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Red Hat takes more active role in CentOS, funds developers

Red Hat's involvement will assure future of the community distribution, says project chair

By Loek Essers
January 8, 2014 11:21 AM ET

IDG News Service - Red Hat plans to take a greater role in the community developing CentOS, in the hope of attracting more paying customers to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the distribution on which CentOS is based.

Red Hat will take a more active role in the CentOS Project to strengthen its development and broaden the reach of projects such as OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system that can be built on CentOS, and to which Red Hat also contributes, it said Tuesday.

CentOS is a community initiative that fills the gap between RHEL, a stable distribution with enterprise support available for a fee, and Fedora, a community-supported distribution that incorporates newer or more innovative open source technologies. CentOS, based on RHEL source code, changes more slowly than Fedora, but has the same level of community support.

Among the changes that Red Hat's involvement will bring are the creation of a new governing board for the project, funding for key project leaders who will become Red Hat employees, and support for variants of CentOS, allowing external groups such as OpenStack to customize CentOS for their own projects, simplifying development and installation.

Growth in the use of OpenStack and of RDO, a packaged distribution of OpenStack for users of CentOS, RHEL, and Fedora, will improve the maturity of the code and increase the prominence of the project, in turn driving demand for RHEL OpenStack Platform subscriptions, Red Hat said on a web page explaining the move.

Working more closely with Red Hat will allow the CentOS project to address two major challenges, project chair Karanbir Singh wrote in a personal blog post about the collaboration.

While people have used CentOS to develop a vast set of solutions, "momentum around the platform has been in silos, away from the core," Singh wrote, meaning that the community was unable to come together in one place. Every silo had to create its own community, leading to what he considers "the biggest failure of the CentOS Project -- the failure to grow organically beyond the platform."

"The second biggest challenge we've faced has been the question of what if the tap gets turned off," he wrote, referring to the possibility that Red Hat might stop freely sharing the source code to RHEL, preventing further development of CentOS. Red Hat's closer involvement in the project makes that less likely.

As part of the new collaboration, Red Hat is hiring some of the key members of the CentOS community, including Singh, to work full time on the project, and they and other Red Hat employees will form the majority of the new CentOS governing board.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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