IBM’s Red Hat Just Killed CentOS as we Know it: With CentOS Stream, Stability Goes out of the Door

CentOS is regarded as a stable, secure and free Linux distribution for servers. The stability part of it is being jeopardized thanks to the latest changes made to this project by IBM-owned Red Hat. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Focus shifts from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to CentOS Stream, which tracks just ahead of a current RHEL release.
  • CentOS Linux 8, as a rebuild of RHEL 8, will end at the end of 2021.
  • After that, the rolling release CentOS Stream becomes the identity of CentOS project. There will be no CentOS 9 based on RHEL 9 in the future.
  • CentOS Linux 7 will continue its lifecycle and will end in 2024.

Let’s go in detail.

Before CentOS Stream, learn a little background knowledge of Red Hat, CentOS and Fedora

Let me explain it to those who are unaware. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is a commercial Linux distribution developed by Red Hat and it offers both servers and desktop editions. They have strict guidelines to protect Red Hat trademark.

Red Hat has two main community projects on Linux distribution: Fedora and CentOS.

Redhat Fedora Centos
Situation until now

For years, Fedora worked as upstream for RHEL. This means that new features and changes get introduced in Fedora first and some of them get to be included in the next release of RHEL. In loose terms, Fedora works as testing ground for Red Hat. At least that’s what it used to be until a couple of years ago.

CentOS, on the other hand, is/was a downstream community project. Whatever changes RHEL introduced also get to be included in CentOS. A new version of RHEL released? A new version of CentOS would follow a couple of months later.

Basically, CentOS is a clone of RHEL with most of RHEL’s benefits but without RHEL’s cost. So far, it was regarded as the paying customers get the features first in RHEL and then the community users get them through CentOS.


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