By Scott Hamilton
Earlier this year RedHat (http://www.redhat.com) announced the plan to end the development and support of their free Centos (http://www.centos.org) operating system. This decision sent shockwaves across the open source community. Centos has been the top choice in many universities and small businesses to avoid high license costs. Many believed this was a purely financial decision to increase sales of RedHat. However there is bit more to the story.
Centos was based entirely on the commercial release of RedHat, meaning it was identical to the paid version of the software. RedHat was missing out on patches and feedback from the open source community. Many other Linux distributions use a rolling free release and base their commercial products off the free release, giving them the added benefit of community supplied bug reports and fixes. RedHat made that shift this year.
A large number of Centos users are upset by the changes, as they feel it will bring instability to the operating system. The main reason many chose Centos over other free operating systems was for the long-term stability, knowing they were getting a commercial grade operating system for free. The new Centos Stream will lack this level of stability as it will be patched first, resulting in the fear of lesser stability.
The best thing to come out of this was the splitting of the open source development team. Since the new Centos Stream product will be developed primarily by RedHat developers, many of the contributors to the once free Centos system have taken their code and went to play in another park. Gregory Kurtzer announced Rocky Linux (http://www.rockylinux.org) on the same day RedHat announced the premature demise of the Centos distribution. The project received positive support from the community and also announced that it has received several offers for sponsorship. As it stands today Kurtzer and team have raised over four million dollars in supporting funds to get the new project off the ground.
Rocky Linux is projecting a pre-release date of Feb. 28, 2021, when alpha test level packages will begin to be available to the public. They are aiming for an official release date of March 31, 2021, for the first release candidate to be ready for public testing. I, for one, am looking forward to kicking the tires on the latest free operating system.
It is nice to see these small technology companies take stand in light of the technocracy. The open source community has always been there for the needs of the community as a whole, way more than for the success of individual projects. In fact, the Linux operating system as a whole is a conglomeration of several thousand individual projects to have a complete experience for the end user. The Linux kernel project (http://www.kernel.org), headed by Linus Torvolds, being the core of the platform is also heavily dependent on various other projects to make the kernel useful.
Next week I plan to write about Torvalds and the history of Linux, so you can get a full picture of how the free operating system came to life, and the massive level of effort required by a large community of software developers to make it all possible, many of them without collecting a pay check. Until next week, stay safe and learn something new.
Scott Hamilton is a Senior Expert in Emerging Technologies at ATOS and can be reached with questions and comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at http://www.techshepherd.org