Hyper-V shines spotlight on CentOS, ready soon for 6.0 release

What's happening this week in enteprise Linux? Quite a bit.

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As a public safety announcement, I urge people who actually know what's going on not to slap such people upside the head.

Instead, politely inform them that by supporting CentOS on Hyper-V, Microsoft is trying to validate CentOS and hurt the commercial distro upon which CentOS is based: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). A big detriment to Red Hat in the commercial market is not just competing Windows and UNIX systems, but also the presence of non-commercial clone distros like CentOS and Scientific Linux, which offer very much the exact functionality of RHEL without the expensive support costs.

The cloning situation was bad enough that the Red Hat development team took the unprecedented step this spring to obfuscating the source code of its kernel by releasing that code in one big tarball file, with all of the patches applied already. Functionally, this made no difference for RHEL users, since the kernel is optimized for, well, RHEL. But for downstream projects like CentOS, Scientific Linux, and Oracle Linux, it is now much harder to discern the exact changes Red Hat has made to its kernel and therefore make changes optimized for their downstream distribution.

At the time, Red Hat was adamant that this move was to combat its commercial competitor, Oracle.

"When we released RHEL 6 approximately four months ago, we changed the release of the kernel package to have all our patches pre-applied. Why did we make this change? To speak bluntly, the competitive landscape has changed. Our competitors in the Enterprise Linux market have changed their commercial approach from building and competing on their own customized Linux distributions, to one where they directly approach our customers offering to support RHEL," Stevens wrote in March.

"Frankly, our response is to compete. Essential knowledge that our customers have relied on to support their RHEL environments will increasingly only be available under subscription. The itemization of kernel patches that correlate with articles in our knowledge base is no longer available to our competitors, but rather only to our customers who have recognized the value of RHEL and have thus indirectly funded Red Hat's contributions to open source that will advance their business now and in the future," Stevens continued.

Of course, I'm sure Red Hat wasn't shedding a tear over the fact this move would harm it's non-commercial clones, too.

This puts Monday's Hyper-V announcement in a broader context, because now Microsoft is sending business to CentOS... and therefore away from Red Hat. Sure, they have to grit their teeth and support Linux, but if they can weaken the source of CentOS enough, they imagine they can chop off the head and kill the entire RHEL ecosystem.

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