RealTime IT News

Legacy Red Hat Users Seek Alternatives

By Sean Michael Kerner

It's not a surprise, but for some it still hurts.

Users of Red Hat operating systems this week received an "end-of-life" (EOL) e-mail notifying them that support for the popular Red Hat Linux 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 8 versions has ended.

"We will no longer be producing security, bugfix, or enhancement updates for these products," said the statement delivered to Red Hat Network (RHN) subscribers. RHN is a systems management platform helping administrators patch, update and monitor their infrastructure.

Red Hat Linux 9 will have its RHN support terminated April 30.

This week's reminder was the fourth in recent months. Though the official cutoff was Dec. 31, Red Hat released a final kernel update after that deadline.

"We wanted to be responsible and not blindside anybody and give them the chance to make an alternate plan," Red Hat spokeswoman Leigh Day said.

The announcement comes days after Microsoft extended support for its Windows 98 operating system.

"Our end-of-lifing only says that we're not going to support it anymore. Proprietary end-of-lifing means, in many cases, that you have to discontinue use," Day said.

Users can continue using legacy versions and can seek out updates. Red Hat also detailed a migration path to its enterprise editions and has also thrown its support behind the Fedora Project community version.

Stacey Quandt, a senior analyst with the Linux advocacy group Open Source Development Labs, said Red Hat's phase out "is consistent with its strategy to focus on selling subscriptions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux."

Moving may not be feasible for all Red Hat 7.x/8/9 legacy users, however.

"There is no easy migration from 7.X to RHEL," wrote one former Red Hat Linux user on the Fedora Linux Legacy Project mailing list."Even though the sales people say that RHEL 2.1 is basically the same as 7.2, it requires a complete re-install."

"Our servers run 24/7 and we can't just take them down and install a new OS," the poster continued. "Instead, we need to purchase all new hardware, test the new OS, and migrate and test our applications on the new servers. It may not sound like much, but that is a big deal."

For those that can't migrate, updates and support are available from several sources.

Progeny offers 'transition' services to companies running the legacy versions. The subscription service provides updates to users and can be accessed in a variety of ways. Progeny has seen a recent spike in subscriptions, possibly due to the recent EOL notice.

Another option, is a subset of the Fedora Project, called the Fedora Legacy Project. This project aims to offer community-based support for 'dead' versions of Red Hat Linux. However, some members say more volunteers are needed to support distributions.

Warren Togami, one of the leaders of the Fedora Legacy project, echoes that sentiment.

"A lot of potentially good work has been submitted by a few dedicated individuals, but as of yet, others have not followed through with the necessary work to finalize publication of several pending updates," he said. "This is in the hands of the community, if they wish it to thrive. It is not too late, neither is it too difficult."