Last year, when Red Hat changed the course of its CentOS Linux distribution to be more of an experimental build for cloud native environments, many organizations depending on this distribution were worried about finding a no-cost, enterprise-ready Linux distribution. In many cases, they couldn’t afford the subscription fees that came with the company’s flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) itself.
In response to the outcry, Red Hat extended the availability of RHEL for Open Source Infrastructure to include not-for-profit organizations. It can, according to the company, “give open source communities, projects, foundations and other organizations a stable foundation for creating and hosting innovative open source software.”
The New Stack was fortunate to speak with Jason Brooks, who is Red Hat’s manager for community architects and infrastructure, to get some clarity on the expansion of the project.
Explain the RHEL for Open Source Infrastructure in such a way that organizations can clearly understand what the project is about.
Red Hat is providing not-for-profit projects and organizations that produce or support the production of open source software with no-cost Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
We’re doing this because we want to support the open source ecosystem. RHEL is a great platform for running production infrastructure, and we want to make it available to groups in that ecosystem that wouldn’t otherwise be in a position to acquire it.
We’re also doing this because we want the open source ecosystem to support RHEL. If open source developers want to build and test their software on RHEL, we want to make sure that RHEL is available to them.
What necessitated the need to extend this project?
We’ve been providing RHEL to certain open source organizations for some time now, but in an ad hoc way. We were prompted to turn that ad hoc effort into a real program by the shift in the CentOS Project to focus on CentOS Stream instead of CentOS Linux.
Lots of open source projects test for RHEL compatibility by testing on CentOS Linux, so it’s important that we ensure that projects that need RHEL for building and testing have access to it before the shift to CentOS Stream is complete.
Why should organizations opt to go with RHEL for Open Source Infrastructure, as opposed to opting for, say, Rocky Linux, Alma Linux, or Ubuntu Server?
Organizations should use the distribution that works best for them, but if testing for RHEL compatibility is what you’re looking for, then it’s tough to beat actual RHEL installs for that. For more general project infrastructure, I think that the stability, security, and predictability that lead our customers to choose RHEL will also be attractive to open source projects and organizations.
What benefits will developers derive from this project?
This program is oriented towards organizations. The individual developers within a project will benefit from having the access to RHEL for building and testing that I mentioned above. The materials around the Red Hat Developer Subscription for Individuals might have more information around individual benefits and use cases.
What types of projects/organizations is RHEL for Open Source Infrastructure best suited?
Organizations that want to test against RHEL or that are accustomed to testing against CentOS Linux will be well-suited for this project, as will organizations with infrastructure teams accustomed to running their infrastructure on RHEL or on distributions in the RHEL family.
Will Red Hat eventually attempt to upsell organizations to full RHEL licenses?
This program isn’t intended to provide a pathway to new sales opportunities.
When organizations are accepted to the program, what version of RHEL will they be using and what are the limitations to the OS (if any)?
As with regular customer subscriptions for RHEL, the subscriptions provided in this program allow for access to any currently supported version of RHEL. The only limitation on use is that the organizations use their RHEL instances on the project or projects they’ve applied under.
And there you have it, answers directly from Red Hat on the expansion of this project. For many not-for-profit organizations, this could be a very important project. Having access to Red Hat Enterprise Linux means groups with tight budgets can enjoy the reliability, security, and scalability of an enterprise-grade platform.
And by making RHEL available for more open source projects, Red Hat makes it a win-win for everyone involved; open source projects can ensure their software is compatible with RHEL and Red Hat Enterprise Linux benefits from even more contributions from developers across the globe.
What more proof do you need than Neil McGovern, executive director, GNOME Foundation saying:
“As a non-profit, we rely on donations to help us achieve our goal of a world where everyone is empowered by technology they can trust. RHEL subscriptions are an essential part in this. With full operating system management and security updates, we can concentrate on the services we provide to GNOME users and developers without having to worry about the underlying systems. Red Hat has generously provided these services to GNOME at zero cost for years, and we look forward to continuing our relationship for a long time to come.”
If you ever needed an open source endorsement for a project, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that speaks more to the point than that.
Red Hat is a sponsor of The New Stack.