Forgive Me for Raising an Eyebrow, RedHat

Free RHEL for up to 16 production servers:

Pardon me for being skeptical about their motives.



Yeah, seems a little risky, I don’t know how long they’ll maintain such a program, but…I mean, RHEL is a very good production server OS choice. They are better than anybody at producing a stable Linux distribution that you can trust for years to not break even during upgrades (and the only real competition is just recompiling Red Hat’s work).

I suspect for a lot of folks 16 servers is sufficient. It would be for us, and it does insure we can keep supporting RHEL even after CentOS is no longer directly/completely compatible.


Absolutely. So is Oracle Linux as far as I can tell. But I don’t trust either company not to pull the rug out with little or no notice.

I’d actually be more comfortable with a lower-cost RHEL license for smaller operators, with a long-term renewal option engraved in stone. Or maybe they could do it on a sliding scale based on some easily measurable metric. That way a mom and pop on a VPS wouldn’t be expected to pay the same as a multinational bank or brokerage house.

“Free,” however, makes me suspicious.


1 Like

I trust IBM (Red Hat) vastly more than I trust Oracle, and I don’t trust IBM at all.


So this is only available for 10 days? (last sentence)

No-cost RHEL for small production workloads

While CentOS Linux provided a no-cost Linux distribution, no-cost RHEL also exists today through the Red Hat Developer program. The program’s terms formerly limited its use to single-machine developers. We recognized this was a challenging limitation.

We’re addressing this by expanding the terms of the Red Hat Developer program so that the Individual Developer subscription for RHEL can be used in production for up to 16 systems. That’s exactly what it sounds like: for small production use cases, this is no-cost, self-supported RHEL. You need only to sign in with a free Red Hat account (or via single sign-on through GitHub, Twitter, Facebook, and other accounts) to download RHEL and receive updates. Nothing else is required. This isn’t a sales program and no sales representative will follow up. An option will exist within the subscription to easily upgrade to full support, but that’s up to you.

You can also use the expanded Red Hat Developer program to run RHEL on major public clouds including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. You have to pay only the usual hosting fees charged by your provider of choice; the operating system is free for both development and small production workloads.

The updated Individual Developer subscription for RHEL will be available no later than February 1, 2021.

What’s the point in that? (Or do they mean that’s when it’s starting?)

I think IBM is starting to realize that they made a mistake. Rather than selling more licenses, they’re pushing CentOS users off the reservation to take refuge in AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, Springdale Linux (Princeton’s project, formerly known as PUIAS Linux), Oracle Linux, or whatever else is out there.

They’re also generating free publicity for Oracle, whose RHEL clone seems quite robust to me, and whose paid licenses are much less expensive than Red Hat’s; and Igor Seletskiy, who built an entire company around two products (CloudLinux and KernelCare) that improved upon RHEL.

The reason I point that out is because there are a lot of people like myself who love free speech, but who are skeptical of free beer. Projects with no funding tend to die. That’s what happened to CentOS, if you think about it. How many people contributed actual coin to the project when it was still independent?

Out of all the clones, whether existing or in the pipeline, only two are from proprietary companies: Oracle Linux, and AlmaLinux. To many admins, that’s a plus. Projects with a revenue stream are less likely to die than projects funded only by good intentions.

In the case of AlmaLinux, CloudLinux may be a small company, but they made their name selling something better than RH could come up with. Lots of companies running RHEL run it on Igor’s kernel rather than RH’s because it provides a clear advantage. (I wouldn’t be at all surprised if IBM were one of them.)

KernelCare also supports Oracle’s UEK now, which I don’t think is a coincidence in timing. Admins running RHEL on KernelCare rightly enjoy the live patching and the near-elimination of reboots. They like measuring uptime in months, or sometimes years. Now that they can do that on Oracle Linux, might that move some RHEL users to Oracle’s essentially-identical, but much less-expensive product?

I think IBM realizes that yet again, they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Their CentOS users are leaving, and a sizable chunk of their RHEL may follow.

Nonetheless, I have to find my credentials and see if I’m still registered as a RH developer. I know they haven’t spammed me in a while, so I may have been dropped. But I want to keep up with the news now. It’s starting to get interesting.


I think that’s what it means. They always issued development licenses to registered developers, good for local installations (but not updates, rather bizarrely) on non-production servers. Now they have to work out the logistics and limitations of the free production licenses – hopefully before they decide to pull the plug on them.


So basically starting 01 Feb 2021 anyone who uses RHEL on less than 16 servers can get it for free?

What’s the catch? :laughing:

I just emailed them and got a bounce-email, so looks like they’re not interested in hearing from the community!

Here’s what I emailed them (to


I have a question regarding your latest statement (New Year, new Red Hat Enterprise Linux programs: Easier ways to access RHEL) which I hope someone from your team can help with.

Under the section "No-cost RHEL for small production workloads” you state that "Individual Developer subscription for RHEL can be used in production for up to 16 systems” - could you clarify what this means please? Does it mean you can use the full and complete Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server and on each physical box/server up to 16 servers? Or does it mean per 16 system cluster of servers? (So for example if a system has a web-server on one box/server and a database server on another, would be classed as a single system?).

Also are these the same "Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server” that is currently listed on your website as starting at “$US349”? (Buy Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions).

Finally, are these promised on a lifetime basis, or is this some sort of ‘introductory offer’?

I’d be grateful if you could provide some clarity on this.

Kind regards,

And here’s their bounce:

Thanks for reaching out regarding CentOS! We understand that this
announcement may be prompting you to start thinking about the future.
We recognize there are many different use cases and that each case has
unique requirements. We’re working hard to ensure we meet the needs of
as many users as possible.

Working with the CentOS Project Governing Board, we are tailoring
programs to meet the needs of various user groups. In the first half
of 2021, we will introduce low- or no-cost programs for a variety of
use cases, including options for open source projects and communities,
partner ecosystems, and an expansion of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Developer subscription use cases to better serve the needs of systems
administrators and partner developers.

With a full year before builds of CentOS Linux end, you can rest
assured that we will provide multiple programs designed to meet user
needs in ample time for adoption before the end of 2021. You will
receive additional communications from us shortly with more specific
information on programs and options. In the meantime, you can review
the blog post and FAQ for more information.

Blog Post:



Just signed in to RH portal and service available now, no need to wait for 1st Feb. Think they said they are reviewing services so I am guessing more to come in terms of announcements. I will at least try it and another server on Stream


There is nothing wrong with using RH/CE from a technical standpoint. However, philosophically, seems to me more and more people/companies are putting their eggs into the Debian basket instead. I’m a long time CE user but I find that whenever I have some problem or looking for some package, there always seems to be more info on how to do it the Debian way. I also find myself liking using that OS more and more.

1 Like

I tend to use Debian more for file servers than Web servers, more out of familiarity with CentOS than for any other reason.

I also used to use Debian or some live derivative thereof every day when I was a working computer tech. I’d use it as a machete to clean malware from Windows machines. Boot the machine into Debian, and start slashing away. I also had a commerical license for F-Prot at the time, which I worked into a custom live CD that I’d burn every morning, just in case I couldn’t connect to the Interwebs to update for some reason.

That was rare, though. One of the reasons I preferred Debian was that it seemed to support more NIC’s than other distros. It was quite unusual for me to come across a computer that couldn’t connect using Debian.

Then again, back then a lot of my clients were still on dialup. I had a Panix account and carried a serial modem around just for that reason. Panix was strictly dial-up at the time, but it was better than AOL (which was what most of my clients used, for some bizarre reason).

Corel Linux was also based on Debian. I remember thinking when it came out that it was the best desktop Linux I’d ever used. Microsoft’s investment in Corel put the kibosh on that.

Corel Linux was acquired by a company named Xandros that was backed by a client of mine. It was also a very good desktop Linux, but it was a bit too gimmicky in that it made too big a deal out of being able to run Windows programs (via CodeWeavers Crossover Office, which was based on WiNE). I have to admit, though, that it did it really well.

I recently built a NAS using OpenMediaVault, which is also based on Debian. It was more of a COVID boredom project that anything else, but I may just keep the machine online because I like it. I have it running on an old i5 with 8GB of DDR3, and it just hums right along. I also installed Webmin on it, again more for shits and giggles than because I actually needed a panel on a NAS that already has a panel.


For what it’s worth, we have not seen a significant uptick in Debian users. Maybe a little bit of migration from CentOS toward Ubuntu. But, mostly the last time I looked we were still seeing CentOS with a slight edge, Ubuntu coming right behind, and Debian trailing in a distant third. Debian is so far behind that I’ve considered dropping Debian support to ease up our support/development burden, but I just plain like it better than Ubuntu, so I haven’t done that.

1 Like

When you get a moment, could you explain to a layman why you like Debian better? I’m genuinely curious as I have no experience with Debian.

It’s more that I dislike Ubuntu. They make stupid, or rash, decisions far too often for comfort on a server. They often drag everybody down dead end paths (e.g. upstart) or make things “easier” by making them more complicated without any real benefit. Debian is more conservative, in general, though several bad ideas from Ubuntu have trickled back into Debian over the years, unfortunately.

I don’t hate it when distros try to stay on the cutting edge (I use Fedora on my laptop and desktop, for instance, and it’s extremely cutting edge in most regards), I just think Ubuntu makes more bad calls than some others that are trying to ride that line between stable and very modern.


Well said @Joe, my 2 cents would be: stay close to source as much as you can, same as you cold you get close to heat, debian is pure, Ubuntu is like river with dirt from pure water, it’s different from pure and that’s why all of modified crap… Second is, you don’t even consider to drop debian, speaking as for myself of course but also for many Ubuntu users, it would be end seconds for virtualmin. My £1 is, if you too busy simplify worlflow for pro users, have proper grade of os support and then port some functions into gpl. Also seeing post like one of my customers and person runs gpl… Asking here, is bad joke… At least for you devops.

Yeah pretty sure your up on demographics like that.

So what is the thought on Rocky Linux, you looking to support it, get involved in some way and a forward movement and an opportunity of change.

Last I checked there was nothing to support. Not even a beta, as far as I know.

I do want to spin it up once it’s released, though. I’ve been experimenting with AlmaLinux and like it, but I’m not married to it.


1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.