End of Life for CentOS 7 AND CentOS 8 Stream

CentOS 7 was released on the 7th of July 2014. For many years, it has been the operating system for millions of servers. Last Sunday (30th of June) was the day when, after almost 10 years, CentOS 7 became end-of-life. This means that no (security) updates for CentOS 7 will be released any more, and that servers running CentOS 7 are at risk.

I personally know of quite a few servers that are still running on CentOS 7. Even though the EOL date of CentOS 7 has been known for a very long time, many companies waited till the very last moment to phase out these systems and then missed their target. This is a bad situation to be in. I expect that it won’t be long before vulnerabilities in these systems become public, which then can no longer be patched. Migrating these systems to a new operating system should be top priority for these companies!

End of Life CentOS Stream 8

One operating system that’s not a candidate to migrate to is CentOS Stream 8. This operating system became end-of-life even before CentOS 7: at the 31st of May 2024. To me, this came as a complete surprise. When Red Hat announced the CentOS Stream series and the end of the old CentOS releases back in 2019, it created a lot of turmoil in the Linux community. For many admins, CentOS had been the go-to system if they felt they could do without the support from Red Hat. It had the same stability as Red Hat, but without the costs. Where CentOS always trailed behind a bit when it came to updates compared to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS Stream would be a release where Red Hat would develop their next point-release. The community feared this would mean that the CentOS Stream series would not be as stable as the regular CentOS had always been. As a result, two new distributions saw the light, AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux, that filled the space that CentOS left. I always felt that this was a bit too pessimistic. And indeed, the CentOS Stream series have shown to be as stable as the old CentOS series have always been.

What I didn’t realize was that when a RHEL release reached maintenance mode, which is about 5 years after the initial release, that they would completely abandon the CentOS Stream version of that release. This is, however, exactly the way that Red Hat treats the CentOS Stream series, which means that CentOS Stream 8 went end-of-life in May 2024, and CentOS Stream 9 will become end-of-life at the end of May 2027. This is 5 years before the end-of-maintenance of their corresponding RHEL versions and community distributions (AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux). It still makes CentOS Stream a viable distribution for development machines with a relatively short lifespan, but for production servers that I install at customers, I’ll make sure to never again use CentOS Stream and stick to either Red Hat Enterprise Linux or AlmaLinux / Rocky Linux. For servers that are currently running CentOS Stream 8 or 9, it’s good to know that AlmaLinux provides a migration tool to convert your system from CentOS Stream to AlmaLinux. Rocky Linux provides a similar tool.

For my own server that’s currently running CentOS Stream 9, I might consider the Ubuntu LTS versions in the future. With a new LTS-version coming out every two years and a seamless upgrade from one LTS release to the next, this might be the right trade-off between stability, staying current and not spending too much time on my operating system.

I’m interested to hear in the comments. What distribution do you use on your Linux servers and why?