Red Hat reveals CentOS plans

Red Hat reveals CentOS plans

Summary: Months after adopting the Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone CentOS, Red Hat is starting to unveil its CentOS plans.


Napa Valley, CA: First things first. Here's what Red Hat is not planning to do with CentOS: 1) Red Hat's not going to charge you for CentOS;  2) CentOS will not be replacing Red Hat's community distribution, Fedora; and 3) CentOS is not being put out to pasture to die. OK? OK! 


So, what is Red Hat planning? Well, I'll let Karsten Wade, Red Hat's CentOS Engineering Manager, tell you what he told me and an audience at the Linux Foundation's Linux Collaboration Summit.

Wade opened by saying that getting CentOS under the Red Hat umbrella took about a year and a half of work, but they didn't try to agree on the technical details. That part is what they've been working on for the last few months.

Red Hat did this because it believes there are three very different ways that 70 to 80 percent people tend to use Red Hat Linux distros. Businesses that want a lot of support and device and staff certification pay for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Fedora is for users, often developers who use the latest and greatest Linux and open-source software and want to be ahead of the curve.  CentOS is for Linux experts who can handle their own support and want a stable platform.

At the same time, CentOS was seeing that its users wanted some cool new software that the Fedora fans were getting, while keeping the stability of RHEL. Since CentOS didn't have the resources to do this, they were open to incorporating their Linux distribution with Red Hat.

For its part, Red Hat wanted all the people who use CentOS, which Wade admitted may be more than those who use RHEL and Fedora combined, to be using an "official" Red Hat Linux distribution. In addition, Red Hat wanted to defragment the major Red Hat rebuilds. Wade said "Red Hat wanted that programming energy more productively than in just recreating RHEL." It all seems likely that if Red Hat can even get a small percentage of CentOS users to move up to RHEL, the deal will add to Red Hat's already impressive profits.

So what the newly united Red Hat and CentOS is planning on are multiple CentOS releases. This will be something like Fedora Spins. Instead of Spins, these will be called Special Interest Group (SIG) releases.

First, there will be the CentOS Core SIG. This will be the closest to the CentOS that many of you are using now on your own servers, Web hosting site. or data center. The other official SIGS are CentOS Storage, CentOS Cloud, and CentOS Virtualization.

All these start with the CentOS Core distribution. This will be built using the most recent RHEL release. However, there's a firewall between RHEL and CentOS developers. The net effect is that CentOS will continue to lag a bit behind RHEL in releases. Even so, CentOS releases will be coming out on RHEL heels rather than weeks or months behind.

On top of that RHEL base, each CentOS SIG will decide what cutting edge software it will use. For example, CentOS Cloud will probably include the latest OpenStack build. CentOS Virtualization will offer a variety of hypervisors, not just KVM.

There's more than a dozen SIGs in progress. Under consideration are desktop, Web hosting, and a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) servers. Other SIGs will be considered depending on the amount of developer interest.

As before, if you want to build a distro of your own on CentOS, you can do that. It will just need to be labelled "Based on CentOS." According to Wade, there may be fewer of those in the future. Scientific Linux, the other major RHEL clone, is now considering joining with Red Hat as well. This is still at a very early stage of discussions.

Looking ahead, Red Hat appears well on its way to unifying the Red Hat clones. The one exception will be its frenemy, Oracle with its RHEL-based Oracle Linux.

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, Open Source

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  • As a RHCE I think this makes a lot of sense.

    It is no secret that cent's rebuilding of rehl was consuming near all their resources. It left little abilty to offer any 'spins' nand whilst at the tip of the blade, fedora is not at all suited to the enterprise environment.

    We know also that red hat face difficult competition from Oracle's rebranding of RHEL. I think this arrangement will be incredibly helpful to both teams and should offer up some great new products.
  • absorption is not always a good thing

    Eventually these absorbed distributions could get axed if Red Hat doesn't see value in keeping them funded.

    Anyone recall Kubuntu?
    • Survival of the fittest

      Well it doesnt matter if they get axed. If they are good enough and have enough interest they will live on anyway.
    • Kubuntu Very Much Alive

      Kubuntu hsan't gone away. It's very much alive.

      If RH someday decides to divorce CentOS, CentOS can return to what it was doing.

      If RH wanted CentOS to vanish while they reaped the benefits, they could have abandoned the name and released it tagged as RH Community or some such.
    • job well done

      You are right ma'am
  • More productive use of energy

    "Red Hat wanted that programming energy more productively than in just recreating RHEL." This hits the nail on the head for what Linux needs now. We do not need more distros, we need more effort to make what we have better.
  • Fedora is not a "bleeding edge" distribution

    Fedora has a lot of packages unmaintained and old, obsolete packages (Tcl/Tk, Python, Krita, fotoxx).

    Eduardo Jorge
    Ediuardo Jorge
    • That's an odd comment.

      Fedora 20:

      Seems pretty close to the edge to me, but I am basing that on the newest Fedora packages, not the oldest ones included only for compatibility.
  • Scientific Linux could be a CentOS Special Interest Group (SIG) of its own

    geared towards high-energy physics. This could, potentially, save the Laboratories which create and maintain Scientific Linux some real money.

    "Scientific Linux, the other major RHEL clone, is now considering joining with Red Hat as well. This is still at a very early stage of discussions."

    Interesting days for RHEL and its derivatives. I wonder if this consolidation is related in any way to Oracle's use of RHEL source code for Oracle Linux and Amazon's use of RHEL source code for Amazon Linux (which is the default image on EC2) ...

    P.S. Article:
    "Looking ahead, Red Hat appears well on its way to unifying the Red Hat clones. The one exception will be its frenemy, Oracle with its RHEL-based Oracle Linux."

    Steven, you forgot to mention Amazon Linux. :)
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Tit for Tat

    With Oracle, taking RH Linux, and also stealing RH client support, would it be reasonable for RH to offer Oracle Technical support? RH could license an all Inclusive Oracle system, and compete with Oracle. What is good for one, has to be good to the other.
    • You've been duped!

      Steven did his best to isolate Oracle with its RHEL-based Oracle Linux. However, Amazon also has a RHEL-based distro, Amazon Linux, which is the default image on EC2. Every Amazon EC2 instance translates to one less RHEL server instance.

      One wonders if Amazon will join up with any of the CentOS Cloud SIGs (e.g., Cloud, Virtualization) ... Or not.

      P.S. Amazon has done the same thing with AOSP for its Fire OS used on Fire HD tablets.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Unity.....

    I for one think this is perfect! No more having to search diverse and one-off repositories for software....everything under one roof so to speak. And although some think this could be a way for Rhappened Hat to shut down or eliminate certain distros, before that happens, I believe the distros would just fork again into another clone. But to have my three favorite distros coming out of the same "factory"?....(Scientific.....CEntOS.....and Fedora) that would be perfect! I'd have a one stop resources shop for most issues, and enough community support to get any question answered. All I cna say is I hope the Scientific Linux group decide to make that move as well it would help so many that have Scientific Linux servers that they don't eant to have to convert over to CEntOS servers...