The End of Open Source RHEL?

Datacenter Racks

CentOS has long been the staple of enterprises who want the functionality of Red Hat enterprise Linux (RHEL) without the overhead costs of support. The CentOS operating system allows businesses to have what is essentially a fully compatible, fully stable and up to date version of the RHEL operating system for free. Not anymore!

Here’s what happened: Red Hat, acquired by IBM in October of 2018, had controlled much of the CentOS decisions starting back in 2014. On December 8, 2020, an employee from Red Hat on the CentOS governing board announced that CentOS would be “shifting directions” and will no longer be releasing incremental “point releases” as everyone has been used to and is instead going to be using a rolling release model.

This CentOS Stream rolling release model is not suitable for a stable environment like the old release model was. System Administrators were able to rely on release schedules and know how long each release would be supported and know which versions of which packages would be included in each release. Now, everything is…fluid.

Everyone needing a stable release is running for the exits and looking for a life boat. Luckily, there are a few to choose from. The founder of CentOS, Gregory Kurtzer has started a new project called “Rocky Linux”, but there is no product as of yet. Oracle Linux (OL) has been around since 2006 and is a stable, free of charge release. This would be a very straight-forward move for anyone that wishes to pretend nothing has changed, because the migration method is very easy and it is extremely similar to CentOS.

Of course, some businesses might just bite the bullet and pay for support through Red Hat, but some are taking this as an opportunity to re-think using the RHEL-like systems entirely and are jumping ship to use other operating systems like Debian or its derivative system Ubuntu, or SUSE Linux Enterprise System (SLES). This would be a good opportunity to consider the use cases of all the physical servers to see if the business can realize and savings through cloud services instead of maintaining the servers at all.

What is your response to this announcement by The CentOS Foundation?

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