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CentOS is NOT Dying, It’s Just Bad Reporting

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Red Hat at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CentOS 5.3

Summary: Media FUD about CentOS is refuted

Boycott Novell runs on a CentOS server, so it is painful to watch The Register and some other publications spreading FUD about the project. Basically, the lead person (one among a large group) may be departing, and that’s not even news. The word has been circulating for quite a while. All that happened was that the team posted a public letter on the Web site and it is quickly being misinterpreted.

Contrary to the FUD, Sam Varghese delivers a more accurate report:

The head of the CentOS GNU/Linux project has gone missing and other contributors to the project are sufficiently concerned to post an open letter to him on the project’s website.

As the CentOS team assures everyone:

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.

Enough with the disinformation then, please. The project even has a newsletter going now, which is indicative of growth and maturity.

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  1. whatever said,

    July 31, 2009 at 9:20 am


    While I agree that the death has been greatly exaggerated, it IS news when the owner/controller of the domain, PayPal accounts and other info goes AWOL. It’s a total security risk for anyone running CentOS who grabs updates from CentOS’s servers if the domain isn’t in the control of people who are actively involved.

    I have a VPS running CentOS, and it’s fine for that purpose — it isn’t mission crticial — but this and past domain security issues have led me and many others to flat-out refuse to use it in a professional setting. I could pay RHEL, I’d rather not (their support isn’t worth the paper it is printed on so if I’m going to go Linux, I’m going Debian and having in-house guys do it. Otherwise we’ll compile for the various Unixes our client servers use).

    It’s not a very comforting sign for a guy with all the keys to go AWOL.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’d like to believe he’s just being possessive like Terry Childs (not that I make a direct comparison). Maybe he needed some prodding.

    zatoichi Reply:

    Lance has been “just being possessive” since last October, from the sound of things.

    He’s also been “just being possessive” of all the monetary contributions made to the project, and after 9 months—and a repeatedly-requested accounting of these funds from Lance has never been produced—that’s starting to sound kind of like larceny.

    Why are you whitewashing this story, Roy?

    zatoichi Reply:

    …he’s just being possessive like Terry Childs (not that I make a direct comparison)…

    Since you seem to be unclear, you just did make a direct comparison.

    zatoichi Reply:

    You really seem to be all over the map on Lance’s status, Roy. Is he “maybe departing” (after having been, apparently, incommunicado since October) as you say in the article?

    Is he “just being possessive” (relative to whom? the entire rest of the project team? and with the piggy bank?) as you’d “like to think”?

    Or has he done some sort of a runner, as the “open letter” seems to be suggesting?

  2. zatoichi said,

    July 31, 2009 at 9:50 am


    I don’t understand why Roy wants to brush this story under the rug. There are clearly some serious problems around Lance’s involvement with CentOS, and it’s clearly been kept quiet since late last year when he first “went missing”—along with any contributions that had been made to the project.

    That, and the many instances of the “open letter” to Lance, are legitimate news. Roy, weirdly, would seem to want to take a “don’t worry, be happy” approach to the whole thing; one can only speculate why.

    Nothing to see here, people, move along. Is that it, Roy?

  3. David Gerard said,

    July 31, 2009 at 11:15 am


    No no no! CentOS is dying dying dead dead dead! With a chair through its skull! Only Mono can save it now! (may all be 0% true)

    zatoichi Reply:

    So, you don’t see the project lead’s having not been heard from in nine months and having the only access to and information about community contributions as indicative of any sort of a problem, then, Mr. Gerard? The rest of the contributors would seem to be in disagreement with you on that.

    And who mentioned Mono (other than you, I mean)? That seems a little…monomaniacal…

  4. verofakto said,

    July 31, 2009 at 1:43 pm


    Interesting then how this, this and this were considered ‘news’.

    Let me pull a quote from each of those:

    Some people say that SUSE has not been the same ever since Novell acquired it.

    As they say in Wikipedia, [who?]

    this does not look promising for the project as a whole

    Except if you’re CentOS, then it’s almost an opportunity!

    changes at this level are never a sign of health.

    That last one you were forced to correct, I note. Yet the FUD (because how else does one call that?) remained.

    Further, doing a site search for “suse departures” reveals you banged on that horse for about a week afterward. As you’ve said before, “repetition counts” (I can also pull that quote if you need me to).

    I might agree that the tech rags are exaggerating this. The letter on the CentOS site certainly seems a bit on the desperate side, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the project cannot survive the departure of this single person, whatever his position might be. But that’s what the rags do, they exaggerate and spin and troll for page views and ad revenue. I also agree that this breathless type of reporting on issues like these is FUD. Funny that?

    By the way, is my account going to be deleted immediately after this comment, or how does it work now?

    zatoichi Reply:

    If your account happens to stay around long enough, you might verify for Roy that I’ve got nothing in particular to do with your blog, nor you with mine. He’s been claiming otherwise (for starts, and in the usual absence of substantiating evidence) on comp.os.linux.advocacy…

  5. whatever said,

    July 31, 2009 at 3:57 pm


    Again, calling the project “dead” a la the Register is total hyperbole, but InformationWeek, CNet and the Planet CentOS blogs all provided additional quotes and analysis (and additional info from the cosigners of the letter, in the case of the Planet CentOS blog feed) that show why this IS genuine news.

    You might not like that a project you respect is publicly dealing with some issues, but it is legitimate and it is news.

    Sadly, this sort of thing reflects poorly on community projects. How do I sell my boss or a client on using this open source solution if I can’t guarantee any level of accountability (even if just in appearance) behind the scenes?

    I’m glad the CentOS team is finally talking. Someone needs to get the keys from Lance so they can move forward.

    zatoichi Reply:

    Roy would seem to very much prefer that no one said anything about it for some reason. Apparently he thinks this is a normal situation on a project, not worthy of comment or mention.

  6. verofakto said,

    July 31, 2009 at 4:58 pm


    Roy, I will say this just once, so please pay attention.

    My blog has nothing to do with David Schlesinger. I contacted him through his blog when I finished the timeline I made of the Mark Fink episode and asked him to provide corrections if he wanted. That was the first post I made, even though I had other drafts, because I wanted to make sure he had something factual to refer to as he battled with your accusations. I also used it as a test case to see how using Blogspot would work at managing large posts (not well, but I digress).

    I will however freely admit that your treatment of him was one of the things that finally motivated me enough to take the time to organize the information I had and push it online. That doesn’t mean we take long showers in the wee hours of the morning together and crack jokes about you. It means the “Fink” thing is an important part of what I’m going to be writing in the future. David just happened to be the victim.

    I strongly suggest you take a deep breath and think twice before you play fast and loose with people’s identities that way. Eventually I’m sure you’ll figure out who I am, but I assure you I am not David, and David has nothing to do with my blog, other than being an unwilling character in your ongoing soap opera.

  7. The Mad Hatter said,

    August 2, 2009 at 1:10 pm


    The problem with CENTOS is the same problem that many Free Software projects face. Governance.

    Let’s say you start something. You have a vested interest in it. It’s your child (from one point of view). You want to maintain control, so you keep everything under your own hand. Or alternatively you set up a group to control the project, with yourself in charge to start, and a succession plan in place.

    I’ve been through both. In cases where one person maintains control things tend to be better defined, but when that person leaves/dies/etc. all hell breaks loose. In cases where a control group is set up, and a succession plan implemented, there’s more stability, if less definition.

    I’d rather have less definition, and more stability myself.

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