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Red Hat teams up with community-based RHEL lookalike CentOS

New partnership lends funds, devs to free Linux distro

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Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat has announced a new partnership with the CentOS Project aimed at developing new versions of the community-developed CentOS Linux distribution that take advantage of the latest open-source technologies.

"Today is an exciting day for the open-source community," Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens said in a canned statement. "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."

Founded in 2004, the CentOS Project produces a free Linux distribution that's built from the same source code base as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), albeit with all Red Hat branding and other intellectual property removed.

That won't change under the new partnership, Stevens said in a conference call on Tuesday. But in the future, he said, the core CentOS distribution will be joined by targeted variants aimed at specific technology areas, such as OpenStack, OpenShift Origin, and software-defined networking (SDN).

These specialized builds will be shepherded by special interest groups (SIGs) within the CentOS community, Stevens said, and they will be offered as options from within the integrated CentOS installer.

Stevens said Red Hat plans to contribute its resources and expertise toward building these SIGs, including hiring key CentOS contributors as full-time Red Hat staffers and providing data center resources for projects that require them.

"Now that we are able to count Red Hat among the active contributors to the CentOS Project," lead CentOS developer Karanbir Singh said in a statement, "we have access to the resources and expertise we'll need to expand the scope and reach of the CentOS community while remaining committed to our current and new users."

The partnership will not affect Fedora, the community-developed and supported Linux distribution maintained by Red Hat as the upstream code source for RHEL. The Fedora and CentOS projects serve different audiences, Stevens said.

While Fedora concentrates on delivering cutting-edge technologies in a platform where every layer of the OS stack is open to modification, CentOS focuses more on integrating advanced technologies with a stable OS platform derived from RHEL.

Generally speaking, customers should expect Fedora releases to ship with much newer versions of the software components found in CentOS releases, Red Hat said in a FAQ about the partnership, and users who want to work with the latest code should continue to look there.

Going forward, new CentOS releases will continue to appear shortly after the release of the latest RHEL build, but they may also ship timed with the latest updates to significant projects such as OpenStack.

As is the case with Fedora, however, Red Hat does not plan to offer support for CentOS installations directly, and programs such as Red Hat's Open Source Assurance won't apply to CentOS. Instead, some of the work the CentOS Project does to integrate technologies like Gluster, OpenStack, and oVirt is expected to turn up in future RHEL versions, for which Red Hat offers subscription support.

As such, Stevens said he does not foresee competition between the RHEL and CentOS efforts at Red Hat, adding that "everybody inside of Red Hat is fully supportive" of the CentOS partnership. ®

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