Why is there no Open Source SLES ?
Fabian pointed to an interesting article from a Red Hat engineer about CentOS and Red Hat's position. An interesting question popped up that I asked myself before: "Why is there no SLES alternative distribution ?". Given all the benefits a free Enterprise Linux brings to Red Hat, Novell must be eager to want to tap into this resource, right ?
One comment suggested that Novell did not release SRPMs and therefor it was impossible to create a free SLES clone. Reality seems a bit different: Novell does release SRPMs.
There are a few reasons why there is no Open Source SLES alternative.
One of them is that the SLES community is much smaller and more aimed at proprietary software. Novell itself is promoting Mixed Source and promotes its own proprietary software on top of SLES (also see OES). This obviously scares part of the community away. The deal with Microsoft obviously does as well. As a result Novell is big within Enterprises with little community people, and these are not the kind of people that would spend their free time rebuilding packages and do QA.
Another reason is that Novell is not in favor of such a project (even though people from within Novell _and_ people in the SLES community disagree with management) because it fears it will take away some of the profit and Novell made a big risk by taking the Linux route, they cannot afford to make it fail.
And Novell considers OpenSUSE their free SLES alternative even though it does not match the Enterprise Linux definition (read: long term support) and therefor does not attract the same kind of people that CentOS does.
In comparison, Red Hat actively worked on making sure that projects based on RHEL know exactly what to remove/change and made it easy to replace those parts that contain the Red Hat trademark.
All of the reasons why Novell doesn't have its own CentOS are real reasons why people choose Red Hat over Novell. At least some people around Novell envy Red Hat for CentOS, because used in the right light, CentOS is a big selling point for adopting RHEL.
All in all, CentOS provides a big community resource that RHEL people can equally tap into. It is a win-win situation, but I prefer to call it a symbiosis.
I hope Novell realises sooner than later what it is missing out on and changes its mind about a free SLES product and a thriving SLES community.