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CentOS Options

With the recent announcement by CentOS 8 regarding the switch from CentOS 8 to CentOS Stream, this commonly used Linux distribution is being relegated to a mid-stage development version of RHEL. In essence, CentOS 8 becomes an early rolling-release distro for RHEL. As CentOS moves from being a follow-up distribution to the stable version of RedHat, to be, in effect, a prerelease version of RHEL, many users are looking for alternatives to replace their current operating systems with a long-term stable platform apart from RHEL and IBM who owns RedHat. 

CentOS Original Announcement

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. 

Meanwhile, we understand many of you are deeply invested in CentOS Linux 7, and we’ll continue to produce that version through the remainder of the RHEL 7 life cycle. CentOS Stream will also be the centerpiece of a major shift in collaboration among the CentOS Special Interest Groups (SIGs). This ensures SIGs are developing and testing against what becomes the next version of RHEL. This also provides SIGs a clear single goal, rather than having to build and test for two releases. It gives the CentOS contributor community a great deal of influence in the future of RHEL. And it removes confusion around what “CentOS” means in the Linux distribution ecosystem.

When CentOS Linux 8 (the rebuild of RHEL8) ends, your best option will be to migrate to CentOS Stream 8, which is a small delta from CentOS Linux 8 and has regular updates like traditional CentOS Linux releases. If you are using CentOS Linux 8 in a production environment and are concerned that CentOS Stream will not meet your needs, we encourage you to contact Red Hat about options.

Full Details Here. | https://www.redhat.com/en/blog"

CentOS Newest Announcement

No-cost RHEL for small production workloads.
No-cost RHEL for customer development teams.

While CentOS Linux provided a no-cost Linux distribution, no-cost RHEL also exists today through the Red Hat Developer program. The program’s terms formerly limited its use to single-machine developers. We recognized this was a challenging limitation. We’re addressing this by expanding the terms of the Red Hat Developer program so that the Individual Developer subscription for RHEL can be used in production for up to 16 systems.

That’s exactly what it sounds like: for small production use cases, this is no-cost, self-supported RHEL. You need only to sign in with a free Red Hat account (or via single sign-on through GitHub, Twitter, Facebook, and other accounts) to download RHEL and receive updates. Nothing else is required. This isn’t a sales program, and no sales representative will follow up. An option will exist within the subscription to easily upgrade to full support, but that’s up to you.

You can also use the expanded Red Hat Developer program to run RHEL on major public clouds including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. You have to pay only the usual hosting fees charged by your provider of choice; the operating system is free for both development and small production workloads. The updated Individual Developer subscription for RHEL will be available no later than February 1, 2021.

Full Details Here. | https://www.redhat.com/en/blog

Roadmap Modification

To surmise, the CentOS Project noted the following modifications to their roadmap. 

  • The CentOS Project has accelerated its End-of-Life date for CentOS 8 to December 31, 2021. No further operating system updates will be available after that date. 
  • The CentOS Project also declared that CentOS 8 would alter its OS to function as an upstream or development branch of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) named CentOS Stream. Hosting best practices indicates that a non-production OS like CentOS Stream is not intended to be used in a production environment.
  • Previous versions of the CentOS LTR life cycle will remain unchanged. Security patches and updates will continue to be provided until June 30, 2024. 

Cent OS 7

Those wishing to stay on CentOS 7, or anyone wishing to update from CentOS 6 to CentOS 7 can do so as supported updates will continue until it ends maintenance updates end on June 30th, 2024, and full updates end in Q4 2020. According to the CentOS development team, the following information is still accurate.

During the Full Updates phase, new hardware support will be provided at the discretion of RedHat — and thus CentOS — via Update Sets. Additionally, all available and qualified errata will be provided via Update Sets (or individually and immediately for Security level errata.) Update Sets normally will be released 2-3 times per year, with new ISOs released as part of each Update Set. In the x.y numbering scheme, the .y is the number of the Update Set.

During the Maintenance updates phase, only security errata and select mission critical bug fixes will be released. There will be few, if any. Update Sets released upstream.

https://wiki.centos.org/About/Product

Alternate Distributions for CentOS

CloudLinux

Possibly the most recognized OS for cPanel clients is CloudLinux. CloudLinux is another variant in the RHEL/CentOS line. According to a recent blog post, a new version of CloudLinux OS was released, providing the means to convert CentOS 8.3 to CloudLinux 8.3. Using an internally developed script, users can convert from CentOS 8.3 to CloudLinux 8.3 using their cldeploy script when it is complete. The anticipated release date is scheduled for December 21. Users can convert CentOS 8.2 to CloudLinux 8.2 and then update the OS to CloudLinux 8.3 or wait until the CloudLinux OS 8.3 rollout completes.

Update: Alma Linux is the newest RHEL clone that is produced by the team at CloudLinux. It is an open-source, community-driven project that intends to fill the gap left by the move of RHEL CentOS 8 to the stream version. They state: "As a standalone, completely free OS, AlmaLinux enjoys $1M in annual sponsorship from CloudLinux Inc. We will support future RHEL® releases by updating AlmaLinux. Ongoing development efforts are governed by the members of the community." The expected release date is Q1, 2021.

Lenix from CloudLinux

CloudLinux recently announced that they are planning to introduce an alternative product called “Project Lenix” as a replacement for CentOS. Their expected release date is near mid-2021. You can read more about this project at projectlenix.org. Update: This new product has been dubbed AlmaLinux. More information can be found on its website.

Rocky Linux

Rocky Linux is a new fork of CentOS that is currently being developed by the CentOS project's originator, which followed the original RHEL source. It remains in the early stages of the development cycle and will not be associated with any other current commercial entity. More information can be found on the official Rocky Linux website and at GitHub.

Oracle Linux

Oracle Linux is one of the most compatible OSes with RedHat. It is one of the free and downloadable offerings developed and maintained by Oracle. One of the main advantages is that it closely follows the RHEL release cycle using the modified UEK or “Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel" produced by Oracle. The kernel provides additional benefits over the mainline kernel in terms of stability and minimal backport packages, among other features. The maintainers have created a script that allows for an easy transition to Oracle Linux stored at Oracle.com and GitHub

Springdale Linux

Princeton University heads another ongoing project called Springdale Linux (SDL). This OS, previously known as PUIAS (Princeton University Institute for Advanced Study), is a customized RedHat based distribution maintained by the members of the computing staff of ​Princeton University and the ​Institute for Advanced Study.

ClearOS Linux

Another major player looking to step into the fray is HP. They offer another version of RHEL called ClearOS, mainly available on its line of HPE ProLiant servers. While it is not explicitly indicated, ClearOS is based primarily on RHEL/CentOS. This open-source OS is available for free to the community and has its own app marketplace, which contains a mix of both paid and free applications. 

Amazon Linux 2

Amazon Linux 2 is an RHEL-based OS that is available as a virtual machine and container image primarily used for on-premises development and testing. It offers long-term support and multiple virtual machine images for KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VM VirtualBox, and VMware ESXi virtualization platforms.

Alternative Operating Systems

Ubuntu

Currently, Ubuntu is the most popular OS distribution in the world, on both servers and desktops. Ubuntu is a Debian-based OS that is rock-solid with an active community and excellent support documentation. The latest Ubuntu LTS version includes five years of support with an option for paid extended support.

Debian

Alongside Ubuntu, Debian is one of the four mainline distributions of Linux. This OS, which differs slightly in layout and onboard package management system, is one of the most stable and well-built systems in use today.

OpenSuse

We round out our list with OpenSuse. Like Debian, this Linux distribution is one of the four central core Linux operating systems in use today. It is also one of the most enduring and durable Linux server options available. It mainly comes in two current flavors; a rolling release version named Tumbleweed and a long-term stable release called Leap.

Upgrading CentOS 8 to CentOS 8 Stream

Should you choose to upgrade your existing CentOS 8 version to CentOS 8 Stream, it is a simple three-step process.

 root@centos-linux# dnf install centos-release-stream
 root@centos-linux# dnf swap centos-{linux,stream}-repos
 root@centos-linux# dnf distro-sync
 root@centos-stream# cat /etc/centos-release
 CentOS Stream release 8 

This change will affect some package updates, and several new packages will be installed.

Conclusion

Liquidweb Stance

We recommend that customers should be on a current/non EOL operating system. Failing to employ a supported OS limits our ability to support and provide aid and creates added risk for our customers. This being said, Liquid Web will not immediately stop supporting customers on EOL software (CentOS 6 is a perfect example). We recommend that clients maintain all upgrades. However, we will continue to support the OS until we determine that we cannot provide the level of service, performance, and security that our customers deserve. Any changes to our supported operating systems will be communicated well in advance, ensuring that customers have time to upgrade as needed.

Talk To An Expert Today!

Our Solution Team is full of knowledge providers who can assist you in solving your toughest problems. If you are a Fully Managed VPS server, Cloud Dedicated, VMWare Private Cloud, Private Parent server, or a Dedicated server owner and you are uncomfortable with performing any of the steps outlined, we can be reached via phone at 800.580.4985, a chat, or support ticket to assisting you with this process.

About the Author: David Singer

I am a g33k, Linux blogger, developer, student, and former Tech Writer for Liquidweb.com. My passion for all things tech drives my hunt for all the coolz. I often need a vacation after I get back from vacation....

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