CentOS 8 which earlier was going to be supported till the year 2029 has been reduced to December 2021, as per the changes announced on 8th December 2020 by Red Hat. This announcement has left a large impact on businesses that rely on it.
Some of the pointers worth noticing:
- Red Hat will not be releasing the new Version i.e CentOS 9.
- CentOS 8 will receive updates till December 2021 instead of 2029.
- CentOS 7 will be receiving updates until June 30, 2024.
- They are introducing CentOS Stream which is not a replacement for CentOS.
What does End of Life (EOL) mean?
The CentOS 8 EOL means that it will not be receiving any updates from the official CentOS project. It will become more vulnerable as there will be no bug fixes and security patches after 31st December 2021. It will no more be safe to use CentOS 8 after that due to the increased risk.
The story behind CentOS 8
CentOS is actually a rebuild of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux). It was a downstream community project so any changes that were made to RHEL were also implemented in CentOS after a few months.
One thing that differentiates RHEL and CentOS is cost. CentOS is an open-source project and is free of cost while RHEL is a commercial Linux distribution developed by Red Hat.
What is Fedora? It is an upstream community project of Red Hat. All the changes are first done in Fedora and later brought to RHEL. It serves as a testing environment. Check out the previously developed release cycle.
What to do next?
Considering the very short notice, users who have already migrated from CentOS 7 to CentOS 8 are stuck and Red Hat advises them to upgrade to paid RHEL, which seems to be their major reason behind their decision of early EOL of CentOS 8.
You can always switch to other Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Debian if the application workloads allow it. Make sure your apps will work properly if you switch to some other Linux distribution.
Users who are using CentOS 7 have more time to prepare as the EOL of it is June 2024.
CentOS vs CentOS Stream
CentOS Stream was introduced in 2019 for testing future minor releases. It sits between Fedora and RHEL. Now Red Hat will not be releasing any new CentOS versions, it will only release CentOS Stream which is not a replacement for CentOS as its stability is not that strong when compared to CentOS.
Reasons for starting CentOS Stream
- It will shorten the feedback loop as developers will be work on the upcoming RHEL's release.
- It will enable transparent development, unlike the current development methods where the contribution is done behind Red Hat's firewall.
- CentOS stream will enable Red Hat to release major RHEL releases every 3 years and minor changes every 6 months.
- With Fedora being the only upstream project developers were limited to working for the next major release of RHEL whereas CentOS Stream will enable them to contribute to minor releases as well.
Status of Other Releases of CentOS Linux
- No CentOS 9 release.
- CentOS Linux 8 will be updated until December 2021.
- CentOS Linux 7 will be updated until June 2024.
- CentOS Linux 6 distribution ended on November 30, 2020.
CentOS became popular among businesses because of its active community and stability. It offered highly customizable software packages and full control over the system leading to the popularity it got.
CentOS stream will not provide the stability required for the production environment that is the reason many businesses have already started migrating to other Linux distros such as Ubuntu or Debian.
See the official communication to know more about their announcement - FAQ: CentOS Stream Updates (redhat.com)