Data Center

With CentOS going away, what should users do? | TechTarget

In 2004, Gregory Kurtzer created CentOS as a build of Caos Linux. In 2020, Red Hat took over maintaining CentOS and announced the final release of the OS, CentOS 8.

CentOS was the free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and was used by individuals and organizations around the globe. However, Red Hat decided to migrate CentOS to a pseudo-rolling release distribution, called CentOS Stream.

This was a major change as it shifted CentOS Stream upstream of the current RHEL release. Now, people who want a free version of RHEL must depend on a developing, less-than-stable rolling release distribution or shift to a different distribution. For some organizations, neither option is ideal.

Replacing CentOS with new distributions

IBM acquired Red Hat in 2019, and shortly after chose to discontinue CentOS because it was not useful to the company. Without much explanation from RHEL about this discontinuation, CentOS users speculate RHEL would have trouble profiting off an enterprise-grade platform when there was a free version of that OS available.

CentOS’s discontinuation led to new distribution releases. Kurtzer created Rocky Linux so there would always be a RHEL-like system that anyone could use. AlmaLinux OS Foundation created AlmaLinux, which deals with generic cloud images. Both distributions were binary-compatible with RHEL. However, IBM/Red Hat declared that the source for RHEL would no longer be available for free.

Since IBM no longer publicly releases RHEL source code, Kurtzer claims that Red Hat has defeated the purpose of open source OSes. Meanwhile, Rocky Linux distributions obtain RHEL source RPMs through public cloud instances and Universal Base Images (UBI). According to this official Rocky Linux blog post, reliable RHEL source code can be obtained by using UBI container images.

On July 13, 2023, Benny Vasquez, chairwoman of the board for the AlmaLinux OS Foundation, said in a blog post that AlmaLinux would no longer be a 1:1 Red Hat downstream rebuild. This change requires a redesign to AlmaLinux OS development and build prosses. The AlmaLinux OS Foundation will provide updates about the developing process through their blog.

Linux and open source developers always find a path forward. So, whether you’ve opted to replace CentOS with Rocky Linux, AlmaLinux or something else, there will always be viable options.