CentOS Stream: Everything You Need to Know About it

What is CentOS Stream? In this article, we shall discuss everything that you need to know about CentOS Stream.

Let’s begin with a quick history refresher. As you know, CentOS, one of the most popular Linux distributions, will no longer be supported for CentOS 8, starting December 31, 2021, while the support for CentOS 7 will end on June 30, 2024..

The CentOS team encourages the current CentOS 8 users to update to CentOS Stream, but this might not be accepted easily, and many might migrate to another distro.

So from now on, all the effort will be focused on CentOS Stream.

Why was CentOS Stream Created?

Shortening the Feedback Loop for Ecosystem Developers to Contribute Their Changes

By working in CentOS Stream between Fedora and RHEL, ecosystem developers will be working on a rolling preview of what’s coming in the next RHEL release. This will allow them to make changes much faster than they can today.

Developing in the Open

RHEL development is currently done with many of Red Hat’s ecosystem partners working behind Red Hat’s firewall. CentOS Stream enables Red Hat and the larger community to do as much transparent development as possible in what will become the next release of RHEL.

Enabling Access to Innovation Faster

Beginning with RHEL 8, Red Hat committed to releasing major versions of RHEL every three years and minor releases every six months. Adhering to this faster and more predictable cadence means that Red Hat needs a midstream development environment that anyone can contribute to. That environment is CentOS Stream.

Providing a Straightforward Method for the Broader Community to Contribute to Rhel Releases

When Fedora was RHEL’s only upstream project, most developers were limited to contributing only to the next major release of RHEL. With CentOS Stream, all developers will be able to contribute new features and bug fixes to minor RHEL releases.

What is CentOS Stream?

CentOS Stream 8 Desktop

CentOS Stream is a rolling-release Linux distro that exists as a midstream between the upstream development in Fedora Linux and the downstream development for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

It looks forward to the next minor version of RHEL. It sits in-between Fedora, which focuses on integrating upstream projects into the operating system, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is more focused on responding to enterprise customer needs.

With CentOS Stream, Red Hat is doing its development work out. Now they will assemble all their changes publicly as CentOS Stream. First, let’s see where this distro resides in Red Hat’s development lifecycle.

CentOS Stream relationship to RHEL and Fedora

Red Hat directs the distro development, and it’s targeted again at the very next minor version of RHEL. So ecosystem developers of CentOS Stream get a preview of what RHEL has planned for the next minor release, and they also get a place to register ideas about what they think comes next.

With CentOS Stream in-between Fedora and RHEL, Red Hat can make decisions and communicate them earlier to the ecosystem as a whole.

For example, suppose RHEL is going in a particular direction for one minor release. In that case, the folks out in public can notice that change, comment on it, and even propose changes themselves a lot earlier.

So developers know what’s coming and this shared space of collaboration lets Red Hat practice upstream first by landing features in Fedora, giving those features an enterprise flavor in CentOS Stream.

CentOS Stream is an upstream development platform for ecosystem developers. It is a continuous stream of content with updates several times daily, encompassing the latest and greatest from the RHEL codebase.

It’s a view into what the next version of RHEL will look like, available to a much broader community than just a beta or ‘preview’ release.

Chris Wright, vice president, and CTO at Red Hat

To put things short, CentOS Streams users will test RHEL ahead of everyone, but they won’t get security updates till resolved in RHEL.

For more information about CentOS Stream, you can visit the project’s website.

Should We Continue Using CentOS?

Many people are confused about whether CentOS Stream is a good future path for current users of CentOS Linux. However, millions of users have been using CentOS as a stable point distribution for their servers, virtual machines, and appliances.

So, at the moment, current CentOS users face one key question: Should we continue using CentOS?

Let’s see the facts: Instead of being the stable RHEL clone, CentOS Stream is slated to be a constantly morphing OS representing the work that Red Hat’s engineers are doing to build the upcoming RHEL release.

As you know, the most significant advantage of CentOS was its stability. Without it, many have no reason to continue using it. The users usually don’t want to rely on strategies for servers. They want it to work.

No one wants to be running a mission-critical environment on an untested OS, and ultimately CentOS Stream is a testing channel for RHEL. Therefore, no one will waste their time using a server distribution that can’t be considered stable.

In addition, CentOS Stream is a rolling release distro, which could be a problem when we are talking about servers. Therefore, the short answer is NO.

New distributions like AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux are 1:1 binary compatible RHEL forks branding themselves as a CentOS replacement. You can even migrate directly from CentOS to Rocky Linux with just one command.

Another option is to move directly to RHEL, get paid support, and be on a stable release.

Bottom Line

Like CentOS, CentOS Stream is entirely free to download, use and distribute, with no limitations on how many instances an individual user or organization can deploy. But CentOS Stream is much different from traditional CentOS Linux.

CentOS Stream is a distribution that community members can use to take advantage of a stable API for development and testing while still seeing some updates on an accelerated basis. With it, you can now contribute directly to RHEL.

IMHO, IBM/Red Hat probably no longer wants businesses to see CentOS as a viable option for servers. Nevertheless, some users may migrate their current CentOS systems to CentOS Stream, especially if they like testing the newest features and don’t rely on having highly predictable systems.

But when dealing with a server, especially if it’s a production server that your company depends on for business, you probably should consider migrating to another Linux distro.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

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

Think You're an Ubuntu Expert? Let's Find Out!

Put your knowledge to the test in our lightning-fast Ubuntu quiz!
Ten questions to challenge yourself to see if you're a Linux legend or just a penguin in the making.

1 / 10

Ubuntu is an ancient African word that means:

2 / 10

Who is the Ubuntu's founder?

3 / 10

What year was the first official Ubuntu release?

4 / 10

What does the Ubuntu logo symbolize?

5 / 10

What package format does Ubuntu use for installing software?

6 / 10

When are Ubuntu's LTS versions released?

7 / 10

What is Unity?

8 / 10

What are Ubuntu versions named after?

9 / 10

What's Ubuntu Core?

10 / 10

Which Ubuntu version is Snap introduced?

The average score is 68%