back to article Red Hat Enterprise clone poised to 'die'

According to six concerned CentOS developers, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone is poised on the edge of the abyss. In an open letter posted to the CentOS website and the project mailing list, six fellow developers accuse project co-founder Lance Davis of putting the entire project at risk by disappearing from everyday …


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  1. yossarianuk

    Good riddance.

    As a data centre technicain I have constantly been asking us to move away from Centos and towards Debian/Ubuntu.

    This could never happen to Debian (possibly even less likely with Ubuntu), my reasons for this are:-

    - RPM is a bag of shite - dependency errors are common using standard yum repos (suse is o.k with smart)

    - Centos is too old technology - I.e ancient PHP/MySQL/HTTP

    - the kernel is 2.6.18 which is missing many great features - i.e tickless - the accountancy modules that allow iotop to run - a lot of newer hardware is not supported - It sort of feels like linux did 1/2 a decade ago...

    - The main web server control panel (Plesk) often has issues updating to the next version (debian based system are usually flawless)

    - They alway take longer than other distros to ship security fixes - I know they have to wait for RH enterprise to issues theirs first..

    - I do not like clones....

  2. Evolution


    The CentOS project is not poised to 'DIE', although I realize this makes for dramatic news. The project is essentially looking to become more open and transparent to the community. The problem is the the domain ownership and all funding are going through one person, not a foundation or group. When that person disappears and refuses to answer communication attempts, things get ugly. All of us care deeply about the project, which is why we could not in good conscience allow this to continue.

  3. Eddy Ito

    Simple solution

    If trademark is an issue a quick switch to ScentOS, PennyOS, 2CentsOS, NickelOS, DimeOS, 2bitOS, ad infinitum.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Re Goodriddance

    The WHOLE idea of a distro like RHEL/CentOS is stability and especially in Production Environments. The 2.6.18 kernel is fine for the majority of Server Environments. Companies like Oracle and IBM would certify their software on RHEL and other companies find that it all works fine on CentOS whereas it may not of say 2.6.30.

    By all means switch to Debian but IMHO Ubuntu ships with far too many core bugs to be suitable for a Server environment apart from the LTS version but I still don't get the core stability with LTS that I do with RHEL/CentOS and even SLES.

    I do agree with you about the timeliness of security patches and hopefully one outcome of this debacle would be extra volunteers to help with the release of fixes.

    TUX Naturally

  5. B Johnson
    Black Helicopters

    I wonder if anyone was behind this?

    OK, a bit black helicoptery, but could CENTOS have been bankrolled/ supported through several intermediaries by someone who wanted redhat down the toilet?

    If the market/ economic conditions changed, now might be a reasonable time to pull the plug.

  6. Joseph Haig


    "This could never happen to Debian (possibly even less likely with Ubuntu), my reasons for this are:-"

    While I respect (but disagree with) your opinions about CentOS and Debian, none of the reasons you give logically follows on from the above statement. Please explain how dependency problems, version numbers and time to release patches has anything to do with a lead developer going AWOL.

  7. Billy 8

    RE: yossarianuk

    A lot of people want stability. Stability that lasts for years. RHEL (and CentOS) give you seven years of platform stability for each major release. Sometimes that means you will have "old" kernels or not-quite-bleeding-edge PHP by default but for a lot of people that doesn't matter - as long as they get bug-fixes they *like* knowing that the versions don't change for years on end.

    If you have a project that depends on particular library/API/versions that might last five years or more it's an excellent choice. If you want more rapid turnover then there's Ubuntu or the like.

    A lot of commercial (closed-source) packages are also built against RHEL versions (sometimes with SLES) and if you don't use them you're on your own. The application died after running a three-month long simulation and you lost everything? Too bad - at least you've got the latest compiz & gcc to play with...

    I'm not anti-debian or anything - I happily run RHEL&clones alongside SuSE, debian, Ubuntu (and Solaris, AIX, IRIX..). Different OS's for different cases.

  8. AWeirdoNamedPhil

    You know what's funny?

    I love it. Nobody knows WHAT happened to the guy, but all these creeps are assuming, with no information whatsoever, that he's doing some kind of weirdo embezzling thing.

    It's all ridiculous. Maybe the poor guy just fell down his basement stairs. How about actually LOOKING for him, instead of trying his mobile phone and email once or twice and freaking out like a bunch of pansy bed-wetters?

    People are idiots. With friends like these, who'd need an enema?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do some real reporting!

    "Maybe the poor guy just fell down his basement stairs."

    Perhaps El Reg should send someone round to find out. He's a Brit and you can easily find his address online.

  10. Mr Spoon


    Respectfully-ish, you're talking a load of shite.

    I'll preface this by pointing out that I use Ubuntu for desktops and my home server and work with Debian daily, I'm a big fan of both distros.

    - RPM is a bag of shite - dependency errors are common using standard yum repos (suse is o.k with smart)

    Dependency errors have nothing to do with the package format or package manager, they're to do with people not managing the dependencies properly.

    We use CentOS for our hosting servers and have no dependency problems that we wouldn't have trying to solve the same requirements on Debian (namely requiring newer packages than the OS revision we're using supports and not wanting to upgrade the entire OS for certain specific reasons).

    - Centos is too old technology - I.e ancient PHP/MySQL/HTTP

    Think of a CentOS or RHEL release as being equivalent to Debian stable. Debian stable has far older packages toward the end of a release lifecycle than Redhat. However this is generally fine on both platforms as they backport security fixes.

    - the kernel is 2.6.18 which is missing many great features - i.e tickless - the accountancy modules that allow iotop to run - a lot of newer hardware is not supported - It sort of feels like linux did 1/2 a decade ago...

    You're aware this is a server OS right?

    - The main web server control panel (Plesk) often has issues updating to the next version (debian based system are usually flawless)

    If you're using Plesk you're doing it wrong.

    - They alway take longer than other distros to ship security fixes - I know they have to wait for RH enterprise to issues theirs first..

    That's just wrong.

    - I do not like clones....

    Why? It's just a recompile, it's the same code.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hope he's not w/ Hans Reiser's wife.

    What about Alan Cox, anyone seen him lately?

    Perhaps we're just seeing the dark side of FOSS? What could possibly go wrong?

  12. Mr Spoon

    @yossarianuk again...

    I forgot to mention. Much as I like dpkg and apt, RPM is actually a much better package manager if you need to maintain your own packages as it allows for separate diffs for each patch rather than one big unified diff which is very difficult to pull specific patches out of.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure he is around...

    .. but was also a slightly odd chap.

    Seems that he, or should I say, someone from his Plusnet internet connection visited our site just the other day with the hostname 'uklinux.****.***'

    UK Linux; a company that seems to offer hosting and other goodies(!) based in Stockport with Lance Davis as the Admin/Tech and Registrant.

    Wonder if all that money has caught up with him. Completely speculative of course.

  14. E 2

    Real Men

    ... use Slackware.

  15. jake Silver badge

    So fork it already. Furrfu!

    Quit the hand-wringing, fork it, call it "MilleOS" and advertise it as 10 times better.

    I'll stick to Slackware, regardless.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Fault tolerance...

    Single point of failure... Business Continuity Plan...?

  17. Nate Amsden

    yossarianuk -

    What the hell are you talking about? Most of the reasons you cited are valid for switching to Debian/Ubuntu. As a Debian user for more than 10 years I can say that Debian also has "stable"(some say stale) packages in stable. And yes i run stable. Haven't had the need for even testing since 2001. The one reason that may make switching worth while is the security updates.

    Ubuntu is mostly a clone of debian as well, they make some mods to it but the core is Debian.

    Myself I run CentOS in my data centers and Debian on my own gear. I think RPM as a package format is fine. I wouldn't use CentOS or RHEL on a desktop/laptop outside of a "workstation" environment, mainly because of a lack of packages(I don't like 3rd party repos). I do use Ubuntu on my laptops, I wouldn't use it personally on any serious server(I would/do use Debian though).

    I mainly use CentOS/RHEL in environments that are large that I have a lot of infrastructure to support them with (cfengine, kickstart, pxe booting etc). Lots of automation and stuff. I use Debian for my own one-off type boxes where I manage them entirely by hand. I build tons of RPMs using Debian's 'alien' software even.

    I saw the email that came out last night on the centos users mailing list, and as someone who has been somewhat active on the list in the past couple of years I was surprised that the person they mentioned is completely unfamiliar to me.

    I'm trying to push my company to RHEL mainly because the company wants to go the SAS70/etc type route, and I do like the idea of us contributing back to linux, companies rarely seem interested in making donations and stuff, but a bill for software is somewhat simple to understand. We get a lot of value out of linux.

    nate (

  18. JimC

    @Matthew Evans

    Tha's the whole point: there isn't a single point of failure. Its not like a commerical company deciding to pull the plug on your critical bit of software and leaving you in the lurch. Because the source is available you always have some way of going forward. If it means hiring three heavy code cutting gurus to maintain an Open source project no-one else wants anymore then sure its going to be expensive, but at least you have the option...

  19. yossarianuk

    @Mr Spoon + others

    I am aware that the length of support time that Centos has (7 years) is what the enterprise wants, this is why it is so popular..

    My reasons for disliking it are from an admin angle - It is likely that the Plesk RPM's cause a lot of issues, but for example today (30 July) - our DNS server running latest Centos (just raw centos on extra repos of any sort) was unable to update the important bind update as yum was completely broken - I had to rebuild rpmDB, clean the yum cache and then yum update (this never happens on debian distros) - The ability to upgrade to the next version in centos (i.e 4 series to 5 series) is never as simple as a deb based distro.

    Re : kernel 2.6.18 - I am fully aware is it mainly used for servers my point that it is missing some modules that you need to run some really useful admin tools - i.e iotop - Iotop is very useful on a server as you can see which users are using the most disk usage. Also PHP 5.1.6 is good to no one..

    (btw I know I can use systemimager to install an image of centos with the latest kernel - in fact we need to to get certain hardware to run as 2.6.18 doesn't have the drivers...)

    Re : Plesk - yes I know I hate it so much - luckily the boss want us to look into a replacement !!

    Just my options on the matter,,..

    Centos isn't going to die anyway - maybe fork .

    Perhaps the guy's just on holiday / got swine flu....

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this will end badly

    All his detractors are going to feel really bad when it is revealed that he died last November and the family dog has been living on his corpse...

  21. yossarianuk


    Isn't Oracles unbreakable Linux also a Redhat Enterprise clone that is free of charge ?

  22. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    But why have CentOS?

    ...just to save the yearly maintenance fee to Red Hat?

    No, really, I want to know.

  23. Daniel Voyce
    Thumb Down

    This needs to stay alive

    The webhosting community NEEDS CentOS. WHM/Cpanel requires it to run and all clean builds of it include CentOS as the core underlying OS unless you are intending to go the Red Hat / FreeBSD route - neither of which we would.

    We have a VPS Cloud running Centos with Whm/cpanel on it and wouldnt want to change that setup. WHM takes the hassle out of setting up a web server and provides great functionality not only to me as a sys admin but also to my clients.

    I think whatever happens the project will be ok as so many people rely on it

  24. Anonymous Coward

    @ Destroy All Monsters

    Some of us home enthusiasts can't afford the support fee for Red Hat but would still like the opportunity to practice and learn on it at home, as RH is standard in many linux shops. CentOS is great for this... maybe not so great if you're a debian zealot though :-)

  25. Anonymous Coward

    You could always migrate to....


    Well, gives you something else to flame about instead of infightiing like a bunch of twats.....

  26. Anonymous Coward

    re: alternative

    The Oracle Unbreakable Linux program provides free downloads, but is not, of itself, free and there isn't a free update service like the one that CentOS provides -- you have to pay to get updates although, just like anyone else, you can download and compile the source rpms yourself.

    I can't see CentOS dying. It may get resurrected, phoenix-like, if the present problem doesn't get resolved but it won't die. Too many people depend are willing to invest the effort to keep the rebuild going and too many people have come to rely on a low-cost enterprise linux, me included.

    If CentOS does go completely I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone like Oracle (or maybe actually Red Hat) provide a cheap updates-only service. But it would have to be very cheap: somewhere around $10 a year.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC "this will end badly"

    He didn't - I know him fairly well and I've spoken to him recently..

  28. Peter Mc Aulay


    Two points of your argument rest on the fact that RH/CentOS tech is too old, what, compared to Debian which takes years between major releases? Nonsense. In servers, tried and proven tech is a good thing, cutting edge is not (which is precisely *why* Debian usually lags behind the cutting edge). I say this as a Debian fan too, I don't even like RH.

  29. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Stopped using CentOS

    I stopped using CentOS, a great RHEL clone, instead I use Oracle's rip-off, sorry clone of RHEL instread, Oracle Enterprise Linux 5. Might be sponsered by a nasty corp but at least they won't just drop support 'cos of missing developer.

  30. Tony Haines
    Black Helicopters


    It's more likely that he's been disappeared by the FBI, at the bequest of the mayor of Tuttle City.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Contacting UKLinux - a difficult task

    I was a customer of UKLinux up until late last year when it proved nigh on impossible to get hold of anyone there to get a domain renewal sorted - no one answering repeated mails or calls. I'd used them for a few years and never had a problem with them before and have wondered since whether anyone else had experienced similar problems - seems so. I wonder if they have any customer's left?

  32. Justin Kestelyn

    OEL Updates

    BTW, just to get the record correct, Oracle Enterprise Linux binaries are indeed free and updates are available for ~$10/month.

  33. Piers
    Thumb Up

    Latest News from CENTOS...


    The CentOS Development team had a routine meeting today with Lance Davis in attendance. During the meeting a majority of issues were resolved immediately and a working agreement was reached with deadlines for remaining unresolved issues. There should be no impact to any CentOS users going forward.

    The CentOS project is now in control of the and domains and owns all trademarks, materials, and artwork in the CentOS distributions.

    We look forward to working with Lance to quickly complete all the agreed upon issues.

    More information will follow soon.

    Last Update: August 1, 2009 04:34 UTC by Donavan Nelson

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    its bigger

    it's bigger than this guy, or the other guys, or debian/ubuntu etc.

    it's about trusting your platform, trusting the process, trusting the organisation to be bigger than boyish egos

    this smells a bit like RoR

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