In December 2020, Redhat announced that its CentOS 8 distribution would be classified as EOL (end of life) by December 31st 2021 – a major acceleration from the initially planned EOL date of 2029.
 
At the end of this year, CentOS 8 plans to be replaced with CentOS Stream, but this is not a like for like rebuild of RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), rather a BETA testing ground for RHEL. Additionally, CentOS Stream does not follow a traditional release schedule, instead opting for a rolling-release format. While this is likely beneficial for specific customers, the HPC community will argue its at the cost of the system, and software environment stability.
 
Until this point, CentOS has been a free downstream build of RHEL. The EOL announcement is problematic for organisations that have become dependent on running the OS for free, in lieu of paying the IBM-owned software giant for support.
 
Following the announcement, a number of software organisations have put free alternatives to RHEL forward, with one specific release garnering significant interest, from the CentOS co-founder, Gregory Kurtzer.
 
Kurtzer’s offering – ‘Rocky Linux’ – is a new distribution designed to be 100% bug-for-bug compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and designed as a drop-in replacement for CentOS. The OS is under intensive development by the opensource community with version 8.4 now readily available.
 

“Across the HPC and Cloud landscape we have customers that depend on and use CentOS on a daily basis. CentOS allows organisations to freely innovate on an open and stable operating system. HPC in particular is affected by the EOL announcement, with CentOS having been broadly adopted across numerous sites for HPC services. Customers need to have the choice – there’s mission critical applications that need commercial support as well as environments where research, prototyping and evaluation are being conducted, and where innovation higher up the stack is being performed. We believe that open alternatives drive this innovation, which is why we welcome Rocky as a great viable alternative to RHEL.”
David Power, CTO Define Tech

In support of the core principle of collaboration inherit in the Opensource community, the team at Define Tech are currently rolling out Rocky images that will be shared upstream – enabling any Openstack users to use, test, evaluate and build upon. – Now Available here!