CentOS Linux Project In Trouble

Posted on in Categories CentOS, GNU/Open source, Linux, Linux distribution, RedHat/Fedora Linux last updated July 30, 2009

CentOS is a community-supported, freely-available operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Lance Davis created CentOS and now he goes absent without leave. In an open letter from his fellow CentOS developers:

You have long promised a statement of CentOS project funds; to this date this has not appeared. You hold sole control of the centos.org domain with no deputy; this is not proper. You have, it seems, sole ‘Founders’ rights in the IRC channels with no deputy ; this is not proper.

I just hope that Lance gets back to his fellow developers and gets things sorted out for all of us. This is concerning as we’ve large number of servers deployed using CentOS. It gets more interesting:

Lance vanished from the project some time in 2008. Everybody needs time off from projects from time to time, so there was no real need to worry about that. What there was to worry about is the following: Lance is the only one, who can make active changes to the centos.org domain, as he “owns it”. Nobody else in the team is able to add nameservers, for instance. Recently he put an anonymizing service on the domain, so that nobody from the outside can see who that domain belongs to.

The third thing – and that is the one which hurts me the most – is that Lance is the one who has access to the Google AdSense and the Paypal accounts, again without a backup. We have asked for overviews of the accounts several times now and havenÒ€ℒt gotten back any answers. This money was donated towards the project and could have been used for professionally made media for fairs and conventions, professionally made advertisement material for the same, hardware, community support (give out media to people who want to show off CentOS) and so on. To make it clear: Nobody in the CentOS team wants to make money off the project, we all have jobs and do CentOS in our free time.

If he’s disappeared, how they are going to move all servers and domain? May be Lance can keep money and handover domain, IRC admin access to his fellow developers. What do you think?

Update (Aug-1-2009): Long Live CentOS

From CentOS.org:

The CentOS Development team had a routine meeting today with Lance Davis in attendance. During the meeting a majority of issues were resolved immediately and a working agreement was reached with deadlines for remaining unresolved issues. There should be no impact to any CentOS users going forward.

The CentOS project is now in control of the CentOS.org and CentOS.info domains and owns all trademarks, materials, and artwork in the CentOS distributions.

CentOS is not dead or going away. The signers of the Open Letter are fully committed to continue the CentOS Project. Updates and new releases will continue.

Most of the Issues have been resolved, there is an action plan with agreed upon dates for any outstanding issues.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

48 comment

  1. CentOS is my favorite distro, it’d be awful if it dies. Well, at least the developers stated it’s not dying or going away. But honestly, this is truly upsetting.

    If he’s got no time for stuff, nothing wrong with stepping down and letting others take over. I hope he replies.

  2. it would be nice to see a quote or something like that? Where did you get that info???
    CentOS is not a such a minor distro, neither a small one…
    It’s a very qualified distribution.

  3. Sounds to me like maybe Lance absconded with the funds. Perhaps there is a prosecutable offence, since funds for a non-profit seem to be unaccounted for. At any rate, If the situation is not resolved soon, I have a suggestion. How about the CentOS developers giving J Morris over at Beauregard Parish Public Library a hand bringing White Box Enterprise Linux up to speed. It looks like he could use the help, and their goals certainly seem the same. I knew about White Box before I heard of CentOS. And though I currently use Fedora 10 and Ubuntu 8.04, I’ve certainly considered giving CentOS or White Box a try, but it seems to date White Box just hasn’t gotten the community support CentOS has.

  4. I have visited your site quite a few times before but now I see my AdBlock Plus just hides your entire content section and just shows the comments. Your content shows fine in my RSS, but then you expose partial feeds. I use default filter list from EasyList USA and have had always used that. I uploaded a screenshot of blocked and allowed items on your page here at http://imgbin.org/index.php?page=image&id=669 (image will be removed in a week).

    If you can suggest some filter in ABP or something, that’ll be nice.

    I sincerely hope I’m right in believing that you don’t purpose cause ABP to hide your content.

  5. I have noticed the same problem with AdBlock Plus as Diabolic Preacher above. It is caused by google-related class names on the content div, the one with id=”post-5580″. I wonder what might be the purpose of so many classes on that div.

  6. @Tudorminator,

    I’ve removed tag called ‘google adsense’ and ‘google’ from this post, which was causing this problem. ABP was thinking that id=post-5580 was Google adsense ad.. LOL.

    Thanks for your feedback. Now get back to CentOS related discussion…

  7. @Vivek thanks for the quick response and the fix. I didn’t have to change anything in ABP at all. I was thinking ABP was making a mistake, but then its just not human πŸ™‚

    @Raj, partial feeds are to build suspense and for me to skip the BSD articles that Vivek is quite fond of writing these days. πŸ˜›

    @Vivek just kidding. Your blog is definitely valuable. πŸ™‚

  8. @Diabolic Preacher, @Vivek: Yes, the subscription to EasyList was causing it, namely the ##[class*=”google-ads”] rule. I still think that whatever WordPress plugin takes your post tags and slaps them as calss names in markup does a lousy job and doesn’t do you (or us, your readers, for that matter) much good either.

    And getting back to the CentOS topic: thanks for bringing the story to my attention, I had no idea. The whole thing only goes to show that not even open-source software developers can escape human nature.

    I don’t personally use CentOS, but Fedora, Ubuntu and it’s variant Linux Mint, so I’m not directly affected. But instead of focusing on the clearly negative side of the story, I’m more inclined to notice how professional and decent the approach of the other developers was so far. Not only didn’t they choose just to mop and whine about it, but they have already taken steps to ensure the project lives on no matter what. Kudos to them for that, and maybe it’s all for the better.

  9. We rely on CentOS to run third party mission critical applications. The applications will only install on RedHat, and CentOS successfully spoofs RH to allow installation without the costs associated with the RH licenses. It would be rough to lose CentOS although we could probably run for years on the already released versions.

    Lance… if you are out there and I’m sure you are watching this, you should get in front of this before your reputation is shattered…

  10. CentOS Site also states:

    Facts Regarding CentOS and the Open Letter to Lance Davis
    # CentOS is not dead or going away. The signers of the Open Letter are fully committed to continue the CentOS Project. Updates and new releases will continue.

    # The issues raised in the Open Letter have been raised privately literally for years and a voluntary resolution had been hoped for and worked toward. But progress requires follow through. We have tried contacting Lance in private for a long period of time before this Open Letter. While we received promises, there was no real response or follow through from him on promises made. We are sure he is not dead, on vacation, or sick. Once we all decided there was no movement in the matter we created the Open Letter. This is not something that appeared just recently.

    # We would really like to continue the project using the centos.org domain. That is one of the reasons for the Open Letter. But the developers will move to another domain if there is no other option. Protective backups are in place; hot machines exist to allow for a cutover with a simple one time installation of one RPM package. We continue to refine our plans if this might be the case, to make the transition as smooth as possible.

    # We thank the people who have stepped forward and want to donate to the CentOS project to hold off for now until issues surrounding the centos.org domain and donation policy are resolved. Selected donations will be privately solicited by the signers of the Open Letter on some transition matters. We will post general instructions on how you can help the project as matters become resolved.

    # The CentOS project is run completely by volunteers and we are aware that this requires a different management style. We have been and continue to work to prevent issues like these from occurring in the future. We will continue this effort in the future, but the matters mentioned in the Open Letter prevent us from moving forward at this moment, as they need to be resolved first.

    Last Update: July 30, 2009 20:45 UTC by Donavan

  11. We use CentOS for a majority of mission critical services as well as workstations. I dont think the project is unstable enough to completely dissolve itself over an issue like this, but we may find a new url for Cent soon.

    Thank goodness the majority of the developers seem to have their act a bit more together than Lance Davis does at the moment. I only wonder how deep his involvement is in the creation and development of the distro.

    Thanks Vivek for keeping us up to date on this important news.

  12. We have all our applications deployed on CentOS, cannot think such a thing could happen.
    Please don’t let die this community.
    Need to search for an alternate option if situation is getting worse.

    Still i hope for the best & will keep my fingers cross.

  13. * sigh *

    It’s FUD like this that gets me a little upset.

    From actually reading the open letter, the *last* thing that is going to happen is CentOS is going to die.

    Please, people, read the original letter.

    Worst case scenario – the CentOS product moves to a new domain, new repository, new irc rooms etc. It may even get a new name. But it doesn’t seem even remotely possible that the product is going to die. Nor, does it even remotely seem that the product is in trouble. As an end user, all this means is you will install a new version of CentOS2 (to pick a name at random) rather than CentOS when it comes out. Nothing really has changed.

    The only way CentOS would be in trouble, is if the founder Lance stays recluse AND all the developers around it decide it’s not worth the trouble any more and simply stop working on it. But quite obviously this couldn’t be further from the truth. Especially

    I think the title of this article should be ‘CentOS under some growing pains’, which seems closer to the trurth than ‘in trouble’, which it clearly is not.

    …and having said all that – if you check the CentOS project today, it seems many of the issues have been resolved. To copy/paste:

    The CentOS Development team had a routine meeting today with Lance Davis in attendance. During the meeting a majority of issues were resolved immediately and a working agreement was reached with deadlines for remaining unresolved issues. There should be no impact to any CentOS users going forward.

    The CentOS project is now in control of the CentOS.org and CentOS.info domains and owns all trademarks, materials, and artwork in the CentOS distributions.

    We look forward to working with Lance to quickly complete all the agreed upon issues.

    More information will follow soon.

  14. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    There’s nothing wrong with a single person ruling a private business organization so long as there is a plan of succession. It might be useful to setup a trust / trustee arrangement.

    I’m glad to hear that things are being worked out. Thank you all for your collaborarative efforts. I use many distributions including CentOS.

    – -Joe
    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)

    iEYEARECAAYFAkp1wGwACgkQ7J1dPd3sAmBYKwCeL+7GW2JpyxYnZamXWekkr9S8
    Gm8AoLl7WOxo8hnXOQOrLv+sgDZBtdAb
    =morU
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  15. Update from CentOS.org

    The CentOS Development team had a routine meeting today with Lance Davis in attendance. During the meeting a majority of issues were resolved immediately and a working agreement was reached with deadlines for remaining unresolved issues. There should be no impact to any CentOS users going forward.

    The CentOS project is now in control of the CentOS.org and CentOS.info domains and owns all trademarks, materials, and artwork in the CentOS distributions.

    We look forward to working with Lance to quickly complete all the agreed upon issues.

    More information will follow soon.

  16. I have used linux for sometime now and CentOS seems to be the best distro ard, its a well researched and compiled OS and very stable. CentOS u are here to stay no manner what.

  17. For the last couple of months I have been taking Unix/Linux at school. I have forgotten I have forgotten my sign-on and password information. This has caused me only to log-on at school. If someone can e-mail me the procedure(s) to be able to log-on to my laptop, so I may be more flexible to log-on where ever I wish, I would be very happy.

    Thank you,
    John Barry

  18. I hope what I have read from the CentOS team comes true! I really want CentOS to succeed as replacement for Windoze(whatever release). But in the meantime I cannot delete all the Win. stuff even though its must have multiple gigabytes of hdd, gigs of RAM and MIPs galore. Linux doesn’t even require all this unique license nonsense. What a great idea.that is. Donations to CentOS is a bargain compared to what MS shakes down its customers for. We have support from the most esoteric to the simplest of questions don’t go unanswered.

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