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Goodbye CentOS Linux – Hello CentOS Stream

What is CentOS?

CentOS stands for Community ENTerprise Linux Operating System. CentOS Linux provides a free enterprise-class operating system based on its paid-for counterpart Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

CentOS Linux is mostly used to run servers on the internet and in fact, Facebook uses a fork of CentOS Linux to run its servers.

What is changing?

On Tuesday, 8, December 2020 the Red Hat CTO Chris Wright and CentOS Community Manager Rich Bowen announced a big change to the future and functionality of CentOS Linux.

The future of the CentOS Project is CentOS Stream, and over the next year, we’ll be shifting focus from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to CentOS Stream, which tracks just ahead of a current RHEL release. CentOS Linux 8, as a rebuild of RHEL 8, will end at the end of 2021. CentOS Stream continues after that date, serving as the upstream (development) branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

What does this mean exactly?

Currently, CentOS Linux is downstream from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This means that CentOS Linux gets its updates and security patches only once they have been tried and tested and deemed stable for production use from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Because of this, CentOS Linux is extremely stable and excellent for production use.

Now, CentOS Linux has been discontinued and CentOS Stream will take its place. As CentOS Stream is upstream to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) it is essentially being used as the testing ground for updates and patches before being deemed stable enough for production use in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Why does this matter?

Well, this depends on the user! If you are using CentOS to run your company web servers, you probably want the operating system to be as stable as possible. You don’t want hardly-tested software updates being installed on the server that might break something, or cause random incompatibilities, or introduce new security vulnerabilities, etc.

Of course, if you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology and receive the latest and greatest updates as soon as they come out, then CentOS Stream may be perfect for you.

What are my options?

If you need a stable, production-ready server, there are some alternatives:

AlmaLinux OS

Developed by CloudLinux, AlmaLinux is an Open Source, community-governed, and forever-free enterprise Linux distribution, focused on long-term stability, providing a robust production-grade platform. AlmaLinux OS is 1:1 binary compatible with RHEL and pre-Stream CentOS. It was developed to fill in the gap that will be left after the abandonment of the CentOS Linux project

Rocky Linux

From the original creator of CentOS Linux, Rocky Linux is a community enterprise operating system designed to be 100% bug-for-bug compatible with CentOS now that its downstream partner has shifted direction. It is currently under intensive development by the community. Rocky Linux aims to function as a downstream build as CentOS had done previously, building releases after they have been added by the upstream vendor, not before.

Oracle Linux

Oracle, also known for its database software, Solaris, and Java offers an open and complete operating environment. Oracle Linux delivers virtualization, management, and cloud-native computing tools, along with the operating system, in a single support offering. Oracle Linux is 100% application binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

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