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In December 2020, Red Hat announced that we would be focusing our CentOS Project engineering efforts and investments solely on CentOS Stream, an upstream open source development platform where users can develop, test and contribute to a continuously delivered distribution that tracks just ahead of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Since this announcement, we’ve seen significant activity both within and around the CentOS Stream community, including the launch of several derivative operating systems and the introduction of Red Hat Enterprise Linux programs to ease the migration process for users of CentOS Linux.

So where does CentOS Stream stand now? 

From Red Hat’s point of view, we’ve seen the contributing community grow in a variety of ways, from the expansion of special interest groups (SIGs) to new voices on the CentOS Project Board of Directors. These fundamental pieces of the project indicate engagement and health to us, so we wanted to share some of these successes.

The expansion of SIGs

CentOS Stream was created in part to help drive more innovation within the RHEL ecosystem, and SIGs play a major role in this process. While SIGs existed in previous iterations of the CentOS community, they were primarily focused on rebuilding the past versus inventing the future. As a part of CentOS Stream SIGs, contributors, from individuals and end users to independent software vendors (ISVs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), can help add capabilities and features to enterprise Linux that are informed by their unique needs and skills. 

Over the past nine months, we’ve seen several key SIGs emerge (with more on the horizon) to help further push specific areas of innovation:

  • Hyperscale SIG: Launched in January 2021, the Hyperscale SIG aims to add features and capabilities to CentOS Stream for large-scale environments. Facebook, Twitter and Datto are just a few of the companies leading this SIG as it continues to build out its scope for the future.  

  • kmods SIG: This group, led by contributors from Fermi National Laboratory, the University of Michigan and others, intends to enable and build kernel modules that are otherwise unavailable in CentOS Stream or RHEL. This group provides a place for specialized capabilities that are in demand for specific use cases but may not appeal to the broader CentOS Stream base.

  • CentOS Stream Feature Request SIG: Newly created, this SIG does exactly what its name suggests - it provides a place where contributors can advocate for specific changes. This isn’t just screaming into the void, however; the SIG helps contributors make sure that the right teams see their requests, providing a curated process for how patches are shepherded through CentOS Stream and not just heaved over the wall.

  • Infrastructure SIG: The Infrastructure SIG breaks out the day-to-day operations and technical management of CentOS Stream from the Board of Directors. While the Board sets the overall direction of the project, this SIG enables the contributors working in the trenches of the project to make the technical decisions that best meet the needs of the community.

  • Automotive SIG: Newly approved, this SIG further reinforces the vision and value of CentOS Stream as the place for innovation, even when it represents a new area of business for Red Hat. This also showcases how many companies who may traditionally be viewed as change-averse when it comes to IT (like auto manufacturers) are willing to embrace CentOS Stream to power their futures.

Evolved leadership

With the continued evolution of CentOS Stream and the CentOS Project, the intent is not to maintain "business as usual" but rather to extend in ways that can foster greater innovation from the community. To this end, we’ve added two new members to the CentOS Project Board of Directors: Facebook’s Davide Cavalca and Red Hat’s Josh Boyer. Note that directors act as individuals and don’t represent their employer, but these new voices help to provide broader perspective to the goals of the CentOS Project. We want the project’s leadership to be more transparent and community-focused; this also shows that a broader set of innovators outside of Red Hat see real value in not just contributing to CentOS Stream but actively helping to drive the project as well.

CentOS Stream: Ready for innovation

Even while SIGs continue to build out for specific use cases, CentOS Stream is open now for contributions and innovation. I encourage everyone interested in driving the future of enterprise Linux to check it out and participate at https://www.centos.org.


About the author

Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies.