Dying in cradle, CentOS 8 project is about to end in 2021
On December 8, the CentOS Project announced a breaking news that they will stop CentOS 8 maintenance by the end of 2021, while CentOS 7 will remain its maintenance support until June 30, 2024. Which, in other words, means that the free version of "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" (RHEL) is about to end. CentOS 8 is dying in cradle after one year of birth. Sad…
As a widely-loved free Linux system, CentOS is one the most popular projects in the open source community. The official announcement from Red Hat to end it this time is undoubtedly a horrible news for CentOS long-term users.
RHEL has always been the best choice for enterprises. Although it’s a profitable commercial product of Red Hat, the stable performance and reliable maintenance team are worthwhile to be paid for. However, for some small businesses with tight funds, they’d rather go for CentOS, since it’s the free version of RHEL that takes off commercial labels with the exactly same functions, apparently a very cost-effective choice.
CentOS owns a relatively large user base. According to the data from W3Tech, CentOS is the second most popular Linux OS covers chosen by 18.8% of users, the first one is Ubuntu.
As soon as the news came out, many users who had just began to use CentOS 8 were shocked and angry. It’s very much understandable that the users are angry since they don’t mean to use someone’s product for free for granted, but because CentOS was originally a free community project since its first release in 2004 that being developed and maintained spontaneously by a bunch of generous specialists left no name.
After acquiring the whole project in 2014, Red Hat stated that they will provide a new contribution to the CentOS project in establishing the resources for the prosperity of the open source community and the professional knowledge, to help build a more open project management and roadmap, participation opportunity, open path contribution, and to provide new ways for CentOS users and contributors, to bring the power of open source innovation to all areas of the software stack. Now it seems that commitments and practices have gone against each other. Maybe that’s why so many users feel betrayed at that moment.
However, the company actually had placed several hints to imply the curtain call of CentOS 8. Last September, Red Hat released CentOS Stream, which is in fact what they really refer to in this time’s announcement, " We’ll be shifting focus from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to CentOS Stream, which tracks just ahead of a current RHEL release."
What is CentOS Stream?
CentOS Stream refers to a released Linux system that is constantly updated from head to toe, from user space software, kernel to daemons, everything is in a constant renewing state. This kind of CentOS Stream cancels the standard version, which generally releases main updates once a year, while the minor parts come out about six months later. But CentOS Stream allows users to update installed released versions at any time.
Is it good? Different people have different ideas.
As a normal user, you may always want to own the latest version of the software you use, then CentOS Stream may not be a wrong choice, as Red Hat CTO Chris Wright said when CentOS Stream was introduced, “Developers … require earlier access to code, improved and more transparent collaboration with the broader partner community, and the ability to influence the direction of new RHEL versions. It is these opportunities that CentOS Stream is intended to address.”
Jim Perrin, current chief project manager at Microsoft, former Red Hat developer and CentOS board member, thinks this project has three advantages:
1. Make RHEL development more transparent and reliable
2. Provide a way for ISVs and developers to contribute bug fixes and product feature
3. Provide a way for community to provide feedback
While it is also noted that the problem inside CentOS Stream is that it cannot get the same test time as the point release, which will lead to the lack of stability. That is to say, if you use it yourself, you may not mind having to fix the occasional problems caused by the latest version of the software, but if it is an enterprise deployment server, it can be quite troublesome if there are frequent problems, even if it’s only a small one.
A redditor said on Reddit/Linux, “The use case for CentOS, is completely different than CentOS Stream, many people use CentOS for production enterprise workloads not for dev, CentOS Stream may be ok for dev/test but it is unlikely people are going to adopt CentOS Stream for prod.”
In fact, most Linux systems are released in fixed versions, including mainstream Ubuntu Linux distribution from Canonical and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) from SUSE. In the fixed release version, the major release is carried out as planned, along with some in-need security patches and small updates.
Nevertheless, this time’s move by Red Hat may cause many users to migrate their operating systems to others, and the loss is inevitable. As a loyal CentOS user, we may feel even sadder.