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The full blog post from Red Hat CTO Chris Wright expanding upon the updates to CentOS Stream can be read here.

Q: What is being announced regarding the CentOS Project?

Following up on our September 2019 announcement of the creation of CentOS Stream, we are now announcing that our sponsorship of CentOS Linux will be changing in December 2021. We have worked with the CentOS Project Governing Board as part of this change.

CentOS Stream is an upstream development platform designed for CentOS community members, Red Hat partners, ecosystem developers, and many other groups to more quickly and easily see what’s coming in the next version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and to help shape these capabilities. Since its introduction in 2019, we’ve seen great enthusiasm from partners and contributors around CentOS Stream and the continuous stream of innovation that the project provides.

On December 8, 2020, we are announcing this timeline for CentOS Linux and CentOS Stream sponsorship by Red Hat:

  • There will not be a CentOS Linux 9.

  • Updates for the CentOS Linux 8 distribution continue until December 31, 2021.

  • Updates for the CentOS Linux 7 distribution continue as before until June 30, 2024.

  • Updates for the CentOS Linux 6 distribution ended November 30, 2020.

  • CentOS Stream 9 will launch in Q2 2021 as part of the RHEL 9 development process.

  • Updates for the CentOS Stream 8 distribution continue through the full RHEL support phase.

Q: Why is this change being made?

CentOS Stream sits as the development platform between the Fedora Project’s leading edge operating system innovation and RHEL’s production stability. We believe that the real value of open source lies in innovating and solving problems and have learned that a rebuild or clone doesn’t provide that opportunity. Shifting resources and investments to CentOS Stream will further drive Linux innovation by giving the broader ecosystem community a closer connection to and ability to participate in the development of RHEL.

Q: What is CentOS Stream and where can I get it?

CentOS Stream is a new Linux development platform from the CentOS Project designed to increase transparency and collaboration around the RHEL development process. Open to anyone, CentOS Stream provides early access to the development stream of the next release of RHEL. You can download it here: https://centos.org/download

Q: Why was CentOS Stream created?

We started CentOS Stream for several reasons including:

  • Shortening the feedback loop for ecosystem developers - including OEMs, ISVs, and Application 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. Currently, much of RHEL development is done with many of our 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 the release of 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 we need a midstream development environment that anyone can contribute to. That environment is CentOS Stream.

  • Providing a clear 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 into minor RHEL releases as well.

Q: What about the other releases of CentOS Linux?

  • There will not be a CentOS Linux 9.

  • Updates for the CentOS Linux 8 distribution continue until December 31, 2021.

  • Updates for the CentOS Linux 7 distribution continue as before until June 30, 2024.

  • Updates for the CentOS Linux 6 distribution ended November 30, 2020.

Q: What about the releases of CentOS Stream?

  • CentOS Stream 9 will launch in Q2 2021 as part of the RHEL 9 development process.

  • Updates for the CentOS Stream 8 distribution continue through the full RHEL support phase.

Q: How does this affect Special Interest Groups (SIGs)?

With CentOS Stream, the CentOS contributor community has a great deal of influence in the future of RHEL. CentOS Stream Special Interest Groups (SIGs) become an even more important point of collaboration. They will have a single focus for developing and testing against what becomes the next release of RHEL.

Q: How will this change affect Fedora and other Linux distributions?

It doesn’t. Fedora has always been our upstream "proving ground" where the community innovates and experiments, and that won’t change. Fedora will remain the starting point of RHEL. It’s where every RHEL release has originated, and is where RHEL 9 will originate, too. Fedora Enterprise Linux Next is the development space for ideas that may be present in the next major release of RHEL, and CentOS Stream is now firmly in place as the development environment between Fedora and RHEL.

CentOS Stream is aimed at improving the overall development, testing, and ecosystem certification process for Red Hat’s partners and customers. Red Hat is a leader in developing Linux platforms, both at the product and community level, but we are not the only option here. Other companies and communities may adapt innovations that evolve within CentOS Stream or may go their own way entirely. This is the beauty of open source and Linux in general: different nuanced paths can evolve, building around the same upstream kernel, to meet specific challenges.

Q: What has happened with CentOS Stream over the past year?

We’ve seen our ecosystem embrace CentOS Stream as a "rolling preview" of what’s next in RHEL, both in terms of kernels and features. For example, Facebook runs millions of servers supporting its vast global social network, all of which have been migrated (or are migrating) to an operating system they derive from CentOS Stream. While Facebook continues to drive internal innovation on CentOS Stream, the company has recognized the value in collaborating within the Red Hat ecosystem to further push their platform’s capabilities. Intel is also excited about the potential of CentOS Stream within the company’s customer ecosystem.

Q: What does this mean for users of CentOS Linux?

The creation of CentOS Stream provides a new mechanism for partners and community members to add innovation to the next version of RHEL as it’s being built instead of after it’s built. We also recognize that there are different kinds of CentOS Linux users, and we are working with the CentOS Project Governing Board to tailor programs that meet the needs of different user groups.

In the first half of 2021, we will be introducing low- or no-cost programs for a variety of use cases, including options for open source projects and communities, partner ecosystems and an expansion of the use cases of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Developer subscription to better serve the needs of systems administrators and partner developers. We’ll share more details on these initiatives as they become available. For those converting to RHEL, there is guidance available today for converting from CentOS Linux to RHEL.

Q: Which Red Hat platforms should I develop on?

Red Hat provides platforms to address a broad spectrum of developer needs, including:

  • Fedora Linux - A community project for those who want to build the operating system and integrate all the associated open source projects. This is where Red Hat and the larger community do the work of fast-paced operating system innovation. That work accrues to CentOS Stream and ultimately to RHEL.

  • CentOS Stream - A community project for ecosystem developers who want to see what is coming in the next version of RHEL and need to introduce changes that enable their hardware or software. It also provides a place to develop technologies and tools so they‘re ready for the next version of RHEL.

  • The Red Hat Universal Base Image - A powerful tool for containerized application developers that provides a safer, more secure and free-of-charge redistributable container base image for creating containerized, cloud-native enterprise applications. With the Red Hat Universal Base Image, developers can more easily create certified applications for production deployment on RHEL and across Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud portfolio, including Red Hat OpenShift. It also enables compatible container images with other operating systems.

  • The RHEL Developer subscription - A free-of-charge, self-supported subscription for individuals (and soon, teams) who want to develop and test on Red Hat’s commercial, enterprise operating system product. It provides a development/test environment for applications that are meant to be deployed in production on the stable, secure, and high-performing foundation of RHEL. We also recommend that you join the Red Hat Developer Program. For partners, we recommend that you join the Red Hat Partner Connect program.

Q: Which Red Hat platform should I deploy on?

  • If you’re an individual user running a server for personal production use, we are launching a program soon that will ease your consumption of RHEL. Please contact us at centos-questions@redhat.com if you want to be notified when this program launches.

  • If you’re part of an open source project or community or providing free, public continuous integration (CI) and build infrastructure, we are launching a program soon that will ease your consumption of RHEL. Please contact us at centos-questions@redhat.com if you want to be notified when this program launches.

  • If you’re a non-profit/NGO/Research/Academic organization, please contact us at centos-questions@redhat.com. We want to work with you to develop a program to ease your consumption of RHEL.

  • If you’re using containers, the Red Hat Universal Base Image provides a free-of-charge, redistributable, and developer-ready image for creating and deploying cloud-native enterprise applications. It also enables compatible container images with other operating systems.

  • If you’re using CentOS Linux in a commercial deployment, we suggest you look at moving to RHEL for the added management technologies, security, and support that are an integral part of the RHEL subscription. Our sales teams can help you identify the appropriate offerings that match your use case.

Converting from CentOS Linux to RHEL is easy. You can download the convert2RHEL tool and do it yourself, or Red Hat can help you make this conversion. We recognize that not every workload belongs on RHEL; however, in our opinion, every production workload is best supported on RHEL.

Q: How can I get involved?

CentOS Stream is open to anyone and provides early access to the development stream of the next release of RHEL. You can download it here: https://centos.org/download.

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