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My trial of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.8 will expire tomorrow.

What behavior should I expect? It will not boot?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It will boot and continue working normally, but will not receive any updates, which is quite dangerous.

If you want/need an OS based on the RHEL source code, consider CentOS or Scientific Linux.

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Both are perfect for live/production use btw. (Except you won't have a commercial support for them.) – Shiki Apr 16 '12 at 10:05

Seems like you'll (at least) no longer receive any updates:

I obtained my copy of RHEL 6 using the free trial offer from Red Hat. For a month, you could continue getting Yum updates for free. At the end of that period, Yum complains you have no access to the Red Hat Network (RHN) repository.

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You could even change the /etc/yum.repos.d/* to something in the likes of CentOS and thus get updates. RedHat is really all about the support and updates.

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I would recommend against applying CentOS patches to a pristine RHEL installation. CentOS packages are built from the same sources (with trademarks etc. removed) but they are built differently so there may be subtle and difficult to track issues if you do this. – Bram May 23 '12 at 18:30

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