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The Fedora project provides the following explanation: Both Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are open source.
Fedora is a free distribution and community project and upstream for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Accordingly, several groups have taken this source code and compiled their own versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, typically with the only changes being the removal of any references to Red Hat's trademarks and pointing the update systems to non-Red Hat servers.
Groups which have undertaken this include Cent OS, Oracle Linux, Scientific Linux, White Box Enterprise Linux, Start Com Enterprise Linux, Pie Box Enterprise Linux, X/OS, Lineox, and Bull's XBAS for high-performance computing.
Red Hat uses strict trademark rules to restrict free re-distribution of their officially supported versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but still freely provides its source code.
Third-party derivatives can be built and redistributed by stripping away non-free components like Red Hat's trademarks.
However, nowhere on its site or in its literature does Red Hat say what AS, ES and WS stand for.
Fedora serves as upstream for future versions of RHEL.
They are offered to schools and students, are less expensive, and are provided with Red Hat technical support as an optional extra.
Web support based on number of customer contacts can be purchased separately.
RHEL trees are forked off the Fedora repository, and released after a substantial stabilization and quality assurance effort.
For example, RHEL 6 was forked from Fedora at the end of 2009 (approximately at the time of the Fedora 12 release) and released more or less together with Fedora 14.It was based on Red Hat Linux, but used a much more conservative release cycle.