OpenELA Frequently Asked Questions

What is OpenELA?

It is a non-profit trade association of open source Enterprise Linux distribution developers founded in support of the spirit of open source to create continuity for all Enterprise Linux downstream distributions.

What is Enterprise Linux?

There are many Linux Distributions that are perfectly suitable for enterprise use cases and environments. For the purpose of this charter and project, OpenELA recognizes “Enterprise Linux” (EL) as 1:1 and bug-for-bug source code compatibility which today is aligned to RHEL and CentOS.

What is the end product of OpenELA?

Freely available, redistributable and maintained Enterprise Linux (EL) compatible source code. The purpose of OpenELA is to collaborate on EL as an open source project; like any open source project, the source code is the most important asset. Partner organizations will collaboratively maintain and support the EL source code which downstream binary distributions can then choose to utilize directly. OpenELA exists to enable the binary-producing Linux distributions, each of which will add value to their respective user-base.

Why doesn’t OpenELA offer a binary distribution?

The goal of the project is to focus on freely distributable open source code. Source code is the best way to collaborate on development. It also gives downstream derivatives the ability to add value however they need, which is permissible via the open source licenses contained within each individual package.

What is the trademark/branding of the OpenELA distribution?

A new intent-to-use trademark application has been filed for OpenELA in class 42. According to trademark requirements, we will protect the mark, but we will also offer the right to use to all downstream derivatives, Association members, and sponsors.

Official logos and branding can be found at:

Will OpenELA enhance from the base Enterprise Linux compatibility standard?

OpenELA will host source code and become the shared repository for Enterprise Linux. This includes not only the base OS, but also possible feature additions, customization, and extra packages that the community requires. Each individual downstream project has the ability to build from any of these options, either bug-for-bug and 1:1 with the Enterprise Linux standard, or providing customizations and changes.

This is the freedom that open source enables.

How does a true open source standard benefit enterprises?

Enterprise organizations and IT professionals require consistency, stability, and reliability for their core infrastructure. The Enterprise Linux ecosystem has experienced many changes recently, resulting in generalized concern on the part of large organizations, about whether large organizations can entrust their infrastructure to any of the Enterprise Linux distributions. This is because we’ve seen significant disruptive changes in Enterprise Linux since CentOS’s End-of-Life, and this is having a negative impact on the ecosystem’s trust in Enterprise Linux as a whole.

OpenELA solves this by ensuring that there is a proper community initiative standing behind Enterprise Linux in a way that provides stability and long-term assurances.

Will OpenELA become a standard?

While today, the standard for Enterprise Linux is based on RHEL, who knows what the future will hold. OpenELA is committed to doing whatever is necessary to maintain Enterprise Linux as a stable solution for all downstream derivatives.

Is OpenELA a fork of XYZ?

OpenELA is not a fork; it is the freely available source code for the Enterprise Linux standard.

Is OpenELA going to be provided “as is” and will third parties provide an SLA?

OpenELA will provide the equivalent to source code SLAs and a commitment to the project by the founding organizations and the open source community.

Downstream derivatives will provide value to end users and customers.

Is anyone allowed to build off of OpenELA and monetize it? Will there be any restrictions?

Yes, everyone is allowed to build off of OpenELA per the OSI definition of open source. There will be no additional license restrictions imposed.

Who is responsible for the core development and maintenance?

The founding organizations (CIQ, Oracle, SUSE) are committed to the core tenants and mission of OpenELA, and we hope to involve the larger open source community as well.

What is the license for the spec files + patches provided by OpenELA?

We will not impose any other license or distribution limitations on the sources, build scripts, spec files, patches, and so on.

Are there any extracurricular goals for the project?

To become the central and neutral community location for all Enterprise Linux collaboration.

Will the product life cycle meet existing expectations for Enterprise Linux?

Yes, absolutely! We might even do better as there is a desire by several organizations to continue with EL7 for longer than it’s originally planned 10 years (we are still deciding on that one!).

Will OpenELA enable distributions to maintain 1:1 / bug-for-bug compatibility with Enterprise Linux?

Yes, absolutely! OpenELA will both release the pristine (but unbranded) sources for Enterprise Linux as well as offer a contributor repository for enhancements and optimizations.

How and who makes decisions within OpenELA?

The non-profit board of directors will be the controlling entity of OpenELA. Bylaws are being written right now and will be published ASAP.

How will OpenELA maintain “1:1” and/or “bug-for-bug” compatible sources with Enterprise Linux?

The sources will be validated both by signature as well as community validation via tooling.

Is it better to follow Red Hat’s footsteps in being called an Enterprise Linux distribution or to pave our own path by what the community asks for/needs?

OpenELA will become a community driven standard. Today it is initially derived from and based on RHEL because that is what the community requires, but looking forward, OpenELA will follow the needs and expectations of the open community (which very well may continue to be RHEL).

What is the best way to contribute and be part of the project?

As of the time of this writing, things are still in development, so join the Slack community and jump into the channels you are most interested in. With the formation of the project nearing completion, contribution tasks and opportunities will be shared there. From then on, it is similar to all open source projects: listen, help, become useful, and make it formal.

Does OpenELA plan to be a meta distribution/standard for Enterprise Linux?

No, our focus is only on the collaboration of source code. Downstream derivatives will be responsible for their end products and deliverables.

What tools does OpenELA provide to build Enterprise Linux from source code?

As of this writing, that is out of scope, but we will offer some testing and verification tools to ensure a built product is meeting the goals of the project and can be called an OpenELA derivative.

What tools could be used by the average hacker/hobbyist to build Enterprise Linux from source code?

There are community maintained tools like Peridot from the RESF, Open Build Service from SUSE, Koji from Fedora, and the Alma Build Service that others can employ to build Enterprise Linux from scratch. The goal is to make obtaining the source code as easy and streamlined as possible.

Will there be a shared identity/naming/versioning convention

Yes, we will continue with the current Enterprise Linux standard.

Is the software/ecosystem for OpenELA same as ecosystems for SUSE Liberty Linux, Oracle Linux, and Rocky Linux? (bug for bug compatible?)

SUSE Liberty Linux, Oracle Linux, Rocky Linux, and others are all compatible with Enterprise Linux today, thus right now, they are all bug-for-bug compatible with OpenELA and each other. OpenELA will provide validation tools to ensure compatibility between the different distributions to make it easier for users, vendors, and applications to easily guarantee compatibility between all OpenELA downstream and compatible derivatives.

What are the requirements join OpenELA

There are no requirements to join and be part of the community, we want everybody to be part of OpenELA!

There will be different levels of involvement, individuals and organizations:

  1. Individual contributors are always welcome to be part of OpenELA, and as a contributor there are a variety of roles available. Once an individual has been part of OpenELA, they can become a Member of which they will have specific roles and responsibilities both to the project itself as well as leadership in voting and being eligible for Board of Directors positions.
  2. Organizational Membership and Sponsorship allows for different categories of involvement from companies, government, and academia.

More about joining will be available in our bylaws.

Will all OpenELA distributions all offer long term support?

That is up to the downstream distributions. OpenELA will provide a collaborative location for all downstream and community members to ensure that there will be supported code for the community. Long term support for point releases will be up to the downstream distributions.

Is OpenELA committed to releasing all tooling developed as part of the project as GPL?

OpenELA is committed to open source. For now, all tooling and work that we do as part of OpenELA must be released under an OSI compatible license, but the specific licenses used will be up to the discretion of the project and/or tooling creators.

Will there be tools available to have a migration path from other distros binaries to Enterprise Linux based binaries?

It will be possible to migrate from other Enterprise Linux compatible distributions and versions, but not incompatible distributions (like Debian or Ubuntu).

How will the source code be made available?

All of the source code will be available via Git directly from OpenELA. The sources will be organized and packaged in a way that makes it easy for downstream EL developers to build their distributions and for contributors to easily access and contribute to the sources.

Additionally, downstream derivatives will be encouraged to always distribute their sources as well (e.g. through dnf download –source …).