Clearing CentOS Stream Disruption
Jack Wallen not only tries to clear the air about CentOS Stream, but also apologizes to Red Hat for helping to spread the word.
I recently wrote an article about Red Hat announcing the end of life for CentOS 8 and its replacement CentOS Stream. That piece (and many others like that) got a lot of effort from various developers and other genres from Red Hat, CentOS, and other communities, so I thought that I would come back again on the topic and to clear the upheaval.
Believe me, when I tell you, that is not an easy task. When journalists confuse information, chances are good that they will simply parrot the controversy or try to make sense of it. That's exactly what happened to Red Hat's news - it was a mess.
I think there is a reason for that.
Let me explain.
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Where CentOS Stream is
Much of the confusion was based on the very nature of CentOS Stream. No one seems to have a clear cut answer to the question, "What is CentOS Stream?" Yes, it's a continuous release of CentOS - that's the easy answer.
However, it is not, of course, because CentOS Stream is not even a truly continuous release. One Red Hat Engineer commented on the nature of the rollout distribution: "It only goes within the confines of the main version of RHEL. That's not what most people consider a rollout In fact, that term has been removed from the website due to overly confusing content. "
Again, we are upset.
That confusion continues when you start digging in as it pertains to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Based on information provided to me, I was assuming that both RHEL Stream and CentOS were downstream from Fedora.
You know what they say about assumptions. That view on my part was very wrong.
When I went to correct my point, I found myself just as upset as I had been before. Here is the official line on where CentOS Stream is:
"Continuously delivered distro that follows just ahead of the development of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), positioned as a hub between Fedora Linux and RHEL."
It looks like this:
Fedora Stream> CentOS> RHEL
Even that is not right. According to official CentOS marketing, CentOS Stream "follows just ahead of the standard RHEL release. CentOS Linux 8, as a remake of RHEL 8, will expire at the end of 2022. CentOS Stream will continue after the that date, serving as the stream (development) branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. "
CentOS Stream is the development arm of RHEL - that's close to explaining how to get it.
The problem with this is that most CentOS users hired the platform because it followed after RHEL. Now that CentOS Stream is ahead of RHEL, it's hard to figure out what the draw will be.
What pieces of RHEL can be found in CentOS Stream? That is a challenging question that needs to be answered. CentOS was basically RHEL with the branding removed. Will CentOS Stream have the same relationship? At this point, your measurement is as good as mine. Since there is no definitive explanation, all we can do is see what CentOS Stream will be like.
He has teamed up with Red Hat and CentOS Stream marketing teams to clean this up. Unfortunately, with this new news, they have done a very poor job of that.
However, back in September of 2022, Chris Wright, vice president and CTO at Red Hat, said of CentOS Stream, "CentOS Stream is an upstream development platform for ecosystem developers. It's one stream of continuous content with updates several times a day, including the latest and greatest from the RHEL cookbook code, a preview of what the next version will look like of similar RHEL, available to a much wider community than just a beta release or 'preview'. "
Looking to the past, we may have an idea of the future. That future can be summarized as: CentOS Stream is a preview release of RHEL.
A preview message may not sit well with most businesses. Why? No one is going to want to use a preview message as a production server. That's largely accepted by the court of public opinion, so I do not immediately go out with such a statement.
As to why ...
My original decision about this move was based on a cash grab for Red Hat. That was not right for me to say because it was a real idea. Although I found nothing in the etherverse to prove my point wrong, I still feel sorry for Red Hat.
Because he is innocent until proven guilty applies, even in a public opinion tech court. While this may sound like a complete betrayal of the FOSS community, Red Hat must have had reasons to make this move - reasons in addition to forcing businesses to buy RHEL subscriptions. Possible causes?
Create a developer-friendly version of RHEL
Create a platform that can come up with a little more flexibility than CentOS can
Send more subscriptions to RHEL
This trend is very difficult to understand. I was able to get behind Red Hat adding CentOS Stream into the mix. In fact, when Stream was first announced, I thought it was a good idea. The continued deployment of a hard rock platform would be a great way for developers to get a glimpse of what’s to come.
There it is - a reasonable reason why Red Hat may have made this big move. With CentOS Stream, it may be possible for more developers to engage with the platform. Gaining a glimpse of RHEL's futures would make it much easier for devs to make sure their product works seamlessly with an upcoming release.
That sounds like a practical reason, but journalists shouldn't have to knit that outfit by ourselves. Leaving a large community in the dark only breeds confusion and contempt, and I bought into those very things.
I do not say all this as a withdrawal from my original post. Consider this more of a mail order attempt to order from chaos. I guess there will be more chaos before the dust settles on this issue.
Nonetheless, for everyone at Red Hat, I give you my own bait as an excuse for drawing too many decisions too quickly. Even amidst this mess, I still respect all the hard work you do for open source and technology.
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