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Rocky Linux Finds Solutions to RHEL Source Code Restrictions

Rocky Linux leverages UBI and cloud instances for unhindered RHEL source acquisition.

In response to Red Hat’s recent decision to restrict access to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) source code, the Rocky Linux distribution has revealed its plan to secure the necessary source code for its project without compromising its commitment to open-source principles. With these steps, Rocky Linux aims to ensure 1:1 RHEL compatibility while avoiding the limitations imposed by the Red Hat Customer Portal.

In a recent blog post titled “Keeping Open Source Open,” the Rocky Linux project site introduced two ways to acquire the RHEL source RPMs (SRPMs) from alternative sources. Rocky Linux firmly refuses to comply with Red Hat’s EULA and other conditions, asserting that they violate the essence and purpose of open-source software.

Rocky Linux 8.4

To overcome these challenges, Rocky Linux is exploring two main approaches enabling them to legitimately obtain RHEL source code.

The first option involves leveraging UBI container images based on RHEL, and readily accessible from multiple online sources, including Docker Hub. Using UBI images, Rocky Linux can reliably and unencumbered obtain Red Hat sources. The compatibility of this method with OCI (Open Container Initiative) containers has been thoroughly validated, confirming its seamless integration with Rocky Linux’s operations.

The second method involves the utilization of pay-per-use public cloud instances. This approach allows anyone to swiftly spin up RHEL images in the cloud, gaining access to the source code for all packages and errata. Rocky Linux finds this method particularly scalable, as it can seamlessly integrate into their CI pipelines. By dynamically provisioning cloud images, the project can efficiently obtain sources via DNF and automatically post them to their Git repositories. These can easily be done using bash scripts and a few automation.

These alternative methods for acquiring the RHEL source code have become possible due to the power of the GPL. The Rocky Linux team emphasizes that no one can impede the redistribution of GPL software. Therefore, the UBI container images and the pay-per-use public cloud instances provide legitimate means to acquire RHEL binaries and SRPMs without compromising the project’s dedication to open-source software or agreeing to TOS or EULA limitations that hinder their rights.

Rocky Linux’s legal advisors have provided reassurance that the project has the legal right to access the source code of any binaries they receive (including the above two ways), ensuring they can continue advancing Rocky Linux in line with their original intentions.

By embracing these innovative approaches, Rocky Linux aims to preserve its mission of providing a free and open-source alternative to RHEL, maintaining compatibility and fostering a vibrant community-driven ecosystem.

As the debate surrounding Red Hat’s restrictions continues, Rocky Linux takes an assertive step towards securing its source code for its users. It’s interesting to see what lies ahead when RHEL releases the next point release and how things turn out.

Via Rocky Linux blog

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