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CentOS 8 Ending Next Year To Focus Shift On CentOS Stream

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  • I'm using CentOS for quite a few production environments, just updated everything to version 8 and this got me very worried.

    However after doing a bit of research, while not happy, I'm no longer worried about this change. I'll try to explain, using simple language, what this whole thing is about.

    The biggest mistake Red Hat is making here, is the way they label things. Calling it "CentOS Stream", "rolling-release" and referring to it almost everywhere without mentioning the version number is downright misleading and confusing. Especially "rolling-release". When Linux people hear this, they think Arch.

    CentOS Stream 8 is the next MINOR version of RHEL, so just ever so slightly newer. If RHEL is at version 8.2 then CentOS will be at version 8.3. It will be both binary and backwards compatible, there will be no major package updates and it's not "unstable". Support for CentOS Stream 8 will be exactly the same as the support for RHEL 8, which means until the end of 2029. When CentOS Stream 9 and RHEL 9 are released it will be the same. All active development will still be in the nightly channel.
    Stream will be in this middle ground between Stable and Testing which will apparently be called... Stream.

    The reason they do this, is because it would make it a whole lot easier for third parties to integrate their solutions and introduce new hardware support for both CentOS and RHEL. For example if a manufacturer like DELL releases a new server (and wants it to be RH certified) and there is something that has to be included in the kernel for the OS to gain support for it, then CentOS Stream will be the first stable OS where the update will land. After 6 months, the updates will be moved to RHEL as the next minor version and the cycle will repeat.
    So, in short, Stream is nothing like Fedora, Debian Testing or Arch. The closest equivalent that I can think of, is Debian Stable with the "backports" repo enabled.

    This will not affect most of the use-cases for CentOS BUT indeed some people will have to make some changes of how they think and use CentOS.
    The good news is that for production environments (that use containers), we will be able to use the "Red Hat Universal Base Images". Those are RHEL but stripped and optimized for containers, do not require any subscription and are free to redistribute. From what I can see they are the perfect general purpose container for building a software solution and deploying it to production.

    So in my case (and for people in my situation), it will be like upgrading production to RHEL for free, while still having CentOS as the perfect Development/Workstation OS.
    The problem is for people who use mission-critical traditional server environments and really need the most stable possible, least changing OS. Most of these people are already using RHEL or some other paid Enterprise-grade OS, so not that big of a deal. Those who do not will either have to update to RHEL, switch to Oracle Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise or Debian. Can't think of any other big and reliable distro.

    That being said, I do still have a problem with how they are handling the situation. CentOS Linux 8 was delivered with the promise of being supported for 10 years until 2029 and now suddenly they cut it's support by the end of next year. Also, I do see why they are focusing on CentOS Stream and I support it, as it is a step in the right direction, but I fail to see why there can't be a regular RHEL-level CentOS release.


    • Originally posted by timrichardson View Post

      this is a misleading statement. This is the licence condition of RHEL for free:

      "Finally, the biggest difference is that the no-cost Red Hat Developer Subscription is only for development purposes and may not be used in production."

      It's called a "Developer Subscription" because you have to sign up to get the free version, but since it not licenced for production, it is very different to Ubuntu LTS. Right now, I am very happy I made the decision to use Ubuntu for my server deployments. Although I subscribe to Landscape because IMO Canonical needs some compensation (it helps me earn a living) and I am ok with Canonical's broader support of Linux. It may not be perfect, but it is good enough for me to feel it's far from free-riding.
      I tried this out - no idea if I was doing something wrong or what, but while my "developer subscription" got RHEL to stop bitching about activating, it wouldn't let me install any updates, saying I had buy a different license before updates were allowed. No updates? Yeah, that stayed installed for as long as it took me to download a Debian ISO.

      I already dislike RedHat/CentOS because of historical issues I've had with them on AMD Opteron/Supermicro quad-socket boards, while Debian/Ubuntu (and Arch, when I tested it!) were all perfectly well behaved.
      Last edited by Paradigm Shifter; 09 December 2020, 05:08 AM. Reason: Corrected typo.


      • Originally posted by C8292 View Post
        Well.. been running Oracle Linux for a while now. A lot less delays when releasing versions :-)
        So CentOS was already dead to me
        This is why I love Linux: somebody making a move many people don't like? -> Fork and off they go.

        Two commands to switch from CentOS to OL, epic.


        • Originally posted by duby229 View Post

          I'd like to hear how you think its a mistake?
          Red Hat Linux is a rock solid linux distro. But has licensing costs.
          CentOS is a free version of that. And CentOS is released after and is based on the source of Red Hat.

          Now, CentOS will become the testing bed for Red Hat. It will be released first, and the users will effectivelly become beta testers.
          We are moving from having access to a free high quality distro, to being beta testers.


          • I literally migrated yesterday from centos 8 to oracle linux 8 luckily all my configs work, who could have thought that i would ever use an oracle product again!? But truth to be told i cannot find another stable distro with 10 years support.


            • Throughout this thread I think people have not taken into consideration third party repositories/software. Many important projects are built upon CentOS as a base, or at least they use CentOS as a test-bed for RHEL compatible packages. Let us think about Ceph, OpenStack, Postgres, etc, not to mention many scientific applications. This is going to be a huge support problem from now on.


              • Originally posted by torsionbar28 View Post
                Seems like an IBM driven move to me. Disappointing for sure. CentOS as a free community OS helps drive RHEL adoption in the enterprise. IBM likely viewed it differently. I suspect this will result in hobbyists moving to a different server distro and abandoning CentOS entirely. I know I'm sure looking into alternatives after this announcement. The ability to use essentially the same LTS server distro at home for free (CentOS) as what we buy and use at work (RHEL) is a huge plus. Now that this benefit is gone, I have far less of an incentive to recommend RHEL at work.
                if only there was Opensuse Leap, right?


                • Originally posted by duby229 View Post

                  Rhel 8 still exists, you can still download it and use it free of charge just like always. Nothing has changed in that regard.
                  RHEL 8 is FREE?...
                  Isn't like a license required?...


                  • Originally posted by Sonadow View Post

                    Then there is fundamentally no change in CentOS beyond switching from fixed release to rolling. Just like how CentOS Stream 8 is simply the unreleased RHEL 8.4 / 8.x to the current RHEL 8.3

                    When RHEL 9 is released, CentOS Stream will be simply be the unreleased RHEL 9.1 / 9.2. Which is hardly even an issue worth bringing up.
                    That's just a nice way of saying you're a beta tester...


                    • Originally posted by Leinad View Post

                      There is nothing similar in Debian world. CentOs Stream is rolling version of NEXT MINOR VERSION, not major version.
                      But the keyword, for me, is: next.
                      Which means we're beta testing...