Why Make Scientific Linux?

If you are unfamiliar with our Mission and Goals please review the About page.

In the beginning

Before 2003 many high energy physics labs were working to get a standard x86 configuration for their experiments. Many sites chose Linux; some selected one distribution, some another. This freedom allowed for heavy customization, but came at a cost – sharing applications with other labs was often difficult. One lab required this version of glibc, yet another did not; one lab provided RPMs another DEBs – and so on.

This problem needed to be solved for any real collaboration between sites. As a result, the very early history is mostly about people doing similar things at various sites who came together for a common goal – a common compute platform.

In 2003 the distribution customized for use by Fermilab and CERN was discontinued. The upstream maintainers launched a fully supported Enterprise Linux in its place. It promised a commitment to stability, security, and a long life-cycle. To ensure these commitments could be met, the operating system was no longer freely available. People who purchased a licence received access to world class support from some of the best Linux engineers in the world. This was exactly the sort of solution long running experiments could benefit from. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be given away freely.

Then Red Hat Inc. did something amazing. They published the entire source of the distribution for anyone to download, review, or rebuild. They were under no obligation to give this code to non-customers. For components under BSD or MIT licences they were not under obligation to provide this code at all. The significance of this action cannot be understated.

At HEPiX 2003, Connie Sieh, from Fermilab, announced the Scientific Linux project. Later that year CERN joined Scientific Linux and sponsored the Itanium build. Right away, Scientific Linux started providing solutions to problems faced by the whole research community.

After the Red Hat/CentOS merger

In 2014, Red Hat Inc. directly embraced the rebuild community by acquiring the CentOS project.  The landscape of Linux has changed a lot since 2003 and this provided an opportunity to really refocus Scientific Linux on its core competencies.  We make a stable platform for scientific computing that anyone can use.  We have direct access to cutting edge scientific software.  Today, we focus in on putting these two things together into unified, supportable environment.

The Future of Scientific Linux

We make Scientific Linux as part of our continuing effort to support scientific research by providing a reliable computing platform.