CIQ, SUSE, Oracle join forces to challenge Red Hat’s new restrictions

CIQ, SUSE and Oracle have come together to create the Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA), a trade association that will provide source code compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

This, the alliance says, is in response to Red Hat restricting access to source code from RHEL only to paying customers.

“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a new era for EL,” said Gregory Kurtzer, chief executive, CIQ. “With OpenELA, CIQ, Oracle and SUSE join forces with the open source community to ensure a stable and resilient future for both upstream and downstream communities to leverage Enterprise Linux.”

OpenELA says it will provide source code necessary for downstreams compatible with RHEL to exist, starting later this year, with initial focus on RHEL versions EL8, EL9 and possibly EL7.

“The project is committed to ensuring the continued availability of OpenELA sources to the community indefinitely,” it added.

OpenELA’s homepage also waves the open source Linux flag, but with the following rather combative words, likely in response to Red Hat’s bashing of downstream rebuilders in defending its change of policy:

“No subscriptions. No passwords. No barriers. Freeloaders welcome.”

Red Hat’s vice president, Core Platforms, Mike McGrath, said at the time the restriction was announced, “I feel that much of the anger from our recent decision around the downstream sources comes from either those who do not want to pay for the time, effort and resources going into RHEL or those who want to repackage it for their own profit. This demand for RHEL code is disingenuous.”

The decision to make RHEL available to only paying customers (who also cannot publish it), Red Hat said, is to sharpen focus on CentOS Stream, now the sole repository for public RHEL-related source code releases.

But, with CentOS Stream, downstreams will no longer have that perfect compatibility from using the same source code when running a rebuild, The Register noted, referring to CentOS Stream as “a sort of continuous rolling beta of the next version of RHEL”.

So far, the association has not clarified how exactly it will maintain compatibility with RHEL, only saying that it will “encourage the development of distributions compatible with RHEL.”

However, OpenELA told ITPro that both Rocky Linux, backed by CIQ, and Oracle Linux, will continue to be 1:1 and bug-for-bug compatible. 

Rocky Linux, which currently claims it is 100 per cent binary compatible with RHEL and regards itself as the successor to CentOS (axed by Red Hat in favour of CentOS Stream), also said it plans to obtain source code through UBI container images based on RHEL, available from multiple sources, or by leveraging pay-per-use public cloud instances.

Oracle, however, previously acknowledged that compatibility issues may arise, but promised to make binaries and source code publicly and freely available as long as it distributes Linux.

OpenELA called on other organizations and community members to join and contribute actively as it “seeks to build a robust, community-driven standard that ensures impartiality and equilibrium in the EL ecosystem.”

According to ITPro, OpenELA said it would welcome AlmaLinux, a notable absence from the association, and even Red Hat, as members.

See also:

Gunnar Hellekson, GM and VP at Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Mike McGrath VP of Core Platforms Engineering at Red Hat on Hashtag Trending, Weekend Edition

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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