Centos and the bomb that IBM Red Hat dropped

If you know me, you likely know where this is headed. But before we get there, lets chat a little bit about the bomb that IBM RedHat dropped on the Linux community the other day. As soon as the news hit, and my cell phone went off like crazy I wanted to put this out there ASAP , but decided to take a few days to digest what IBM Red Hat’s bomb really means to the Linux community first.


Book History Textbook - Free image on Pixabay

A bit of history and how we got here

RedHat was started way back in 1995, back when Slackware was likely the most popular Linux distro. It was started by Marc Ewing and Bob Young. Ewing brought his new Linux distro, named Red Hat Linux to the team, and Bob Young brought his business experience from starting several other tech companies. Between their technical and business skills  Red Hat quickly grew, in part due to their investment into Open Source technologies like Red Hat Package Manager (RPM), and the  Anaconda installer. In 2003, Red Hat Linux was split into two separate distros, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)  and Fedora Core. RHEL was the distribution that you paid for, and offered commercial support and stability while Fedora Core was the free distribution that included bleeding edge technologies that  changed rapidly, sometimes to the detriment of Enterprise System administrators that demand some stability in their distribution. Needless to say, I installed a ton or RHEL over the years, as I NEEDED a stable distro with a predictable and stable  release structure.

Back in 2004 a new project was started  to fill the void between RHEL and Fedora, this was CentOS. CentOS tracked RHEL, providing the stability of  RHEL without the expensive price tag. Flashing forward, past 2009 and the issue with the ownership of the CentoOS domain, things went relatively well. Then in 2014, Red Hat announced that they would become the sponsor of CentOS and in the process placed multiple Red Hat employees on the CentOS governing board, hired many of the head developers and transferred ownership of the CentOS trademarks to Red Hat. This gave Red Hat control of one of the main products that actively competed with the paid offering. CentOS continued to grow, though changes stared to happen that started driving users to a model where CentOS was used for non-production systems and RHEL for production servers.

Then in 2018, IBM announced it’s intent to purchase Red Hat for $34 BILLION dollars, a 63 percent premium over the closing price of Red Hat stock before the announcement. For those that do not track business, this is a huge premium paid by IBM for Red Hat. With such a huge premium being paid, users knew major changes were going to happen and on December 8th, 2020 the bomb dropped.

Remember, Enterprise admins need a distrobution that offers a predictable and stable release schdule that has been fully tested. Anything else will lead to disaster for the applicaiton.


Bomb Explosive Detonation - Free vector graphic on Pixabay


The bomb! Centos as we know it > /dev/null


On December 8th 2020, CentOS (Which is controlled by IBM Red Hat) announced the bomb. “CentOS Linux 8, as a rebuild of RHEL 8, will end at the end of 2021. The 2021 date is 8 years earlier than planned, with 2029 being the original published date for the end of development on the CentOS 8 distribution. This means if you have CentoOS 8, and you want to continues using a stable  and predictable release , the CentOS team  is there to “encourage you to contact Red Hat about options.” Guess what option they want you to pay for?

What did CentOS offer for their new direction if you do not want to pay for your OS? They are “shifting focus from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to CentOS Stream, which tracks just ahead of a current RHEL release”. Remember Fedora, where new technology is constantly being introduced and withdrawn, where change is normal and expected. That is basically how the community looks at CentOS Stream. This one change basically destroyed the ability for Enterprise system administrators to use CentOS 8 and beyond in production, and dev and test and QA environments. This is why CentOS AND RHEL users are angry.

SO what next? Already there are several projects that are trying to fork CentOS to replicate the effort, and provide a stable distro that tracks RHEL, with predictable release schedule and a stable organization to back up the project.  A concern you should have with the multitude of forks being introduced this week, is picking the right one. You have no idea what new distros will fail or succeed.  Some of these forks will take years to stabilize, and users need a solution now… and here is where I say what everyone is expecting…


Have you looked at Oracle Linux yet?


Oracle Linux tracks RHEL, so OL 8.3 is basically the same as RHEL 8.3, or CentOS 8.3. It’s used by over 86% of the Fortune Global 100, making it one of the most popular Linux options in the Enterprise. Since Oracle has bet their Operating System farm on OL, you know it will be supported regardless what other bomb shells IBM Red Hat drops on the users, because Oracle has the pockets (and lawyers) to keep it moving.

Did I mention OL is free?  Free to download, free to distribute and free to patch! Yes, DISTRIBUTE ( I can give you a copy for free, no lawyers required), and free to patch ( No need to register your system to  patch it, or pay any fees) and also free to download. There is no license fee to get OL!

Yes, Oracle has a paid support offering, that is a lot less expensive that RHEL, and due to the FREE model to download and patch, you can easily use OL for free in your non-production systems and still have paid support for your production systems… on the SAME distribution. It has also been VERY stable, as it has been available since 2006. They even support ARM these days ( Raspberry PI anyone?), and have several public mirrors where you can download it,  if you don’t want to download it from here; http://yum.oracle.com/oracle-linux-isos.html

There are several cool things you get if you pay for support, but all of these are well above and beyond what RHEL offers with their support, and includes a few technolgoies like;

·         KSplice, this lets you patch kernel and user space libraries while running

·         DTrace which came over from Solaris and gives you real time view into kernel and application internals.

·         OEM, Enterprise Manager to monitor the OS, logs and more

If you are on CentOS, it’s really easy to move to OL, look on the BLOG here for some directions, they are basically about the same as moving from RHEL. Best of all, when you move, you keep everything the same, so all your apps continue to run. Remember, OL tracks RHEL just like CentoOS tracked RHEL.


5 Replies to “Centos and the bomb that IBM Red Hat dropped”


    • Another IBMer posting and complaining, what a surprise. Did you know that both Linux and the RHEL distro are open source, and free? The real theft is when people charge for Open Source , just for the right to download it. Atleast Oracle makes it free, even if they charge for support and downloads.

    • No. IBM is the thief. You want to charge for support? Fine. You want to charge for proprietary software? Fine. But Linux is NOT proprietary. Charging a fee for it is criminal.

  2. The sad thing about Oracle is how they are hate now their SPARC users. ALL versions except the very first one of Linux- SPARC disappeared everywhere

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.