Scientific Linux was a joint project of CERN (the European atom-smashers) and Fermilab (the American equivalents) and dates back to the days of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 in 2004. So it’s venerable -and supported and developed by two prestigious and highly-trustworthy organisations. In the past, that’s been important -because the lack of transparency shown by the CentOS developers at times meant that there was precious little trust to be had in that particular distro!
In January this year, however, Red Hat announced it was ‘going into partnership’ with CentOS: it hired some of their lead developers, for example. If it’s possible to buy-out an open source project, Red Hat can fairly be said to have bought out CentOS. This announcement caused the CERN part of the Scientific Linux team to decide not to bother developing their own SL7 distro: instead, they said, they would adopt CentOS 7 and seek to become a ‘CentOS Special Interest Group’, giving them the chance to customise the basic CentOS installation.
Only the Fermilab developers decided to pursue their own, independent Scientific Linux distro into its version 7.x incarnation.
I’m glad someone is still pursuing a dedicated Scientific Linux distro: the competition and point of comparison with CentOS has been quite important in the past (especially when the CentOS team appeared to have completely lost the plot, around the time that version 6.0 was released). If all Enterprise Linux distros were just to be respins of CentOS (which is now, remember, essentially a not-paid-for subsidiary of Red Hat itself), we would be much the poorer for it. I don’t fancy a world in which I only have a “choice” between Red Hat and Oracle, for example.
Happily, Fermilab have indeed pushed on and a release of their version 7.0 is nearly upon us: the second beta was made available last Friday, for example. Here’s to their continued development efforts: we need them to succeed and to keep on wanting to succeed.