since we have multiple threads about the CentOS 8 Stream announcement, I would like to make a single place where CentOS 8 Stream can be explained. This page is a wiki, feel free to update information, keep the info on point and relevant for Foreman and Katello users.
Full disclosure: I work at Red Hat, the goal of this post is to iron out some misinterpretation of the original announcement which was a bit confusing.
CentOS 8 Stream does have the standard five years lifecycle. CentOS 8 was announced EOL by end of 2021 which is indeed a significant change from expectations. Scott McCarthy later explained (see links below) that the management did not want to wait until CentOS 9 with the change or until CentOS 8 adoption was too high. This change is indeed controversial, there’s no doubt that this mid-flight change is painful. However, what’s the most important is that CentOS 8 Stream has EOL planned for 2024, all you need is to switch repositories.
CentOS 8 Stream is not a rolling release in Gentoo/Arch Linux sense. The project is not switching from stable server-oriented distribution to stream of upstream packages. That’s what’s Fedora Rawhide for. All updates coming into CentOS 8 Stream are be carefully evaluated and cherry-picked by Red Hat engineers and managers. Proper term should be Continuous Delivery, what is changing is the process not content.
CentOS 8 Stream is not lowering quality. Some people may think that since CentOS is a RHEL rebuild, it has superior quality because all bugs had to be “ironed out” by RHEL customers. Fact is, when a bug slips through Red Hat QA into a RHEL release, CentOS gets it as well. The only difference is it gets it few days later. CentOS has always been mainly rebuild project, bugs in the software itself are tracked in Red Hat bugzilla or upstream trackers. CentOS Stream is not supposed to by a nightly build, updates are pushed only after an explicit QA pass. Every bugzilla has also an explicit (usually fully automated) test. Quality is not changing.
CentOS 8 Stream however will change cadence of updates. Some updates land in RHEL early (during lifetime of a y-release) and others wait until the next y-release. In CentOS Stream however, all updates are pushed as soon as they are signed off by Red Hat Quality Assurance department. While this happens mostly every day, this is far from Gentoo Linux, far from Fedora Rawhide. All RHEL updates are still subject to Red Hat API/ABI promise for RHEL, therefore CentOS 8 Stream is getting the same benefit even there was never any contract or promise for CentOS itself. What is more important than ever is managing updates in some controlled manner, via either
rsync/reposync, Pulp or Katello. Content management plays an important role not only for CentOS 8 Stream, but for all operating systems.
CentOS 8 Stream does’t have 8.y branches. This is a major drawback for us, we cannot say “tested on CentOS 8.3 or higher” because there is currently no point in time which can be installed in the future. CentOS Stream installation DVDs are getting published regularly so we should be able to say “works with CentOS-Stream-8-x86_64-20201211-dvd1.iso or newer”. The problem is, the link will not work in few days and since there is no base/kickstart repository available network-based installations do not work without manual DVD download and extraction. We need to look into this to find out if Katello/Pulp can help with this.
The change was not driven by IBM. Red Hat operates as a separate entity, there’s not much to say. CentOS brand was acquired by Red Hat in 2014 and apparently this is where Red Hat would like the project to go in the future. As Scott McCarthy mentioned: “IBM literally play no tactical role in our product and project decisions.”
Foreman and Katello keep fully committed supporting as many operating systems as possible. The Foreman community will do its best to support everything possible, including CentOS Stream, RHEL, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE or Oracle Linux (or any RHEL clone including the newly announced ones). Majority of Red Hat engineers working on the project will likely continue using RHEL/Fedora/CentOS Stream while ATIX engineers filling the list with Debian/Ubuntu/Suse. All patches will be accepted as long as they meet our quality standards.
Running Foreman/Katello on CentOS 8 Stream is something will be looking into. Foreman 2.3 currently support EL7 and EL8 (and clones) and Debian/Ubuntu at the moment. See our installation instructions for more information.