Future role of the Fedora community distribution in light of CentOS Stream?

I wonder what Fedora will become to RedHat, after they decided that it’s role as an upstream distro will be taken over by CentOS “Stream”. I’ve checked fedoramagazine.org already but there was no article on that piece of news (CentOS Stream: Building an innovative future for enterprise Linux) - anyone has a clue?

OK, I was able to find some more info in a older announcement (Transforming the development experience within CentOS)

Basically it states:

The Fedora Project, foundation of the Fedora operating system, for those looking to contribute to the leading-edge of operating system innovation.

CentOS Stream for ecosystem developers who need to see what is coming in RHEL and need to introduce changes in order to enable their hardware or software.

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Hi @rbirkner! I didn’t write a Fedora Magazine article on the recent news, but I actually did when Stream was announced in 2019:

I also did an interview with ZDNet on the topic last month:

It’s important to note that Fedora’s role as upstream for RHEL is not taken over by CentOS Stream. Fedora remains the upstream for RHEL major releases, just as it always has been, and is the place where significant change is integrated. These posts on the CentOS blog explain the process in more detail:

and include this nice graphic which I hope clears things up:


(Diagram by Stef Walter licensed CC-SA: Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International — CC BY-SA 4.0)

I hope this clears up any worry and confusion. Overall, this is good news for Fedora, because it straightens out a previously confusing three-distribution tangle into straightforward picture, with Fedora still integral to the process.

Let me know if you have any more questions!

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For us laypeople just looking for a “free” distro for hosting small websites, simple question: which is true:

  1. CentOS will be around for a while as “Stream” etc.

  2. Or is CentOS now basically done …and only Red Hat (enterprise) and Fedora be the only two available? RH the enterprise stable one, Fedora the bleeding edge.

I think your #1 is the most likely, based on all I have read.

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So, of these, it’s more like #1, and I think for many such use cases will actually be better than the traditional CentOS Linux, because you’ll get bugfixes faster and there won’t be a period twice a year when updates pause until the point-release drop is ready. As the blog posts show, CentOS Stream will be very tightly integrated into RHEL development, and much less at risk of getting funding cut. The downside is that CentOS Stream will be supported for about six years instead of 10, so if you were planning on installing and forgetting about it forever, that’s less of an option now.

But, these won’t necessarily be your only choices. Take a look at Question 10 in the CentOS FAQ, which says:

In the first half of 2021, we will be introducing low- or no-cost programs for a variety of use cases, including options for open source projects and communities, partner ecosystems and an expansion of the use cases of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Developer subscription to better serve the needs of systems administrators and partner developers. We’ll share more details on these initiatives as they become available

As I understand it, more information on these programs will be available very soon, and I think they’re going to be more interesting than some people are expecting.

Oh, and I do also have to say: Fedora tries to be leading edge, but never bleeding. Using our software shouldn’t cause pain. So, there may be use cases where Fedora Server is the answer too. It does need to be upgraded at least yearly, but in return you get a close-to-upstream kernel and constantly newer versions of everything — as well as the opportunity to participate directly in making it better.

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Thank you, but RH’s spokesperson has come out and said clearly that CentOS Stream is not a replacement for CentOS. It’s some convoluted “CI/CD friendly DevOps Linux”. Most small companies like mine don’t need the jazz. We need a solid Linux server.

Fedora here we come. Although on the first thing, Nginx, we’re hitting a snag already. I miss CentOS.

By “Red Hat’s spokesperson”, do you mean Chris Wright? He’s the CTO, not a spokesperson per se. The quote you are referring to in full context is:

"CentOS Stream isn’t a replacement for CentOS Linux; rather, it’s a natural, inevitable next step intended to fulfill the project’s goal of furthering enterprise Linux innovation. Stream shortens the feedback loop between developers on all sides of the RHEL landscape, making it easier for all voices, be they large partners or individual contributors, to be heard as we craft future versions of RHEL. "

What he says and what I am saying are both true. CentOS Stream is different from CentOS Linux. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be all this work and investment Red Hat is putting into it. But, it is also likely just as good or better for many use cases.

Like I said before, you’re definitely welcome in Fedora, and Fedora Server can fit many situations, but CentOS Stream is going to be much, much, much more like CentOS Linux in practice than Fedora Server is. As Fedora Project Leader, I certainly welcome anyone who is interested in the things our project makes, but I also want people to understand the situation fully.

Likewise, you’ll never hear someone at the Red Hat C-level, a business representative, marketing, or sales say that CentOS Stream is an option for production use. But, that’s not a change — they’ve also said that about CentOS Linux, and certainly about Fedora Server as well. That’s because they’re speaking to their enterprise customer audience, and, y’know, if I needed an OS for an enterprise production use, paying for a RHEL subscription would be an easy choice.

But, for small companies like yours, Fedora Server or CentOS Stream can be a great choice. Or, you may qualify for one of the upcoming low- or no-cost RHEL programs. Wait and see.

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So, net net, for now it doesn’t hurt to stick with CentOS 8?

Yeah; CentOS Linux 8 isn’t end-of-life until the end of the year. Quite a while before then it should be clear whether CentOS Stream, RHEL, Fedora Server, or one of the emerging new RHEL rebuild projects is right for your case.

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I think RedHat is on the right way to close the unpayed backdoor for a free and high-quality OS like CentOS. From a commercial point of view there is no need for giving small companies etc. a free Company OS without any fees. Look at Microsoft, HP etc, there are also no free server editions. That’s good for justice and RHEL’s customers paying for their high-quality IT-infrastructure. For me it’s clear: pay for commercial solutions and their derivates. The free and no-pay culture for high-quality software should die.

Offtopic: Nginx Fedora Maintainer here. What kind of snag did you hit? Worth filing a bug report so I can take a look at it?

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Just as an update: one of the no-cost RHEL programs I referred to before is now announced. Read about it at New Year, new Red Hat Enterprise Linux programs: Easier ways to access RHEL, but in short: any individual can have up to 16 RHEL systems at no cost, even for production use, with no catch.

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