What the CentOS 8 EOL Means for You

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Shifting to CentOS Linux

On December 8th, 2020, Red Hat shocked the Linux server world. They announced they would be shifting all of their investment in CentOS Linux from the popular downstream CentOS distribution to the upstream CentOS Stream project. The shift was scheduled to happen on December 31st, 2021. CentOS 8 will also reach its End-of-Life (EOL) for support and security fixes on that date, instead of the expected 10-year support window CentOS users expect from major releases of CentOS. CentOS users, and CentOS 8 users especially, are scrambling for alternatives and paths for migrating from CentOS 8 to an alternative Linux distribution.

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In this article:

What does the EOL Mean in Practical Terms?

The CentOS 8 EOL means that CentOS 8 will no longer receive development resources from the official CentOS project. They will no longer contribute bug fixes or security patches to CentOS 8 after December 31st, 2021. This means that CentOS 8 will become increasingly vulnerable to exploits as discovered bugs and vulnerabilities are left unaddressed. Unless someone else takes up developing CentOS 8, it is not safe to use CentOS 8 after December 31st, 2021 due to the increased risk of someone compromising a CentOS 8 system.

What if I use CentOS 8?

If you are currently using CentOS 8 you will have to find an alternative operating system to use. Depending on the replacement operating system, you may have to migrate your data and workloads to an entirely new machine. It generally is not possible to install an entirely new operating system in place of your current operating system.

However, some CentOS 8-compatible Linux distributions provide tools to convert your CentOS 8 installation to their particular compatible Linux distribution. It is good practice to back up your data on CentOS 8 servers and plan to minimize any service disruptions if the conversion is unsuccessful.

If CentOS Stream will meet your needs, you can migrate your CentOS 8 installation in place to CentOS Stream with minimal effort. Some other CentOS 8 alternatives like CloudLinux or Oracle Linux have scripts to convert your installation, but you should consult the documentation for your new Linux distribution for migration instructions and requirements.

What if I use CentOS 7?

If you use CentOS 7 you do not have to take any action right now. CentOS 7 will reach its end-of-life June 30th, 2024. You will not be able to migrate to CentOS 8, though. You would have to migrate to CentOS Stream or an alternative CentOS-type of Linux distribution.

Moving from CentOS 7 to CentOS 8 is generally the same as moving to a new Linux distribution on a new server. You will have to migrate your data and workloads over entirely. It is best practice to start planning for this kind of migration months or even a year ahead of the EOL date, depending on the size of your infrastructure and the sensitivity of your workloads to disruption.

What does the CentOS 8 EOL mean for Flex Metal Cloud Users?

Flex Metal Cloud users can provision their own operating systems images for their virtual machine instances in OpenStack. We provide a set of default images to get you started, and that set of images includes CentOS 8 currently. We will eventually remove the CentOS 8 images and, explore replacing them with alternative solutions.

Like many in the OpenStack community, we run OpenStack on top of CentOS 8 as of the time of writing. We will be migrating our own deployments from CentOS 8 well ahead of the scheduled end of updates and security fixes for CentOS 8. We understand the concerns and anxiety CentOS users are currently experiencing, and we are here to answer those questions from our knowledge and experience as systems administrators, OpenStack engineers, and cloud infrastructure operators.

What is Next for CentOS?

There are several community-driven efforts to replace CentOS 8 with a distribution that is less under Red Hat’s direct influence and control.

Looking for hosted private cloud, infrastructure as a service, or bare metal solutions? A Flex Metal Cloud is a powerful private cloud solution that gives you the security and performance you need to successfully run your business. Learn more about the Flex Metal Infrastructure as a Service.

If you are interested in learning more about CentOs, check out the following articles:

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