Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2024


RHEL and CentOS and the growth of openwashing in FOSS

In 2023, Red Hat changed how it handles Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) source code. The source code for RHEL spent many years being released for free as CentOS Linux, but is now only available through the Red Hat customer interface, limiting access to those who commit to following its user agreements. Those user agreements then limit the use and redistribution of that code. The situation is complicated: While Red Hat claims this is compliant with open source definitions, some NGOs and OSS opinions differ.

At the same time, we see an expansion of the adoption of open core, and even gatherings of opencore supporters at their own events ( Organized by investment capital firms ( and defining "COSS" (commercial open source software) as the best OSS ever, these events celebrate a disruptive and highly commercial approach to open source. More and more companies are adopting the open core model with varying degrees of success, while Amazon and other companies are moving away from companies using the open core model, embracing "truly free" software.

One thing is for sure: many of the companies adopting open core model have very effective legal departments and a lot of experience. But how should we - the open source community handle this? Many of us volunteer for open source projects, and the very lucky ones are employed to work on open source projects, but that, too, can bring in a competing motivation.

From open source projects that are backed by commercial companies needing to provide value to continue to receive the very real funding the projects need, to projects with no commercial backing and massive contributor communities, the answer is likely to be nuanced. How do we ensure the success and continued adoption of open source philosophies while finding a way to call out and de-incentivize openwashing?

Host: Markus Feilner, Open Source Journalist Panel: Liam Proven, (The Register), author of many articles on the topic Karen Sandler, Executive Director, Free Software Conservancy benny Vasquez, Chair, Board of Directors @AlmaLinux OS Foundation


Photo of Karen Sandler Karen Sandler
Photo of benny Vasquez benny Vasquez
Photo of Markus Feilner Markus Feilner
Photo of Liam Proven Liam Proven