Red Hat kills CentOS

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chaosmonk

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se unió: 07/07/2017

A year after its release, the end-of-life for CentOS 8 has been abruptly pushed forward from 2029 to 2021.

https://git.centos.org/centos/centos.org/c/add15d276da60481d018d414493c8f5d4e630c16?branch=master

The CentOS name will be reused for an unstable development branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

https://blog.centos.org/2020/12/future-is-centos-stream/

Hopefully most of those who adopted CentOS 8 expecting a decade of stability will migrate to a more community-oriented distro rather than pay for a simpler migration to RHEL and in doing so reward Red Hat for their EEE tactics.

nadebula.1984
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se unió: 05/01/2018

If CentOS Stream doesn't require subscription fees to use its repository after CentOS 8's end, it's actually a good thing. This makes CentOS at least semi rolling so users can enjoy latest packages at the first time. Our lab uses a mixture of Debian's unstable/experimental repositories for maximum possible freshness.

andyprough
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se unió: 02/12/2015

It's not going to be the latest packages. It's going to be "RHEL + .1", which will probably mean it still has ancient packages for the most part. You'll still have to be re-installing Fedora twice a year to try to get recent packages.

nadebula.1984
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se unió: 05/01/2018

Thanks for the clarification. Now I see that CentOS Stream is very different from Fedora. Initially, I suspected why IBM/Red Hat still need CentOS Stream when they already have Fedora.

chaosmonk

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se unió: 07/07/2017

In addition to what Andy said, CentOS is primarily used for production servers, not workstations. Freshness is not desirable. The point is to be able to have a stable system that receives security updates but otherwise does not change for a long time so that there is little risk of anything breaking and requring downtime or maintainance. Those who recently upgraded to CentOS 8 did so with the expectation that they would not need to do so for another decade.

For a lab like yours, a rolling distro is probably better than CentOS or RHEL. In general, I imagine that most users who require such extreme stability are corporations. A little bit of downtime or maintenance is not such a big deal for normal users, so having the latest features is generally worth the risk of occasional breakage due to frequent upgrades, whereas for a corporation it can cost a lot of money.

So I'm not exactly bawling my eyes out over this, given whom it primarily affects, but I oppose it on principle. RHEL consists of a large amount of GPL'd software, and I don't like Red Hat's (or perhaps IBM's in this case; it's unclear to me whether this is something RH was always going to do or an order from above) use of loopholes and workarounds to prevent users from exercising the freedoms that the GPL was written to ensure.

andyprough
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se unió: 02/12/2015

Oracle is going to pick up a lot of those corporate users with their free RHEL clone. The mega-rich will get mega-richer.

Magic Banana

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se unió: 07/24/2010

What Red Hat did is bad. But it does not exploit any loophole in any free software license. Having a long time support is not and should not be among the four freedoms. On the other hand, the right to fork is a consequence of the free software definition. It led to the CentOS project. A similar project may start soon, I guess.

chaosmonk

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se unió: 07/07/2017

I should have been more clear: This is an extension of a way in which Red Hat already works around the GPL, which is using trademark restrictions.

What they do is superficially similar to what Mozilla does with Firefox, but Mozilla (correctly) uses trademark restrictions to avoid brand confusion. Accordingly, unmodified versions of Firefox do not need to rebranded (so the trademark restrictions only kick in when you create a derivative that is different from what Mozilla publishes), and Mozilla makes it relatively easy to rebrand Firefox by putting all their artwork in a separate "branding/" directory in the source tree (so if you want to create a derivative it is not that hard to do so).

RHEL on the other hand cannot even be freely redistributed verbatim, and rebranding is intentionally made difficult in order to hinder attempts to exercise the four freedoms.

As you say, this led to CentOS, which undertook the non task of maintaining a rebranded version of RHEL, so Red Hat only delayed for several years, not prevented entirely, users being able to enjoy the freedoms guaranteed by the GPL.

Then Red Hat acquired CentOS and took control the CentOS trademark and the direction of the project. They have now used that control to change CentOS so that it is can no longer be used to circumvent RHEL's trademark restrictions. A change of EOL date is not in general a freedom issue. As you say, this may lead to another fork, in which case again this will only delay, not prevent, users from excercising the four freedoms. Hopefully the delay is not more than a year though, or else some users are likely to bite the bullet and agree to accept the non-free terms of RHEL if they can not afford the transitional cost of migrating to another distro. That's the problem with the change of EOL date: Changing an EOL date is not a freedom issue in general, but in this case it is part of a larger sequence of events that is likely to lead to a loss of freedom for some users.

Maybe "loophole" is a little too strong a word, as users are only temporarily denied software freedom. Perhaps the word "loophole" is better reserved for things like tivoization of GPLv2 software, or running GPL'd software as a network service so that the software is not actually distributed to its users and the GPL does not kick in (unless the AGPL is used).

However, if we value the four freedoms then we should oppose actions that prevent people from exercising them, even if only temporarily, whether the strategy used is copyright law, trademark law, or acquisition.

Magic Banana

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se unió: 07/24/2010

I was not aware of Red Hat's trademark guidelines: https://www.redhat.com/f/pdf/corp/RH-3573_284204_TM_Gd.pdf

The Section entitled "Guidelines For Marketing Software Products Containing Unmodified Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® Software" is indeed unacceptable. Trademarks should never restrict the distribution of exact copies. Ironically, the same guidelines include, right before that section, a good presentation of what trademarks should always be for (helping the public to easily identify products):

Once you have made changes to the software, it is no longer the same as the original, and as a result, it is inappropriate to name it or brand it as though it is. Red Hat does not restrict the rights granted to you under applicable copyright licenses to copy, modify and redistribute the software contained in Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®. We encourage you to take full advantage of your rights under
the copyright licenses with respect to the software. However, it is important that our customers and the public at large are easily able to determine which products are Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® and which products are versions of Linux-based operating systems, including modifications of Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, distributed by parties unaffiliated with Red Hat.

chaosmonk

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se unió: 07/07/2017

> The Section entitled "Guidelines For Marketing Software Products Containing Unmodified Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® Software" is indeed unacceptable.

There are also a few other ways in which Red Hat tries to stop RHEL users from exercising software freedom:

In order to receive updates to RHEL, you need to pay for a subscription, which comes with a support contract. The terms of that contract impose restrictions beyond those of the GPL, including the right to modify. This is not a GPL violation, because the contract is not necessary to keep using the software that Red Hat has already distributed to you, only to receive copies of new versions of the software. However, without security updates RHEL is useless for it's main use case, which is running production servers. As Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Conservancy puts it,

"I have long called it the if you like copyleft, your money is no good here business model. It's a GPL-compliant business model merely because the GPL is silent on whether or not you must keep someone as your customer. Red Hat tells RHEL customers that if they chose to engage in their rights under GPL, then their support contract will be canceled. I've often pointed out (although this may be the first time publicly on the Internet) that Red Hat found a bright line of GPL compliance, walked right up to it, and were the first to stake out a business model right on the line."

=> http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2011/03/05/open-core-slur.html

Also, most free software projects provide access to their patches or version control system. The GPL does not require this. It's just a nice thing to do because it takes virtually no effort on your part and makes it much easier for people to understand, use, and contribute back to your code. For Red Hat's modifications to Linux, they do not do this. Instead they just dump the source tree for each new RHEL kernel. They do this with the stated goal of making it harder for competitors to use their kernel patches. It does not go against the letter of the GPL, but it certainly goes against the spirit.

In other words, Red Hat does virtually everything short of actually violating the GPL to make it difficult to use RHEL in freedom. It seems likely that if Linux and GNU were under permissive licenses then RHEL would be completely proprietary. Fortunately they are not, and because Red Hat does comply with the GPL it was possible to create CentOS. Perhaps a new CentOS-like fork will be created next, and perhaps whoever creates such a fork will learn from what happened to CentOS and not allow Red Hat to acquire it. In the meantime however, users who just upgraded to CentOS 8 with the expectation of using it until 2029 will be very tempted to give up their freedoms by migrating to RHEL.

lutes
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se unió: 09/04/2020

> reward Red Hat for their EEE tactics

"Embrace, extend, and extinguish" their own user base, more likely.

chaosmonk

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se unió: 07/07/2017

The founder of CentOS has started a new fork of RHEL to do what CentOS did before.

=> https://rockylinux.org/

lutes
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se unió: 09/04/2020

CentOS is dead, long life Rocky Linux.