Almost a year ago to the day, Red Hat changed CentOS from being a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone to being a developmental rolling Linux distribution, CentOS Stream. Many users weren’t happy. As a result, several replacement CentOS/RHEL clones, such as AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux, got their start. But, Red Hat continued with its plans to use CentOS to foreshadow the next edition of RHEL. Now, the new CentOS project is showing off its latest and greatest in its first totally new release: CentOS 9.
This new release passed a battery of tests and checks to ensure it meets the stringent standards to be included in RHEL. Updates posted to Stream are identical to those posted to the unreleased minor version of RHEL. “The aim?” said Rich Bowen, Red Hat’s CentOS Manager, “For CentOS Stream to be as fundamentally stable as RHEL itself.”
To achieve this stability, CentOS Stream starts from a stable release of Fedora Linux. In CentOS Stream 9, this means Fedora 34. This is the same code base RHEL 9 uses. Then, as updated packages are introduced in Fedora, and they pass testing and meet stability standards, they are pushed into CentOS Stream as well as RHEL’s nightly build. In short, as Bowen put it, “What CentOS Stream looks like now is what RHEL will look like in the near future.”
Fedora itself is now being seen more and more as a stable release in its own right. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently decided to use Fedora as the foundation for its production of Amazon Linux 3.
CentOS Stream can be downloaded as an ISO from Red Hat’s mirrors. You can run it on 64-bit x86 (x86_64 v2+), 64-bit ARM (AArch64), IBM Z (s390x Z14+), and IBM POWER (ppc64le POWER9+) architectures. Red Hat hasn’t published the release notes for CentOS Stream 9 yet.
We know, however, that there will be no CentOS Linux 9. Going forward, the only CentOS will be CentOS Stream. Red Hat will no longer support CentOS Linux 8 after the end of 2021. Users who want to stay on CentOS Linux 8 will need to turn to CloudLinux or other third parties for support.