Today, CentOS turns 15 years old. It’s had hard times and good times, and gone through a number of big changes over those years. We feel that we’ve landed in a really great place, over the last 5 years, as part of the Red Hat family of projects, and we’re very excited about what’s coming with CentOS 8, and the years to come.
Right now, we want to look back at how we got where we are now. We did that by going back and talking with some of the people that were involved in those early years, as well as some that joined the project later on.
We started by talking with Greg Kurtzer, who was the original founder of the project. In this interview, he told us about the motivations for starting the project, as well as some of the community challenges that were faced in those first years.
Along the way, Greg had an opportunity to very intentionally set the tone of the community to be welcoming and tolerant. This was primarily because Greg had has some very negative experiences with some of the very hostile communities in those early years. We talked a little bit about those intentional changes in the second half of our interview.
Our next interview was with Manuel “Wolfy” Wolfshant, who was also involved almost from the beginning. He began as a user, and quickly moved to building packages, which he needed for work, but decided to share with the world. He also was then, and is now, very involved in user support in the forums.
That interview can be read on the CentOS blog at https://blog.centos.org/2019/04/centos15-wolfy/
While at FOSDEM, in Brussels, in February, I talked with two members of the community. Mike McLean, a contributor to the project, and the author of the Koji tool that is used extensively in CentOS and Fedora, talked about his contributions:
And Brian Stinson, a more recent addition to the community, talked about his work in the CI and infrastructure of the project:
Our community is very dependent on people that actually use CentOS in production, because they are the people who find the problems, and who have insight into changes that should be made. They also are our most valuable contributors to user support, because they’ve been there, and know how to fix things when they break. Jeff Sheltren is one of those people, and has been using CentOS since the very beginning. Over time, he’s become part of the centos-qa group that helps test and package new versions of the distribution.
And finally, we have an interview with Karsten Wade, who was very instrumental in bringing CentOS into the Red Hat family, and continues to act as the liaison between the CentOS board, and Red Hat, although his position has changed over the years as I (Rich Bowen) have moved full time into that community manager role.
In the coming months, we’ll continue to do these interviews. If you’re part of the CentOS community, we’d like to hear from you - how you got involved, and how your role has changed as you’ve gotten more involved over the years. Get in touch with Rich - email@example.com - and we’ll talk.
Happy Birthday, CentOS. And here’s hoping that the next 15 years are even better. Come see us at Red Hat Summit next month to hear about what’s coming in CentOS 8, and what’s next for our community!
For our next #CentOS15 profile, I spoke with Manuel "Wolfy" Wolfshant, who has been an active member of our community since the very beginning, shortly after we started working with the WhiteBox Linux community.
(You can see some of the other #CentOS15 interviews on YouTube.)
When Red Hat moved the business model from selling CDs to selling support, his company had a need to provide a Linux desktop operating system, and packages for it.
Wolfy says that his eye was caught by a news article about Johnny Hughes and the Mayor of Tuttle, Oklahoma, Jerry Taylor.
If you weren't around back then, I'll recap. Due to a failed server upgrade, the Mayor of Tuttle woke to find the generic Apache httpd welcome page, and the CentOS logo, on his city's website. He promptly emailed the CentOS project, threatening to turn them over to the FBI if they didn't undo their malicious hack of the site.
Johnny, being Johnny, responded calmly and respectfully, encouraging the Mayor to contact his IT department, and pointing him to resources to help get his site running again. Given this response, Mr. Taylor
got even angrier, and the conversation went downhill from there. But Johnny remained calm, polite, and professional, and helped guide the city IT department to a solution.
You can read more in the article from the Register at the time.
Impressed with Johnny's calm and helpful response, Wolfy went with CentOS, and has been a happy user for many years since that time.
His involvement in the project began with packaging drivers that were needed for machines in the office. It swiftly moved to other areas, including user support, translation, and starting the very active Romanian Linux user group, RLUG, which remains active today.
Over the years, he has worked on the release notes (for a time providing them in Romanian), packaging for Fedora, and the creation and maintenance of the minimal install kickstart during the CentOS 6 days.
He remains active in the IRC channel, on the mailing lists, and in the CentOS Forum, helping new users (and some experienced ones!) navigate their problems with the CentOS operating system. You can find him #centos-devel channel on Freenode IRC under the name 'wolfy', and on the centos-devel mailing list, answering user questions.
It's not a secret that the CentOS project has always been running on sponsored infra since the beginning of the journey. While over the years we sometimes lost some "sponsors", we are always happy to see new ones joigning us . That's especially true for the infra used to "seed" the CentOS distro and SIGs content to external mirrors, and even more in regions that are less covered.
While we have some nodes in North America and Europe, some other regions are less covered (if not at all). That's why we'd like to say thank you to Packet to have recently sponsored some bare-metal nodes that are now members of our msync network, including (but not limited) to regions like Asia (with one node in Japan !), Europe and America. Welcome !
The CentOS Atomic SIG has released an updated version of CentOS Atomic Host (7.1902), an operating system designed to run Linux containers, built from standard CentOS 7 RPMs, and tracking the component versions included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host.
CentOS Atomic Host includes these core component versions:
CentOS Atomic Host is available as a VirtualBox or libvirt-formatted Vagrant box, or as an installable ISO, qcow2 or Amazon Machine image. For links to media, see the CentOS wiki.
If you’re running a previous version of CentOS Atomic Host, you can upgrade to the current image by running the following command:
The CentOS Atomic Host image follows the upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host cadence. After sources are released, they’re rebuilt and included in new images. After the images are tested by the SIG and deemed ready, we announce them.
You’ll often find us in #atomic and/or #centos-devel if you have questions. You can also join the atomic-devel mailing list if you’d like to discuss the direction of Project Atomic, its components, or have other questions.
If you run into any problems with the images or components, feel free to ask on the centos-devel mailing list.
Have questions about using Atomic? See the atomic mailing list or find us in the #atomic channel on Freenode.
A substantial number of released/updates were announced on Tuesday, March 19th, and are listed below. For timely announcements of these updates, subscribe to the centos-announce mailing list, at https://lists.centos.org/mailman/listinfo/centos-announce .
We issued the following CEEA (CentOS Errata and Enhancements Advisories) during March:
We issued the following CESA (CentOS Errata and Security Advisories) during March:
We issued the following CEBA (CentOS Errata and Bugfix Advisories) during March:
We are pleased to announce new official Vagrant images of CentOS Linux 6.10 and CentOS Linux 7.6.1810 for x86_64. All included packages have been updated to February 28th, 2019.
config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", type: "virtualbox"
config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", disabled: true
to their Vagrantfile, to prevent errors on "vagrant up".
vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--natdnshostresolver1", "off"]
Our automatic testing is running on a CentOS Linux 7 host, using Vagrant 1.9.4 with vagrant-libvirt and VirtualBox 5.1.20 (without the Guest Additions) as providers. We strongly recommend using the libvirt provider when stability is required.
The official images can be downloaded from Vagrant Cloud. We provide images for HyperV, libvirt-kvm, VirtualBox and VMware.
If you never used our images before:
vagrant box add centos/6 # for CentOS Linux 6, or... vagrant box add centos/7 # for CentOS Linux 7
Existing users can upgrade their images:
vagrant box update --box centos/6 vagrant box update --box centos/7
The SHA256 checksums of the images are signed with the CentOS 7 Official Signing Key. First, download and verify the checksum file:
$ curl http://cloud.centos.org/centos/7/vagrant/x86_64/images/sha256sum.txt.asc -o sha256sum.txt.asc $ gpg --verify sha256sum.txt.asc
Once you are sure that the checksums are properly signed by the CentOS Project, you have to include them in your Vagrantfile (Vagrant unfortunately ignores the checksum provided from the command line). Here's the relevant snippet from my own Vagrantfile, using v1803.01 and VirtualBox:
Vagrant.configure(2) do |config| config.vm.box = "centos/7" config.vm.provider :virtualbox do |virtualbox, override| virtualbox.memory = 1024 override.vm.box_download_checksum_type = "sha256" override.vm.box_download_checksum = "b24c912b136d2aa9b7b94fc2689b2001c8d04280cf25983123e45b6a52693fb3" override.vm.box_url = "https://cloud.centos.org/centos/7/vagrant/x86_64/images/CentOS-7-x86_64-Vagrant-1803_01.VirtualBox.box" end end
If you encounter any unexpected issues with the Vagrant images, feel free to ask on the centos-devel mailing list, or in #centos on Freenode IRC.
I would like to warmly thank Brian Stinson, Fabian Arrotin and Thomas Oulevey for their work on the build infrastructure, as well as Patrick Lang from Microsoft for testing and feedback on the Hyper-V images. I would also like to thank the CentOS Project Lead, Karanbir Singh, without whose years of continuous support we wouldn't have had the Vagrant images in their present form.
I would also like to thank the following people (in alphabetical order):
As I’ve mentioned, as we approach our 15th anniversary, I’ve been talking with some of the people who were around in those early days, to get more of the backstory. (See our YouTube channel for the full interview.)
Last week, I spoke with Greg Kurtzer, who founded the Caos Linux project, which turned into the CentOS Project in 2002. I got an eye-opening story of how it all started.
In October of 2000, Greg, who was already an avid Debian GNU/Linux fan, joined an organization (LBNL) that was a Red Hat shop. (This was before Red Hat Enterprise Linux.) And, while generating packages for work, he decided that what was really needed was a community-managed distribution of RPM-based Linux, much like Debian existed for the dpkg crowd.
Now, in the early days of open source and free software, we had communities that were more defined by personalities than by technologies. Granted, that situation still exists today, but if you didn’t endure the flame wars of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it can be a little hard to imagine just how bad it sometimes got.
With Caos Linux, Greg had an opportunity to set a new tone for the project as more welcoming, beginner friendly, and encouraging than was the norm at the time.
When Red Hat Linux became Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and the project could no longer use Red Hat Linux as the build system, they began to work with Rocky McGough who was already doing a rebuild of RHEL for his employer. (There were a number of these projects at the time.) He was changing roles professionally, and wanted the project to continue, and so agreed to merge with the work that Greg was doing. Rocky was, effectively, the first technical lead of CentOS. The name itself was coined by a participant in the UK, who will be mentioned again later.
The process was started by Greg to create a 501c3 non-profit entity - the Caos Foundation - which would host the CentOS Project. There was a framework being created to cover governance, funding, and organizing volunteer effort. Unfortunately, the individual who came up with the name ‘CentOS’ also owned the domain name, and declined to release it to the foundation as promised.
Meanwhile, when a RHEL-rebuild project called White Box Linux was discontinued, it became clear that what the community wanted was a free alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. CentOS moved into that space, based on the work that White Box had done.
As CentOS was starting to gain popularity, word came to the project that Rocky had committed suicide. In addition to being very tragic, this presented certain technical difficulties to the project, since he was the technical lead at the time. In hindsight, it is a shame he didn’t get to see what the project would become in time, as the foresight may have prevented this tragedy.
Greg passed on the technical lead position to the individual in the UK who held the domain name, while Greg continued to manage the project, community, and governance side of things. Donations to the project started to come in to support the infrastructure and other needs of the project. And third-party vendors making a business around the project also began to appear and prosper. The project was growing rapidly, and donations to the project were growing rapidly.
From there, due to a number of situations not really germane to this article, Greg moved on, and the CentOS project, through a number of events, came to where it is today. We’ll explore some of these other transitions in upcoming interviews and articles.
Of particular interest to me during my interview with Greg, were his remarks about setting the tone in a project. Being welcoming, kind, and patient takes so little time, but creates a community that people want to participate in, are proud to be part of and which is sustainable for a long time, due to the ability of new participants to enter and feel ownership. I’ve published a separate, much shorter, video with just those remarks, which I’d encourage you take two minutes to watch, too.
CentOS Opstools SIG Quarterly Report
Dec 01, 2018 - Feb 28, 2019
Provide tools and, documentation, recommendations and best practices for operators of large infrastructure.
We need to be honest to see that contributions decreased over the time. Members moved on, and at the same time, we failed to attract new contributors.
CentOS opstools packages are being consumed by OpenStack Kolla, and at the same time, for example also by oVirt.
During FOSDEM, we got in touch with collectd upstream. collectd is also integral part of the OPNFV Barometer project. While Barometer provides containers to test the project, the same can be achieved by using packages from CentOS-Opstools.
Architectual-wise, we are shifting from using sensu and fluentd. If anyone is interested in keeping them, it's the right time to step up.
The replacements will be using rsyslog and Prometheus. Currently, we are not building Prometheus under the opstools SIG; interested
persons are encouraged to step up here!
None at this point, but we should keep an eye on contributors.