Wikipedia drops Red Hat for Ubuntu

Wikimedia has opted to go it alone with its Linux server support, dumping Red Hat for Ubuntu.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay

What's that sucking sound? It's the sound of money leaving the open-source ecosystem as Wikimedia, the organization behind the popular Wikipedia, has opted to dump its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) deployment for unsupported Ubuntu, as The Register reports. Yes, Wikimedia could get support for Ubuntu, but it has elected not to do so.

With 350 servers, I'm sure Red Hat wasn't ecstatic to lose Wikimedia as a customer. That said, it was just a matter of time:

Right now, Wikimedia is using custom Ubuntu versions that have its own software configuration tools. Carr said Wikimedia has plenty of Linux expertise and a standard support contract doesn't make a lot of sense. Canonical is also hoping that Wikimedia becomes more involved with the Ubuntu support forums and with the process of deciding what needs to go into future Ubuntu releases, too.

I'm frankly surprised that Wikimedia ever used RHEL in the first place. I'm not deprecating the value in a supported, certified stack, but Wikimedia strikes me as the sort of organization that would happily self-support open source from the beginning, rather than going with a commercial open-source offering.

Even so, I wish Wikimedia would pay Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, for a support contract to help it fund its operations and further development. I don't think open source can endure unless we make it a renewable resource, which requires contributions of code or cash back into the system.