Guest: Greg Kurtzer (LinkedIn)
Company: Rocky Linux (Twitter)
Show: TFiR: Newsroom

Red Hat’s recent announcement that it will be limiting access to its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) source code to only its paying customers has been met with concern from many in the community. It has also raised broader questions about the commitment of companies to open source and to the open source community. 

In this episode of TFiR: Newsroom, Swapnil Bhartiya catches up with Greg Kurtzer, Founder of Rocky Linux, to talk about Red Hat’s decision to make their RHEL source code only available to their customers. He goes into detail about what this means for the community and the future of open source.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Kurtzer talks about the changes in Red Hat saying that for the past couple of years, they have released their source code as part of CentOS Stream: however, going forward they will only be making their RHEL source code available to their customers. Kurtzer discusses the challenges this presents for people downstream of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. 
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a solution that is charged for but most of the code that is part of that is open source and available upstream via the community. Kurtzer believes that many people believe everything based on that should remain freely distributable. He talks about how Rocky Linux and others are ensuring that happens. 
  • Kurtzer discusses what Red Hat’s announcement means for Rocky Linux and others in a similar situation. He explains that the community has been busy looking at alternatives and that they can continue to get the source code in multiple ways. He confirms that he is not concerned and that their user base will not be affected.
  • Kurtzer goes into depth about the options they have available to them, continuing to use CentOS Stream or to use Oracle Linux which is still releasing their source code. However, Rocky Linux is keen to stay in alignment with Red Hat and he talks about the different ways they can obtain the Red Hat source code. 
  • Similar scenarios where companies have decided to change their license have occurred in the past. Kurtzer feels that it is difficult for companies engaged with open source to always act in the best interest of the community. He talks about the safeguards they have put in place in Rocky Linux to ensure no one company can hold the project hostage. 
  • Kurtzer discusses creating Caos Linux and wanting to maintain compatibility with Red Hat Linux from the start and how when Red Hat Linux moved to Red Hat Enterprise Linux it left them without a direct solution. Kurtzer talks about how this led to the creation of CentOS and how the lessons that have been learned can help in the current situation.  
  • Red Hat’s messaging can be a little difficult to follow sometimes, according to Kurtzer, and even around this recent announcement where there was a lot of concern. However, he believes that open-source software is here to stay and everything is still stable. 
  • Kurtzer shares his advice for other communities who have created a project and where there might be potential for liquidation saying it is important to separate a community from the company. He also talks about how communities can ensure that their code base doesn’t become hostage behind a paywall. 
  • Kurtzer discusses how the operating system has evolved with virtualization and containers. He explains how with Linux, you can think of it as the kernel space and the user space and how things have now evolved that you can now have many different user spaces running on top of the kernel space. He talks about the opportunities this has now opened up, such as enabling operating systems to be swappable. 

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.

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