Yesterday, December 8, 2020, Red Hat announced the future of CentOS – they decided to “focus on CentOS Stream” and that support for CentOS 8 was abruptly ending December 31, 2021, while CentOS 7 will still have a full lifecycle, ending in 2024. Yes, that’s right, CentOS 8 is going to be EOL before its predecessor. Explain that.
I’ve been using CentOS since version 4 or 5 and I’ve deployed hundreds of CentOS servers throughout my career. After starting to move my own infrastructure over to CentOS 8 from CentOS 7, I, like many, have felt the rug pulled out from under myself, no thanks in part to Red Hat and IBM.
CentOS now finds itself as “RHEL Beta” instead of a stable fork of RHEL without the RH trademarks and subscription nonsense. You may be wondering where this puts Fedora. Well, Fedora is now even further downstream and can be looked at as the “Unstable” version of RHEL – basically, the chain now looks like this:
Fedora (“Unstable”) -> CentOS (“Testing”) -> Red Hat Enterprise Linux (“Stable”).
This is where it gets tricky. Back in the day, White Box, Yellow Dog, and for awhile, Scientific Linux were direct forks of CentOS. Scientific decided last year to stop the distro so they could help work on CentOS 8 and improve that. I wonder if they’ll be starting back up again? There’s also talks that the original founder of CentOS, Greg Kurtzer, has said he’s looking to start a new fork. But all of this is in the future. What can you do now?
Well, the trust with Red Hat/IBM has been broken so I’d suggest staying away from RHEL, CentOS, and Fedora.
OpenSUSE uses RPM and YaST is a great tool that makes setup and configuration easy. I’ve used OpenSUSE in the past, but I’m not too familiar with it. At one point, when it was under Novell, the integration between SUSE and Windows was amazing – I even tried using it as my daily driver at work. I was unsuccessful because our internal domain used .local and SUSE did not like that.
Debian – While it doesn’t have the lifespan of CentOS’s promised 10 years or binary compatibility with RHEL, it is stable and actively developed. The community is also really helpful and friendly. Debian powers all sorts of things from integrated computers to servers.
Ubuntu – Based on Debian, it does typically have binary compatibility with Debian. The LTS versions are supported for 5 years. It’s stable, actively developed, and it works on a lot of different hardware. Ubuntu has been moving towards Snaps, though. These pieces of software, while nice, auto-update, and have their own folders for storing the binaries & config files which makes it difficult to follow any instructions. And I’ve typed this up on my laptop, running Ubuntu 20.10 🙂