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Self-supported Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server virty users see stealth inflation

Software remains pretty much the same... but at twice the price

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server has maintained the same starting price over the past few years. Now, changes to the way the software is licensed have doubled the cost for some self-support customers using virtual machines.

The change dates back to 2019, when Red Hat said its Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server, Self-support (RH0197181) was in the process of being retired and has been superseded by Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server Entry Level, Self-support (RH00005). According to a Red Hat spokesperson, RH00005 debuted in 2013 and RH0197181 stopped being sold in 2015.

Both of these RHEL SKUs sell, or were sold, for $349 in the US. But only the discontinued product allows the use of virtualization at the lowest price tier.

Now customers who opted for the discontinued entry-level offering have found they need to pay more than twice as much ($799 for the standard tier) to run a guest VM on a physical system.

What's more, Red Hat in its subscription guide declares that its self-supported option "is not intended for production environments," making it clear that self-supported commercial usage with VM support requires greater investment that before.


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A UK customer, and Reg reader, recently wrote to us expressing exasperation at the change.

"We used to be able to get a self-support license for £200 per two virtual machines or one physical host," the reader said.

"Now this is forbidden, and we are required to purchase support for each virtual machine. The licenses provide no functional differences except we now need to pay another £300 per two virtual machines in order to have support that we will never likely use."

Coming on the heels of Red Hat's discontinuation of its free CentOS, the company has made it clear that it has little interest in those paying little or nothing.

Red Hat recently tried to mollify unhappy CentOS users by introducing an entry-level RHEL offering, Red Hat Developer Subscription for Individuals, a no-cost option that can be run on up to 16 virtual or physical nodes.

The problem is that it cannot be used by businesses. There's been some debate about that on Reddit. Asked about commercial use of the Developer Subscription, RedHat's spokesperson left little room for nuance: "It is available for individual, not commercial, use," and pointed to Red Hat's terms and conditions.

Developers under this plan are allowed to make personal use of the software on corporate machines, though Red Hat concedes this may violate corporate IT policy.

In short, if you want to run RHEL Server with virtualization in a commercial context, the price now starts at $799 annually. ®

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