The Future of CentOS? Stream? 8?

Clearing Up CentOS Stream Confusion

What is Happening with CentOS 8?

On December 2020, the CentOS project released an update to their blog stating that no further updates would be released for CentOS8 after December 2021. This came as a surprise and was a huge shift from the original end of life date in 2029.
Their recommendation was to transition from CentOS 8 to CentOS stream, meanwhile CentOS 7 would continue to be supported through to it’s original planned 2024 date.


CentOS 8’s End of Life (EoL) date has been moved from May 2029 to December 2021.


What is CentOS Stream?

CentOS stream was originally announced in late 2019 and acts as a preview build that sits behind Fedora and ahead of Red-Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This is in contrast to CentOS Linux which was a rebuild of it’s matching RHEL version.

The Benefits
CentOS Stream is able to provide a more regular update schedule – promising multiple releases per day. This means it brings the latest and greatest to your server more consistently, and will probably be one of the first places to find important patches. 
CentOS is still designed for servers first and foremost unlike Fedora and a rolling release ensures that you never have to worry about “OS migrations” from one version to the next.
The Drawbacks

Of course, a lot of these selling points can be major issues to your server setup. No one wants to be running a mission critical environment on an untested OS, and ultimately CentOS stream is a ‘testing’ channel for RHEL.

Possibly the largest source of frustration is those that chose to migrate to CentOS 8 already, expecting long-term support. Particularly given that this announcement was made only one month after the CentOS 6 EoL cut-off, when many production environments had just finished costly upgrades – now those sysadmins will be having to look again.

IBM buys Red Hat: CentOS is going to >/dev/null.

How can I migrate from CentOS 8 to CentOS Stream?

Since both operating systems are so closely linked at this stage. Migrating from CentOS Linux 8 to CentOS Stream is just a case of switching your repos from one source to another. To make it even simpler – and to encourage people to move to Stream, CentOS released a tool and instructions for this conversion on the CentOS release page

I tested out their commands on a minimal install of Centos 8 and successfully switched over to Stream in about 5 minutes. 

centos-stream neofetch
For a basic install - it's really quick to switch over

CentOS Stream isn't a replacement for CentOS Linux. Red Hat sees CentOS Stream as a DevOps-friendly, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) Linux.

What are the alternatives?

The dust is still settling on this announcement and for many in the CentOS community there will be a lot of waiting to see what emerges as the best successor. But already, there are a number of possible destinations that are appearing.

  • RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) – Unsurprisingly, in their blog post the Red Hat team championed this paid-for operating system as the next step for production systems. This will be the most natural successor if you want the exact feature set that CentOS gave you (I’m sure they would also appreciate some of your hard-earned money for the support package on top!)
  • RockyLinux – Headed up by the founder of the CentOS project, Rocky Linux aims to be “100% bug-for-bug compatible” with RHEL. Unfortunately, we cannot test the claims as it is only slated for release on March 31 this year. But this project has already gathered considerable attention and we will be watching closely to see what happens 
  • AlmaLinux – Formerly project Lenix, this RHEL fork is created by and inspired by the team at CloudLinux and CloudLinux OS. For those that have already used and enjoyed CloudLinux there will definitely be a lot of interest in this project and the claim of a forever-free OS is very promising – particularly for those using CPanel or Plesk. Already there is a migration script available for CentOS 8 and we will definitely be looking into this one soon.
  • Non-RHEL inspired distros – Many administrators will be taking this opportunity to assess what they need from their server OS and will be considering a different path. Perhaps the security and stability of Debian, the popularity and software availability of Ubuntu, or maybe something totally different with OpenSUSE Leap