Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Linux Consolidation Continues: CentOS Joins Red Hat

by Dietrich Schmitz

The news that CentOS has joined the Red Hat family is positive.

"With today's announcement, Red Hat extends its commitment to rapid open source technology and solution development to deliver:

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."

The news is most positive in the sense that money doesn't grow on trees and funding to continue ongoing development has to come from somewhere.  I've maintained that this year, 2014, and going forward there will be an overall major consolidation of Linux Distributions as many will drop out by attrition and lack of financial ability to continue.

Last year, we saw evidence of that underway with first Fuduntu's demise, then Cloverleaf and SolusOS.  

However willing developers may be to work on Linux, the harsh reality is that one must have an income to sustain oneself, without which doing any sort of extracurricular project and particularly on a voluntary basis becomes exceedingly difficult if not impossible.

With that said, CentOS Project Leader +Karanbir Singh (left) shared some of his insights with +The Linux Foundation's esteemed +Libby Clark.

In Q&A fashion, here's some of what Karanbir had to say:

 "...Ten years ago when some of us were getting together to start the project, the aim was to get 300 people to use it, that was fantastic. From our perspective it's been fairly successful. How we define success is to build something we would use and that comes back to the user-driven approach. We cared about how things worked, where they worked, and overall it worked out well having that user perspective. 
I've never worked for a big open source company before but I hope to bring that user perspective to Red Hat and what I'll take a way is a large approach to user communities and hopefully manage that better. 

Otherwise, not much has changed. They sent me a phone and a laptop and that's how it's going to go. I feel quite privileged to have this opportunity to focus on the CentOS larger ecosystem side of things." 


"...There's been no money involved in the project. We have a bank account that's never had more than a couple hundred dollars for printing t-shirts for events. This is the first time there's a group of people 'professionally' working on CentOS as a platform (emphasis mine). 
How CentOS used to happen was some of us would go to work and then work another 40 hours a week on CentOS. You can't sustain 80 hours a week. The reason I did it wasn't for compensation, it was because I wanted to."
Clearly, having a big organization the likes of Red Hat certainly will help fuel development efforts at CentOS.  And, as has been seen with Fedora, Red Hat understand well how to cultivate and nuture community-led research and development.  Assuming CentOS will find its way into the Fedora community of spins will round out and close a big gap on server side offerings.

Here's wishing the CentOS Distro Team the best of luck in their new relationship.

-- Dietrich
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