RHEL Developer Edition : development / production - what's allowed

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Every now and then we see posts from (new) users asking how to use the free no-cost RHEL developer edition, and how to interpret the terms
and conditions. The T&C's clearly state that the free Developer edition can be used for development purpose only, using it in production is not
allowed. Everybody who wants to stick to the rules knows what that means. Red Hat provides solutions - free and paid - for (nearly) everyone's
needs - there is no reason to violate these rules.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux aims at business environments (as the title itself expresses) in the first place. So, now - what does Red Hat sell ?
The company does not sell the software, Red Hat sells support - support that is needed to run an enterprise IT infrastructure continuously
and, without as little interruption as possible. For the "private standard user" Red Hat offers the free CentOS (Community Enterprise OS)
and the Fedora distribution as part of the Red Hat eco system.

If someone wants to use the free no-cost RHEL developer edition, it's fine when they use it for developing something on and for an original RHEL
system. For everything else, users who do not want to pay for official Red Hat support should consider to either install and run CentOS (based on
RHEL) or Fedora. This is my point of view at least ... and I hope I could make things clear in a short, but nevertheless understandable way for users
who are unsure how to decide.

Developer Program Terms & Conditions
FAQs for no-cost Red Hat Enterprise Linux



Additional information for those users not being familiar with the differences between the Red Hat family of operating systems :
New CentOS releases appear after general availability of a new RHEL edition or minor point release, it may change in the future.

Fedora (as the laboratory for what later may land in RHEL) currently has a release cycle of six months, and ships with the "latest
and greatest" software packages being available at the current release date. Also new features are getting tested in Fedora first.


Update : The "normal" CentOS release will be discontinued ... it will get replaced by CentOS Stream.
CentOS Stream : Building an innovative future for enterprise Linux | FAQ : CentOS Stream Updates

Having IBM drop CENTOS Server before RHEL 9.x was a shock and culture change.

Will RHEL ENTERPRISE SERVER be replaced or has a true enterprise-grade Linux already given way to cloud/container/streaming vs enterprise/on-premise stability?

We have been staying at RHEL 7.9 rather than upgrading to RHEL 8.x because it is more cloud oriented/container oriented than database platform.

LTS support is great. However Long-term enterprise vision is still needed. We can't all easily and cost effectively move Oracle Database Server to the cloud without at least doubling our Oracle licensing costs. So Enterprise Linux still has a role.

The upside is the Enterprise linux support has been stellar for production issues, so as Red Hat sells support, I'm a happy camper.


Thanks for assembling this.

I will add that the no-cost RH Developer subscription for RHEL includes the identical bits as RHEL production subscriptions. This is important to ensure that the applications built of the developers subs will have the same packages in place for the deployment systems. This is especially important when using Red Hat Software Collections.

You're welcome, Mike ! Thank you for adding the part about the "identical bits" in both RHEL subscriptions. :)


If red hat doesn't sell the software but the support then why we cant use it in production even as an individual or a small team of 5-10 members why cant we use it in a production ? Stopping from using it in a particular way actually means they are selling the software not just the support.. they are actually stopping us from using a software in a certain way, what about open source licenses which says that softwares are free to use and modify ? Red hat themselves are violating that. They are stopping us from using a software in a certain way.

GPL and other licenses clearly states we are free to use and modify the software. And red hat stops us from using a software in a particular way (production). They are violating the license. Even for a small team which is clearly a money minded red hat scheme.

Hi Jatin,

"GPL and other licenses clearly states we are free to use and modify the software." You're right, but where's the problem ?
Red Hat follows these rules, everybody has free access to the source code, and can build up their own operating system. :)


Now that Scientific Linux has been discontinued in favor of CentOS, and CentOS is being discontinued in favor of CentOS Stream, it seems that individuals who are looking for a stable (non rolling release) RHEL experience will not have any option other than the developer subscription by 2022.

Hi Jim,

Chris Wright (Red Hat CTO) announced : "In the first half of 2021, we plan to introduce low- or no-cost programs
for a variety of use cases, including options for open source projects and communities and expansion of the Red
Hat Enterprise Linux Developer subscription use cases to better serve the needs of systems administrators. We’ll
share more details as these initiatives coalesce." That lets assume that there might be more than one option ... :)


Hello everyone. Please allow me to add another perspective to your interesting discussion. I have purchased an annual subscription for the Developer Edition for 84 euros. Although I have been experimenting with Linux for the past five years, in essence I am a casual home user - nothing beyond Firefox surfing and LibreOffice documents. So, the obvious question that arises is why spending 84 euros every year for such a "basic" usage, when there are quite a few free and reliable Linux distributions around. Well, for 84 euros a year - meaning 7 euros a month - you get the most reliable and safest operating system of all, including Windows of course. I can also assure you that RHEL is the most polished commercial Linux operating system (I have tried all three of them). When all is said and done, it would be nice for those users of open source software that can afford it to support financially companies like Red Hat, instead of distrohopping and criticizing all the time. If companies like Red Hat , SUSE and Canonical didn't use Linux, then the latter wouldn't form the basis of cloud computing and IoT.

Thanks for your valuable input, Nikos ! You are adding good and valid points ... and, they prove your great attitude. :)


Thanks, Christian. It's time for Linux to escape from its amateurish misery. Just imagine how things would be much better if we paid 10 or 20 euros every time we downloaded our favourite "free"distro. It would be such a great help for all those developers who sacrifice their valuable free time to offer us a fine operating system. I may not be the Coca Cola company, but I believe that my meagre 84 euros help Linux better than changing distros for fun. Call me stupid, but yes, I use RHEL just to write word documents and watch videos with cats ...

No Nikos, you are not stupid - your 84 Euros help a lot ! But let's not forget that a lot of people in
the "open source universe" (including myself) spend many, many hours every day, helping others
to solve problems and contribute by testing products in order to make it possible to deliver great
stuff like what you (correctly) call the "most reliable and safest operating system of all" - without
getting paid a single cent - I think this can be considered a "more than a reasonable" pay-back. :)


Hello Nikos Lagios,

Thanks for your input. You can also get the Red Hat Developer's edition for free for true development work (non-production, and keeping in line with what is in the links I posted below).

Kind Regards,

Hi RJ,

Thanks for having added the (newer) FAQ "Changes to the Red Hat Developer program’s no-cost subscriptions". :)