Red Hat Adopts CentOS

Jan 14, 2014

Super-clone CentOS Linux gets beamed up to the mother ship.

Red Hat has announced it is joining forces with the community-based CentOS project. CentOS has built a huge following and a vast user base through its popular Linux distribution, which is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) source code.
The alliance marks the end of a tense, and sometimes litigious, standoff between Red Hat and CentOS. Red Hat charges real money for a RHEL license, and the presence of no-cost clone systems, offering virtual identical functionality without support or hardware certifications, threatened the delicate balance of Red Hat's complex business model. Consequently, CentOS was not allowed to mention that it got its source code from Red Hat. The new detente is an acknowledgment that the enterprise space is getting too complicated for a single company, and independent projects such as OpenStack, KVM, and Docker present integration challenges that exceed the capabilities of Red Hat's conventional development model.
For the past 10 years, Red Hat has used the Fedora community distro to test new technologies and innovations that would one day find their way into RHEL. However, the experimental nature of Fedora, and the lack of a long-term support option, means Fedora has never been a tool of choice for enterprise customers. Enterprise users who want Red Hat know-how without Red Hat licensing fees have therefore gravitated to community clones like CentOS.
Recently, this community enterprise space has been a focal point for innovation, and Red Hat is teaming with CentOS to bring an enterprise-ready free Linux into its distribution portfolio. According to Red Hat, Fedora will continue as an innovation engine and test bed for new technologies. RHEL will continue to provide comprehensive support for fee-based corporate customers. CentOS will fill the missing space in between for enterprise users who like Red Hat but are not are interested RHEL-style comprehensive support contracts. Red Hat, on the other hand, will be in a better position to harnass the power of CentOS community development and bug hunting when integrating technologies such as OpenStack with RHEL and other enterprise products.

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    I'm not sure if Red Hat's decision to join forces with CentOS will turn the whole FOSS world upside down, but as a chess move, it is quite an interesting development. You might say it is one of those events that seems unexpected when it happens, but when you look back, it seems inevitable.

    Pardon my surprise, but seriously, less than a year ago, I was sitting in an editorial meeting pondering whether we could safely advertise a CentOS DVD as being "based on Red Hat source code" without getting sued. And by the way, we've never had a Red Hat Enterprise Linux DVD. Why? Because no company that makes its livelihood selling a product wants to see someone else give that product away for free.

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