Rocky Linux Uses Mattermost as a Central Collaboration Hub for a Globally Distributed Open Source Community

  • Mattermost Starter Edition, with High Availability configuration
  • Integrated with Matterbridge, Welcome Bot
  • 5,300+ active users
  • Used as centralized communication and collaboration hub for a globally distributed community
  • Looking to extend the platform further with CI integration and more

Rocky Linux is a community enterprise operating system that aims to achieve one-for-one, bug-for-bug compatibility with the leading enterprise Linux distribution, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The project is the brainchild of Gregory Kurtzer, one of the founders of CentOS, who launched Rocky Linux in response to Red Hat announcing the discontinuation of the CentOS project.

The goal of the project is simple: making an enterprise-grade distribution of Linux more accessible for the community at large instead of putting it behind a paywall. The first generally available version of Rocky Linux was released on June 21, 2021.

Functionality Fit for a Growing Organization

After Red Hat announced the end of CentOS, Kurtzer encouraged anyone interested in contributing to another similar project to join a Slack channel and become part of the growing community around Rocky Linux.

“We were bombarded,” explains Jordan Pisaniello, Rocky Linux’s community manager, about the sheer volume of folks interested in the project right off the bat. “We knew it wasn’t the greatest platform to scale with us.”

The Rocky Linux team ultimately decided that they needed a messaging and collaboration solution that delivered a modern feature set and could connect with standard IRC and maintain an IRC presence. They chose Mattermost due to its rich feature set and Matterbridge, which connects Mattermost to other messaging platforms, including IRC.

“We liked the fact that we could host Mattermost on our own infrastructure, granting us sovereignty over our data and the flexibility to architect our infrastructure how we see fit,” says Pisaniello. The Rocky Linux team currently runs Mattermost on a multi-node, high-availability configuration.

“LDAP integration was another must-have since we provide Rocky Account Services for identity management across various platforms,” adds Pisaniello.

Additionally, the customization functionality made Mattermost feel more in tune with the Rocky Linux brand by providing an easy mechanism for tailoring the login page.

An Extensible Platform Built by an Engaged Community

On top of scalability concerns, the Rocky Linux team felt that using a proprietary solution went against the project’s underlying philosophy and commitment to openness and transparency.

“We’re working on something that is open source and community-driven. Using a proprietary platform doesn’t fit with the goals and visions that we have for the project,” Pisaniello continues.

Mattermost’s extensibility and flexible integrations with a core set of third-party developer tools were crucial for Rocky Linux.

“Anybody in our community can develop their own plugins to use with Mattermost—either those that are specific to our project or those that can be reused by other projects as well,” Pisaniello explains, adding that Rocky Linux has plans to put out tooling of its own. “Being able to open support tickets just like anybody else can, speak with developers, look at GitHub issues—it’s great.”

To date, Matterbridge is the project’s most-used plugin.

“It’s helped extend our reach,” Pisaniello says. “People prefer other platforms, and we wanted to be able to include all the platforms we possibly could to have everyone communicate in one place.”

Additionally, the Rocky Linux team has been early adopters of Boards, the open source alternative to project and task management solutions that helps teams achieve milestones using a familiar kanban board structure.

“We are watching development closely,” Pisaniello continues. “The team has enjoyed this new tool and feel it can help with alignment across our different processes and projects.”

Looking ahead, Rocky Linux also plans to customize the Welcome Bot plugin to optimize the new user onboarding process.

A Centralized Community Hub with Thousands of Users

Ahead of Rocky Linux’s first release, their Mattermost instance had 5,300 users, and that number was growing steadily. “It’s been our main community hub for collaboration,” Pisaniello says.

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