CentOS Changes

On 8 Dec I saw the announcement that Red Hat (which had made CentOS an in-house distro a year or two ago) was changing CentOS from being a free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, to focusing solely on CentOS Stream. (The CentOS press release; The Red Hat press release) This would make the progression of features and elements: Fedora -> CentOS Stream -> RHEL. At first, like many others, I felt hurt by this change. It will take place at the end of next year. Usually CentOS follows a support widow similar to that of RHEL, so I was expecting a decade or so for the servers I converted from CentOS 7 to CentOS 8. While I generally run Fedora on many of my computers, I prefer not to have to upgrade every 6 months for my servers. That’s a level of disruption I could do without. That said, after I read this blog post, I had a slightly more nuanced view of things. I still think it should have taken effect with CentOS 9, which I think is due in the next year or so (RH is accelerating releases of new RHELs). But it certainly makes a clearer upstream to downstream path for Red Hat.

For me, personally, I will probably just go to CentOS Stream. It’s going to depend on what the upgrade model looks like. Again, I have no problem with Fedora, I just don’t want to have to upgrade every 6 months. If CentOS Stream just becomes rolling updates, I can swing with that. Particularly if it has the same lifetime as RHEL. I think it’s mostly going to depend on EPEL packages, as I need some of those for some of the servers I run. 

It does give me pause on what to do with my wife. My fourth-most viewed Youtube video is:

In which I investigate whether my wife would do alright switching from Ubuntu to CentOS. I never made the switch because things were going OK with Kubuntu. Recently, however, her computer has been having issues making me think I might need to reinstall. I was thinking of doing CentOS 8, but now I’m not 100% sure.

Then again, there’s another possible option. Today I learned about Rocky Linux.Basically, the founder of CentOS wasn’t happy with this new CentOS direction. So he decided to start over again with Rocky Linux. Hopefully his experience running CentOS means it’s not a rocky start (pun intended). Whether I (and others) go for Rocky is going to really depend on 3 things:

  1. Is EPEL going to support it? Even though EPEL is a repo for CentOS and RHEL packages, it’s run by the Fedora Project. Fedora is *somewhat* independent from Red Hat, but I’m still not sure if they’d make packages that would work well with Rocky if they’re going to focus on making the packages work with CentOS Stream.
    1. Also, EPEL 8 hasn’t had nearly the amount of packages as EPEL 7. So, I’m unsure where that takes things going forward for either CentOS Stream or Rocky.
  2. Are Digital Ocean, Linode, and AWS going to support Rocky? For that matter, are they going to support CentOS Stream? Uncertain at this point. In Red Hat’s announcement they talk about potentially loosening up some of the restrictions on what devs can do with their free license for a RHEL machine. Yes, they offer free dev licenses for RHEL. I’m using it to run a RHEL VM to play around with. The goal is to provide a perfect RHEL for testing against before going to Production. I guess that means there were always some potential differences with CentOS? Otherwise why not just use that?
  3. How many folks are just going to jump ship to Debian/Ubuntu? Sure, if you’re doing that at the enterprise level, it’s not so easy. There may be packages you depend on that are slightly different or the locations of certain config files. At the same time, my experience in the CentOS/RHEL world has always been that there isn’t really an upgrade path. When CentOS/RHEL EOLs you’re expect to migrate. So if you’re migrating anyway, maybe you’ll go to the Debian world? Also, if you’re just a dude with a server in the cloud (AWS, Digital Ocean, Linode) then maybe it’s less important. And if you’re running Docker/Podman containers anyway, you may care even less.