Linux CentOS discontinued. What next?

Updated: March 09, 2023
6 min read
Linux CentOS discontinued. What next?
by Samanta Jones
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

Since the CentOS news announced that CentOS Project had focused on CentOS Stream as a main product and would stop the maintenance of CentOS, the market for free OS become agitated. CentOS Linux was a free and common fork of RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), so it will be challenging to find another platform. Another question is if you need to find any.

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What is so unique about CentOS?

Linux CentOS discontinued

CentOS is the Community Enterprise Operating System's open-source platform. Moreover, it’s free. Originally it was introduced by CentOS Project (affiliated with RedHat)

One of the significant advantages of CentOS is that it is fully compatible with RHEL. Due to this CentOS Linux became extremely popular in various production, testing, and learning settings. To illustrate, CentOS is a common platform for web hosting in the scientific community and among developers and learners. CentOS current version, for example, is an excellent alternative for testing before deploying to an RHEL.

And it ended in 2020 when the developers stopped CentOS support. It was a sudden stroke; the decision was unilateral, and no one expected that.

Why was CentOS discontinued?

CentOS was phased out around December 2020. Instead, a CentOS Stream was chosen as the RedHat Enterprise Linux platform.

Some may say that the decision is involved by the plans of IBM to purchase RedHat for $38b. We can't know that, but the deal was closed in 2019, right before the announcement.

We think that the move to CentOS Stream had a profit-motivated ground too. RedHat may have believed that by eliminating current version of CentOS Linux, more people would pay for RHEL licenses. Nevertheless, RedHat remains very popular today.

What changed when CentOS was discontinued?

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The first version of CentOS in 2002 was called CAOS Linux. Later, in 2006 the Tao Linux developer rolled it into CentOS. So all its users joined CentOS.

In 2009 CentOS was renowned for web servers, with almost a third part of all Linux web servers on it. It took Debian nearly three years to retake the lead.

Later in 2014, RedHat financed the CentOS Project and received all trademarks. In addition in 2020, the CentOS Project announced that the distribution of the CentOS current version would be phased down by 2021. The reaction to this announcement was largely adverse.

Soon after, CentOS founder reported that he would continue the original CentOS idea in new distribution called Rocky Linux, as a counterpart to CentOS Stream. We will compare their functionality in the following sections.

CentOS Linux vs CentOS Stream

CentOS Linux is just another name for CentOS to differentiate the product before the split. Originally it was a mere rebuild of RHEL. For example, CentOS 7 is similar to RHEL 7, and CentOS latest version 8 competes with RHEL 8. Additionally, as CentOS used the code from the RHEL version, users expected the same stability and performance.

CentOS Stream is different, as it is being changed before the update in RHEL occurs. For example, if RHEL is 8.3, Stream is 8.4. Such a lag affects the compatibility between them, as while implementing changes in Stream, they are not guaranteed in RHEL.

Moreover, Stream will employ a rolling release approach to releases rather than a point release strategy, which has consequences for stability too.

Fedora vs CentOS Stream

Fedora, another project of Redhat, serves as a testing bed for RHEL. All the changes go to Fedora in the first place. After testing, updates join RHEL. Only after RHEL, they used to occur in current version of CentOS Linux.

Now the situation is different. CentOS Stream is in the middle between Fedora and RHEL. On one hand, Fedora has cutting-edge technologies and many updates, on the other hand, CentOS Stream downstreams Fedora, being more stable. RHEL will be the middle point.

Why using CentOS is impossible after the end of maintenance?

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CentOS had a ten-year support cycle. Namely, CentOS Linux 7, released in 2014, the maintenance continues until 2024. To this logic, CentOS Linux 8 after its release in 2019, would end the product's life in 2029. However, CentOS 8 discontinued in 2021. It is a drastic downfall of user expectations because official patches will not fix bugs or cover vulnerabilities since then.

Once in the public domain, new vulnerabilities can rapidly outburst, so vendors or developers themselves shall develop innovations to answer this problem.

Furthermore, in some circumstances, CentOS is to production gone RHEL-free raises a compliance risk since some firms run workloads on an unsupported OS. It means that CentOS, in many cases, is not acceptable. What should it be replaced by?

CentOS alternatives

Linux CentOS discontinued

After the developers announced the terms to cease maintenance of CentOS Linux, many companies have to choose alternatives. Let's consider them one by one.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

CentOS is to gone but RHEL stays being one of the most popular CentOS alternatives. RHEL is CentOS Linux's enterprise counterpart, including many of the same features and benefits.

Whereas, RHEL is a solid operating system that is commonly utilized in industrial settings. It features a strong support system and a significant developer and user community. The disadvantage of RHEL is that it is not free.

Ubuntu and Debian

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CentOS production gone but RHEL is not the sole solution. You can turn to RedHat's counterparts like Ubuntu or Debian. Despite the similar functionality, the supporting structure differs, so switching could be difficult and prolonged.

Ubuntu is a CentOS rival, well-known for its simplicity and user-friendly design. It has a huge and active developer and user community and is frequently utilized in production situations. Furthermore, Ubuntu is a free operating system with a comprehensive support system.


Since CentOS discontinued, Fedora is a good alternative. It is an advanced operating system that is regularly updated with new applications and technologies. It's an excellent option for developers who long to innovate. The disadvantage of Fedora is that it is not CentOS as stable RHEL for those who are used to it, making it unsuitable for production systems.

Rocky Linux

Gregory Kurtzer, a CentOS founder, created Rocky Linux, promising his new project released as stable RHEL for those who are not ready to pay for RHEL. Although AWS sponsors the project, it seems legit that Rocky Linux is a way to leave CentOs technology in the hands of the free community.

Rocky Linux is designed to replace CentOS is to production gone, offering users a stable OS for production situations. As a result, if you're searching for a CentOS alternative on the same source code, Rocky Linux is an excellent option to investigate.

Project Lenix

Project Lenix is the project of CloudLinux, claimed to be a fully compatible RHEL fork. CloudLinux releases their RHEL fork because they also create CloudLinux OS.

It is not commonly used, but it is one of the possible replacements, as CentOS discontinued, so consider it too.


AlmaLinux, like CentOS, offers a robust, safe, and free operating system.  It is developed by the same team that built CloudLinux and which releases their CentOS RHEL fork. The team has a good track record in the Linux community and has committed to providing AlmaLinux with long-term maintenance and upgrades.

Furthermore, AlmaLinux enjoys the support of a number of well-known corporations and organizations, including CloudLinux, cPanel, and the Linux Professional Institute, as it is compatible with existing CentOS installations. In this case, users easily transit from CentOS without substantial changes to their systems.

Additionally, AlmaLinux has a similar package management system as CentOS does, so users can use familiar commands.

Overall, CentOS is production gone but RHEL AlmaLinux is a good CentOS option for those seeking a reliable, safe, and free operating system that is compatible with current CentOS installations.

Oracle Linux

Oracle Linux is CentOS stable RHEL for those who seek a free OS 100% compatible with RHEL. In addition, Oracle Linux contains the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, which outperforms and stabilizes the regular Linux kernel used by CentOS.

Oracle Linux, like CentOS, is free to use and provides a robust and secure platform appropriate for production situations. It also contains compatibility with major software packages and services, making it an excellent alternative for customers seeking a dependable and straightforward OS.

Oracle's Unbreakable Linux Network service also provides long-term maintenance and upgrade for Oracle Linux, updating security releases and fixing bugs. It proves that when CentOS is to production gone but ensuring that Oracle Linux maintains a safe and reliable platform.

Springdale Linux

Springdale Linux is released CentOS as stable RHEL for some experimental packages not included in RHEL and has long-term maintenance and upgrade.

Springdale Linux is maintained by members of Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study. This implies that users may shape the operating system by offering comments, problem reports, and patches. Springdale Linux's community-driven approach also assures that the operating system stays free for all people.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Clear Center releases their CentOS fork called ClearOS. It is used mainly not as OS but for cloud computing and storage solutions.

ClearOS is seen as a viable alternative to CentOS because it provides a simple and straightforward web-based interface via which users can easily administer their computers. This interface supplies numerous tools and programs for configuring and monitoring various system parts.

To summarize, there are several releases of CentOS RHEL forks, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

If you need a robust and dependable operating system for production servers, RHEL or Rocky Linux are among the most suitable options. Fedora may be the way to go if you're seeking innovation for development. Furthermore, if you're searching for a cloud-optimized operating system, ClearOS could be your fine solution.

All options are different and not perfect. So consider them according to your particular needs and requirements.


What is CentOS Stream, and how does it differ from the traditional CentOS?

RedHat releases their CentOS RHEL distribution CentOS Stream to test new features and updates before they are incorporated into RHEL.

Will my current installation be affected by the discontinuation of the traditional CentOS?

Current CentOS users will not immediately lose support or updates. The latest CentOS version 8 is maintained by 2021, while CentOS 7 is planned till 2024. However, there will be these distributions will have no more updates or security patches.

What are some alternatives to CentOS Stream?

Alternative distribution is available, such as Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora, among others. Researching and evaluating different distributions is essential to find one that best meets your needs.

To sum up

The main advantage of CentOS was 100% compatibility with RHEL, no other distribution can achieve that. However, since CentOs discontinued, other opportunities opened.

The simplest is to get RHEL Developer Subscription, but it requires a budget. If developers need a free tool the next best choice is Oracle Linux. As other Linux solutions like Ubuntu or Debian require time and effort to switch to.

Furthermore, CentOS has been a popular product for many years in special tasks, for instance, server deployments. After the discontinuation, users will have to consider released platforms like CentOS Stream or ClearOS similar to CentOS as stable for those who seek a free product. While CentOS Stream provides a more current and agile platform, it may not be suitable for many users that want a stable and predictable release cycle. In contrast, ClearOS has good reviews.

Nonetheless, it is evident that the Linux environment is continually changing, and users and developers must adapt to these changes while continuing to innovate. If you think about selecting a new option for your enterprise, contact our team. We will bring the expertise especially for your case.

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