Red Hat incorporates 'free' Red Hat clone CentOS

Red Hat incorporates 'free' Red Hat clone CentOS

Summary: For almost a decade, expert Linux users who didn't need the Red Hat Enterprise Linux support used its clone CentOS instead. Now, Red Hat has adopted this community Linux. Don't panic! You still won't need to pay for it.


If you use Linux to host your Web servers and run your Internet edge services, chances are you're using CentOS. This Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone has long been popular with hosting companies, data centers, and businesses that had in-house Linux expertise and so didn't need to pay for Red Hat's RHEL support. For practical purposes this let them use RHEL without paying for it. On January 7th, things changed.

Red Hat, and the CentOS Project announced they were joining forces to build a new CentOS, capable of driving forward development and adoption of next-generation open source technologies. No, it's not April 1st. This is really happening.

CentOS is joining forces with Red Hat.

First things first. If your company is already using CentOS... Do Not Freak Out. Red Hat is not going to start charging you for using CentOS. CentOS will continue to be an independent distribution with community, not paid, support. Of course, if you want paid support after using CentOS, Red Hat will be more than happy to make you a paying RHEL customer.

As Red Hat explained in a FAQ, "CentOS is a community project that is developed, maintained, and supported by and for its users and contributors. RHEL is a subscription product that is developed, maintained, and supported by Red Hat for its subscribers."

The company continued, "The two also have very different focuses. While CentOS delivers a distribution with strong community support, Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides a stable enterprise platform with a focus on security, reliability, and performance as well as hardware, software, and government certifications for production deployments. Red Hat also delivers training, and an entire support organization ready to fix problems and deliver future flexibility by getting features worked into new versions."

What is different now is that Red Hat won't be keeping CentOS at arm's length anymore. Instead, the company is "extending the Red Hat open-source development ecosystem. Red Hat anticipates that taking a role as a catalyst within the CentOS community will enable it to accelerate development of enterprise-grade subscription solutions for customers and partners, such as RHEL, RHEL OpenStack Platform, Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Red Hat JBoss Middleware, OpenShift by Red Hat, and Red Hat Storage."

Red Hat will be contributing its resources and expertise in building  open-source communities to the new CentOS Project to give it a roadmap, broaden opportunities for participation, open pathways for contribution, and provide new ways for CentOS users and contributors to bring the power of open-source innovation to all areas of the software stack.

Indeed, "With Red Hat's contributions and investment, the CentOS Project will be able to expand and accelerate, serving the needs of community members who require different or faster-moving components layered on top of CentOS, expanding on existing efforts to collaborate with open source projects such as OpenStack, RDO, Gluster, OpenShift Origin, and oVirt."

Brian Stevens, Red Hat's executive vice president and chief technology officer, said:

"It is core to our beliefs that when people who share goals or problems are free to connect and work together, their pooled innovations can change the world. We believe the open source development process produces better code, and a community of users creates an audience that makes code impactful. Cloud technologies are moving quickly, and increasingly, that code is first landing in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Today is an exciting day for the open source community; by joining forces with the CentOS Project, we aim to build a vehicle to get emerging technologies like OpenStack and big data into the hands of millions of developers."

Stephen O'Grady, RedMonk's principal analyst added in a statement that "Though it will doubtless come as a surprise, this move by Red Hat represents the logical embrace of an adjacent ecosystem. Bringing the CentOS and Red Hat communities closer together should be a win for both parties."

So here's what the Red Hat operating system family is going to look like going forward:

  • Commercial development and deployment: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the world's leading enterprise Linux platform, offering an extensive ecosystem of partners, a comprehensive portfolio of certified hardware and software offerings, and Red Hat's award winning support, consulting, and training services. Red Hat subscriptions deliver this value combined with access to the industry's most extensive ecosystem of partners, customers, and Linux experts to support and accelerate success.
  • Community integration beyond the operating system: CentOS, a community-supported and produced Linux distribution that draws on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other open source technologies to provide a platform that's open to variation. CentOS provides a base for community adoption and integration of open source cloud, storage, network, and infrastructure technologies on a Red Hat-based platform.
  • Operating system innovation across the stack: Fedora, a community-supported and produced Linux distribution that makes it easy for users to consume and contribute to leading-edge open source technologies from the kernel to the cloud. As a cutting edge development platform where every level of the stack is open to revision and improvement, Fedora will continue to serve as the upstream project on which future Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases are based.

Robyn Bergeron, the Fedora project leader, underlined in her blog post that Fedora's role at Red Hat will not be changing. "The new relationship between Red Hat and the CentOS Project changes absolutely nothing about how the Fedora Project will work, or affect the role that Fedora fulfills in Red Hat’s production of RHEL. Fedora will continue to set the standard for developing and incorporating the newest technological innovations in the operating system; those innovations will continue to make their way downstream, both into RHEL, CentOS, and many other -EL derivatives."

While this is a big change for Red Hat, CentOS, and Fedora, it's not one to be frightened of. It really is a move that, I think, will benefit everyone in the Red Hat Linux family -- from developers to users to system administrators to business customers.

Related Stories:

Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, Open Source

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  • another nail in M$ coffin

    FOSS leaders joining forces for the greater good!
    Let's hope this will not become a honey pot for patent trolls.
    LlNUX Geek
  • Good

    CentOS is a nice, stable distro. I would that it offered a larger collection of packages and was easier to upgrade between major versions, but perhaps RH can help there.
    John L. Ries
    • Exactly

      CentOS stability with Fedora-like package availability would be awesome.
      • well its not made to be a desktop

        it has almost all the packages for server related software. most of them are either updated or stable and secure releases with backported patches. Instead of running the newest stuff that has the highest chance for bugs! They wont be making CENTOS into a desktop either, it will just have more support from RHEL itself now.
  • This probably has more to do with Oracle than anything else

    If its about getting RHEL like performance without the contract, then CentOS might seem more of a sanctioned alternative almost turning CentOS into an endless piece of trial-ware.
    • I hope they don't

      I hope RedHat don't turn CentOS into an endless piece of trial-ware, they already have a distro for that, it's called Fedora.
      • I'm sure CentOS will stay on focus...

        CentOS mirrors RHEL, which as we know is focused on long term support. Its goals are nothing of Fedora, so I'm sure things will stay as-is.
      • Fedora is really more like experiment ware or Betaware

        The Trialware moniker for CentOS is relatively accurate in concept although I doubt Red Hat or CentOS will appreciate or agree with the label.

        CentOS is a stable production release lagging somewhat behind REL and perhaps this new alignment will reduce the lag time.

        Fedora is a leading release where new things get tried out some making the cut for inclusion in a later REL release and some not.

        Microsoft in a way is doing just the opposite by eliminating TechNet although not allowed for production there will now seemingly only be timed trials eliminating many testing labs an essential onramp for adoption while Red Hat formalizes ands expands their adoption onramp.
  • Re: Red Hat/CentOS....

    Whole load of collective back patting going on here with the usual nails in coffins etc.

    But if you really were that confident such comments would not made.

    Food for thought
  • Red Hat incorporates 'free' Red Hat clone CentOS

    Red Hat just gave Fedora the middle finger. The fighting inbetween linux distros is entertaining.
    • Better read up on Red Hat's involvement

      Fedora is a Red Hat sponsored project, and is vital for continuing the legacy of Red Hat Enterprise and CentOS as it paves the way for them to follow the stable and open road. You may want to read up on the entire ecosystem of these distributions that fall under the Red Hat umbrella.
    • As usual

      Loverock(FUD)Davidson did not read article.

      Robyn Bergeron, the Fedora project leader, underlined in her blog post that Fedora's role at Red Hat will not be changing. "The new relationship between Red Hat and the CentOS Project changes absolutely nothing about how the Fedora Project will work, or affect the role that Fedora fulfills in Red Hat’s production of RHEL. Fedora will continue to set the standard for developing and incorporating the newest technological innovations in the operating system; those innovations will continue to make their way downstream, both into RHEL, CentOS, and many other -EL derivatives."
  • Hope that this will be good news for our Load Balancing

    Great news! Anybody can help us out with CentOS Load Balancing? ;)
  • This secures Red Hat Enterprise for many years

    CentOS is an incredible project and has been for years. It offers small business and private use of RHEL without having to pay for support. But, it is so compatible with RHEL that if desired, users can adopt RHEL with little to no impact. Red Hat knows this, so they realise that CentOS can only help secure the future of RHEL. This move should also help CentOS, so in the end multiple parties should benefit: Red Hat, CentOS, and the end user. As a CentOS user, I welcome this change with open arms. CentOS has been a solid operating system on the server side and on the desktop.
  • Kudos

    to Red Hat.
  • Maybe someone can help me

    I was under the impression that CentOS was a 99% clone of RHEL, without the branding, made up almost entirely of RHEL source code that is openly available. If this is the case, RH gets the community support from CentOS and all CentOS gets is a little "endorsed by Red Hat" sticker and perhaps support from RH (we'll see). Am I wrong in assuming RH now has two nearly identical enterprise OSes it's involved with and is getting the bigger benefit? Is CentOS getting all the certifications that RHEL gets? It already gets all the fixes from RHEL as RHEL's software is openly available. This really can't hurt CentOS, but is it getting any real benefit from this deal?
    • the potential benefit to CentOS is shorter lag time

      between releases and fixes to REL and CentOS. I guess that remains to be seen but seems like a reasonable scenario. Although there might still be enough lag that sensitive production implementations would opt for the paid REL releases.
    • The benefit to CentOS is Redhat sponsorship.

      Which means all or some these benefits:

      Allow CentOS to use same mirrors as Redhat
      R&D Hardware paid for by Redhat
      Paid positions at Redhat for the core CentOS team.

      The main benefit to Redhat is the CentOS user community's contributions can be included in Redhat quicker and easier. Redhat may also get more customers moving to Redhat as those CentOS sites outgrow a community based distro.

      Just to be clear: The lag time of CentOS is about 24 hours for updates and 72 hours for releases. The RPMs are 100% binary compatible between Redhat and CentOS. Any software that runs on Redhat will run, unmodified, on CentOS and vs versa.
  • HW vendor support?

    Does this mean CentOS will now be counted as a "supported" OS/Distribution for hardware vendors? Or will companies like IBM continue to make mumble-mouthed excuses that they won't support HW running CentOS?
    • very doubtful any support position will change

      I'd view this as a production onramp to REL and providing any support would be self defeating. The path to official support for CentOS is to move and reproduce a problem on licensed REL server.