SuSE Take On Red Hat, Forking RHEL

One of the Linux stories of the moment has come from Red Hat, with their ongoing efforts to make accessing the source of their Red Hat Enterprise Linux product a paid-for only process. This has caused consternation and annoyance alike, from the open source community angry at any liberties taken with the GPL, and from the community of RHEL users and customers concerned as to what it might mean for them.

Now a new player has entered the fray in the form of SuSe, who have announced the creation of an RHEL fork with the intention of maintaining a freely-available Red Hat compatible operating system distribution.

This is good news for all who use Red Hat derived software and we expect the likes of Rocky Linux will be taking a close look at it, but it’s also a canny move from the European company as they no doubt hope to tempt away some of those commercial Red Hat customers with a promise of stability and their existing experience supporting Red Hat users through their mixed Linux support packages. We hope they’ll continue to maintain their relationship with the open source world, and that the prospect of their actions unleashing a new commercial challenge causes Red Hat to move away from the brink a little.

Need some of the backstory? We’ve got you covered.

The perfect header for this story comes via atzerok, CC BY-SA 2.0.

18 thoughts on “SuSE Take On Red Hat, Forking RHEL

    1. The phrasing is interesting “Oracle makes the following promise: as long as Oracle distributes Linux, Oracle will make the binaries and source code for that distribution publicly and freely available.”.

      Reading between the lines of their statement. it is almost like Oracle see their future as a cloud provider, a company who does not technically distribute Linux. And that is their escape clause.

    1. A corporation (and a big one) behind. When business is involved, companies want to talk with other companies, not communities. This is what allowed Ubuntu to have more success than Debian although it has been for years just an inferior copy supporting fewer architectures.

      1. During my five years as a federal contractor for the Department of Defense (DoD), I had access to various areas on the military base where I worked. In my experience, the only two operating systems I encountered were Windows and Red Hat.

  1. I’m not sure i understand what’s the point in those announcements by Suse and Oracle other than publicity.

    What exactly are they going to fork? Are they going to fork the last publicly available stable sources and continue providing LTS support? For how long? And then what?

    Yes, distros do use patches on their own but many times they tend to become obsolete sooner or later. Many times, especially the more active projects, developers either incorporate them in their code or just change the code base significantly so they simple don’t work or needed anymore. What then? Will Suse be following Centos streams? Will they be using leaked RHEL sources? How are they going to maintain a RHEL-compatible structure?

    Is that RHEL-compatibility some well defined concept that will remain unchanged? How far off is Suse distro from being RHEL-compatible? Why they cannot work on that?

  2. There is one problem: Red Hat develops patches for the packages in RHEL, which they only release to the public in the form of SRPMs. So when you use RHEL, you’re getting patched software that contains security fixes and stability improvements that no other distribution has. Surprisingly, this is not considered a violation of the GPL because Red Hat still distributes the patch source, just not the patches themselves. Red Hat’s primary customers are, in fact, the United States Government, with high-level ranking officials who have held positions on their board of directors. Federal contracts often require knowledge of and utilization of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). So, I don’t really understand how this announcement from Oracle or openSuse really is of any consequence to Red Hat.

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