Red Hat introduces new no-cost RHEL option

Red Hat introduces new no-cost RHEL option
As you know, Red Hat recently announced that CentOS Linux 8, as a rebuild of RHEL 8, will end in 2021. CentOS Stream continues after that date, serving as the upstream (development) branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The news met with a strong reaction from the open-source community and CentOS users. Today, Red Hat released a new option where RHEL developer subscriptions can now be used in production environments. The developers and team can have up to 16 systems. In other words, it is a no-cost RHEL that small groups and developers can use to build packages and in production environments.

Red Hat introduces new no-cost RHEL option

The new option supposed to help:

  1. Developers
  2. Sysadmins
  3. Home lab builders
  4. Small dev teams
  5. Non-profits who were previously using CentOS as a drop-in replacement for RHEL.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux programs details

Now you can have a 100% RHEL no-cost subscription for the following two types of groups:

1. RHEL for small production workloads

Red Hat developer program allows single machine subscription for developers. You can’t use a developer subscription in production. However, this changes today:

The Individual Developer subscription for RHEL can be used in production for up to 16 systems. That’s exactly what it sounds like: for small production use cases, this is no-cost, self-supported RHEL. You need only to sign in with a free Red Hat account to download RHEL and receive updates. Nothing else is required. This isn’t a sales program, and no sales representative will follow up. An option will exist within the
subscription to easily upgrade to full support, but that’s up to you.

What’s more, you can now use these subscriptions with cloud service providers like Google cloud platform (CCP), AWS, and Microsoft. Azure. All you have to do is pay for hosting fees. Hell, one can use Linode and install such an operating system. That seems quite generous to me as many experienced developers, and Linux enthusiasts can work with RHEL without any support contract. I just wish they announced this news before dropping CentOS 8 ball upon all of us.

2. No-cost RHEL for customer development teams

Individual RHEL developer subscription option always had many limitations. Now they are making it easier for a customer’s development teams to join the program and take advantage of its benefits. These development teams can now be added to this program at no additional cost via the customer’s existing subscription.

How do I subscribe?

This updated Individual Developer subscription for RHEL will be available from February 1, 2021, to everyone, including the existing Individual Developer RHN subscribers.

Summing up

In short, now Red Hat offers a free RHEL subscription to both developers and anyone who wish to run in production up to 16 licenses (server or VMs running in the cloud). Fedora will act as a cutting edge operating system for Linux desktop users, and the next major version of RHEL will be based upon Fedora. CentOS stream will continue as a development branch for the next RHEL minor version. Nothing changed for existing enterprise customers, banks, governments, data center users, and more. They will keep using a paid subscription as usual. If you need more than 16 servers powered by RHEL, you need to buy a subscription.

What do you think? Would you try out free RHEL up to 16 systems? I think it is a right balance between paid and free subscription that addresses the void created by the planned EOL of CentOS 8. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. I believe Red Hat employees and management do read feedback posted here.

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🐧 36 comments so far... add one

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36 comments… add one
  • Waiting for Rocky Linux Jan 20, 2021 @ 14:43

    It’s a trap. nuff said.

  • Debian gal Jan 20, 2021 @ 14:55

    It is too late. We stared our new project with Debian 10 and Docker. No registration needed. Start here:

    Happy coding!

  • TJ Jan 20, 2021 @ 14:59

    Up to 16? How generous of you Red Hat? We have equal number of CentOS 7 and RHEL 7 paid servers running in hybrid cloud environment w/ Red Hat on Azure. The 16 number won’t even cover out auto scaling on Azure. Thanks but no thanks RedHat!

    • jc Feb 3, 2021 @ 9:04


      Have you considered AlmaLinux? It’s a 1:1 drop in replacement for CentOS, it’s already available in beta so you can test your use cases, and will have an in-place upgrade from any rhel-based distro like centos. Also, it’s free, open source, and all the tools will be ready so that the same bait-and-switch with CentOS doesn’t happen. Did I mention support at least until 2029?

      Full disclaimer: I work for CloudLinux, the company who started the project.

  • Rick van Hattem Jan 20, 2021 @ 15:05

    Currently we have over 250 CentOS servers running. Please tell me how is the free no-cost 16 RHEL limit good to us? Is this a way forward? Honestly, we are waiting for Rocky Linux and walking away from Red Hat.

    • Nobody Jan 20, 2021 @ 16:38

      No, it will not help you. Anyone with 250+ server installation are expected to pay out as they might have good financial in place if you need RHEL with 10 years support. Otherwise you can switch to FreeBSD or Debian/Ubuntu ;)

  • Alex Jan 20, 2021 @ 15:46

    I am happy they are giving away a free subscription for testing and learning purposes. I have a home lab with VMware, and I like to run enterprisy stuff. I welcome this move.

  • Le Hoang Long Jan 20, 2021 @ 16:09

    It is a good news to me
    I want to run my little business on red hat for a long time
    Centos is good but I still have a feel of lacking something
    I hope that there isn’t any limitation in each server

  • Tristan Jan 20, 2021 @ 16:43

    It is next to impossible to make everyone happy while keeping your product 100% open source. Red Hat needs to make money too and they have many engineers.

  • Casper Jan 20, 2021 @ 16:49

    Fine with me, but I’m also one of those who moved to Debian with Docker.

    But I feel that many have been complaining about the CentOS issue from the wrong perspective; CentOS is a copy of RHEL, plus/minus a few bits. It only exist because Redhat decided to release all their src.rpms for free.

    Redhat has been very nice about that, now that they own CentOS they decided to change the way CentOS is being distributed.

    Is it not a bit wrong to complain about something which basically has been a rip off of someone else’s work.

    I was for many years a CentOS user, but I accepted that it could end any day.

    • m0ck Jan 21, 2021 @ 5:26

      Do you know that RHEL is 90% “ripoff” of someone else work? It’s called open source.

      RedHad has full right to do with CentOS what they want. People are (mostly) complaining not about the change but because RH realesed Centos 8 with 10 year support and then shortly killed it. That’s the real problem. Personally I will not trust this 16 free licences beacause it may be 8 (or 0) within two weeks. They can’t be trusted after such move.

  • gurr Jan 20, 2021 @ 17:14

    wait for rocky-linux!

  • CentOS 8 user Jan 20, 2021 @ 17:18

    I asked about CentOS 8 replacement ( when news broke out about CentOS 8 removal by Red Hat corporation. So what does this mean for non-profit CentOS 8 users? Can our church use RHEL 8 now without paying money? Please advise as I don’t understand much of legal legal mumbo jumbo.

    • Debian 10 user Jan 21, 2021 @ 4:24

      I call this beggar subscription level and nothing else. I read your original question. You are better off using Debian or Ubuntu Linux. AWS supports both. No need to worry about it again if Red Hat decided to drop your non-profit subscription. Furthermore, for a church website and forum, you don’t need RHEL. It can be done with Debian and Ubuntu quickly.

  • Rob Jan 20, 2021 @ 17:29

    Dropping CentOS seems a wrong move. This “free” RHEL sounds like a temporary bandaid that will be pulled back within the next two years. Is IBM and Red Hat going to take responsibility for providing ten years update in the free version? They lost all credibility with a single move.

  • Mohscorpion Jan 20, 2021 @ 20:53

    It’s useless now, the main problem now is trust, which is gone now, just like Facebook and it’s sub-brands.
    Now most people decided to go in a real democratic way like BSDs or other trustworthy linux distros even oracle Linux with bad history of oracle seems a better option.
    For me I finally decided to go arch based and bsd based OSes based on needs.

  • James Whelan Jan 21, 2021 @ 0:50

    I spent a lot of effort moving all my projects to Ubuntu. I can’t help but think this is a reaction from the backlash. This new should had given the same time as Centos. Not sure it they can be trusted to keep their word.

  • petere Jan 21, 2021 @ 3:20

    Debian with Docker? Seriously?
    Debian is like a Rock, but Docker?

    • Noname Jan 21, 2021 @ 4:01

      Honestly, Red Hat seems pretty generous and giving out useful offerings. You guys are crying over free distro? Am I right? Get over it.

      Disclaimer: I work for Red Hat, but this is my personal opinion.

  • Go away Red Hat Jan 21, 2021 @ 3:49

    RedHat seems to forget, we used CentOS due to STABLITY and it was the driving factor in the choice to use CentOS. I want STABLE UNCHANGING SECURE systems. I don’t want CentOS stream with the latest and greatest features with “cloudy” technology. Do you know how many times we converted CentOS users to paying customers? 100s of times. So CentOS was a great way to get into enterprise OS. Now trust is gone.

  • chmod -x redhat Jan 21, 2021 @ 3:57

    Gee, this sounds like subscription growth hacking that we see with startups. Poor decision Red Hat really poor on your part. Killing CentOS was the biggest mistake they made, and now they are trying to do damage control with 16 free servers. We run a small IT shop with CentOS everywhere except RHEL at AWS. We were paying customers for the last 15 years, but that is gone now. We decided to move to Canonical’s Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

  • matob Jan 21, 2021 @ 4:40

    Killing CentOS was the biggest mistake they made

  • Tomas Fitzgerald Jan 21, 2021 @ 4:43

    Unpopular opinion: 98% of the use cases for CentOS 8 can be more than adequately handled by CentOS Stream. Then we will see RHEL 8 clones, too, like RockyLinux soon. I switched to CentOS stream and am done with this stupid debate as everything run inside containers.

    • Paul Jan 27, 2021 @ 17:04

      Can you please explain what you mean. As you are using containers, you are unaffected by the OS?

  • Tim Jan 21, 2021 @ 4:56

    I wish Red Hat were honest from day 0. What we are seeing is a corporate cultural change. Nothing is wrong with changing policy to make more profit, but they could have done better communication. They made loads of contributions to opensource. They have hired many developers working on the Linux kernel. Most important created wealth for people like me who were long-term Red Hat shareholders. I still think it is a wrong move from them and it gives great hints about the change in company culture. If anyone from RedHat is reading this, you need to come clean and be honest with the community.

  • Jon.Z Jan 21, 2021 @ 5:22

    Why wait? Oracle linux has always been free along with updates.

  • Jon.Z Jan 21, 2021 @ 5:24

    Why wait for Rocky?

    Oracle linux and updates has always been free of charge

  • RealGecko Jan 21, 2021 @ 15:59

    Why bother with RH if we have Debian :D

  • Simson Jan 22, 2021 @ 6:53

    Long life debian

  • Fabian Jan 23, 2021 @ 12:36

    When I started with Centos 5 for my Desktop workhorse there is no way back to a .deb NSA backdoor.

    I’ll wait for Rocky Linux

  • JohnDoe Jan 23, 2021 @ 13:06

    How can we trust them at this point? I have a whole data center running Centos 8 and I have less than 1 year to switch to someone else operating system. How can they assure me that this new RHEL version will be supported for the next decade? I cannot reinstall an entire infrastructure every year, this is the reason why I will probably go with Debian.

  • Dalamar Jan 26, 2021 @ 8:22

    Really is anyone naive enough to trust RedHat again? After changing Centos 8 lifetime out of the blue, what prevent them to make that again with this RH Free license?

    Obviously they can do what they want, its their business and their product, and we should be thankful for the years we have enjoyed Centos.

    However talking again business ethics , if they launch a product with the same suppor time than the rest, later on I change it out of the blue to a fraction of it, without a reasonable warning compared to the other products lifetime, for me this is unethical. Legal yes, business minded yes and they will make a lot of money for it, but unethical.

    So, for some is about technology, for others is about cost savings, for me is purely about ethics, I have to reinstall all my servers (probably about 20 I can shrink and fit on the free RHEL) but I do not trust RH anymore and I do not do business with a company I do not trust

  • habeeb Feb 15, 2021 @ 11:54

    my redhat subscription expired recently.Can i renew it for free and how do i do it. We are a non profit educational university.Can i avail this as we have just 5 servers

    • 🐧 Vivek Gite Feb 15, 2021 @ 15:45

      yes, after 1st/Feb/2021, you can get upto 16 no-cost RHEL subscriptions.

  • Xander Feb 25, 2021 @ 20:46

    We are a not-for-profit and have RHEL7 and CentOS 7 boxes. After the security piece of the CentOS Stream, it eliminated using it as a test case for us, and RHEL test boxes are simply not fiscally responsible for us to deploy. HIPPA and the wage index rules the roost so security and practical pricing are the driving forces behind our purchasing. We were due to begin migrating RHEL 6 and CentOS 6 boxes back in Dec. 2020, with the intent to move to RHEL 8 and CentOS8, but we have decided not to renew our sub and are talking to other vendors to meet our needs. Red Hat pricing is just not practical for a not-for-profit and their sales team does not get the concept of the wage index or of “I have exactly this much to spend”. Doesn’t matter how much they explain their value or how many training sessions they throw in, it all comes down to “dubins is dubins”.

  • Guilherme Apr 25, 2021 @ 15:03

    When you promisse 10 years support and then suddenly changes your mind, that’s a big break on trust.

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