Red Hat is extending its developer program to make it simpler for both individual developers and small teams to access a free Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system subscription.
These programs are launched in the wake of Red Hat’s decision to no longer invest in an open source CentOS Linux distribution project. Many developers employ CentOS to build applications that are later deployed on RHEL in a production environment.
Starting in February, an existing no-cost Individual Developer subscription for RHEL can be used in production for up to 16 systems in an on-premises environment or in the cloud. Previously, developers were limited to using the subscription on a single machine. Red Hat is also making it easier for teams of developers to join this program at no additional cost via an existing subscription their organization may already have.
In place of CentOS, Red Hat is positioning the CentOS Stream as a hub through which development teams will gain access to a continuously updated Linux distribution that will become the next minor update to RHEL. The Fedora project, managed by Red Hat, will continue to exist as the vehicle through which the RHEL community experiments with major innovations.
Brian Exelbierd, head of RHEL community projects, said these changes should ultimately prove to be a boon to DevOps teams, as they will better align the instances of applications being developed with existing instances of RHEL running in production environments. Historically, there was a significant amount of effort required on the part of DevOps teams to move an application developed on CentOS to RHEL, said Exelbierd.
At least two other entities have rushed to fill the perceived CentOS gap. Gregory Kurtzer, one of the co-founders of CentOS, along with the support of more than 650 contributors, has launched Rocky Linux to make sure IT organizations have access to a fork of RHEL without a subscription. At the same time, CloudLinux is pledging to spend $1 million annually to create a distribution of Linux, dubbed Project Lenix, that is also based on a fork of RHEL. CloudLinux previously provided a hardened edition of CentOS that has been installed more than 200,000 times by 4,000-plus customers.
Exelbierd said Red Hat is not trying to subvert those efforts, but it does have a vested interest in making it simpler for developers to build applications that eventually get deployed on production systems. Red Hat only generates revenue when organizations pay to subscribe to an instance of RHEL that gets deployed in a production environment.
Regardless of what operating system developers employ, unless organizations decide to deploy CentOS in production environments, all paths eventually lead to RHEL. It will be interesting to see how far organizations will go in supporting a fork of RHEL that, in many cases, was employed simply because a developer didn’t want to pay for full subscription.