CentOS Linux 8 is on the verge of death. What do you do after?


The end of CentOS 8 Linux has been around for some time now, and the day has finally arrived. On December 31, 2021, Red Hat’s CentOS Linux 8 will reach end of life (EOL). Since this falls right in the middle of the holiday season, Red Hat will be extending zero-day support for CentOS Linux 8 until January 31, 2022. Indeed, there will be a final version of CentOS Linux 8 – maybe even. after the official EOL of CentOS 8. After that, it’s over for CentOS Linux.

What can you do now?

Well, you can try CentOS Stream, but it’s not the same. Classic CentOS was a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone. CentOS Stream, however, “follows just before a current version of RHEL.” In other words, CentOS will no longer be a stable point distribution but an ongoing beta Linux distribution.

Why is it so bad? For years, experienced Linux users have used CentOS for their Linux server. The vast majority of web hosting and server companies offered CentOS as their default operating system. I manage my own remote servers and websites on CentOS provided by TMDHosting.

I am far from being alone. Besides small businesses like mine, as MongoDB evangelist Matt Asay points out, “IBM’s consulting practice… for years, has told its customers to ‘just use CentOS’. European fashion brands that would never allow someone to sell a copy of their very expensive bags are using CentOS. All of China’s telecommunications infrastructure runs on CentOS. (Yes, really.) Facebook is also based on CentOS. “

The main companies that depend on CentOS Linux are Disney, GoDaddy, RackSpace, Toyota, and Verizon. Other major tech companies are building products around CentOS. These include GE, Riverbed, F5, Juniper, and Fortinet.

CentOS was once everywhere. Now is the time for a change.

Granted, the previous version of CentOS, CentOS 7, will be supported until June 30, 2024. But if you want the most up-to-date RHEL clone, well, you’re out of luck soon.

Now what?

First of all, you can’t just upgrade to CentOS Stream. Red Hat CTO Chris Wright said, “CentOS Stream is not a replacement for CentOS Linux”. He is right. Red Hat considers CentOS Stream to be a DevOps-enabled, Continuously Integrated, Continuous Delivery (CI / CD) Linux. This is great for developers – not so great for businesses that want a stable RHEL-compatible Linux server or virtual machine (VM).

Here are your choices:

ALMALINUX

For many years, CentOS Linux has been loved by discerning Linux system administrators. They could use it and get all the RHELs without paying for support, unless they really needed help. Now, CloudLinux, a longtime supporter of CentOS, is recreating the same model to support its RHEL clone, AlmaLinux.

AlmaLinux is a solid RHEL clone. Like its enemy Rocky Linux, AlmaLinux works at the same pace as RHEL. For example, the latest version of AlmaLinux is AlmaLinux 8.5, which is an exact copy of RHEL 8.5.

The AlmaLinux Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind AlmaLinux, is also working on the open source ELevate project. This is an effort to enable migration between major versions of RHEL derivatives. So, for example, you can easily upgrade from CentOS 7.x to any RHEL 8.x clone.

ELevate does this by combining Red Hat’s Leapp framework with a community-created library and service for the required migration metadata set. This service, Package Evolution Service (PES), allows you to upload, customize, and submit new datasets for packages. Both users and managers can use PES to make migrations smooth and easy.

CloudLinux offers tiered support for AlmaLinux, which includes regular patches and updates for the Linux kernel and core packages, patch delivery service level agreements (SLAs), and support for 24/7 incidents. In addition, Perforce also offers commercial support for AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux.

AMAZON LINUX

Amazon Linux AMI 3.0, the latest private label of Amazon Web Services (AWS), which runs on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), is now based on Fedora, Red Hat’s Linux community.

Yes, Fedora is the Linux community beta for RHEL, but AWS assures users that Amazon Linux 3 is the knee of the bees.

It comes pre-installed with many AWS and CloudInit API tools. CloudInit provides the ability to pass instance configuration actions to instances at launch time through EC2 user data fields. This allows you to remotely configure Amazon EC2 instances.

The Amazon Linux AMI is provided at no additional cost to Amazon EC2 users. If you’re already running your CentOS servers on AWS, see Amazon Linux 3.0. It just might be your easiest and cheapest alternative.

CENTOS 8 WITH CLOUDLINUX SUPPORT

If you want to stick with CentOS 8 Linux, CloudLinux, a company with years of experience with CentOS, has a deal for you: CloudLinux TuxCare Extended Lifecycle.

The service offerings include 24/7 support and updates for system components on Linux operating systems that are no longer supported by their original vendor. CentOS 8 is an addition to TuxCare’s extended lifecycle support that covers otherwise obsolete Linux distributions, such as CentOS 6 and Oracle 6.

Pricing for the CentOS 8 TuxCare Extended Lifecycle Support Service starts at $ 4.50 per system per month and live patch services start at $ 3.95 per system per month. An annual subscription is available at a discount, and volume discounts are provided on 1K, 5K, and 10K + license levels.

CLOUDLINUX operating system

Another RHEL clone, CloudLinux set out to take RHEL and CentOS code and refine the resulting operating system into a lightweight, high-performance server for web hosting and multi-tenant server companies. They’ve been doing this since 2010 and they’re good at it. I have used CloudLinux OS myself and it works fine.

CloudLinux offers a script to convert existing CentOS servers without any client configuration or data modification to CloudLinux OS. A single server license costs $ 168 per year. If you choose more than one server, the license price drops per instance.

HPE CLEAROS

Do you have a small business that relies on CentOS on HPE ProLiant servers? A CentOS / RHEL compatible Linux is already ready and waiting for you: HPE ClearOS.

HPE’s main selling point for ClearOS is that with it, SMBs have an HPE Linux server out of the box. There are three versions: one free; an in-house edition that costs $ 36 per year; and a commercial edition that starts at $ 108 per year.

If you are already invested in HPE and are not a Linux expert, ClearOS is a great choice. I like (and know many other SMB users) that we only have one company for our hardware and software support.

ORACLE LINUX

Fifteen years ago, Oracle introduced its “own” Linux. I put “clean” in quotes because Oracle Linux has always been a copy of RHEL. This is not a bad thing now for CentOS users. But keep in mind that Oracle has never been so friendly to open source – just ask OpenSolaris fans.

Although Oracle Linux comes very close to being an exact RHEL clone, it does have a few differences. You will find some discrepancies in Glibc, OpenSSL, and other components. So if you need exactly what’s in RHEL, you should look elsewhere.

Yet Oracle saw its chance to finally get users for its not so popular Oracle Linux by quickly introducing scripts, which will take you quickly and automatically from CentOS 6, 7 or 8 to Oracle Linux. It is telling that it does not support porting from CentOS Stream.

I tested it myself and easily moved the CentOS 6 and 7 servers to Oracle Linux. However, if you are using Spacewalk or Foreman to manage your CentOS servers, you will not be able to use these scripts.

Oracle promises that Oracle Linux, source code and binaries will remain free. If you want support, it will cost you dearly. Oracle Linux Annual Support will charge you $ 1199.

RED HAT COMPANY LINUX

I know most of you are annoyed at Red Hat, but let’s face it. If you want a plug-and-play alternative to CentOS, nothing better. Now you can scream and curse whatever you want, but if your business depends on CentOS and you can’t afford the time and effort to switch to another platform, RHEL may be your best bet.

Prices for RHEL servers start at $ 349 without support. With standard support, the price of the RHEL server starts at $ 799.

ROCKY LINUX

CentOS had a long and successful history before Red Hat acquired CentOS in 2014. For just 10 years, CentOS was a major independent Linux server distribution. This is in large part because of the hard work co-founders Greg Kurtzer and Rocky McGough put into CentOS. McGough is deceased, but Kurtzer survives and has released a new RHEL / CoreOS fork named after Rocky: Rocky Linux.

Rocky Linux, like the pre-Red Hat CentOS, is a free, community-based, server-oriented Linux. This RHEL clone follows RHEL very closely. For example, RHEL 8.5 was released in November 2021, and Rocky Linux 8.5 followed suit a few days later.

Rocky Linux is free. If you need help, Kurtzer’s company, CIQ, aka Ctrl IQ, can help.

UBUNTU

Canonical’s Ubuntu does not need to be introduced. It is very popular on desktops, servers, and the cloud. For businesses looking for a branded switch, Ubuntu is already gaining attention. Debian, while also popular, is the direct ancestor of Ubuntu, but there is no corporate support for it. If you are already a Debian expert, keep using it by all means. But, if you’re not, Ubuntu is a better choice.

But Ubuntu has a big problem: it’s not a RHEL relationship. It comes from the Debian Linux family tree. It also uses a lot of software packages that CentOS doesn’t use like snap instead of flatpak for easy installation of apps.

Can you switch from CentOS to Ubuntu? Sure. People do it every day. But, when you switch to Ubuntu, you take an important step. With all of the other distros I’ve mentioned, this is a more minor move.

Is it worth it? It depends on your needs. If you’re a large business that can afford to port your in-house applications, or if you’re a small business that relies on standard Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP / Perl / Python (LAMP) applications, upgrade to Ubuntu. If you’re not, or rely on a lot of CentOS-specific code, try one or more of the Linux distributions above.

Like CentOS, many people run Ubuntu unassisted. If you need Ubuntu support, Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure starts at $ 225 for essential support for a physical server and $ 75 for a virtual server.

OR NOW?

I cannot answer this question for everyone. Personally, as someone who has worked with Linux for almost 30 years, I would be inclined to use AlmaLinux or Rocky Linux if I was a CentOS user,. They’re both backed by good people and if you’re familiar with the RHEL family of distributions, you’ll do just fine with either.

Good luck.

About Dora Kohler

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