CentOS – The Rise and Fall

Originally created from Red Hat’s Source Code, CentOS offered a free alternative for many startup businesses and was widely adopted by many who would ultimately trade up to ‘full fat’ Red Hat Enterprise.

CentOS (or Community Enterprise Linux) operating system, is very popular amongst developers wanting to create development environments prior to deployment, knowing it will happily integrate with Red Hat’s commercial environments.

Old Hat

Surprisingly there are still numerous web hosting services using CentOS 6, a version first released in July 2011. Although now out of support, they continue to resist upgrading, no doubt influenced by the sudden shortening of ‘end of life’ that has been applied to CentOs 8.

CentOS has always been rather a victim of its own success, it grew rapidly to become the most used distro in the world and always had too little resources to match its popularity.

Thus it was that in 2014 it seemed a very good thing, when Red Hat joined CentOs in partnership. Though, even back then there were mutterings from the more cynical, that this would ultimately lead to CentOS ‘s demise.

New Hat

When CentOS 8 (a RHEL 8 build) had its ‘end of life’ dramatically reduced from 2029 to just 2021 last year, the cynics nodded a ‘told you so’ and the stark move has created a great deal of uncertainty.

Red Hat sought to calm CentOS devotees by announcing that a new CentOS was to be released, with many of the same advantages over its paid offering and that everything was going to be fine.

Upgrade Issues

I use 34SP as a resource for many of my client’s websites. I have a long history with them going back more than a decade now.

34SP uses CentOS widely on their servers and despite many a discussion with their Support, they have not updated the software to the latest CentOS incarnation. In fact they are one of many companies still using CentOS 6, seemingly because upgrading to version 7 can be inviting a wide range of unwanted issues.

Oddly, CentOS 7 is still supported until 2024, three years later than CentOS 8. Will there be another sudden shifting of ‘end of life’, this time for CentOS 7? I for one would not be at all surprised if there were.

CentOS ‘Stream’

In 2019 Red Hat declared that CentOS would be reborn as CentOS Stream, though many felt that it would just become a Red Hat Beta much like Fedora. Red Hat were quick to respond to this saying that it was not the case.

However, there is a matter of semantics here, for while it is true that Fedora is rather more upstream, CentOS Stream is going to be a prequel of Red Hat’s next major/minor releases and is therefore something of a Red Hat Beta after all.

The question in everyone’s mind will ultimately be ‘how buggy will CentOS Stream be?’ For the answer to that, we shall just have to wait and see.