Oracle, SUSE and others caught up in RHEL drama hit back with OpenELA

'No subscriptions. No passwords. No barriers. Freeloaders welcome'

A non-profit called the Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA) has been formed by Oracle, SUSE, CIQ, and other organizations that make Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and CentOS rebuilds.

The OpenELA homepage opens with some strong, even confrontational words: "No subscriptions. No passwords. No barriers. Freeloaders welcome." That's a reference to the drama around RHEL and the recently erected paywall around its source code.

RHEL drama, ChromeOS and more ... Our vultures speak freely about the latest in Linux


The non-profit's primary backers naturally all issued statements: Oracle, SUSE, and CIQ.

CIQ is the smallest of the trio, though it is the corporate sponsor of Rocky Linux. It's worth noting CIQ does not directly run the Rocky Linux project: that is done by the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation.

OpenELA is a 501(c)6 organization: a league or association of businesses with a common interest. It's very subtle in its messaging:

Absolutely everyone is welcome to join! From Enterprise Linux downstream derivatives, to organizations that depend on Enterprise Linux, to vendors, and individuals who just love being part of something amazing, YOU ARE INVITED!

So far they're promising to "establish and make accessible the sources, tooling, and assets to all members, collaborators, and the open source Enterprise Linux distribution developers to create and maintain 1:1 downstream derivatives of EL."

By "Enterprise Linux," they mean something compatible with RHEL: the OpenELA announcement talks about the "development of distributions compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) by providing open and free Enterprise Linux (EL) source code."

They want to deliver "all sources necessary to achieve a 1:1 / bug-for-bug compatible version of EL which will be distributed via Git encouraging community collaboration."


The Reg FOSS Desk is reminded strongly of UnitedLinux, an organization founded in 2002 to offer an enterprise Linux distro mainly distinguished by being, well, not Red Hat. A year later, it offered certification, but after emitting a SUSE-based version 1.0 product, it disappeared.

What is chiefly notable by its absence from the OpenELA membership list is the main other modern RHEL rebuild AlmaLinux, which is backed by CloudLinux – as well as AMD and some others. AlmaLinux is also notable because it's also endorsed by CERN and FermiLab, although the latter formerly had their own RHEL rebuild, the now-dormant Scientific Linux. Another AlmaLinux backer, Sine Nomina Associates, formerly offered the ClefOS rebuild of CentOS for IBM z.

The other academic-sponsored RHEL rebuild whose name is thus far missing from the list is Springdale Linux, formerly if less euphoniously known as PUIAS Linux, after its parent organizations, Princeton University and the Institute of Advanced Studies. After issuing a cautious comment about Red Hat's source code distribution changes, it has gone quiet.

There are numerous other CentOS Linux downstream projects out there, all of which would seem to be potential candidates. Some, such as the Polish EuroLinux, are not so well known but were current until IBM-owned Red Hat's recent moves. The Japanese Miracle Linux [日本語] from Cybertrust Japan seems to have stopped after releasing version 9.0 on November 1, 2022.

Others have large corporate backers. Many years ago, this vulture looked at two CentOS-based ready-rolled on-prem server distros, ClarkConnect descendant ClearOS and SME Server, formerly known as e-Smith. Both are still very much around. SME Server is now sponsored by Koozali, while ClearOS is now backed by HPE.

Meanwhile, Huawei develops EulerOS and sponsors its free offshoot OpenEuler. Targeting a similar market to ClearOS and SME Server is the CentOS Linux-based NethServer.

Other lower-profile projects include Circle Linux – also sponsored by Huawei – and Groupe Bull's BAS. Ones that have gone quiet in recent years include RedSleeve, which targeted Arm hardware, so its thunder has been somewhat stolen as Red Hat now supports that directly. Virtuozzo's VzLinux also hasn't tracked recent releases of its upstream; nor has Rocks. Another CentOS downstream is redpesk.

We note with some amusement that Microsoft's Linux container distro CBL Mariner, version 2.0.2 of which appeared Thursday, is also RPM-based. Perhaps the Seattle giant might like to join the OpenELA, too. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like