RESF: An Approach to Stable Community Driven Open Source Stewardship


On December 8, 2020, Red Hat announced that CentOS would be end of life’d early and discontinued as an open source, production-ready downstream version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which built a huge and devoted following in its 18-year existence. It was the no. 1 Linux distribution in the enterprise for many years, and users included Toyota, Target, Facebook, GoDaddy, Disney, RackSpace and Verizon.

Barely two hours after the Red Hat news, CentOS co-founder Gregory Kurtzer announced that he would start over with an effort to create a new distribution to fill the need that CentOS left. Today, there are at least 250,000 Rocky Linux OS image downloads per month, with some months spiking to multiple times that. It has enjoyed broad acceptance in the enterprise, across academic institutions and in the cloud sector, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

In this session, Heather will walk participants through the evolution of what drove the creation of Rocky Linux, as well as the factors that have driven its success in replacing CentOS. She will share the lessons he’s learned from this process, including an explanation of the innovative Public Benefits Corp (PBC) model for the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation, the goal of which is to ensure that the future of the project can never be held hostage by a corporate agenda.

Participants will leave with an understanding for how open source software foundations can plan for longevity that survives its founders while protecting the community from the whims of political and commercially driven decision making. This session is designed to be both thought-provoking and open to discussions. Come prepared to challenge and be challenged, with old assumptions about open source project management on the table.

Ballroom F
Saturday, March 11, 2023 - 11:30 to 12:30