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CentOS Replacement AlmaLinux Becomes a Membership-Centered Project

With this move, CloudLinux keeps its promise to make AlmaLinux a community owned open source project instead of its subsidiary.

AlmaLinux live install

Today, the AlmaLinux Foundation announced a membership program as a step to assure that the Linux distribution will be a community owned and governed project that’s not subject to the whims of a single corporate sponsor.

This was a promise that Igor Seletskiy, CloudLinux’s founder and CEO, made when he announced that his company would spend up to $1 million yearly to start and fund a new Linux distribution to replace CentOS Linux, after Red Hat announced that it was in the process of removing support for CentOS as a freely available downstream replacement for it’s flagship product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

CentOS had been important to CloudLinux, as it served as the base for its namesake commercial distribution that targets the hosting industry, so Seletskiy needed to lay to rest any notion that the sole purpose of AlmaLinux would be to serve the needs of CloudLinux.

“This is the fulfillment of the promise we made when we started — that CloudLinux does not own AlmaLinux,” Jack Aboutboul, community manager at AlmaLinux told FOSS Force.

“The promise that we made to the people when we started this was that we are opening it up to community ownership, we are opening it up to community governance, and that everyone can have a voice in the project,” he added. “Today is the fulfillment of that promise. Anyone can become a member, it’s totally free. There’s nothing they need to do other than be a part of the community and show that they operate in good faith.”

Today’s announcements would seem to cement earlier moves that Seletskiy and CloudLinux had made towards insuring community ownership of the project, starting with hiring Aboutboul as community manager and taking on one-time Open Source Initiative president Simon Phipps as a board member. The project has been established as a 501(c)(6) entity, a U.S. tax-exempt status for membership-based nonprofit organizations.

“There are no shareholders,” Aboutboul said. “The shareholders are everyone who is a member of the organization and they get to dictate whatever happens.”

Membership Options

The membership plan that’s been put in place will make the AlmaLinux Foundation function something like a representative democracy, with members electing a board of directors to oversee the day-to-day operations of the project.

To start, there will be three options for membership.

Contributor Membership: This option is available to anyone with a connection to AlmaLinux, whether as a user, contributor, or supporter of the project in any other way. There is no cost associated with this membership, and the AlmaLinux Foundation is encouraging all currently active participants in the community to submit an application.

Mirror Membership: This option is available to any person or group that hosts an AlmaLinux mirror, as verified by the foundation’s Technology Committee. This membership option is available to organizations as well as individuals, with a limit of one membership per entity no matter how many mirrors they are providing.

Sponsor Membership: This is the only membership type that requires a monetary contribution and is available to individuals or organizations that financially support the foundation.

Although the relationships that these different types of memberships have (both with each other and the foundation itself) are spelled out in the foundation’s published bylaws, Aboutboul stressed these might be subject to change, in part if it becomes necessary to assure that financial contributors don’t have too large of an influence on the foundation’s operations.

“We may see that the way it’s set up now is not perfect, but we’ll amend the bylaws if necessary,” he said. “If we need to make any changes, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. That’s our commitment to the community.”

In a statement, the foundation said that anyone interested in becoming a member can apply online. In addition, an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit is being scheduled with AlmaLinux’s board of directors, and the public can ask questions and make comments about “about the membership structure or membership itself” at the AlmaLinux Community Chat on Mattermost.

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