SUSE to fork Red Hat Enterprise Linux after source code access restrictions

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SUSE will fork Red Hat Enterprise Linux and develop and maintain its own RHEL-compatible Linux distribution. This distribution should be freely accessible without restrictions. The company wants to invest ten million dollars in the project in the coming years.

SUSE says in a blog post that it is ‘committed’ to working with the open source community to develop a compatible RHEL alternative for RHEL and CentOS users. The company will fork the currently publicly available version of RHEL and further develop it itself. The company wants to contribute that code to an open source foundation, which should provide continuous and free access to the project’s source code. SUSE does not indicate which foundation this concerns. The software company simultaneously continues to invest in its other distros, such as SUSE Linux Enterprise and openSUSE.

SUSE’s move is a response to an earlier announcement from Red Hat. The company said last month that it no longer makes the RHEL source code generally publicly available, but only offers it to Red Hat Enterprise customers. This makes CentOS Stream, the development branch of RHEL, the only publicly available repository where the source code is published.

Several alternative Linux distributions use RHEL, such as Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. Although they can obtain the source code with a Red Hat license, redistribution limited under that license agreement. By the way, Rocky Linux said it earlier thinks the decision will not have major consequences for the future of the operating system. The makers of that distro say they can obtain the RHEL source code via other methods.

Red Hat received criticism from several parties after its announcement. Oracle, among others, criticized Red Hat. In a blog post the company said earlier this week that Red Hat parent company IBM is trying to eliminate competition. The company said at the time that the source code of its own distro, Oracle Linux, will remain freely available. Red Hat itself said last month that it remains committed to open source software, but the company will not change its policy.

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