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CentOS announces the general availability of CentOS version 7

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July 8, 2014

Red Hat derivative 'The CentOS Project' has announced the general availability of Linux CentOS version 7, the first release of the free distribution based on the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.

It's also the first major CentOS release to ship since the CentOS Project entered into a new funding and co-development partnership with Red Hat in January of this year.

Because CentOS ver. 7 is built from the freely available RHEL 7 source code tree, its feature set closely mirrors that of Red Hat's latest operating system, which shipped last month after a six-month beta period.

"CentOS conforms fully with Red Hat's redistribution policy and aims to have full functional compatibility with the upstream product," the OS release notes explain.

"CentOS mainly changes packages to remove Red Hat's branding and artwork," it added. Like RHEL 7, CentOS-7 is now powered by version 3.10 of the Linux kernel, with advanced support for Linux Containers and XFS as the default file system.

It's also the first version of CentOS to include the system D management engine, the firewalld dynamic firewall system, and the GRUB2 boot loader.

Additionally, the default Java Development Kit has been upgraded to OpenJDK-7, and the system now ships with Open VMWare Tools and 3D graphics drivers out of the box.

Also like RHEL 7, this is the first version of CentOS that claims to offer an in-place upgrade path.

Eventually, users will be able to migrate from CentOS-6.5 to CentOS-7 without reformatting their systems, but unfortunately, the tools needed to achieve this are still being tested and won't be made available until a later date.

For this release, the CentOS team launched a new build process, in which the entire distribution is built from code hosted at the CentOS Project's own Git repository.

Source code packages (SRPMs) are created as a side-effect of the build cycle, however, and will be hosted on the main CentOS download servers alongside the corresponding binary packages.

"For the CentOS-7 build and release process we adopted a very open process," CentOS contributor Karanbir Singh said in a mailing list post announcing the release.

"The output of the entire buildsystem is made available, as it's built, at We hope to continue with that process for the life of CentOS-7, and attempt bringing CentOS-5 and CentOS-6 builds into the same system," he added.

Disc images of CentOS-7 – including separate builds for the Gnome and KDE desktops, a live CD image, and a network-installable version – are available beginning on Monday from the main CentOS download site and via BitTorrent.

Plans are already underway to also make the OS available in other forms in the near future, including Docker images; images for major cloud vendors, including Amazon, Google, HP, and RackSpace; images for use with on-premises cloud platforms such as OpenStack and Eucalyptus; and possibly an image for doing a minimal install.

In other Linux and IT news

This week's most recent release of the Top 500 list of supercomputers reveals to us what many had already suspected: that the Linux operating system almost dominates all systems when it comes to super computing and complex math applications. Not only does Linux power all of the top ten machines on the June 2014 list, including China's winning Tianhe-2 supercomputing node, which stole the show once again with its performance of 33.86 Petaflop/second on the Linpack benchmark, but it also now accounts for a full 97.2 percent of the full set of 500.

A mere fifteen supercomputers on the list do not use Linux, including 12 using Unix and just two using Windows.

In June 2013, Linux's share of the Top 500 was 95.2 percent. At this rate, it's only natural to speculate that Linux could claim a full 100 percent very soon.

Other highlights from this latest Top 500 list include a new entry in the No. 10 spot-- a 3.14 Pflop/s Cray XC-30 installed at an undisclosed U.S. government site, and an increase in the total combined performance of all 500 systems to 274 Pflop/s, up from 250 Pflop/s six months ago and 223 Pflop/s one year ago.

A full 37 systems on the list now offer performance greater than one Pflop/s, compared with just 31 six months ago.

Yet, while there's still some performance growth going on, these days it's not happening at the same rapid rate that it used to be, the Top 500 list creators noted.

"The battle up to petascale supercomputers was driving more change," said Meike Chabowski, senior product marketing manager at SUSE.

"Now that petascale has been reached and is kind of a new standard, the list calmed a bit," he added.

The next goal will be exascale supercomputers, but "there is no real hurry for it, as there are no real workloads yet for exascale computers," Chabowski pointed out.

"The means of hurrying and driving performance now to a bigger scale is not really useful."

Exascale computing might be possible by 2018, "but currently, trying to get massively more computing power would probably not really help for the use cases," she said.

"And there is a bit more sensitivity also towards green computing," she added. Meanwhile, the fact that supercomputing is still primarily driven by government and academia has also played a role, as economic challenges have led to less investment during the past year or two.

Nevertheless, in general, high-performance computing (HPC) is growing, and this growth is driven by the private and commercial segment, Chabowski said.

"Overall, HPC technology isn't just used anymore for research and government-- nearly every industry is using HPC technologies nowadays," she explained.

"These can be seen in CAD modeling for car manufacturing and building aircraft; online gaming; movies, animation and entertainment; and ultrascale Internet computing," she added.

Will Linux inch closer to 100 percent domination in November's list? Only time will tell. In the meantime, you can see the latest list in its entirety on the Top500 site.

In other IT news

VMware said earlier this morning that it has posted an End of Availability Announcement for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. In the past, VMware used to hand fully-supported SLES licences to some vSphere buyers. As Vmware's page describing the offering states, the licences came “complete with patches and updates”.

However, those don't come free-- SUSE's support pricing page lists prices starting at $349 per physical server and $529 for a virtual server.

That price is important because VMware uses SUSE as the operating system for its virtual appliances.

SUSE states that SLES is “integrated” with VMware's appliances. With free licences no longer on offer, future users running a VMware appliance may find it is more expensive to do so if they choose to subscribe to SUSE's support services.

Gartner's Michael Warrilow says that a deal with SUSE to cover the cost of providing patches and updates to users is in the works.

The EOL announcement is at pains to point out that nothing changes for current users, at least in terms of being able to use SUSE licences handed out in the past.

If you like the idea of getting your hands on the licence, that is still possible provided you do so before July 25, 2014. You have a bit less that a month left.

In other IT news

Linus Torvalds has taken issue with the often repeated assertion that in today's world, everybody and his grandmother should learn computer programming, saying he just doesn't believe in it. And Torvalds has been outspoken lately.

In an interview with Business Insider over the weekend, the Linux kernel creator added that even though he grew up with computers at a relatively young age, and that he enjoys tinkering with them, not everyone is be the same, and added that there are some that in fact hate computers.

"Additionally, I don't believe that everybody should necessarily try to learn to code either," Torvalds said.

"I think it's reasonably specialized, and nobody really expects most people to have to do it. It's not like knowing how to read and write and do basic math," Torvalds said.

In this, he differs with people like Rohan Silva who, as chairman of the British government's "Year of Code" initiative, has championed using public funds to promote the idea that "getting to know code is really important" and that "not just rocket scientists" should learn computer programming.

Torvalds – who also developed the Git source code management system, which powers GitHub – is also known for his high standards when it comes to code contributions. He's a bit of a perfectionist.

He has occasionally even lashed out at other developers with profanity-filled rants in public forums when he thinks their work seems amateurish or unprofessional.

In 2013, he even threatened Linux kernel developers that if they didn't shape up their acts he would be forced to "come up with new ways to insult you, your mother, and your deceased pet hamster."

Despite his objections to cramming coding down people's throats, however, Torvalds said that he felt making basic programming education available in a more relaxed way is still valuable.

"That said, I think people should have some way of getting exposure to it, just so that people who find that they enjoy it and have the aptitude know about the possibility," Torvalds said.

"Not because everybody will want to or need to learn, but just because it is a great vocation, and there may well be lots of people who never realized that they might actually like telling computers what to do."

Red Hat's fiscal 4th quarter earnings and outlook late last month proved a mixed bag, sending shares falling about seven percent.

This latest acquisition comes nearly three years after Red Hat snapped up storage software provider Gluster for $136 million.

Inktank is driving the adoption of Ceph, an open-source software-defined storage system designed to run on commodity hardware. Software-defined storage and networks give software, rather than hardware, the leading role in network and storage management.

Red Hat's announcement of the Inktank acquisition included an assessment of the software-defined storage market from Ashish Nadkami, an analyst for market tracker IDC says -- "Software-defined platforms will continue to grow faster than any other market segment in the file and object-based storage market. This growth will primarily be driven by a rich and diverse set of data-intensive use cases across multiple industries and geographies."

Overall, Intank will help Red Hat in expanding its storage capabilities, said Brian Stevens, Red Hat's chief technology officer.

"Inktank has done a very good job assembling a strong ecosystem around Ceph and we look forward to expanding on this success together," he added.

"The strength of these world-class open storage technologies will also offer compelling capabilities as enterprise customers move to software-based storage systems," he said.

In other Linux and open source news

Since the recent discovery of the serious Heartbleed bug issue, members of the OpenBSD project have forked the popular OpenSSL library with the goal of creating a new version that they say will be a lot more trustworthy.

And even though OpenSSL is still open source software, for a full two years its entire development community managed to overlook the crucial bug that eventually triggered a global panic in the internet community.

The OpenSSL library has since been patched to address the security issue, but some fallouts from the crisis are still being felt, and the single programmer whose error caused all the problems says there just aren't enough people scrutinizing the OpenSSL code to clearly indentify difficult-to-find bugs such as Heartbleed.

However, the LibreSSL project wants to change all that, and fast. An actual fork of OpenSSL, LibreSSL was created by members of the highly security-conscious OpenBSD operating system community, including its founder Theo de Raadt, who has publicly criticized OpenSSL as a project "not developed by a responsible team." And we sure agree with him 100 percent.

The group's ultimate aim is to provide a drop-in replacement for OpenSSL that has been substantially rewritten and audited for potential security vulnerabilities. The API won't change, they say, but much of the current code will, and in a rather drastic manner, according to de Raadt.

But it's early days for the project yet, however, the group is moving rapidly. Its homepage says its contributors are currently "too busy deleting and rewriting code to make a decent web page."

Much of the early work involves refactoring and cleaning up the OpenSSL code so that it's more readable and easier to maintain. A quick glance at the code commits so far reveals a lot of "KNF" work – meaning the individual source files are being rewritten in "kernel normal form," a standard C coding style used by BSD Unix operating systems.

Additionally, thousands of lines of unneeded and useless code have already been deleted as well. Much of that code was OS-specific, including workarounds for such ancient platforms as VMS, OS/2, NetWare, classic Mac OS, and of course, older versions of Windows.

The good news of all this, however, is that LibreSSL will be an OpenBSD-only library. The developers do plan to provide multi-OS support eventually, but only after they have rewritten enough of the code to make it stable and maintainable, and then find reliable developers to work on ports to other systems.

"Now we all know that you all want this tomorrow," the project's homepage states. "We are working as fast as we can but our primary focus is to deliver good software that we trust to run ourselves. We don't want to break your heart..."

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As things stands now, the first version of LibreSSL is planned for inclusion in OpenBSD 5.6. If all goes according to plan, that iteration should get here by sometime in November 2014. The upcoming version of the OS, OpenBSD 5.5, is due to ship on May 1st, 2014.

In other Linux and open source news

Linux and open source vendor Red Hat is hoping it will make a lot of money out of its OpenStack project near the end of next year, and says it won't need the help of anybody to keep the project on track.

The company's remark as it refers to 'anybody' was meant as a jab to Linus Torvalds.

Red Hat said on Wednesday at its OpenStack summit that it will turn the data center management cloud technology into serious money toward the end of 2015.

Red Hat recently re-organized its business units to help it bring OpenStack to the next level in the enterprise segment, with the hope of creating the same lucrative market for the data center management and provisioning technology as it did for Linux five years ago.

"The next 1 1/2 year is paramount," explained Red Hat's general manager for OpenStack Radhesh Balakrishnan. "We already started ringing the cash register on OpenStack. What do we see on the horizon? A ten to fifteen x scaling potential."

For the most part, the majority of Red Hat's OpenStack deployment has been for testing and development so far, Balakrishnan added, but he expects major production, and with that major money, deployments to come along by the end of 2015.

Just like Linux itself, OpenStack will take several years to make money and Balakrishnan seemed to feel that the expectations by the press for insta-profitability are a bit unrealistic.

OpenStack launched in mid-2010 with technology donated by the NASA and Rackspace, and since then has signed up a small list of contributors including Intel, HP, Red Hat, and others.

"It's a three-plus year old startup," explained Dave Cahill, Solidfire's Director of Strategic Alliances when asked about what he saw in OpenStack's future.

VMware, he pointed out, was founded pre-2000 and didn't start to make serious money till around 2009. A lot rides on OpenStack's success as it gives company's a potentially cheap way of managing thousands upon thousands of servers without having to pay for the basic software.

Source: The CentOS Project.

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