Haven’t seen any threads on CentOS yet.
CentOS is a vastly popular, free rebuild of the (debatably-expensive) RHEL, a commercial Linux distribution with a long release cycles. The primary benefit of these is you can run them for long periods (10+ years) and still receive security patches without having to upgrade and potentially break your server or appliance.
Due to GPL, people can mostly rebuild RHEL and distribute it for free, although it requires getting access to the source, figuring out how to compile it as well as removing trademarks. This puts RHEL in a difficult spot as a commercial concern, and there is some controversy around tactics they use to discourage people from doing this, although ultimately since they are big contributors to Linux everyone kinda overlooks it.
It turns out it requires actual work to do a free rebuild, and volunteer project CentOS struggled to put out releases in a timely fashion. In the middle of this, RH made a surprise move to buy the CentOS project. There was some concern at the time about a conflict of interest, but it was also thought to be in RH’s interest to have a free offering that would help people grow into RHEL commercial customers. For awhile, that’s pretty much what happened and things improved for both projects.
More recently, RH killed the CentOS project. In short, a lot of linux sysadmins unexpectedly have to migrate from CentOS in the next few months (well before the 10+ year cycle they expected). To put it mildly, this has caused a lot of controversy.
Particular events of note:
- RHEL expanded their own free tier
- CentOS has a new project called Streams, which, depending on who you ask, may or may not be a reasonable alternative to CentOS.
- Oracle, who is not exactly well-liked, is actively marketing to CentOS users to use their rebuild of RHEL
- SUSE Linux is improving compatibility with their community rebuild project which is one of the cited benefits of CentOS
- New free rebuilds have sprung up, including AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux.
- I’ve seen plenty of chatter around leaving commercial linux entirely, perhaps for Debian or Ubuntu (partly commercial)
Some questions for this group might be:
- How viable is the commercial linux business model, given the inevitability of rebuilds?
- alternatively, how viable are free rebuilds given that they’ve struggled to keep up with RH as independent projects?
- What are the implications of vendors like Oracle selling a rebuild that undercuts RH on price?
- Are 10+ years updates as good as it used to be? I’ve seen this come up a lot in the context of containers or immutable infrastructure filling this role.
- To what extent is this part of the recent trend of business model issues in oss projects, mongodb, cockroach, mapbox etc? Obviously you can’t relicense the linux kernel like you can in small projects, but some things seem similar.
- What do we think about the RH model of selling binaries and disconnecting customers who redistribute source?