Red Hat announced Tuesday that the company is joining forces with CentOS to develop a "new CentOS" in a bid to speed open source innovation. Several core members of the CentOS team will join the Red Hat payroll, but will continue working on CentOS as their primary job function, according to an announcement on the CentOS mailing list.

Red Hat's business is centered around its popular operating system Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The company makes over a billion dollars a year by charging a premium for all software and support services it provides with its enterprise OS.

But several components, including the Linux kernel, are subject to the GNU Public License, which requires any derivative work to be published under the same license. For this reason Red Hat publishes all its derivative code online.

A team of developers took this code and gave birth to CentOS, which is essentially a free RHEL clone with Red Hat branding and other intellectual property removed. The Linux distribution caters to those who can live without official support.

This move from the North American enterprise Linux vendor will benefit both organizations. A better relationship with Red Hat along with financial and infrastructure support will definitely be helpful for CentOS. Likewise, it would be easy for existing CentOS users to become paying Red Hat customers if they ever desire support.

In general, CentOS users need not worry as their favorite Linux distro isn't going anywhere. Also, the partnership will not affect Fedora, a community-based Linux distribution maintained by Red Hat.