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Linux: IBM Kills CentOS

By Dick Weisinger

At the end of 2020, Red Hat announced that they would no longer ship CentOS (Community Enterprise Linux Operating System), the free distribution of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Instead of CentOS Linux, Red Hat will now ship CentOS Stream. [Note that IBM purchased Red Hat in July 2019.]

CentOS Stream is described as “a rolling preview of what’s next in RHEL”. CentOS Linux has tracked releases of the RHEL product, built from the same source code but without the Red Hat commercial support. CentOS was particularly useful to developers building software that targeted compatibility with the commercial RHEL.

Red Hat acquired CentOS in 2014 at a time when the Linux fork was experiencing financial difficulty. As a result of the deal, the CentOS team was brought into Red Hat where they continued to work on it.

The most recently released version of CentOS, CentOS 8 is built from RHEL 8 source. Support for CentOS 8 will cease this year — previously support through 2029 had been promised. Many see the announcement means that going forward CentOS Stream will effectively be a beta release of future software. Beta releases typically equate to releases that are buggy or at least not as stable as a regular release.

The announcement has been met with criticism from the community.

For example, Jack Wallen, writer for TechRepublic, wrote that “I suspect the fallout from this decision will be a mass exodus from CentOS to Ubuntu Server. This was a big mistake. Hopefully, IBM/Red Hat will reverse course, before CentOS drowns in the stream.”

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