You may suddely be paid to update and then you have to reinstall just to get the latest patches.

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