back to article SUSE announces its own RHEL-compatible distro... again

SUSE is reconsidering the change of course it made at the beginning of last year: it is launching its own RHEL-compatible distro, or as it puts it, a fork of RHEL. The company's recently appointed CEO Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen has made his first big announcement: that the German enterprise Linux vendor will launch its own Red Hat …

  1. TVU Silver badge

    SUSE announces its own RHEL-compatible distro... again

    There are now varying accounts online of what SUSE Liberty Linux might be like but as far as I can tell, it won't be a direct Oracle-style clone but more like a full fork of RHEL that will then try to mirror any new major developments and capabilities in RHEL.

    In any event, I wish this project every success.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If IBM thought it was ridding itself of competition to RHEL it seems to have not only achieved the exact opposite but also drawn attention to that competition and opprobrium on itself.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A question of trust in an uncertain world

    I'd bet that the Linux customer base are far more likely to trust SUSE with their Linux needs than ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A question of trust in an uncertain world

      Are RHEL customers "Linux" customers or people who just happen to run Linux software that is only supported on RHEL?

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: A question of trust in an uncertain world

        Whatever the reason for customers using RHEL, SUSE offering them a pathway to escape the death spiral of RedHat within IBM, may well be welcomed.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A question of trust in an uncertain world

        Since the effective demise of Scientific Linux a lot of that sort of crowd switched to CentOS, CERN switched to CentOS about 8 years back IIRC. More recently they gone streams and Alma.

        Would you count them as Linux people?

    2. chuckufarley Silver badge

      Re: A question of trust in an uncertain world

      Add to that the fact that because Suse is based in the EU it is fully subject to the GDPR plus other EU regulations for consumer protection and it could be a new and exciting avenue for RHEL customers. However, we don't know how IBM will respond, and what the counter response will be, etc. So for now I will withhold judgement.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A question of trust in an uncertain world

      I think there's a lot to be said for the "trust" issue. Hand-in-hand is "confidence". E.g.

      Do I trust Red Hat to try to do the right thing?

      Do I have confidence they could do it, if they tried?

      I expect Red Hat has damaged the trust (goodwill, etc.) they built over the years, e.g. with the mis-handling of CentOS Stream and pulling the rug out from CentOS 8 long-term support after it was already released. systemD in general probably didn't help either, and it's possible that IBM buying the hat unnerved some customers too, as well as regular Linux folks out in the world.

      This latest boondoggle with RHEL source is not a good look for Red Hat either, no matter what you believe about the GPL being violated or not. At minimum it has given customers a reason to check out alternatives and competitors, and that's rarely a good idea.

      If trust is wobbly, confidence probably is too. Red Hat had their own round of layoffs this year, so they have fewer employees doing work, for better or worse. And IBM, again, might erode confidence that Red Hat will be able to exist as it did before, instead becoming more like big blue.

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: trust

        I don't know about that. RHEL is, by its own description, for enterprise-level customers and, frankly, I am not sure if enterprise customers care about FOSS end user issues. Does an enterprise care more about the fact that small and individual users can no longer get RHEL.source code to tinker with, or do they care more about their own in-house stability and support?

        In other words, the main reason companies choose Red Hat in the first place often does NOT include the concerns of source code availability; IMHO it is likely that requests for OS modifications went through licensing and tech channels anyway (read: major changes or support tickets were requested through RedHat rather than being done in-house). The licensing already limits source code availability to customers only and yet the world isn't flooded with RHEL mods and forks; changes were either done and kept in- house, or via Red Hat, as customer- centric 'proprietary' solutions.

        I think IBM knew that their core customer base wouldn't care about limits to source availability to 'hobbyist' users (no other way to place their choice, sorry), and that's why they felt comfortable enough to pull this off.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: trust

          A lot of the companies that ran CentOS were not small. If you were large enough to not feel the need of RH support then running CentOS was a lot cheaper.

          These day's IBM don't make the top 100 of companies by market cap (Oracle do) and a quick glance at that list shows a lot of companies who were running CentOS.

          These people care about FOSS even if they don't care about hobbyist. They care for 2 reasons, one it was free as in $0 and they don't get to be rich by giving $$$ unnecessarily. Two they care about the fact that they can't be held captive by their supplier, when CentOS went away there were alternatives and that can only happen because of the way FOSS works.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: trust

            How many of the top 100 companies are running Centos as their production enterprise platform of choice in their (on-prem/cloud) data centres?

            I presume if they are, they have also committed to a comparatively high-level of in-house support.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: trust

              All the ones I've come across do run it in production, yes. And if they have clouds it's what runs their clouds.

              As I said, if you're big enough to not need support, ie you have in house expertise.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Confirmed Re: trust

                I can confirm this firsthand. My last job before I retired was as product manager for a large, complex software product that was widely used both by enterprises and by universities, national labs, etc. (the kind of people who originally created Scientific Linux). And many of them were running on CentOS, especially the research folks with limited budgets, but also enterprises using CentOS in dev and test and RHEL in production.

                We didn't officially support CentOS, but unofficially we supported our customers if a bug reproduced in the equivalent RHEL version (this was pre-Streams; but if it didn't it was up to them to create a reproducible test case on a supported OS. And yes, that did happen. Twice in twenty years, I believe.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: trust

            Do companies that used CentOS in the past still use it now that it is upstream of RHEL?

            1. chuckufarley Silver badge

              Re: trust and EoL

              Maybe. However I would think it's far more likely they will be using other compatible products soon (in Enterprise time scales) because the of the short support cycle for RHEL point releases. Extended support for RHEL 7.9 (and CentOS clones based on it) ends in just under five years:

              https://access.redhat.com/support/policy/updates/errata/

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: trust and EoL

                Thanks. I forgot that CentOS 7 was never upstream of RHEL.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: trust and EoL

                  The users of CentOS 7 didn't forget.

                  If for no other reason than CentOS 7 was the last long-term support release available after Red Hat chopped the support term for CentOS 8, after it had already been released, when they did CentOS Stream.

                  So-called "Enterprise" customers might not care (much) about Red Hat's behavior around the GPL, and possible violations of same wrt source code availability etc.

                  But I daresay those same customers will take note of Red Hat jerking around previously-established support agreements. Even if those customers didn't/don't use CentOS directly, because they're on RHEL and presumably paying for support, the rug-pull is still enough to cause concern.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: trust

              My guess: some are, but it depends a lot on their priorities, schedules and circumstances.

              Some companies which were already running CentOS 8 when CentOS Stream was announced may have stuck with CentOS 8 as long as they could. Red Hat forced their hand much earlier than they'd promised -- end of 2021, about 2 years, far short of the 10-years of support updates enjoyed by prior releases.

              Some folks paid up and went to RHEL 8, some switched to AlmaLinux or Rocky after they came available; others made the bigger transition to a SUSE, Ubuntu or Debian, assuming they stuck with Linux.

              The companies which were still on CentOS 7 likely stayed there, for the most part. But their EOS time is coming up next year (2024), and some of them will be making similar decisions as the former CentOS 8 folks.

              My guess is some places using CentOS 8 in R&D or test environments may have shrugged and simply use CentOS Stream when the time came. They presumably don't much care about Red Hat support contracts. Companies that deeply care about vendor support and are willing and able to pay for it are likely running RHEL all along.

              Overall, I suspect the churn and uncertainty Red Hat has caused with their actions around CentOS, Stream, and now RHEL source, are probably not leaving the majority of customers feeling comfortable and complacent about long-term use of RHEL.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Enterprise customers care about hobbyists

          It helps them to judge TCO, as humans cost a lot more than support contracts and licences, and the fewer competent humans exist to service your product, the higher the TCO. If (back in the day) RHEL only existed as a paid product and hobbyists only had access to Fedora Core, then it likely would have lost to competitors, as it was never a technologically superior product, never had proper backwards compatibility measures in place, nor did it see wide support from proprietary software vendors (like SUSE did) in the beginning.

          The fact that people hang on to clones even despite the attempts to sabotage them is what will keep Red Hat relevant here.

  4. hardboiledphil

    In general companies that are paying Redhat for RHEL aren't that worried about FOSS...

    .. except that if you look at the support agreement that they provide then often there is a section that says that if RH can't fix the issue then they'll do there best to work with the open source community to come up with the solution.

    So in some ways it's not good that they're likely pi**ing off the community that they might need to help them at some point in the future.

    1. simpfeld

      Maybe directly they don't care, but when repo's built with downstream repos start to drop out (or look pretty empty), RHEL will become very un-useful to lots of sites (certbot, vlc, ffmpeg) etc etc

      And a LOT less how-tos and guides, which are usually written by Centos/Rocky/Alma people.

  5. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    ISV?

    If software vendors (ISVs) and hardware vendors started certifying their products against SuSE, OL on an equal basis with RHEL most of the reasons for running RHEL/CentOS evaporate.

    Actually validating against a SuSE-RHEL chimera probably wouldn't be too onerous. Most software isn't sensitive to the latest kernel buggery. Hardware is a different proposition but I cannot imagine SuSE or Oracle not being on top the latest kernel patches.

  6. HChris

    While I understand the challenges that SUSE is and will experience due to Redhat putting up walls around its garden I think they should stick with a matching name pattern (by character count that is just like CentOS). My suggestions would be one of the following.

    LinxOS

    LinsOS

    Just my 2 cents worth not trying to start a flame war.

    1. Roger Kynaston
      Joke

      susos?

      Just saying.

      1. chuckufarley Silver badge

        Re: susos?

        rhelOS?

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