CentOS: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Minus Red Hat
Getting Something For Nothing
December 23, 2004
Users who want Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS3 without actually paying money for it have a number of options:
This review examines option 4. There are at least three Linux distributions that do this: White Box Linux, Tao Linux, and CentOS. But wait, you say, what about Fedora? Fedora is a nice distribution, but it is not RHEL: "Red Hat Linux now has two descendents, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and The Fedora Project..." Fedora has a lot of differences from RHEL; it consists of less-tested, newer releases of packages. For example, RHEL still uses XFree86, while Fedora runs X.org. Fedora can run other filesystems, like ReiserFS and JFS, while RHEL is limited to ext2/3. Fedora runs a 2.6.9-x kernel, while RHEL uses a 2.4.21-x kernel with chunks from the 2.6 tree bolted on. And so forth, you get the idea- they are not the same.
- Steal it
- Download and compile the source code
- Pretend to be an ace computer journalist and scam a "review" copy from Red Hat
- Find a free-beer distribution that compiles the sources for you, packages them into nice .isos for download, and gives them away
CentOS is a project of the cAosity Foundation, which is a non-profit devoted to producing "...enterprise-level, community-produced and managed Linux solutions." It includes pretty much everything you'll find in RHEL, minus Red Hat trademarks and any non-free packages. You too can re-package RHEL, just do like CentOS and go to ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/linux/enterprise/3/en/os/i386/SRPMS. Download the sources, compile them, and voila! Instant RHEL.
In addition to repackaging a free-beer version of RHEL, the cAosity Foundation also produces the cAos Linux distribution and Cinch, a lightweight Linux installer.
CentOS 3, the current incarnation, is the free-beer equivalent of RHEL AS3, which is the biggest baddest Red Hat edition, supporting up to 16 CPUs and 64GB of RAM; suitable for powering datacenters, mainframes, and mission-critical servers of all kinds.