CentOS has been effectively killed

On Tuesday, Red Hat CTO Chris Wright and CentOS Community Manager Rich Bowen each announced a massive change in the future and function of CentOS Linux. Moving forward, there will be no CentOS Linux—instead, there will (only) be CentOS Stream.

CentOS Linux is dead—and Red Hat says Stream is “not a replacement”.

CentOS Stream, founded in 2019, is “a rolling preview of what’s next in RHEL.”
. A rolling-release Linux is one that’s constantly being updated. CentOS Stream tracks just ahead of a current RHEL release. This may sound like CentOS will be RHEL’s beta, but CentOS denies this.

This reminds me of the always “beta” and maybe no production ready Fedora Linux. Fedora is a Linux distribution developed by the community-supported Fedora Project which is sponsored primarily by Red Hat, a subsidiary of IBM.

CentOS Linux users are angry.
CentOS has been a very widely used rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). CentOS is an extremely popular server operating system in its own right. I have used them, developed software for them, done cyber security hardening for them and built systems using them. The fixed-release model is the one most server Linux distributions have historically used.

In near future CentOS is no longer the production quality server OS we used to know and like. CentOS Linux 8 will end in 2021. CentOS shifts focus to CentOS Stream which is not the same. Red Hat and IBM effectively killed CentOS Linux 8 as we used to know it. CentOS Linux 7 will be supported few years longer. Red Hat doesn’t see CentOS Stream as a production server.

The current version of CentOS is CentOS 8, itself built atop RHEL 8. Normally, CentOS enjoys the same ten-year support lifecycle as RHEL itself—which would give CentOS 8 an end-of-life date in 2029. This week’s announcement puts a headstone on CentOS 8′s grave much sooner, in 2021. (CentOS 7 will still be supported alongside RHEL 7, through 2024.)

Even though Red Hat and IBM killed CentOS Linux 8, not ALL hope maybe lost. There is a new project Rocky Linux as the 100% rebuild of RHEL. It is a work in progress with no ETA. However, some challenges remain. Let’s see if this leads to anything useful.

What are alternatives for server Linux?
Ubuntu is the most popular Linux server operating system with 47.5%, CentOS is number two with 18.8% and Debian is third, 17.5%. RHEL? It’s a distant fourth with 1.8%.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rocky Linux is Finally Ready as a CentOS Replacement with 8.4 Stable Release
    Rocky Linux 8.4 is the first stable release ready to take on CentOS as an alternative. Ready to take it for a spin?

    One of the most anticipated release in 2021 — Rocky Linux, as an alternative to CentOS, is finally here with its first stable release 8.4 (Green Obsidian) ready for production use.

    If you have been keeping up with the news, it was interesting to see that Rocky Linux 8.3 release candidate was not slated for a stable release. Instead, it was followed by another 8.4 RC 1 release, which finally made its way to the general availability.

    Now that it is here as a CentOS replacement, potentially dropping the need to switch to CentOS Stream,

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CentOS replacement Rocky Linux 8.4 arrives, and proves instantly popular
    Rocky Linux 8.4 is the first general availability release of the new enterprise Linux distribution.

    Rocky Linux was kicked off by CentOS co-founder and supercomputer veteran Gregory Kurtzer in December after CentOS’s Linux parent company, RedHat, announced it would shift focus from CentOS Linux to CentOS Stream.

    It turns out that Kurtzer’s decision has been a popular one. Besides quickly building up an army of hundreds of contributors for the project, Rocky Linux 8.4 – which follows the May 18 release of Red Hat’s RHEL 8.4 – was downloaded at least 10,000 times within half a day of its release.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rocky Linux 8.4 took seven months for the newly formed community to release, and is available for x86_64 and ARM64 (aarch64) architecture hardware in various ISOs.

    “Sufficient testing has been performed such that we have confidence in its stability for production systems. Free community support is available through the Rocky Linux Mattermost, IRC, and forums. Paid commercial support is currently available through CIQ,” Rocky Linux notes in a blogpost.



  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I used to use CentOS a lot. Even did a cyber hardening for quite many CentOS 7 and CentOS 8 servers.

    CentOS as we used to know is now dead, if you don’t like current “rolling release” situation, use AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, Oracle Linux or if you want to pay licenses you can use Red Hat.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    From https://www.facebook.com/126000117413375/posts/5183041128375890/
    While my dev VM is running with Rocky Linux, I wanted to make sure production VM CentOS Linux 8 stayed up to date as CentOS 8 is going to EOL soon. So I switched to CentOS Stream for now https://www.cyberciti.biz/howto/upgrade-migrate-from-centos-8-to-centos-stream-conversion/ The end goal is to convert the legacy app to Podman but it will take time. Once my app is containerized, I will no longer be restricted by the underlying operating system dance. It will also save other headaches that I have right now. But, for now I am getting updates and patches. So I am happy.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:


    CentOS 8 is about to EOL month-end. It is straightforward to migrate from CentOS 8 Linux to Rocky #Linux 8. I did it in under 10 minutes. Here is my post about my experience. https://www.cyberciti.biz/howto/migrate-from-centos-8-to-rocky-linux-conversion/

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:


    Wow. Red Hat cutting back RHEL source availability: CentOS Stream will now be the sole repository for public RHEL-related source code releases. For Red Hat customers and partners, source code will remain available via the Red Hat Customer Portal. This move will impact Oracle, Rocy, Alma, and any other distro using RHEL source code to build their operating system. However, Red Hat/IBM isn’t violating the GPL with this move. If they distribute binaries to you, you have access to the source code those binaries were built from. So they are keeping the GPL promises. What do you think? #linux #opensource

    Looks like ibm isn’t playing nice anymore

    Source; https://www.redhat.com/en/blog/furthering-evolution-centos-stream

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Oracle Intends To Keep Trying To Make Oracle Linux Compatible With RHEL

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    RHEL Response Discussed by SFC Conference’s Panel – Including a New Enterprise Linux Standard

    Last weekend in Portland, Oregon, the Software Freedom Conservancy hosted a new conference called the Free and Open Source Software Yearly.

    And long-time free software activist Bradley M. Kuhn (currently a policy fellow/hacker-in-residence for the Software Freedom Conservancy) hosted a lively panel discussion on “the recent change” to public source code releases for Red Hat Enterprise Linux which shed light on what may happen next. The panel also included:
    benny Vasquez, the Chair of the AlmaLinux OS Foundation
    Jeremy Alison, Samba co-founder and software engineer at CIQ (focused on Rocky Linux). Allison is also Jeremy Allison – Sam Slashdot reader #8,157.
    James (Jim) Wright, Oracle’s chief architect for Open Source policy/strategy/compliance/alliances

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Frederic Lardinois / TechCrunch:
    Oracle, SUSE, and CIQ launch the Open Enterprise Linux Association to foster RHEL-based distributions development, after Red Hat limited RHEL source code access — The fallout from Red Hat’s recent decision to make it harder to access to the source code of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution continues.

    Oracle, SUSE and CIQ launch the Open Enterprise Linux Association amid Red Hat controversy

    The fallout from Red Hat’s recent decision to make it harder to access the source code of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution continues. A number of Linux distributions, including Alma Linux, Rocky Linux and Oracle Linux, based their distributions on RHEL. When Red Hat cut off the standard ways they used to get the source code for their distributions, SUSE quickly jumped into the breach with a RHEL fork.

    Today, Oracle, SUSE and CIQ (the commercial entity behind Rocky Linux) are launching a more formal pact in the form of the Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA), which describes itself as a “community repository for enterprise Linux sources.” In the context of the Red Hat saga, OpenELA’s tagline says a lot: “No subscriptions. No passwords. No barriers. Freeloaders welcome.”


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