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To plug gap left by CentOS, Red Hat amends RHEL dev subscription to allow up to 16 systems in production

'First of many new programs,' says biz, but it is no substitute for free CentOS

Red Hat, which is killing CentOS Linux in favour of CentOS Stream, will extend its developer subscription to allow free production use of RHEL for up to 16 systems.

CentOS Linux is a community build of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and therefore suitable for production use. CentOS Stream, which will remain available, is a preview build of what is likely to be in RHEL – great for testing but not ideal for production use.

The popularity of CentOS, which drives 17.7 per cent of Linux-based web sites, according to W3Techs, has led to a strong public response to Red Hat's decision, including the forming of alternative free builds such as Rocky Linux and Project Lenix, which is now known as Alma Linux.

Red Hat said in December that it would work to plug the gap left by CentOS with new ways to license RHEL, and today's statement is said to be "the first of many new programs."

Red Hard Hat photo via Shutterstock

Red Hat defends its CentOS decision, claims Stream version can cover '95% of current user workloads'


The big change is that the free developer subscription "can be used in production for up to 16 systems". This represents a major change to the current developer programme, which states that "the no-cost Red Hat Developer Subscription is only for development purposes and may not be used in production."

The wording of the new terms is not yet available, however. "The T&C’s won’t be available to view until the program launch on February 1st," a spokesperson for Red Hat told The Reg.

Red Hat said that it "isn't a sales program" and that this updated subscription will be available "no later than February 1, 2021". A second change is that development teams will now be able to join the developer programme, as opposed to individual developers only. Under the new terms, developer subscriptions will also be eligible for Red Hat Cloud Access, which enables deployment to public clouds such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure, though presumably without the support that Cloud Access currently includes.

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed. "16 servers is actually reasonable IMO, as much as I hate Red Hat and how they're running things, 16 systems isn't all that bad for people who run small business infra," said one user on the Rocky Linux community chat. Others felt that 16 systems is too restrictive.

The key change is that whereas CentOS Linux came without any such limitations, the new RHEL terms are designed to ensure that large-scale users have to pay, reinforcing the notion that it was commercial interest that drove the original decision. ®

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