2020 will be for most people one of the worst years in their living memory. The world is under lockdown because of SARS-Corona Virus 2 or better Covid-19. As I’m a member of a risk group, my social life is already for almost 9 month limited to telephone and video calls.
And on top of all that, in the last month of 2020 two of my favorite software projects changed directions and removed the main reasons why I’m using them. This blog post is about Centos. The Graylog Blog post was Part I.
I use Red Hat since 1999. First Red Hat 6, then I got my RHCE with Red Hat 6.2. Which was fun to explain when RHEL6 was released ;-). I moved to Fedora with the release 1 and started using it as my main desktop machine since then. I was the second RHCA in Europe and #8 worldwide. I was a professionel Red Hat trainer and examiner from 2000 to 2010. I owe my job in IT partly to Red Hat. I’m a Fedora ambassador and Fedora packager. But due to time restrains, both are dormant for some time now. I also was in the room, when for the first time, people from Red Hat were talking to the CentOS team at a Fosdem conference many years ago. I was sitting in the room at a Red Hat Summit when Ginni Rometty told Jim Whitehurst that “Red Hat will be a separate entity inside IBM“. Each time trust was the most important thing for me.
I really like Red Hat, even when I was never employed by them, only freelancing for them. I have an original red Fedora from the IPO of Red Hat stocks in 1999 and I learned to trust Red Hat since then. Red Hat said we only do Open Source, and when they bought Netscape in 2004, it took them a long time, but finally the Fedora Directory Server (now called 389 Directory Server) was released as an Open Source product. When Red Hat bought Qumranet, they released their KVM based Virualization Solution (now Ovirt). OK, they had to port it away from Windows and IIS first, but finally they released it. When Red Hat bought ansible and they also released the Ansible Tower, as they said they would.
The same trust was applied when Red Hat’s CTO Chris Wright said in an interview a year ago: ‘So, if you need a stable RHEL-like operating system, CentOS will still be there for you‘ and ‘In other words, nothing changes for current users of CentOS.‘
But in December of 2020 my trust in Red Hat and Centos (now part of Red Hat, now part of IBM) was deeply eroded (if not shuttered) when the removal of Centos 8 was announced. In the beginning of the year the webpage of Centos stated Centos 8 will be supported until 2028. But unfortunately in December 2020 it was changed to end of the year 2021 instead.
I use Centos Stream 8 on one of my machines and with that I can have a look at the future of RHEL 8 and therefore Centos 8. I really liked that, and saw huge potential for Centos. The look on RHEL 8.4 Beta would be boring, because I was already running Centos Stream 8. The same way in which a look at Fedora 33 gives you a glimps into RHEL 9, or more precise, at Fedora ENL (=Enterprise Linux Next).
I have a couple of internal machines running with Fedora, where I have no problems that I have to update all the time. As the machines are not so important.
But my personal main machine – running my mailserver, webserver etc. – I want to run on a stable platform, without the need to jump versions all the time. It should be based on RHEL, because I really like Red Hat, rpm and especially SELinux.
One of the questions on everybody’s mind is: “How much influence had IBM in this decision?”. I don’t know, but after almost 20 years of dealing with Red Hat, a broken promise occurring directly after the IBM / Red Hat takeover is – at least – suspicious.
Finally Centos will not support version 8 for more than 5 years (ok, maybe 6). That is OK, but not the promised 10 years. Because the updates for Red Hat are so hard that a re-install is needed every 10 years. This is good to get rid of all the old stuff, that was laying around and got rotten.
If you are updated from 7 to 8 already, than you will likely to update to 9 before 8 is EOL, but if you have updated already in the last 2 years from 6 to 8, than Centos is not a solution for you anymore.
What is the end effect of all this? I see three possible future scenarios, for people who want the promised 10 years:
1.) Red Hat re-thinks their decision and they stay to their word – continuing with Centos 8 as promised and switching to the new system with ‘Centos 9’. This way, they keep their word, because changing the game with a new version – is fair game and not a broken promise.
2.) Rocky Linux is available and running at the EOL time. Anyone who wants to run a stable RHEL-like distro can move to Rocky Linux 8 and stay there until RHEL 8 is EOLed.
3.) Oracle Linux. Yes, Oracle Linux. Yes, I have the “Unfakeable Linux” T-Shirt and wear it proud and often. Nevertheless I was testing OL7 when Centos 7 was taking a very long time to appear. Also they still offer a RHEL like free distribution with full 10 years of lifetime. Something that Centos did for a long time and will not offer any longer. Of course, I would prefer Rocky Linux, but Oracle Linux is already available and I’m sure a lot of Centos User who want long-time stability will move there. Great idea of Red Hat – pushing people to Oracle. Really a great move. This is what your breaking of trust has led to. Of course I don’t trust that Oracle Linux will continue to offer free OL forever, but I did trust in the past, that Red Hat will do what they announced. And what has this trust led me to?
P.S.: But at the end one a more positive note: Maybe the Centos Team has now more time to support an update from Centos Stream 8 to Centos Stream 9. One can only hope!