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posted by janrinok on Saturday February 03, @09:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the oops-ibm-does-not-own-the-community dept.

Red Hat's new source code policy and the intense pushback, explained:

When CentOS announced in 2020 that it was shutting down its traditional "rebuild" of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to focus on its development build, Stream, CentOS suggested the strategy "removes confusion." Red Hat, which largely controlled CentOS by then, considered it "a natural, inevitable next step."

Last week, the IBM-owned Red Hat continued "furthering the evolution of CentOS Stream" by announcing that CentOS Stream would be "the sole repository for public RHEL-related source code releases," with RHEL's core code otherwise restricted to a customer portal. (RHEL access is free for individual developers and up to 16 servers, but that's largely not the issue here).

Red Hat's post was a rich example of burying the lede and a decisive moment for many who follow the tricky balance of Red Hat's open source commitments and service contract business. Here's what followed.

Rocky Linux, launched by CentOS co-founder Greg Kurtzer as a replacement RHEL-compatible distro, announced Thursday that it believes Red Hat's moves "violate the spirit and purpose of open source." Using a few different methods (Universal Base Image containers, pay-per-use public cloud instances), Rocky Linux intends to maintain what it considers legitimate access to RHEL code under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and make the code public as soon as it exists.

"[O]ur unwavering dedication and commitment to open source and the Enterprise Linux community remain steadfast," the project wrote in its blog post.

AlmaLinux, a similarly RHEL-derived distribution, is also working to keep providing RHEL-compatible updates and downstream rebuilds. "The process is more labor intensive as we require gathering data and patches from several sources, comparing them, testing them, and then building them for release," wrote Jack Aboutboul, community manager for AlmaLinux, in a blog post. "But rest assured, updates will continue flowing just as they have been."

The Software Freedom Conservancy's Bradley M. Kuhn weighed in last week with a comprehensive overview of RHEL's business model and its tricky relationship with GPL compliance. Red Hat's business model "skirts" GPL violation but had only twice previously violated the GPL in newsworthy ways, Kuhn wrote. Withholding Complete Corresponding Source (CCS) from the open web doesn't violate the GPL itself, but by doing so, Red Hat makes it more difficult for anyone to verify the company's GPL compliance.

Kuhn expressed sadness that "this long road has led the FOSS community to such a disappointing place."

Shorter, pithier versions of the GPL-minded community's reaction to Red Hat's news are exemplified by Jeff Geerling's blog post called "Dear Red Hat: Are you dumb?," or his YouTube Video "Huge Open Source Drama." Geerling, who says he's dropping RHEL support from his Ansible and other software projects, says that Red Hat's moves are intended to "destroy" Rocky, Alma, and other RHEL derivatives and that after the "knife in the back" of abandoning full CentOS Linux, the recent moves "took that knife and twisted it, hard."

See also:

RHEL's Source Code Access Change Is Causing Issues For CentOS SIGs:


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