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Red Hat Software Businesses Software Linux

Is CentOS Hurting Red Hat? 370

AlexGr writes "Jeff Gould raises an interesting question in Interop News: Why does Red Hat tolerate CentOS? The Community ENTerprise Operating System is an identical binary clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (minus the trademarks), compiled from the source code RPMs that Red Hat conveniently provides on its FTP site. It is also completely free, as in beer. CentOS provides no paid support, but it does track Red Hat updates and patches closely, and usually makes them available within a few hours or at most a few days of the upstream provider, which it refers to for legal reasons as "a prominent North American Enterprise Linux vendor." Free support for CentOS can be found in numerous places around the web, and a few third parties offer modestly priced paid support for those who want it."
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Is CentOS Hurting Red Hat?

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  • by ThrobbingGristle ( 62723 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @01:23PM (#21232555) Journal
    I would have thought that would have been obvious... maybe I'll go RTFA now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04, 2007 @01:39PM (#21232793)
    True. One thing you forgot to mention.

    RedHat does lots of partnerships with ISVs. That ensures that the ISVs will not support their software on CentOS, but genuine, licensed RedHat systems _only_. That's what made my employer buy some RHEL AS licenses.
  • Wrong question (Score:5, Informative)

    by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @01:41PM (#21232809)
    You might ask just as well why the Linux community tolerates RedHat.
    It's the way it's supposed to work.
    On the other hand, the only reason why CentOS exists is that RHEL can't be downloaded for free like the older versions. If RedHat wanted to kill CentOS they would just have to allow that.
  • Re:No it isn't (Score:5, Informative)

    by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @02:08PM (#21233111) Journal
    Not entirely correct. Installation scripts and interfaces definition files must be included. Access to CVS/CVN of the code without these would not satisfy the GPL (v2).

    "The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
    making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source
    code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
    associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to
    control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a
    special exception, the source code distributed need not include
    anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary
    form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the
    operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component
    itself accompanies the executable.
  • by nicolaiplum ( 169077 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @02:36PM (#21233385)
    Indeed! My company will (for the foreseeable future) need some RHEL licenses for the applications which the vendor only supports on RHEL, like SAP. We may run other things on CentOS, but if we didn't run them on CentOS, we'd probably run them on Debian; it's all either common free software or software we wrote ourselves and we don't feel like paying Red Hat for their product. SInce we can, effectively, run one quite similar OS all over without having to pay Red Hat for all of it, we do, and that's why we're not entirely leaving Red Hat. I can't believe we're the only company doing this. If Red Hat demanded that anything we ran that looked even vaguely like their OS had to be paid for, we would run entirely Debian/Ubuntu and start pressing application vendors to support Debian/Ubuntu and we would not be alone, and application vendors would give in, and then Red Hat's market would entirely evaporate.
    (Red Hat are not endearing themselves to us any by being further behind the feature curve than we would like, and by generally having quite unhelpful support if we have a problem - we perceive their added value to be small)
  • by nicolaiplum ( 169077 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @02:42PM (#21233447)
    My company, which is not so small (some hundreds employees, some hundreds millions Euro revenue/year, growing fast), uses CentOS (as well as RHEL) because it's cheaper, the cost difference is noticeable. We also use MySQL partly because it's cheaper. But we also like the ability to deploy rapidly, and not have to manage licenses, and so on, and we do pay for MySQL support and RHEL support when we use it.
    Not all companies consider $10k Oracle licenses to be an inevitable cost of business, nor having to have people to track the licensing to be an inevitable drag.
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @04:30PM (#21234457) Homepage
    Did you read the same article I did?

    So the answer to the question in the title of this piece is: CentOS stings Red Hat just a little, but it doesn't hurt them badly enough to make them want to change the way they do business. Even better, it helps them hold the heads of the competing Linux server distros under water. The real victims of the roaring success of CentOS are Novell's SLES, Ubuntu Server and Larry Ellison's own RHEL-cloned Unbreakable Linux.

    Redhat is selling first class tickets with Champaign comfy seats and peace of mind at first class prices.
    the only customers Red Hat is really interested in are the ones who can fork over big bucks for a premium-branded product without even thinking about it, like the bulge-bracket Wall Street financial firms or the big telcos who run thousands or even tens of thousands of paid-up copies of RHEL in their data centers. In short, if you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it

  • Re:Are you sure? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SolusSD ( 680489 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @04:59PM (#21234705) Homepage
    Redhat's legal department confirmed what I had already believed (after all, my boss insisted I found out for sure, which makes perfect sense given the consequences). Redhat, like all other kernel/OSS developers owns copyrights on the code they have produced, but the code is licensed under the GPL. In fact, Redhat, being the great OSS supporter that they are, licenses all of their in house code under the GPL. Their sales department, unfortunately, is run by complete morons that don't understand simple things like the difference between trademarks, copyrights, and licenses. Since Redhat owns its trademark and, in order to preserve that trademark, must protect it, selling Redhat without following their licensing terms is illegal. In house use, however, is fair use.
  • by renegadesx ( 977007 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @05:40PM (#21235015)
    Agreed, this is the primary purpose of the GPL and what makes open source so great. This idiot would be better off asking "Does Oracle Unbreakable Linux hurt Red Hat?" As they DO provide commercial support.

    By this guy's logic he should ask himself "Does Fedora hurt Red Hat?" "Does Linspire hurt Ubuntu?"

    The reason RHEL is in the #1 seat isn't just because they have a great product (which they do) but their support is brilliant as well. Companies that want paid support take that into consideration.
  • by hollywoodb ( 809541 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @05:52PM (#21235141)
    RedHat does *not* hate CentOS... the issue has come up on the mailing lists over the years, and some see CentOS as the "gateway drug" that eventually brings more users to RHEL. Others feel that having CentOS around increases the RHEL{,-derived} userbase and therefore indirectly helps increase the quality of RHEL itself.

    In fact, CentOS and Fedora shared a developer booth at FOSDEM this year.
    http://wiki.centos.org/Events/Fosdem2007 [centos.org]
    http://spevack.livejournal.com/2007/02/25/ [livejournal.com]

    Additionally, it would have taken the author of TFA about 10 minutes of reasearch to turn up the FOSDEM tidbit and these little bits that make TFA completely irrelevant:
    http://www.linux.com/?module=comments&func=display&cid=1161341 [linux.com]
    http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=511 [linuxformat.co.uk]
    (scroll down to the RH Q&A) on the second link.
  • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @06:23PM (#21235417)

    Currently they make SRPMs available, which makes the life of Whitebox, CentOS, et al, much simpler. If they really hated such efforts they'd just resort to making only tar balls available.
    The GPL says otherwise: "For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable." It would be a prohibitive amount of work to package up the installation scripts in tarball form (if that is even possible) and then there would be the PR cost of being perceived as a GPL evader.
  • by gdek ( 202709 ) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @09:06PM (#21236565)
    "I'm pretty sure RedHat hate CentOS."

    1. No, we don't. At least, not most of us -- because most of us actually *understand* the business we're in. That's why we're making all this nice money. If we did hate CentOS, we could make it awfully difficult for them in any number of ways -- delaying updates, hiding marks and making them play "where's Waldo" every release, that sort of thing.

    2. The "coy mumbo jumbo" about the upstream vendor has to do with trademark protection, not hate. We don't want "Red Hat" to turn into "Kleenex".

    3. Here's a question: why is there no CentOS equivalent based on SuSE products? Think about it.

    4. A lot of the significant people in the CentOS community are actually important and respected members of the Fedora community as well. That way, Red Hat benefits from the work of the more savvy CentOS users. That's how open source works, you see.

    5. It's Red Hat, with a space. Not RedHat. Get it right, or we'll send you a cease-and-desist letter. (I'm kidding. Probably.)
  • by Mr. Heavy ( 1128153 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @12:29AM (#21237893)
    This is a pretty bad comparison. The relationship between SUSE and openSUSE is much closer to that of Red Hat and Fedora than of Red Hat and CentOS. openSUSE is a fully Novell-sponsored initiative that basically functions as a testing sandbox for the enterprise OS, much like Fedora serves as the base for much RHEL functionality. CentOS is a third-party effort with no official backing from Red Hat whatsoever.
  • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:38PM (#21244237) Journal
    > You don't protect trademarks, you lose them, the end. And you know it.

    You don't quite lose them. What you do lose is the ability to claim damages due to dilution. You still get to pursue blatant infringement -- Kimberly-Clark could still sue your cojones off if you sold paper products called "Kleenex".
  • Re:Simple: Support (Score:3, Informative)

    by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:58PM (#21244493) Journal
    Power supplies are one of the *least* likely components to fail: memory is the most vulnerable, CPU's are second especially with cooling issues.

    Holy freakin shit. CPUs? Have you ever actually worked with hardware? The last time I had a CPU actually burn itself up was when I was testing experimental Sparc 15MP CPUs. Those things were on riser cards, stacked above each other.

    Memory gets zapped when you install it. ESD is a bitch, even if you wear a strap. On most utility boxes, memory doesn't get installed, you just get more memory when you get a new server. Bigger servers with >4gig are a different matter, but are perhaps a tenth of total servers in most places, which usually fill up racks with Dell 1950's or the like.

    PSUs go all the time. I've learned to get redundant PSUs whenever possible. The only thing that fails more often than CPUs are HDD's... which you didn't even mention.

    "Failure to use thermal compound" ... geez louise, your overclocked gamer rig is not what they fill datacenters and labs with.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal