RealTime IT News

Red Hat's Fedora Legacy Offers Another Option

By Sean Michael Kerner

Two weeks ago, users of Red Hat operating systems 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 was ending.

The move, while not unexpected, left customers with a choice of migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or subscribing to a paid legacy update service from Progeny or other vendors.

A community project called Fedora Legacy was also mentioned, but the group hadn't made any releases. That's now changed, as the group has announced its first round of official updates.

"We are pleased that this group has put forth the effort to keeping legacy Red Hat products alive, so that people who choose to still use them can have updates, fixes and patches," Red Hat spokesperson Leigh Day told internetnews.com.

Red Hat has provided mailing list hosting, authorization to use the same Web layout and some of the same graphics as Fedora's home page. Some Red Hat staffers also donated their own free time to the project.

"We want it to be clear that the updates are not created by, nor supported by, Red Hat," Fedora Legacy team leader Jesse Keating said. "They are community-built and community-supported."

The community-supported offerings are still not the same as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Keating said there will be no competition between Fedora Legacy and RHEL, which offers official Red Hat Support and longer release cycles.

Keating does however view the commercial Progeny update service to be Fedora Legacy competition, but said the rivalry will only help to improve the quality of patches and packages.

Fedora Legacy is committed to sharing information without conflict, Keating said. The difference between the two efforts is what Keating asserts as the strength of the open source community model.

"Fedora Legacy stands a better chance at community acceptance given that our practices and procedures are open to the public for review," he said.

Fedora Legacy volunteer Seth Vidal said he has successfully run most of the updates on more than 800 systems at Duke University. Another volunteer, Eric Rostetter, said the project's Web site and updates should convince more people to participate and contribute.

"I know many people are anxious to help in various ways . . . but the project just wasn't ready for their particular form of help until just recently," Rostetter said.

The volunteers support and contribute to the Fedora Legacy Project because in many cases they need to support legacy machines themselves.

"I have numerous customers both personally and through my day job that depend on systems running Legacy Red Hat releases," Keating said. "The Fedora Legacy project provides a method for these systems to continue to be supported, and for my day job to not be a nightmare."

Going forward the Legacy project will support Red Hat Linux 9 and Fedora Core releases as they all hit their own end of life.

"There's been some articles written about the chaotic nature of the open source community," Red Hat's Leigh Day said. "But this is really an example of how the community is a mature organization and one that is able to step up and make things happen."