CentOS 8 is going away

CentOS 8 is going away at the end of 2021 (emphasis added):

The future of the CentOS Project is CentOS Stream, and over the next year we’ll be 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. CentOS Linux 8, as a rebuild of RHEL 8, will end at the end of 2021. CentOS Stream continues after that date, serving as the upstream (development) branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

We’re just going to walk into the ocean now…

Losing an HPC-friendly, enterprise-grade, stable, free operating system throws a wrench into our activities. We run several small CentOS clusters, though fortunately they all run CentOS 7 (maintenance updates till 2024). We have time to respond, but it will be extra work when it comes time to upgrade.

Here’s an aggregation of observations from the last couple of days:

  • The comments on that blog post speak bluntly.
  • The Beowulf email list is full of discussion already.
  • I see a lot of chatter now about Ubuntu and Debian. Both would be viable distros for the few CentOS 8 hosts we currently run. They may or may not fit cluster upgrade needs a few years from now.
  • Others have chimed in to mention Oracle Enterprise Linux (ehhhhh), a revival of Scientific Linux, NixOS, and GuixOS.
  • This replacement project, Rocky Linux, is in development here or maybe here (hard for me as an outsider to tell). It may go somewhere – or maybe not. I’ve seen others float their own forks as well. Maybe one will get traction, but who can say?
  • CentOS 8 was quite a bit different from CentOS 7. Hard not to feel frustrated at learning a new system just to see its lifespan cut short by eight years.
  • I put a note about this in our issue tracker today. It reads: “The path is straightforward and requires less data copying than some past migrations. We just need to have a good answer on the OS of choice. I imagine the community will converge on either a ‘correct’ answer or a few good answers relatively soon, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”
  • In short, for us: This will be fine, but it will also be annoying.

This does change our strategy for the next few months. We need a new external SSH server, for example, and it can’t reasonably be CentOS 8 anymore. Down the road, we will have cluster systems to upgrade, and I still have no idea what that looks like.