License v.s. Subscription v.s. Entitlement

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Hey folks, I keep seeing the terms "Licenses" , "Subscriptions", and "Entitlements", often interchangeably. Is there any difference between the terms?



This link would help you to understand more about subscription:

There is nothing at this link which explains the difference between a subscription and an entitlement

Yes, you are right Janet. I'm unable to find any solid article which explains this. Normally, the keyword 'entitlements' is more used in the Satellite model, may someone from community or from Red Hat would guide you.

Subscription, subscription, subscription....

You can read the documentation at

The term licenses should not be used. What you buy is a subscription for a Red Hat product (access to repositories and support etc. for your systems)

System or channel Entitlement is now outdated. The document "Subscription Concepts and Workflows" says in the section named "1.5. RHN Classic, Satellite, and Channel Entitlements"

Beginning in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.1, the way that subscriptions are defined was changed. In older subscription models — the model used by RHN Classic and Satellite 4 and 5 — a system required a system entitlement in order to register the system with the subscription service. Then, the system required channel entitlements which granted access to sets of content and software, whatever was defined in the channel.

Your response and the supporting paragraph seem to make it clear that "entitlement" is outdated. However, I followed your link to the "Product Documentation for Red Hat Subscription Management" page, then clicked on "Using Red Hat Subscription Management", then clicked to get to [Chapter 1. Introduction to Red Hat Subscription Management] (

The last paragraph says

Before you can register your systems with RHSM, you need an active subscription and available entitlements. Subscriptions can be purchased through the Red Hat Store or by contacting Sales directly. After purchasing, you may need to wait 10 minutes before the subscriptions show up in Customer Portal. After you successfully purchase the subscriptions you need to manage your Red Hat products and services, you register the subscriptions with RHSM. Finally, you attach individual subscriptions and entitlements to the systems that can use them. 

which sounds like entitlements are still used with RHSM

Ah, yes.

I wrote "System or channel Entitlement is now outdated", which is a contraction of words that can be misinterpreted. Let me rephrase that to "System Entitlements and Channel Entitlements are now outdated".

In the new model you register a system and attach it to a subscription that entitles you to use the Red Hat products it is for, and has a quantity telling you how many systems can be subscribed, and start/end dates. When you attach a system to a subscription you consume one of the available entitlements.

In the Subscriptions page in the customer portal you can see how many entitlements that are used/available for each of the Subscriptions you have purchased.

Thank you, Terje Trane. That makes it crystal clear.

My understanding after reading manuals, FAQ, here and google:
  • a subscription is aright to use a product or pool of products
  • a subscription will have a number of entitlements which are to keep account of how
    many times you have consumed that subscription
  • the number of entitlements/subscription is dependent on how much money you
    append (i.e. your requirements)
  • a single subscription can be consumed by a single host (which then consumes one entitlement) 1:1
    or to a satellite server (which then provides many entitlements to it's clients) 1:MANY
  • a subscription can occur on many different contracts, typically different purchase orders etc.
  • the total number of subscriptions+entitlements is the sum of all the subscriptions+entitlements
    across all the contracts for your organisation.

Do I have that correct?

Here's where I can't reconcile things:

  • Sometimes I will have 1 subscription which has 1 entitlement
  • Sometimes I will have 1 subscription which has 10 entitlement
  • Sometimes I will have 150 subscriptions and 210 entitlements

How should I be interpreting these numbers?

Appreciate any sage advice :)

From my experience, we've bought a set 35 of 'Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server, Standard (Physical or Virtual Nodes)' (SKU: RH00004) subscriptions. With it we received 70 entitlements to use either bare-metal machines (consuming two* entitlements) or virtual guests (each consuming one entitlement). The subscription is limited to the period you purchase, say 1 or 3 years.

*) The number of consumed entitlements might depend on the number of CPU sockets as each of our BM servers are dual-CPU. For VM's the number of (v)CPU's it does not seem to matter.

An subscription also comes with a license for a BM (again consuming both) or two VM's (each consuming one). The license remains valid for that BM or VM's lifetime, though you won't receive any updates nor other benefits after the subscription has expired. (See: -- what if a subscription is not renewed).

For another environment we have also purchased 'Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Virtual Datacenters' (SKU: RH00002), which makes licensing even more easy, You purchase 1 subscription per socket-pair and you receive unlimited entitlements for that host. We have 5 hosts with 2 CPU's each,so we bought 5 subscriptions. All VM's running on those 5 servers are licensed. One note though, you need to configure virt-who on one VM that periodically queries your hypervisor regarding installed VM's and submits it's findings to the Redhat portal. Enabling the subscription-managers on the VM's to recognize that the host is properly licensed.

hi, i had unsubscribed myself from the RHSM developer subcription thinking that it might be chargeable after 1 year. but still on the web page of the customer portal, it shows as 1 active subscription. please help

I would also like to throw in that you need a valid subscription with a valid registration and a valid attachment. The difference? Who knows.

I my particular case the RHEL is not able to download packages. The renewal process at states that the subscription's end date is today. (I couldn't do it yesterday since is was not expired yet - I tried) After hitting renew I'm told that a red hat employee will check on that case. Well... today is sunday.

Starting to understand why people complain so much about the red hat registration/subscription/attachment process.

should i Licenses Redhat 4 version as it is end of life

Sai Seshu,

Please please do not use RHEL 4. Please use a current supported version of RHEL.

Also, Red Hat licenses, aka entitlements for server are not tied to a specific version. That being said, no one should be using Red Hat Linux version 4 because it's so far out of date and it is a giant security exploit since it is far out of support.


I am guessing RedHat is careful about using the word 'license' because like all Linux distributions they are bound to the Linux GPLv2 license ( That said without a subscription your ability to use many of products is limited, unless you are using an upstream release.