21 Dec 2020

Redhat abandoning CentOS

My thoughts on Redhat’s announcement that they’re abandoning CentOS.


  • CentOS is a binary compatible RHEL build.
  • CentOS was doing just fine for years without Redhat’s help.
  • Redhat purchased CentOS in 2014.
  • People/companies who want RHEL but don’t want or need support often use CentOS as it’s the same but free.
  • Redhat has announced they’re abandoning CentOS as we know it, and replacing it with CentOS Stream. Something literally no one asked for.

CentOS Stream will not be a RHEL clone. It will serve as a sort of RHEL staging. Great if you want to test an upcoming RHEL release/update before it goes to prod, but not if you actually want the legendary RHEL stability (which is why literally everyone uses CentOS in the first place). Worse is the fact that they went back on their CentOS 8 commitment. CentOS 8, like RHEL 8 was planned to receive updates until 2029. Now Redhat has changed their minds, and CentOS 8 will only receive updated until EOY 2021. As if people didn’t have a bad enough year with the pandemic, now IT companies will have to urgently update/change their OS before it goes EOL.

Overall, this is awful. It’s proof of the downsides to the IBM acquisition, which I think we all knew was coming. Imagine if you were running a business, and deployed CentOS 8 based on the 10 year lifespan promise. You’re totally screwed now, and Red Hat knows it. Why on earth didn’t they make this switch starting with CentOS 9???? Let’s not sugar coat this. They’ve betrayed their users.

I personally run a CentOS 7 server (as do members of my family), and was planning on upgrading them all to 8. Luckily, I didn’t get round to it yet. I guess I’ll have to consider an alternative. For my server I want a boring, stable OS, so I’m definitely not using Stream. This is going to ripple throughout the whole industry, as CentOS is used all over the place, from regular home users to businesses (and things like CloudLinux).

It’s very disappointing that Red Hat can’t see the damage they’ll do not only to the community, but to themselves too. Someone will come along and take the CentOS user base, and it won’t be Red Hat :(. Redhat really should have just left CentOS alone. In hindsight, that was the problem. Fortunately Rocky Linux seems to be looking like the perfect alternative