You may have already heard about the Open Enterprise Linux Association, but if you’re seeking more details, I have prepared this article to delve into the association’s origins, its mission, and the implications for RHEL-compatible distributions.
- What Is OpenELA?
- Consequences of the Red Hat Policy Change
- OpenELA’s Mission
- The Board of Directors
- End-of-the-Year Goals of OpenELA
- Main Takeaways
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Additional Links and Resources
What Is OpenELA?
The Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA) is a trade association that was formed in August 2023 in response to a pivotal policy shift by Red Hat concerning the accessibility of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) source code. The association is an alliance between three well-known organizations active in the open source community: CIQ, Oracle, and SUSE.
Consequences of the Red Hat Policy Change
Red Hat’s decision to change its policy regarding the availability of RHEL source code triggered a strong reaction from organizations involved in creating RHEL-compatible clone distributions. Notable players in this space include AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, and Oracle.
The policy changes were announced in a June 21 blog post by Red Hat vice president of Core Platforms (which is the division overseeing RHEL) Mike McGrath. In the blog post, he stated that CentOS Stream, a Linux distribution serving as the upstream development branch for RHEL, “will now be the sole repository for public RHEL-related source code releases. For Red Hat customers and partners, source code will remain available via the Red Hat Customer Portal.”
The OpenELA project launched soon after the policy change, seeking to promote open source principles and foster an inclusive and accessible environment for Linux developers. OpenELA’s primary focus is to provide access to the kernel, which will be available on GitHub, enabling anyone interested to create their own Linux distribution. OpenELA itself does not plan to introduce distributions.
OpenELA’s core objectives center on ensuring that the source code of Linux distributions remains open, transparent, and accessible to all. The association emphasizes collaborative coding, knowledge sharing, and consensus-driven decision-making within the Linux community.
The OpenELA board of directors will maintain representation from founding entities CIQ, Oracle, and SUSE. The board has stated that it will welcome additional organizations and community members that share OpenELA’s values.
End-of-Year Goals of OpenELA
OpenELA promises to deliver the following by the end of 2023:
- Complete Source Code: Providing the essential source code for a 1:1 / bug-for-bug compatible version of Enterprise Linux, distributed using Git.
- Security Errata Data: Including security updates and corrections for source code packages.
- Compatibility Guidelines: Establishing guidelines for the compatibility of downstream distributions to test build results.
- Branding Kit: Offering branding resources for downstream distributions and their supporters.
- User and Administration Documentation: Contributed by Oracle.
OpenELA aims to support the existence of RHEL-compatible downstream distributions initially for RHEL versions 8 and 9, with potential expansion to Enterprise Linux 7. The association enables community members like Rocky Linux to continue producing distributions as in the past and welcomes new vendors to create distributions using the provided source code.
The establishment of the organization is essentially a good thing for all developers and organizations involved in the development and downstream distributions of Enterprise Linux and RHEL. If nothing else, it offers an alternative resource, even for RHEL enterprise customers. It gives power back to individuals and entities that support the free access to secure open source code.
This is a massive undertaking, and the participating organizations have taken a risk by promising deliverables by the end of the year. While we’ll see what comes to fruition, the organizations appear to be actively engaged in fulfilling OpenELA’s promises.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How do I get involved with OpenELA?
A: You can use this link to join: https://openela.org/join/. The page says, “We are still in the early makings of the project, so the first step in becoming part of what we are doing is to join us and say hello!”
A: If you’re an Enterprise Linux developer, RHEL enthusiast, or represent an organization interested in EL or RHEL, OpenELA is actively seeking contributors who align with its principals.
Additional Resources and Links
ITPro Today’s Linux Resources
- My ITPro Today contributor page, which features all my Linux-related article
- How To Learn Linux: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
- An In-Depth Overview of the Linux File System Hierarchy
- Linux Malware: What To Know About the Malware Threat
- Advanced Linux User Management: Privileges, Resource Limits, and More