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Rocky Linux Is Not CentOS; It’s Better: Gregory Kurtzer


The discontinuation of CentOS Linux affected many people in the community who relied on it for its stability and mirror level of bug-to-bug and bit-for-bit compliance and compatibility with the upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). However, this acted as a catalyst for the creation of Rocky Linux, which aims to bridge the gap for CentOS users.

In this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Gregory M. Kurtzer, CEO, Ctrl IQ and Executive Director, Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) / Rocky Linux, to discuss Rocky Linux 9 and how it continues to help CentOS users. He goes into detail about the organizational structure of Rocky Linux and the commercial aspect of open source projects. Kurtzer explains how they have built Rocky Linux to ensure reproducibility and how this embodies their core open-source values.

Key highlights of this video interview are:

  • Kurtzer got introduced to Linux and open source through science. He is a biochemist by degree, and initially started running Linux to solve genomics problems. He takes us through his first experiences with Linux and how that led to him transitioning across to this career path.
  • CentOS came out of another project Kurtzer was working on, CAOS, a community-based RPM-focused distribution of Linux. Kurtzer explains that it was around the time that Red Hat Linux was discontinued and many were left without a freely available base operating system. He discusses why CentOS was created and how this led to the creation of Rocky Linux.
  • Kurtzer goes into depth about how the discontinuation of CentOS Linux affected a number of people in the community who relied on it for its stability and mirror level of bug-to-bug and bit-for-bit compliance and compatibility with the upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux and how this to him wanting to work with Red Hat and CentOS Stream to fill the void.
  • A lot of time has been spent thinking about the organizational structure and the ownership structure to ensure that Rocky Linux does not meet the same fate as CentOS Linux. Kurtzer discusses the steps they have put in place to ensure its longevity.
  • CentOS is not the only example of where an open source project became popular and then got acquired by a corporate entity only for it later to be discontinued. Kurtzer shares his opinion by saying that personally, he does not think it is a good idea for any company to own and control an open source project. He goes into detail about why he thinks this.
  • Kurtzer discusses the commercial aspect of open source projects. He feels that the key to having a sustainable open source project is having lots of individuals and companies standing behind the project, contributing to it, sponsoring and partnering with it. He discusses how this model has been helping when creating the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation.
  • There is a trend toward rolling releases which makes life easier for developers but other users want stability. Kurtzer tells us that they mimic the Red Hat Enterprise Linux release cycle as much as they can since it is what users are used to. He explains the different preferences of releases between the developers in the DevOps community and those on the enterprise side.
  • Kurtzer is excited to see where the technology is going with Kubernetes, microservices, and containers as the ecosystem continues to develop. He explains how the developments that have come out of Red Hat, Ubuntu, as well as, Rocky and CentOS Stream are helping facilitate this transition. He goes into detail about Rocky Linux 9 and how they are building up this family of Enterprise Linux compatible distributions giving people options to choose what works best for them.
  • High performance computing (HPC) has been using the same fundamental base architecture, Beowulf, for the last 28 years. However, with the emergence of Kubernetes there has been a need to start looking at orchestration. Kurtzer explains that this has prompted the need to modernize by scaling the foundation of this architecture to tens of thousands of nodes and what new opportunities this has presented.
  • Some of the key use cases for Rocky Linux are facilitating research and innovation across the whole spectrum of different scientific disciplines. Kurtzer discusses how this has resulted in being able to help other scientists become more efficient while facilitating more research and the effect this has on society as a whole.
  • One of the key visions for Rocky Linux was reproducibility. Kurtzer explains how they created a new build system, Peridot, that is completely cloud-native as a microservice architecture to enable people to go and do a Helm chart, install their entire Rocky build infrastructure, and then either replicate what they have done or enhance it.

Connect with Gregory Kurtzer (LinkedIn)
Learn more about Rocky Linux (Twitter)

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.

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