Am confused so thought of asking a question.

According to this Red Hat Becomes Open Source’s First $1 Billion Baby, it is opensourced so my question is:

Where can I download the Opensource version? All web links provided point to RHEL; it is commercial isn't it? Am I missing something?

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    You want CentOS, a beer-free build of the RedHat source. Only the source is open, not the installable builds. – Nicholas Wilson Feb 12 '13 at 17:28
  • Ok I got it now after going through Centos.org .. CentOs guys build the RHEL source ..how close is this to RHEL features? I mean can i use CentOS for my Prod Server ?(Basically dont want to get into issue of buginess) – Suave Nti Feb 12 '13 at 17:31
  • Free as freedom!! GPL doesn't problem any type of money transmit.You can buy a GPL software...! – PersianGulf Feb 12 '13 at 17:35
  • CentOS strives at total binary compatibility with RHEL. Bug fixes (and new releases) do lag behind. – vonbrand Feb 12 '13 at 18:02
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    You can down load the source from ftp.redhat.com for free. – Jason Tan Feb 12 '13 at 23:32

What you are missing are two components: the service/support and the fact that they (Red Hat) provide ready (binary) packages.

CentOS does as well and they strive to be binary compatible, down to every single last bug. As far as I know only a few aspects of CentOS differ from the respective RHEL release, mostly because of copyright and/or trademark issues. CentOS compiles the sources and at least publicly Redhat even like (not just acknowledge) the fact. Red Hat still makes big business providing the support and service around their distro.

Also read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux_derivatives

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    It should be noted that Red Hat primarily uses Trademark not copyright law to protect their distribution. The code is all open source but you do not have right to use the Red Hat or Red Hat Enterprise Linux trademark. CentOS and the other derivatives remove all Red Hat trademarks. – Craig Feb 12 '13 at 19:50

This is a somewhat complex issue, so let me start at the legal bases of it as I understand them. I'm not a lawyer and don't play one on SE either. If it is important to you, hire one and ask.

First of all, under today's copyright laws in the US (and due to a maze of international treaties, in most of the world) whenever you create some work, it automatically falls under copyright protection. That means, essentially, that nobody other than the author (or, in case the work was created for hire, whoever had it made) has the right to copy it, distribute it, or take it and create derivatives (modified versions, like bugs fixed or tranlations). A license is (as the word suggests) giving others permission to do somebody else to do some of the above. A related concept is that of public domain, works on which copyright ownership either has expired (e.g, Shakespeare's plays) or of which the author explicitly donated the rights to the public (AFAIU, this last is a US-only legal situation). So if you are legally using a piece of software, it is by explicit permission (i.e., license) or because it really belongs to you (public domain). Apart of the copyright on a specific piece of work, there are copyrights on collections. So, if I put together a collection of, say, folk songs (presumably very old, and in the public domain), the selection and arrangement is still under copyright protection. So somebody could copy the individual songs, but not copy the whole collection.

For more on the different licenses in use, look at Wikipedia on open source, or ask Google.

In the specific case of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the individual pieces are under a hodgepodge of licenses, much is GPL, but there are pieces under BSD style licenses, the LaTeX Project License, Apache, and a long list of others. The collection itself is under GPL. Under GPL (but not under other of the many licenses), whoever gets binaries is free to distribute them further, and moreover anybody who gets binaries is entitled to full source code to the program. Note that only who gets the binaries is entitled by the licence to the sources. What Red Hat does is to publish all sources (even for non-GPL parts) of the distribution for anybody to take (the sources are here or thereabouts, depending on the exact version of the distribution). Furthermore, Red Hat acquired a few companies (for example, Qumranet in 2008, which developed tools for use with KVM, and released the under GPL) or rights to pieces of software (like the Netscape LDAP Server, which it liberated under GPL in 2005, today as 389 Directory Server). There are also pieces developed in-house by Red Hat (like RPM), which have also been made into open source. A few pieces of the distribution are deemed trade marks (you can't use the Red Hat name or logo except by permission), Red Hat segregates everything that is part of the trademark in simple packages, and gives explicit instructions on how to replace them with your own (as done by the clone distributions, like CentOS). You can get binaries from Red Hat under a maintenance contract, or sources for free, and also instructions and tools needed to put a modified distribution together. Note that this goes several steps beyond what Red Hat is required to do under current legislation and the relevant licenses. They know very well that they depend on the good will of the open source community, and benefit off it.

Red Hat sponsors the (mostly) independent Fedora project, a community-driven distribution which strives to get the best and latest of open source into the hands of enthusiasts in form of a easy to use package. Fedora is commited to work with upstream projects and open collaboration with other distributions, recognizing that going on their own means an unmanageable burden of maintaining their own forks. In turn, Red Hat Enterprise Linux starts essentially as a branch off Fedora, selecting packages, tweaking configuration, and stabilizing/hardening, and finally maintaining the versions selected by bug fixes and backports. Many Red Hat employees are active in Fedora as package maintainers, or working on external packages. Several high-profile kernel hackers are on Red Hat's payroll, while other employees are lead developers of independent open source projects as part of their jobs.


The license for Red Hat Linux is the GPL.

If you want binaries (from Red Hat) you'll need to subscribe to their distribution service, Red Hat Network, aka RHN.

That said if you know someone who has Red Hat binaries, they can redistribute them to you for free. Red Hat simply chooses not to distribute binaries for no cost. This is permissible under the GPL.

If you want a binary distro that you don't have to pay for, then as others have said above, try CentOS or Fedora.

You can download the src at ftp.redhat.com e.g.:


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