Ok Ok, I know. CentOS will not really die, but for sure it will no longer be the one we know and have come to appreciate over the years.
Last december, in fact, Red Hat CTO Chris Wright and CentOS Community Manager Rich Bowen announced a big change for the future of CentOS Linux. Now in its 8th release, it will no longer be supported and updated starting in late 2021 (while CentOS 7 will continue its lifecycle until 30 June 2024). The future, in fact, will belong to CentOS Stream.
But let’s take a small step back and reread a bit of CentOS history.
What is CentOS?
CentOS, which stands for Community Enterprise Linux Operating System, was founded in 2004. It is a free rebuilding of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) based on RHEL’s own source code but without commercial support from Red Hat and any proprietary branding. That makes it a good Open Source distro based on Red Hat core and with fully compatibility with it.
All these features made centos grow in popularity among developers but also among those who later had the idea of switching to commercially supported RHEL, and in fact for a couple years it was the most commonly used Web server distro in the world. But despite all this, there was also another side of the coin and it also begin to suffer its share of community struggles.
In 2014 Red Hat offered to partner with the CentOS team in production of the distribution, and since the deal was looking good to both sides, it was sealed.
But what was named as a partnership, actually was a real aquisition by Red Hat who was in control and funding of CentOS. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in the time CentOS grew and had major updates every time RHEL was having them, so that both versions were having parallel paths.
All this up until last December and CentOS 8, and here we return to the present day. As we mentioned at the beginning, Red Hat will stop supporting this distribution of CentOS as of December 31, 2021, while support for CentOS 7 will remain active until June 30, 2024.
So, what’s next? What future awaits the users who have come to love CentOS over time?
What is CentOS Stream? Let’s try to answer to this question even if it is not so easy at it seems.
You can consider CentOS Stream as a rolling release, where all minor updates are made automatically.
You can easily move from CentOS 8 to CentOS 8 Stream by using the following commands:
1[root@centos ~]# dnf swap centos-linux-repos centos-stream-repos 2 3[root@centos ~]# dnf distro-sync
By the way, if you are using CentOS in production environment and feel that CentOS Stream is not a good solution for you, there are several alternatives to choose from, in addition, of course, to the possibility of switching to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Other Linux Distro
So, let’s take a look at some possible alternatives to look towards.
If you want to stay with a RHEL based Linux Distro, a very good choice can be for sure Oracle Linux. This is very similar to CentOS as it is a “rebuild distro” based on RHEL’s sources like CentOS Linux. It is 100% free and you have to pay only Oracle Linux Support with different plans, just if you feel that you need it.
Another interesting possibility is represented by the new project led by Gregory Kurtzer, founder of the CentOS project, which is called Rocky Linux. It is under intensive development by the community and it will work as a downstream build just like CentOS. That means that all the releases will be built after being added by the upstream vendor.
You can also consider to totally change environment and move to one of other popular distros for production: Debian, Ubuntu e SUSE. In this case, by the way, you must consider that the migration will not be so easy and immediate since the ecosystems are totally different and you’ll have to perform a series of steps before completing the operations.