Man trying to figure out if Red Hat is Open Source
December 13, 2019

Is Red Hat Enterprise Linux Open Source?

Open Source

What Is Enterprise Linux?

Enterprise Linux is an operating system that supports containers, cloud, automation, middleware, microservices, and much more. Enterprise Linux is a branch of the GNU Linux kernel. The kernel itself is optimized for running Linux in a business enterprise environment. The software was designed to work well with common hardware found in the data centers of large enterprises. It ships with a set of commands that are familiar to experienced Linux administrators. This makes it easy to find qualified resources to utilize an enterprise edition.

What Is Red Hat Linux?

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is an operating system that utilizes open source software. The offering has an ecosystem of software surrounding an enterprise Linux kernel. That ecosystem of software is maintained and developed into by RedHat Inc. It’s a curated set of software that comes together to form the RedHat enterprise Linux offer.

Is RedHat Enterprise Linux Open Source?

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is built from open source components. The kernel itself and the supporting software are all open source. However, Red Hat has built infrastructure, support, and a suite of services that will let you license their branded version of enterprise Linux and use it in production. Here’s where you lose the freedom of open source – If you want to use it in production, you have to be paying for the license.

RHEL Is Not Actually Open Source?

While the software itself is open source, you’re not allowed to use it in production unless you’re paying for it. Part of the idea of being truly open source implies software freedom. When a user is not able to freely run, procure, and install the software without also having to register with a license server/pay for it then the software is no longer free. While the code may be open, there’s a lack of freedom. So according to the ideology of open source software, Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not open source.

Truly Open Source Alternative for Enterprise

If you’re looking for a truly open source Enterprise Linux, the most mainstream resource bound by the terms of GPL is CentOS. Why would you want to choose CentOS? The code of CentOS identical to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and it is completely free to distribute. CentOS also has several support options from the community and organizations such as OpenLogic by Perforce.

If you want truly free and open source enterprise Linux, CentOS is the right choice.

The Differences Between Red Hat and CentOS

Download this datasheet to see how they compare on over 15 factors including licensing, security, package management, and available commercial support.


More Useful Resources to Check Out

Have questions about how to choose your Linux? Our team of open source experts at OpenLogic would be happy to connect with you.