Rocky Linux gets a parent company, with $4m Series A funding
January 28, 2021
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Ctrl IQ provided us with this diagram of its proposed technology stack. (Thankfully, spelling correction is not one of the core services Ctrl IQ offers.)
Enlarge / Ctrl IQ provided us with this diagram of its proposed technology stack. (Thankfully, spelling correction is not one of the core services Ctrl IQ offers.)

Gregory Kurtzer, co-founder of the now-defunct CentOS Linux distribution, has founded a new startup company called Ctrl IQ, which will serve in part as a sponsoring company for the upcoming Rocky Linux distribution.

Rocky Linux is to be a beneficiary of Ctrl IQ’s revenue, not its source—the company describes itself in its announcement as the suppliers of a “full technology stack integrating key capabilities of enterprise, hyper-scale, cloud and high-performance computing.”

About Rocky Linux

If you’ve been hiding under a Linux rock for the last few months, CentOS Linux was the most widely known and used clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Kurtzer co-founded CentOS Linux in 2004 with mentor Rocky McGaugh, and it operated independently for 10 years until being acquired by Red Hat in 2014. When Red Hat killed off CentOS Linux in a highly controversial December 2020 announcement, Kurtzer immediately announced his intention to recreate CentOS with a new distribution named after his deceased mentor.

The Rocky Linux concept got immediate, positive community reaction—but there’s an awful lot of work and expense that goes into creating and maintaining a Linux distribution. The CentOS Linux project itself made that clear when it went for the Red Hat acquisition in 2014; without its own source of funding, the odds of Rocky Linux becoming a complete 1:1 replacement—serving the same massive volume of users that CentOS did—seemed dicey at best.

Ctrl IQ’s “full technology stack”

Wading through the buzzword bingo, Ctrl IQ’s real business seems to be in supplying relatively turn-key infrastructure for high-performance computing (HPC) workloads, capable of running distributed across multiple sites and/or cloud providers.

Ctrl IQ’s fully supported technology stack was created to accelerate speed and efficiency of multi-prem, multi-cloud, multi-architecture orchestration of workflows. The solution fits within existing enterprise architecture and infrastructures, and will include:

Rocky Linux: enterprise Linux supported for cloud and enterprise created by Kurtzer, Ctrl IQ CEO and founder of CentOS
Warewulf: scalable systems management suite designed to manage clusters of compute resources.
Ctrl Computing Stacks: fully supported computational stacks designed for all performance intensive workflows like, HPC, AI, ML and scientific workflows.
Fuzzball: provides the intelligent, secure and performant orchestration of workflows and data in a managed or hosted on-premise solution.
Ctrl IQ Cloud: provides a secure hybrid platform to execute and orchestrate both performance critical workflows and services.

Rocky Linux itself is still more dream than download, as are Ctrl Computing Stacks, Fuzzball, and Ctrl IQ Cloud—but not all of Ctrl IQ’s offerings are theoretical. Warewulf, also founded by Kurtzer, is currently developed and maintained by the US Department of Energy. Anyone can freely download and use Warewulf, but it’s not difficult to imagine value added in consulting with one of its founders.

Kurtzer and his new company received accolades from Sandia National Laboratories—the current home of Warewulf—as well as from investment firm IAG, which also funds (and sees Ctrl IQ’s mission as critical to) NAS company OpenDrives.

Rocky Linux remains a community project

We asked Ctrl IQ what the relationship between itself and Rocky Linux would be—specifically, whether the Rocky Linux project would operate separately and independently or as a wholly owned property of Ctrl IQ. A Ctrl IQ representative confirmed that Rocky Linux is and will remain a community project, saying:

No, it is not wholly owned and is still community-based. Ctrl IQ is supporting the initial capital for expenses, legal, etc. and [Rocky Linux] is an OS option for the full tech stack.

Ctrl IQ is one of three Tier 1 sponsors identified by the Rocky Linux project, along with Amazon Web Services (which provides core build infrastructure) and Mattermost, which is providing enterprise collaboration services—think “Slack, but not Slack.”

Rocky Linux is generally expected to be widely available in Q2 2021, with a first-release candidate build expected on March 31.

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