What is CentOS Stream? The future after CentOS 8’s end

13.01.2021 10,597 8

CentOS, as we know it, is dead! There is no other way to say it. On the 8th of December, 2020, The vice president and CTO of Red Hat (RHEL) Chris Wright, put the last nail on CentOS’s coffin. 

One of the most popular Linux distributions, with a market share of 18.6% will no longer be supported for CentOS 8, starting 31 of December 2021, while the support for CentOS 7 will end on 30 of June 2024. 

What does the team of RHEL say about it? 

On the blog of CentOS, we can see that all the effort will be focused on CentOS Stream and the current version of CentOS 8, will stop getting support on 31.12.2021

The idea is that it will serve as an upstream branch to RHEL. Just like Fedora, but one step more refined. Kind of a preview version of RHEL. Mind that CentOS Stream is still a development branch, one step better than Fedora, but one behind the RHEL, so you can expect less stability which could be the deal-breaker for many.

The CentOS team encourages the current CentOS 8 users to update to CentOS Stream, but this might not be accepted easily and many might migrate to another distro. 

What Chris Wright points out is that the world is changing and cloud-native services are getting more popular. He argues that a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution is the future and this is why we need CentOS Stream. The new OS will be “stable enough” while it will still have dynamic development. 

Check out the full Chris Wright article from the RHEL blog and Rich Bowen’s article on CentOS blog

CTO pointed out that Facebook, which uses CentOS has already migrated to CentOS Stream and that Intel is on board too. Is it enough to believe? 

What do CentOS users say? 

We have collected some of the comments from the CentOS blog and What is CentOS Stream from YouTube and here are some general opinions of users: 

“Stability doesn’t just mean the processes you follow today. It means also being able to rely upon promises about processes that will be followed tomorrow too”

“You make decisions because you want them, not based on what the customer wants”

“So long story short, instead of listening to input from the community and coming up with some compromise at the very least”

“December 2020. CentOS is dead. RIP.”

“I’m Planning to move to Ubuntu LTS after stayed 20 years with CentOS”

“Pushing CentOS Stream on all of us has killed CentOS. Time to migrate to Ubuntu Server!”

“Wait for Rocky Linux its the same code base os Centos. Abandon RHEL move to Debian for production. That’s what we are doing.”

“I’m actually considering migrating my cloud servers to FreeBSD. It is every bit as stable as CentOS and RHEL and makes a great server. I bet red hat will live to regret this day.”

There were no positive comments and the community looks annoyed by the news. It is common to see people resisting the change. Some are planning a migration to FreeBSD, Ubuntu, or another distro. 

CentOS history

CentOS is an old Linux distro. It was created in 2004. Back then it was called CAOS Linux and it was based on RHEL.

In 2006 this distro joined forces with Tao Linux and got the CentOS name. 

4 years later it became the most popular Linux distro with around 30% market share. Later it lost this popularity to Debian and Ubuntu and currently has an 18.6% market share (Data 05.01.2021). 

The brand CentOS was initially sponsored and then bought in 2014 by Red Hat. It stayed mostly independent until December 2020. Now the CentOS Governing Board and Red Hat choose to prematurely end the support of CentOS and continue with CentOS Stream.  

What to do after the death of CentOS? 

  • Option 1 – stay with CentOS 8 until 31.12.2020. Then you will lose the support and further updates. There is still enough time to plan a further strategy regarding your servers. 
  • Option 2 – downgrade to CentOS 7 and get support until 31.06.2024. If nothing changes, at least there will be longer support for CentOS 7 in comparison to CentOS 8. More time to plan. 
  • Option 3 – move to CentOS Stream. What Red Hat is saying is that there are small differences, in comparison to CentOS 8, but it will be less stable than RHEL. 
  • Option 4 – migrate to another distro like RHEL, Ubuntu, or Debian. Or change Linux for FreeBSD or Windows Server. There could be a steep learning curve that you should anticipate.  

What is CentOS Stream?

CentOS Stream is the new rolling release Linux distribution of CentOS Project, that will completely replace CentOS 8 and CentOS 7 in the next years. 

It will constantly be updated, unlike before when there would be a major release every couple of months or years.  

This could be a problem when we are talking about servers. There you might want stability over functionality. A really stable version instead of the latest one. 

CentOS Project is part of Red Hat and the mother company decided to change the strategy. Now CentOS Stream puts CentOS as an upstream OS that tests new features and adds them when they are already stable to the RHEL distro. 

It is second in the chain of adding new features – Fedora, then CentOS Stream, and finally RHEL. 

A question arises “Will it replace Fedora or will it disappear with time?”. What is the point of having the two as testing platforms? 

Currently, CentOS Stream 8 is not very different from the previous CentOS 8, but this will change with time.

The new OS will surely push people away from CentOS, because of the uncertainty and the changes. 

There is a plan of releasing CentOS Stream 9 during the Q2 of 2021. However, currently there is no information about it. 

How to move from CentOS Linux to CentOS Stream?

The process is simple, use the following commands:  

# dnf install centos-release-stream

This will install CentOS Stream.

# dnf swap centos-{linux,stream}-repos

This will swap to CentOS Stream.

# dnf distro-sync

Synchronize the distro.

# cat /etc/centos-release

Check the content of the written folder with the cat command, and it should show “CentOS Stream release 8”. 

CentOS Stream FAQ

Why was CentOS Stream created?

To stimulate development and add value to the RHEL distro, which will be stable. CentOS Stream is used as an open platform for development, instead of the traditional hidden RHEL approach. 

What architectures does CentOS Stream support? 

The x86 (64), aarch64, and ppc64le are supported. Arm7hfp will be included soon and there is still no information about s390x

How can you get CentOS Stream?

You can visit the download page or update from CentOS 8 or CentOS 7.

What will happen to other CentOS releases?

CentOS 9 will not exist!

CentOS 8 will receive updates until 31.12.2021.

CentOS 7 will receive updates until 30.06.2024.

CentOS 6 received its last ever update on 30.11.2020.

When will CentOS Stream 8 get updates? 

CentOS Stream 8 will continue to get updates and there will be a major one in Q2 of 2021 which will be CentOS Stream 9.

What does CentOS Stream mean for the current CentOS 8 or CentOS 7 users?

They will have some limited time to either update to CentOS Stream or find another distro that best suits their needs.  

What should the people who use CentOS for commercial use do? 

According to Red Hat, they should move to the paid RHEL distro. The other option is to find another distro. 

CentOS Stream vs CentOS 8

  • CentOS Stream is less stable than CentOS 8.
  • CentOS Stream will get updates before RHEL while CentOS 8 did get them after RHEL. 
  • CentOS Stream will last longer; CentOS 8 will end support on 31.12.2021.
  • CentOS Stream still doesn’t have a fan base, while CentOS 8 has a big one. 

Advantages of CentOS Stream

  • It will get new features earlier than the RHEL distro.
  • More agile platform than the previous.
  • Still not very different from CentOS.
  • Potentially large development community. We shall see. 

Disadvantages of CentOS Stream

  • CentOS Stream will be less stable than CentOS 8.
  • Statements from CentOS Project about future updates can’t be taken as 100% guarantee. 
  • Pushes CentOS users to go for the paid RHEL if they want stability. 


CentOS is coming to an end, but there are solutions. The closest thing is the new CentOS Stream. Check it out as it might satisfy your need without a huge change for you. If it doesn’t work for you, consider another OS. 

If you have any doubts about migrating to another OS or you can still use CentOS, contact our sales team and check our Cloud Servers and Dedicated Servers.  We can guide you through the transition.  

You can also check this related article:

8 replies on “What is CentOS Stream? The future after CentOS 8’s end”


ALMALINUX will be the next opensource RHEL-based linux !!!


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