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CentOS 4 Offers Strong RHEL Alternative

Clone-ing Around?

  • April 17, 2005
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
By any number of different measures, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) currently is the established leader in the North American enterprise Linux space. Unlike its cousin Fedora (which is free) or its Red Hat Linux ancestors, RHEL can sometimes have an unpalatable cost associated with it (check out this graph on current server subscription costs). Not everyone needs the excellent support offered by Red Hat for RHEL and not everyone can afford to upgrade their systems three times a years with Fedora. What's a penniless admin to do? Send in the clones.

Thanks to Red Hat's commitment to the principles of open source as well as its open source licensed software utilization, clones of RHEL are available. The clones are not deformed knockoffs of RHEL's splendor rather they are shadows of RHEL that offer most of the same packages as RHEL (without Red Hat logos and trademarks) and in at least one case also promise errata updates at a near Red Hat pace (see Figure 1).

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 was released on February 14th, CentOS issued its cloned version two weeks later on March 2nd. Since then I've been evaluating CentOS and putting it through its paces to see if it would hold up to its auspicious genetic parent. Though certainly not perfect, CentOS offers a palatable (free) option for those that want/need Enterprise grade stability without enterprise grade support or cost.
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