Monday, December 14, 2020
On Tuesday, US-based software company Red Hat announced their plans to shift their focus away from CentOS in favour of CentOS Stream.
In the blog post Chris Wright, the Chief Technological Officer of Red Hat said Red Hat had informed the CentOS governing board that Red Hat was “shifting our investment fully from CentOS Linux to CentOS Stream”. At least five of the nine CentOS Governing Board listed on the project are Red Hat employees.
Started in 2004, CentOS has been a free-of-cost free/libre open source software which provided binary-code compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) — Red Hat’s GNU General Public Licensed paid operating system. CentOS was absorbed into Red Hat in 2014, with Red Hat gaining the trademark rights of “CentOS”.
Red Hat also sponsors the Fedora operating system. Red Hat even gives the software engineering interns laptops with Fedora on it. Till now, software development took place on Fedora, which was later adopted in RHEL, which the Red Hat maintained and provided support for, for those customers who had RHEL subscription. CentOS would then follow RHEL to provide the same features free of cost, but without the support.
Stream was announced in September 2019, just two months after Red Hat was acquired by IBM. CentOS Stream’s development cycle had new features added to it before the features became a part of RHEL. Stream receives more frequent updates, however, it does not follow RHEL’s release cycle.
With CentOS Stream, developments from the community and the Red Hat emplyees would take place beforehand on both Fedora, and Stream as a rolling release, before those features are absorbed into RHEL. CentOS followed the release cycle of RHEL and therefore it was a stable distribution. Features available in CentOS were tried and tested by Fedora, and then RHEL maintainers. Stream, on the other hand, has features added to it before those features become a part of RHEL. That implies Stream would be ahead of RHEL’s development, containing new features which are not yet tried and tested by RHEL developers, and not be binary code-compatible with RHEL.
Writing “The future of CentOS Linux is CentOS Stream”, Wright further wrote in the announcement, CentOS Stream “provides a platform for rapid innovation at the community level but with a stable enough base to understand production dynamics.” Wright also said, “CentOS Stream isn’t a replacement for CentOS Linux; rather, it’s a natural, inevitable next step intended to fulfill the project’s goal of furthering enterprise Linux innovation.”
Since the announcement was made, many people expressed their anger on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Reddit and CentOS project’s mailing list. CentOS 8’s End of Life (EOL) has been moved up from May 2029 to December 31, 2021, while CentOS 7 is expected to receive maintenance updates through June 2024, outliving CentOS 8.
Gregory Kurtzer, who had started the CentOS project, announced a new operating system, Rocky Linux. Rocky Linux describes itself as “a community enterprise Operating System designed to be 100% bug-for-bug compatible with Enterprise Linux”. The project said “Rocky Linux aims to function as a downstream build as CentOS had done previously, building releases after they have been added to the upstream vendor, not before.” The project maintainers have not decided a date for when the operating system will be released.
Kurtzer explained the reason to call the OS as Rocky Linux: “Thinking back to early CentOS days… My cofounder was Rocky McGaugh. He is no longer with us, so as a H/T [hat tip] to him, who never got to see the success that CentOS came to be, I introduce to you…Rocky Linux”.
Wikinews reached out to the members of the CentOS project, Pablo Greco and Rich Bowen, to discuss this move, its implications as well as the future of CentOS. Greco is a maintainer of armhfp (32-bit processors) and is a part of the CentOS’ quality assurance team. Bowen — who unlike Greco, works for Red Hat — is the community manager of the CentOS project.