CentOS as we know it is dead! What is next?

I am pretty sure CentOS 8 was supported till December 2029, why its 2021 now? Wait, what? The future is CentOS Stream? What kind of future are we talking about?

Seems like CentOS, as we know it, is dead! This unpromising future is very sad, especially for those who counted on CentOS stability and its long term support!

If you are using CentOS on your dedicated server, VPS or cloud infrastructure, this tech debate is for you.

CentOS is a free and community supported operating system that is based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It was released back in 2004 and the version 8 was introduced in Sep 2019. A lot of sites are hosted on CentOS and system admins love it, because of its stability, security and its 10 year support. In January 2014, CentOS announced the official joining with Red Hat while staying independent from RHEL, under a new CentOS governing board.

Few days ago, Red Hat terminated CentOS development and a lot of users are now pissed! Red hat will however continue to support a related rolling-release distro called CentOS Stream, but this is not the OS that you want on your server! A rolling release is a Linux distribution that is continuously updated, from top to bottom. CentOS Stream tracks ahead of RHEL releases and this applies to the latest kernel and the packages! So, no more stability! Literary CentOS Stream will become the test bed for RHEL.

That can become a serious issue on a production server that you or your company rely on for business.

Why this happened?

A lot of users are blaming IBM and predicted this move, when Red Hat became a subsidiary of IBM on July 2019. CentOS is asking users to migrate to RHEL if they think that CentOS Stream does not meet their standards! Really??

RHEL is available only through a paid subscription service or for development use in a non-production environment. IBM no longer wants businesses to see CentOS as a viable option for servers. They want Red Hat to strip away the “enterprise-ness” from CentOS. You want RHEL, you buy RHEL.

There will be some users, specially the corporate ones, who will be migrating to RHEL, despite the paid license, but the majority of the users are thinking about switching to another distros.

This is not only a disruptive move that only affects the users, but also the companies that have invested deeply on CentOS. Companies like CloudLinux, cPanel and CWP. They should look for other alternatives or create one!

CentOS founder, Gregory Kurtzer announced a new project to continue the original CentOS focus, which became known as Rocky Linux. This is the statement from him:

CloudLinux OS maintainers also have announced that they’ll be releasing a 1:1 replacement for CentOS in Q1 2021. The new fork will be a “separate, totally free OS that is fully compatible with RHEL 8 and future versions. Considering their years of experience with CentOS and enterprise servers, Project Lenix should be a promising RHEL fork to replace CentOS Stream.

So, what are the available options?

With IBM and Red Hat choosing this new path, the future of CentOS is bleak. It’s going to drown in the streams!

If you can pay for a license and need an enterprise grade OS with long term support and updates, you can switch to RHEL or another paid distro like Suse Linux Enterprise Server.

You can switch to another free distro with 3 to 5 years of support. There are options like Debian, Ubuntu Server, Oracle Linux, ClearOS and OpenSuse.

Or you can wait for future alternatives that are promised by Cloudlinux and Gregory Kurtzer, while your CentOS 7 or 8 still gets updates and see what they bring to the table, and hope that they don’t get acquired by Red Hat or IBM in the future!

How can we prevent this in the future?

Well, Linux is free, nobody owns it, but you can always pay for the support you receive from the different entities or donate a small amount. This can be money, resources like machines, servers and VMs for testing or even code contributions. At the end of the day money is always involved. We all know how Wikipedia is going forward with the contributions of its users, both with donations and keeping the contents fresh and updated.

That’s it for now, lets us know your opinion in the comments. How do you feel about this move from Red Hat, are you going to wait for future alternatives like Rocky Linux and project Lenix or are you planning to migrate to another distro like Debian?

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