Why we all need Almalinux

… whether we use it or not!

The AlmaLinux OS Foundation continues to make license-compliant releases of a fully RHEL-Compatible Linux distribution within one or two days of RedHat’s releases. This (and indeed any independent downstream of RHEL) is actually good for everyone, including Red Hat. The most recent release, AlmaLinux 9.0, appeared within a week of the release of RHEL 9.

AlmaLinux 9 Splash Screen

It validates Red Hat’s good faith

The AlmaLinux community validates that Red Hat’s product is indeed a true, forkable Open Source project and not a bad-faith hack like some other self-described open source products (for example, Forgerock, who appear to actively engineer their code to be unforkable by failing to document which parts are proprietary and which are just the CDDL-licensed Sun/Oracle code they took, and by failing to provide tools for debranding).

It provides those who need a self maintained Linux with something that has an off-ramp

Not everyone wants Red Hat’s subscription. Some Linux users – notably in the cloud hosting market – are happy to self-support and have the skills and resources to do so. They could base their work on Debian or another distribution, but as a RHEL downstream their customers retain a freedom of choice of support provider, including being free to switch to Red Hat at any time.

It creates an on-ramp for RHEL

Red Hat benefits from the growth of its adoption base, as users of downstream distributions can and do become customers.

It creates a no negotiation zone for innovative hacking

Some users need access to RHEL for skunkworks hacking that does not affect their licensing accounting under their Red Hat agreement.

This flexibility used to be included within Red Hat’s licensing universe but a hacker at a hedge fund on Wall Street ruined things for everyone by gaming Red Hat’s original trust in their customers and using a single licence to support an entire company. Red Hat was forced to reword its customer agreement to embrace all systems running RHEL.

  • Disclosure: I am a director of the AlmaLinux OS Foundation and its founder CloudLinux is a client. This article represents my own opinion and is no way endored by either entity.

Growing Blueberries

Why accommodating open source at a standards body is like growing blueberries.

Fresh-from-the-bush blueberries are one of the good things of life. When I set up my home office about a decade ago, I had to install an underground conduit to supply essential services — power, water, network — and dug a deep trench all along the path that leads there. When I refilled the trench I decided to plant a blueberry hedge so looked into how to grow good blueberries.

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The Dream of The Linux Desktop

In a (large) video meeting at virtual FOSDEM, someone joked that maybe this will finally be the “year of the Linux desktop”. One of the oldest jokes in the community. Everyone sniggered. But the joke’s on them: it already happened, like a thief in the night.

Virtual Brussels, home of Virtual FOSDEM

While we were all waiting for the open source community to topple Microsoft’s desktop monopoly by replacing the locally-installed operating system, we missed the real revolution. Sure, there’s still plenty of money in both operating systems and in desktop apps. Microsoft (and indeed Apple) will be milking that legacy monopoly for a good while even if they have started hollowing out themselves — on Linux. It’s certainly been the target of competitive attention from open source software from the beginning; indeed, the open source productivity suite family now epitomised by LibreOffice has over its long history done an effective job in opening up that part of Microsoft’s monopoly (even if mostly by triggering the creation of ODF).

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The Legislative Disconnect Of The Meshed Society

What is the “meshed society”? It is people, joined together by the Internet, able to interact — to collaborate, to create, to transact and to relate directly with each other — without the need for another person to mediate or authorise. As we discover more and more ways to disintermediate our interactions, society is transformed: from a series of hubs with privileged interconnecting spokes intermediating supply to consumers at their tips, into a constantly shifting meshed “adhocracy” of temporary connections, transactions and relationships of varying length. In the adhocracy, individuals play the roles of user, repurposer, maker, buyer, investor and collaborator in a constantly changing spectrum of combinations.  Continue reading