[CentOS-devel] Balancing the needs around the CentOS platform

Tue Dec 22 20:58:58 UTC 2020
Mark Mielke <mark.mielke at gmail.com>

On Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 2:01 PM Matthew Miller <mattdm at mattdm.org> wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 04:53:02PM -0800, Gordon Messmer wrote:
> > I've been meaning to ask Red Hat if there are programs for vendors
> > that need to build software for RHEL, but I haven't yet. I believe
> > that EPEL has used CenOS as its build root in the past, so I assume
> > this is something that they'll need to solve for.  For now, that's
> > one of the exceptions that stands out when I say that I expect
> > CentOS Stream to be better for most purposes.
> Please do ask -- either through your channels or through the
> centos-questions at redhat.com address. This is definitely one of the areas
> being looked at.

If the goal is purely for qualifying a solution on Red Hat Enterprise
Linux, they have these:


These "Not-For-Resale" subscriptions can be used for specific use
cases related to "customer test". The problem is that the criteria
around these subscriptions is very specific, and to ensure ethical and
legal compliance, it basically means sectioning off a set of machines
to be for RHEL qualification only. It does not address the rest of the
environment, and the subscription model remains a problem for the rest
of the environment, which leads to the following result:

1. RHEL for production use cases that require RHEL, with no real
incentive for for expanding this beyond the absolute minimum.

2. Something else for primary development, particularly including
large workstations and build / test farms. CentOS? CentOS Stream?
Oracle Linux? Rocky? Ubuntu? ...

3. NFR as a sectioned off part of the environment that is specifically
for the "customer test" / "qualification" scenarios that the NFR
subscription permits.

The part that makes me sad is #2. If I sound angry, or frustrated in
my posts - it is because Red Hat literally does not want *some* money
from #2, and this is beyond comprehension for me. They have an
all-or-nothing approach which is contrary to other popular
distributions, which consequently makes other distributions more
appealing. Oracle Linux and Ubuntu make the software releases free,
but the support optional. This then opens the door for negotiations on
support, so that you can individually subscribe systems, or you can
come to a deal on "all systems". Red Hat is not willing to make a deal
for "all systems". This makes it really difficult to sell the company
on why we should choose RHEL for #2. Red Hat wants to *sell* us free
software, including free software that we contributed to. They are not
selling access to their incredible people that work for them - they
are selling software. That's what the subscription model boils down
to, and that is why I say their subscription model is fundamentally

"Red Hat" is a big company. It's not fair to attribute every
motivation to every person. There are a huge number of people in Red
Hat that are struggling with what is happening, and trying to
reconcile the situation in their own heads. Things like "well, maybe
CentOS 8 Stream is better!" is an example of this reconciling in
action. But, just look at the quotes in this article that are quite
believable, that explain what is really going on here:


In particular:

"A former Red Hat executive confided, "CentOS was gutting sales. The
customer perception was 'it's from Red Hat and it's a clone of RHEL,
so it's good to go!' It's not. It's a second-rate copy." From where,
this person sits, "This is 100% defensive to stave off more losses to

Still another ex-Red Hat official said. If it wasn't for CentOS, Red
Hat would have been a 10-billion dollar company before Red Hat became
a billion-dollar business."

This is about business models and money. It may be that CentOS 8
Stream was a successful negotiation to prevent Red Hat Exec from
completely eliminating CentOS, but the driving force that started this
all was Red Hat taking over CentOS by becoming a principal owner of
it, and then cancelling it.

I don't want Red Hat to be free. However, I don't accept that Red Hat
can define whatever price they wish, and we should automatically
consider it a bargain. Just as Red Hat is a business, making business
decisions, the "users" that they disdain are also part of businesses,
making business decisions:

"Red Hat hasn't been talking about this aspect much at all, but Mike
McGrath, Red Hat's VP of Linux Engineering, let the cat out of the bag
in an interview with Christine Hall in ITPro Today. "I would say the
big one for us was that CentOS itself was not actually providing that
much usefulness to Red Hat. Most of the communities we set up, Fedora,
for example, do have a lot of bidirectional community involvement.
Unfortunately, CentOS was never like that. It was always a community
of users, so that contribution model was mostly one way.""

Mark Mielke <mark.mielke at gmail.com>