Goodbye CentOS 8, and Thanks for Everything!

Goodbye CentOS 8, and Thanks for Everything!

The day has finally arrived! Today, December 31, 2021, CentOS Linux 8 reaches End-of-Life (EOL).

For years, many Linux system administrators have been using CentOS for their Linux servers. In addition, most web and server hosting companies also offered CentOS as their default operating system. In other words, CentOS has been dominant in the Linux server field recently.

In December 2020, Red Hat announced that it would discontinue CentOS based on RedHat releases. So naturally, this came as quite a shock for the CentOS community. And this is where history repeats itself.

Let me remind you. In 2004, Red Hat did the same thing by EOL’ing all versions of Red Hat Linux and forcing users to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Although the news was announced as early as December last year, many Linux system administrators and developers still feel at a loss. Of course, the system running CentOS 8 will not crash overnight, but security and other updates will no longer continue from the beginning of next year.

So, CentOS 8 is about to die. What can you do now? Fortunately, there are excellent and reliable options for CentOS 8 replacements.

What Is the Best Replacement for CentOS 8?

You can try CentOS Stream, but that’s not the same thing. So it’s time for a change.

In my opinion, at this level, there are two most viable CentOS 8 replacements out there – Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. Therefore, I strongly recommend you limit your choice to one of these two distros.

Rocky Linux

Rocky Linux is designed as a drop-in CentsOS replacement. It was created by the same person who birthed CentOS into being, Gregory Kurtzer, and Rocky follows the same mission of offering an enterprise-ready version of Linux.

The distro is a complete binary-compatible release using the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system source code. So to switch from CentOS 8 to the latest Rocky release, follow our excellent guide on the subject, “CentOS 8 to Rocky Linux 8 Migration: A Step-by-Step Tutorial.”

AlmaLinux

CloudLinux, a longtime CentOS supporter, is recreating the same model to support RHEL clones called AlmaLinux. Although CloudLinux is largely funding AlmaLinux, it doesn’t own the project or the copyright on the software it produces. Instead, the project is 100% owned by the community.

Like Rocky Linux, AlmaLinux walks in step with RHEL. So, for example, the latest version of AlmaLinux 8.5 is an exact copy of RHEL 8.5.

If you have CentOS 8 installed, an automated migration script is available to help you migrate seamlessly to the latest version of AlmaLinux.

Indeed, AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux have found the perfect solution to make migrating processes very simple. Furthermore, the migrations are done “in-place,” meaning that all your data, apps, and settings will be preserved.

Conclusion

If you use CentOS 7, you do not need to take any urgent actions right now. This is because CentOS 7 will reach EOL status on June 30, 2024. But I still recommend you to go through our short and easy-to-follow tutorial, “How to Migrate CentOS 7 to AlmaLinux 8: A Step-by-Step Guide.”

Last but not least, on a personal note, I would like to thank the CentsOS community for creating, distributing, and maintaining the CentOS operating system for so many years. It was undoubtedly one of the best server distros out there. Unfortunately, it’s time to say goodbye! Thanks for everything!

Bobby Borisov
Bobby Borisov

Bobby is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, Bobby has worked as a Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

40 Comments

  1. Dude. I really liked your title. But I’m tired of reading CentOS is done. Stream is as good as CentOS. Even better. It’s not just a copy. We can contribute to it and influence they in the process.

    Even better, all rhel maintainers will be working on it and fixing bugs ASAP. We will have rhel support (via bugzilla)… we didn’t really have that before.

    Migration is two commands away.

    Stop fueling the myth and just hop on to stream. It rocks.

    • CentOS is dead. Keep in mind a huge number of the servers running cent are using software. To keep simple I will limit to cPanel which can not nor ever will use stream. This is the third time Red hat has done this to us and due to this the project must fork off to maintain the original goal of a RHEL clone with trailing updates.

      Yes some projects can migrate to stream but RH has lost our trust and violated terms of the promise made when RH bought CentOS

    • Switching from a stable bug for bug community release with no surprises to what amounts to an upstream rolling release in forever beta isn’t acceptable. I really, really hope you don’t manage anything in production on CentOS Stream because you’re going to eventually get burned by it, it’s not intended for anything mission critical with extremely high uptime or SLA requirements. Stream would be fine for a UAT or Lab environment but its not smart for a production server to run a rolling release upstream of the stable version. The best things to do would be to bite the bullet and pay for RHEL, or switch to Rocky or Alma.

      • With all die respect, this “forever beta” concept is an illusion. Linux is always beta. That’s how it is. Even RHEL.

        One always runs into issues to solve. That’s humanity for you; we are imperfect. I am ok with that.

        I have ~40 production systems in Stream 8 since it came out. Everything has been fine so far.

        I’ve seen critical systems running Gentoo and Fedora. It is what it is.

        IMHO, one needs to embrace change. We’re using free software here. That’s the price of freedom.

        • What you seem to be missing is that CentOS is a stable OS just like RHEL. Those of us that need a stable OS for mission critical applications cannot use upstream builds because they are not proven from a stability or security standpoint. Things like backported bug fixes instead of forcing new versions is the whole reason many people use CentOS. Companies that have standardized on CentOS and have products build on top of it with the expectation that RedHat would honor its promise are now in a very difficult position. Either switch to RHEL and pay, or choose a clone distro that will need to be certified by enterprises(they don’t care if it’s a clone of RHEL).
          This is a nasty cash grab by redhat to force enterprises into buying RHEL licenses because they know they can do it. This is going to impact many small to medium software companies very badly.

          • I see your point. Indeed, when one requires stability, change isn’t that cool, right? But you cannot avoid it.

            I don’t see this as a “cash grab”. Companies can get 32 free subscriptions (said licenses before) for development (per account) any day. They don’t need to pay anything. In fact, in some blog, RHEL said that every dev in a company was entitled to those subscriptions. If you have 10 devs, you can get 320. A cash grabber doesn’t do those things, wouldn’t you agree?

            I don’t want to make you feel you’re wrong. You aren’t. I just don’t see it the same way as you.

            As I said multiple times in other comments, this is a good thing from my PoV; not a bad one. And I really like how the CentOS community is organizing things. I follow their announcements in YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-IoMrffK5xG1UI-skkTlcA

    • It is not so easy. Many higher level apps (plesk and add-ons just to name onr) simply won’t work / have strange problems working with Stream in few things. Alma works great… I understand It need time to migrate all the ecosystem around, however as I have personally spend 100’s hours to migrate C7 apps to C8 (finished last year) and then reading C8 EOL is just half a year away… I do not have trust in RH as a company anymore. I fully understand it’s a business decision, a lot of trash talk is flying around the web this year, but that short ETA was a.killer for me. Even if Stream would be exact copy … What will be next?

      • Yes. They need to get up to speed. What’s new with that? If they do, you’ll have a much better system.

        About migration, that is a neverending job. It’s part of our line of work. It’s fun too.

    • “It’s worked fine so far” is not an encouraging metric for people trying to design a system stable enough to be administered by others with an unknown skill level in Linux administration. It’s even less encouraging for those trying to design an app based on a Linux server that absolutely must produce consistent, reproducible results every time it is deployed.

      Personally I tend to avoid using Red Hat because most of what I’m doing these days involves software closer to the leading edge of technology. I have found Ubuntu provides the best balance of modernization and stabilization for my purposes (especially with their LTS’). But I understand why Red Hat / Rocky Linux exists. They serve a market that craves absolute stability for very long periods of time even at the expense of modern features. Hence: CentOS Stream is just not a good idea for those markets.

      • there is no such thing as absolute stability. I mean, look at it this way. Fedora is upstream to all. CentOS Stream follows. Then, RHEL (super close to it).

        We’re talking about an OS based on Fedora; maintanied by RHEL engineers and the community. From my point of view, a dream come true.

        I’ve been on the Ubuntu path… good luck. The quality is super lacking and the community sucks.

        • “there is no such thing as absolute stability” is not a reason to abandon the work toward absolute stability. A distro focused on the goal of absolute stability is likely to be much closer to the unobtainable goal than one that is focused on the newest features. There’s no such thing as absolute safety, yet we wear seatbelts, install brakes and ABS systems, airbags, etc. We do what we can to achieve the most desirable outcome. And when stability is the most desirable outcome, consistency tends to beat newest features.

          Also: I have always had a great experience with the Ubuntu community and their quality has been pretty solid for about a decade. They started off a bit rough. I think my first version was 6.10. But around 12.04 things really came together and it’s only gotten better since. Not sure about SNAP, but every other aspect been a breeze to work with.

    • CentOS Stream is DESIGNED to change anytime RHEL devel team wants to change something.
      1. That includes that KERNEL can change AT ANY MOMENT! so any system with hardware that RHEL does not support can not rely on CentOS Stream kernel being compatible with 3rd-party driver someone else created for your use. That includes STORAGE and NETWORK drivers not supported by RHEL. Imagine remotely rebooting just updated system and wondering why it does not boot back…. for RHEL and it’s clones there is ElRepo repository, but not that they at once stated they will NOT SUPPORT CentOS Stream!
      2. No sane admin will install CentOS Stream, basically ALPHA version of OS, on its production system and hope RHEL will not change something before next minor version of RHEL is released because they decided to fix something before releasing stable RHEL version.
      If you think I do not know what I a talking about check CentOS ailing lists for my name and read all the back and forth I and others had with deceiving Red Hat employees. I was one of most prominent opponents to their (IBM?) plans, but that meant little.
      Only thing Stream is good for is for developers of application running on RHEL to release their software (support) as soon as new minor version of RHEL is released…

      • On #1, I have never heard of that happening with CentOS stream nor do I expect it to happen. I just don’t think it is as you say.

        On #2, that’s exaggerated. If you wanted to look at it that way, you would say Fedora rawhide is Alpha; making Fedora Beta and CentOS RC.

        One thing to understand is the closeness that CentOS will have to RHEL. You will not see major changes in the middle of the release, I would bet my liver on that. It would be super counter productive for the RHEL team to do so.

  2. Another one. Did you know that the CentOS Stream community is working with Alma Linux to facilitate migration to the former?

    Think about that for a second.

    They don’t want us to leave, yet, they’re making it easy for you to do so on case you want it.

    This only happens with free software, man.

    • Not surprising and exactly why Steam is the problem. If they were working on maintaining the ability to always have the option migrate to the later from the former that would be more useful and possibly a reason to try stream.

    • It is a free stuff
      You shouldn’t ask for a solid rock one
      I always pay for the thing I need
      Rolling centos is good as the old one in my viewpoint
      We used centos for years without knowing what happens under the hood
      And now we cannot hold the horse when they change the name of that free stuff

      • Well said.

        I only disagree on the first thing you said. You actually should ask for a rock solid OS. This is why we report bugs and, if we can, propose fixes or fix them directly.

        We weren’t able to do this before with CentOS. It was just a binary copy of RHEL. Now, we can!

  3. @Renich
    I think message here is that CentOS Streams is not a choice for production system, it’s a playground for RHEL, but I don’t think that community will support as all contribution goes to enterprise version instead of stable CentOS.
    Renich, would you contribute for something what will be available only for users who paid for subscription and you won’t get nothing from it.

    • It is not. I’ve been running ~40 production servers since the beginning. No issues so far. It works fine.

      I am sad that you see it that way. CentOs/Red hat have given us so much over the years. I am happy to contribute to a project that ends up powering important apps.

      Besides, working with such teams is awesome. One learns a lot.

      I’d be happy contribute there; as I have contributed to Fedora.

  4. Another great option is Oracle Linux. I know Oracle has left a bad taste in the open source community. But Oracle Linux is a very stable RHEL clone. We are switching our CentOS over to it. Also you can use 16 RHEL licenses for free, so RHEL itself may be a good option for smaller environments.

    • same here we switched to OL and we are happy so far. Now my to cents to the whole thing. Not is was not IBM’s decision to can CentOS, RedHat had this planned for a while. Also I fullyt understand RedHat as everyone was getting a freebie and now ppl are shocked, that they can’t run for free. I would never switch to Rocky as the same guy already once sold CentOS to RedHat and will do it again, he is not to be trusted.

    • Also went with Oracle. Going into the evaluation, expected it to be the choice to avoid but it was the only one besides RH (Centos was, but not Centos stream) that was supported by some third party apps. 95% of the vms upgraded (of a few hundred) in place easily. Main issue of the 5% was from additional repos that were added, and don’t know if other distros would of handled an upgrade in-place any better or not. Those with issue were easy enough to redo, just had to track down slightly different repo and package names.

      Due to third party support, you should consider Oracle on your short list. I might consider a non RH based distro after EL8.

  5. After what RedHat did issuing an OS with an expected EOL date then just deciding to kill it off entirely is the very reason I can’t trust anything related to RH here on out. Debian is a way better ecosystem and since switching can’t be happier.

    Face it everyone could switch to stream and the RH decides to change things again with no warning. Sorry, this was the final straw with RH and not only will I not touch anything CENTOS but nothing built off of it or redhat. I have 0 trust in them now.

  6. Why did you leave out Oracle Linux? I know.. Oracle… with all of their lawyers and license rules. But, on the other side, Oracle can probably out lawyer IBM, and not get bullied to move to streams. Oracle makes it just as easy to move from Centos, in place, no reinstall needed. They also have been doing the free linux thing for a long time.

  7. Isso não é um bom sinal, mas os desenvolvedores ao redor do mundo já deveriam ter entendido que uma hora isso iria acontecer. Mas eles continuam a fazer cada um do seu modo e não ajudam aqueles que se propõe a desenvolver um sistema aberto na maioria dos casos (veja o GNU hurd) entre outros. Em todo caso Alma Linux irá suprir as necessidades… a pergunta é,: Até quando??? Bye Bye Powerfull CentOS and thank you for all…

  8. CENTOS is one the best O.S as my opinion. Fully compatible and good for servers usage. Sed to here of going Centos8 and hope so we continue use Centos 7 till 2024

  9. I find it interesting how sometimes free software doing what free software is meant to enable surprises people.
    Red hat has put a lot of effort attracting and supporting enterprise users. They also supported Centos. And free software being free software, they do nothing to impede Rocky or Alma.
    I also find “interesting” reading “CentOS developers” when it’s mostly packagers. And when I read “CentOS is the best OS” my mind translates it to “Red Hat is the best OS”. So I find it ridiculous/incomprehensible to read people praising CentOS or Alma or Rocky disparaging Redhat. Without Red Hat there would be no CentOS, Alma or Rocky.

  10. Remember, folks, this is Free Software. If you want those guarantees, you can pay for a support contract. That’s what RHEL is for. Remember that CentOS started as a community project in the first place, and now AlmaLinux and RockyLinux are taking their places. This is just like how CentOS got started back in the day. I see little reason for hand-wringing here.

    I used to use CentOS until version 6 went EOL. I have mostly switched to Debian, with Slackware for some boxes. Now that Slackware officially uses slackpkg, it’s very nearly as easy to use as apt-get, and Slackware is as solid a distro as they come. And Debian’s stability is likewise well known for more than two decades and running.

    BTW, Ubuntu Server LTS releases are good choices, too.

  11. Renich, you have a very narrow and immature understanding of linux in corporate america. I have hundreds of systems running in a centos 7 high perfomance computing cluster running dozens of applications that require specific glibc versions that are tied to centos 7/redhad 7. You think an upstream version will be supported by vendors? Your naive.

  12. @ Renich
    Product Order…
    – Fedora
    – CentOS-Stream
    – RHEL

    There is a reason RHEL is last in the Product Life Cycle. Red Hat (IBM) would never use a rolling/semi-rolling/Cutting Edge model system for its Enterprise level business. If RHEL is good enough for IBM/Red Hat to use, then it should be stated for other companies that base their model off of RHEL. Don’t you think? You’d be crazy to base your company’s product life cycle on cutting edge and/or beta software.

    Drink all the IBM Koolaid you want, but I ain’t buying it. All they did was just flip the community contribution model. CentOS stream is a money grab on top of community contributions into RHEL. IBM knows there are enough partnerships out there that would either be lost or strengthened depending on the model one chooses. Fortune 500-1000 corporations with thousands of employees and partnerships using CentOS will elect to pony up for RHEL, rather than risk destroying its business. Nothing wrong with that. But lets call a spade a spade.

  13. I recently tested Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. Rocky came out on top by a mile. AlmaLinux would not even show my flash drive on the desktop no matter what I did. This is a very serious bug! Plus they have no forum. Debian is also rock solid as a server. I gave up on Ubuntu back in 2012 (way too buggy since then), openSuse is an install nightmare, Fedora flip flops from one release to another and Oracle is simply too expensive. Bottom line? Go for Rocky Linux or Debian.

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