As you may have heard by now, Red Hat and the CentOS Project have announced that we are working together. I’m very excited about this announcement and what it means for the future. There are plenty of resources that I’ll list below to find out more about the new effort, but I wanted to take a moment to share with you my personal view (and why my view matters.)
Ten years ago I was present with many of you when Red Hat split our Linux product into the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) product line and Fedora Project community distribution. Many of us were aware right away that a gap was created between Fedora and RHEL for a slower-moving, stable-enough community platform. That gap was where CentOS (and other) distros grew. That gap has since become a fully realized niche with an enormous community of users and use cases.
In that time, Red Hat has moved our product and project focus farther up the stack from the Linux base into middleware, cloud, virtualization, storage, etc., etc. We continue to use the open source way in developing code and content, and we’ve run in to some interesting effects from that. One of them is that the upstream projects we care really benefit from running on the CentOS platform for open source development. Another is that code in projects such as OpenStack is evolving without the benefit of spending a lot of cycles in Fedora, so our projects aren’t getting the community interaction and testing that the Linux base platform gets. Quite simply, using CentOS is a way for projects to have a stable-enough base they can stand on, so they can focus on the interesting things they are doing and not on chasing a fast-moving Linux. CentOS also popular with users, such as open source developers who want to combine various interesting projects on a platform they can rely upon to not change underneath them.
This change in relationship is really all about building more of that bright, shiny future. One of the major focuses in this next chapter of the CentOS Project is around the variants. This is where the interesting stuff people are doing meets the roadway that we are creating for them. In the coming months you’ll see special interest groups (SIGs) springing up in the CentOS Project such as cloud technology previews (meaning OpenStack, oVirt, Gluster, etc.), web hosting, and new technologies such as ARM. Variant SIGs do this by providing additional code or changes to the CentOS core distribution, kept in git.centos.org. We’ll be be creating a new community build system with other contributors, and helping the Project overall with governance, transparency, and practicing the open source way.
What I love about all of this is how it creates the balance between the forceful personalities of Fedora and RHEL. Rather than having to make Fedora fit into every imaginable community platform need, we’ll see an expansion of the kind of efforts that fit better on CentOS for community projects where RHEL doesn’t make sense. If you look at the virtuous water cycle of open source innovation, you’ll see that CentOS continues to receive a flow from Fedora via RHEL, while simultaneously providing the innovation platform that flows better and better code back around the circle to influence products and other projects.
My relationship to this new effort is pretty integral. I’ve been acting as the project lead and have been one of the project architects since the beginning. In addition, I’m going to be joining the CentOS Governing Board and acting in the role of the Red Hat liaison. Finally, I have the honor of the being the team manager for the new CentOS team working in the CTO’s office as part of our Open Source and Standards Group meaning I get to be the buffer and champion internally for Johnny Hughes, Jim Perrin, Fabian Arrotin, and Karanbir Singh.