X/OS Linux 5: The Free RedHat

X/OS Linux 5 is a Free and Open Source Linux distribution derived from the freely available source rpm packages of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL5).

X/OS has spent considerable effort to avoid using Red Hat's trademarks in any way that would imply an association with or sponsorship by Red Hat. X/OS Linux is not produced, maintained or supported by Red Hat.

X/OS is a good, easy-to-use operating system with a massive choice in software -- which is only to be expected, since that's what Red Hat is, but it lacks any value beyond that offered by Red Hat or CentOS, another distro built from RHEL sources. The major change touted on the project's Web site is additional installation methods, but to enable these methods you must have a valid RHEL or X/OS key. Another change is listed as "minor bugfixes," with no further info beyond "see specific packages for details." The rest of the differences between Red Hat and X/OS are just naming and skinning. There is no additional documentation available on the X/OS Web site, nor are there X/OS community forums or chat rooms. As a matter of fact, there are no support options shown on the X/OS site. Some Google searching brought me to the X/OS Experts in Operating Systems Web site, where paid support is offered for X/OS Linux, along with a variety of other options. The support seems remarkably limited in scope compared to what Red Hat offers, however.

Knowing that it would be difficult for a third-party vendor like X/OS to support a Red Hat rebuild better than Red Hat itself, I assumed that being free was the main reason to use X/OS, yet the distro offers nothing for free beyond the software download. CentOS, on the other hand, offers community support through forums, IRC, and mailing lists. While CentOS is a dedicated project with a large following, X/OS seems more like a tool that is used by one company and offered to people simply to comply with the GPL and perhaps to gain popularity for their company.

I was not entirely disappointed by X/OS, but I was also not particularly impressed. Its developers put in the minimum amount of work required to separate X/OS from Red Hat, but beyond that, added no value to the product. Since there are already other distributions available that give the same functionality and add more value, there is no reason for someone who wants a free Red Hat clone to use X/OS. For most people, CentOS is a better choice.

Btw, you can download X/OS at here.

Portion sources by Preston St. Pierre.


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