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30 July 2009, 15:01

Growing unrest within the CentOS project

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CentOS logo Several well-known developers within the CentOS project have published an open letter to Lance Davis. Davis is one of the founders of the project which releases the Linux distribution, a free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

According to the letter, Davis holds numerous key positions, but has been inactive and unreachable for quite some time. There are no deputies for some of the areas he controls. Davis reportedly offered to provide a statement of the CentOS project's funds but hasn't done so – although he is the only one who has access to the project's Google AdSense and PayPal accounts. These accounts provide the funds to meet the project's running costs.

The signatories regret having to resort to an open letter, but say they saw no other alternative. They ask Lance Davis to get in touch and not to allow his fear of shared management to kill the project. In the next sentence, they also indicate one of the potential consequences: "Clearly the project dies if all the developers walk away".

The letter can be found not only on the mailing list, but also prominently on the homepage of the project. In addition, it features in the first four blog entries at; two of the bloggers also provide further background information about the situation and how it developed.

These issues are nothing new, as minor problems and dissatisfaction already began to emerge several months ago. For instance, CentOS 5.3 – the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.3 clone – was a long time in the making; developer Dag Wieërs, who earned a reputation for his contribution to add-on repositories like DAG and Elrepo, had left the CentOS developer team several weeks ago, indicating problems behind the scenes.

When and whether the open letter will contribute to solving the management problems remains to be seen. In their blogs and in discussions with heise Open, The H's german associate, several of the CentOS developers emphasised their interest in finding a solution to the problems and continuing the CentOS project. They seem to regard a fork – doing the same things within a new project and under a different name – as the last available option: Many users place a lot of trust in the CentOS distributions. In keeping with Red Hat's policy for RHEL, the project promises version updates for a period of seven years.


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