CentOS's switch to CentOS Stream has created a lot of confusion

December 11, 2020

After the news broke of CentOS's major change in what it is, a number of sysadmins here at the university have been discussing the whole issue. One of the things that has become completely clear to me during these discussions is that the limited ways that this shift has been communicated has created a great deal of confusion, leaving sysadmins with a bunch of reasonable questions around the switch and no clear answers (cf).

(It doesn't help that the current CentOS Stream FAQ is clearly out of date in light of this announcement and contains some contradictory information.)

This confusion matters, because it's affecting people's decisions and is hampering any efforts to leave people feeling good (or at least 'not too unhappy') about this change. If Red Hat and CentOS care about this, they need to fix this, and soon. Their current information is not up to the job and is leaving people lost, unhappy, and increasingly likely to move to something else, even if they might be fine with CentOS Stream if they fully understood it. The longer the confusion goes unaddressed, the more bridges are being burned.

(The limited communication and information also creates a certain sort of impression about how much Red Hat, at least, cares about CentOS users and all of this.)

The points of confusion that I've seen (and had) include what the relationship between updates to CentOS Stream and updates to RHEL will be, how well tested updates in Stream will be, how security issues will be handled (with more clarity and detail than the current FAQ), what happens when a new RHEL release comes out, and whether old versions of packages will be available in Stream so you can revert updates or synchronize systems to old packages. It's possible that some of these are obvious to people in the CentOS project who work with Stream, but they're not obvious to all of the sysadmins who are suddenly being exposed to this. There are probably others; you could probably build up quite a collection by quietly listening to various discussions of this and absorbing the points of confusion and incorrect ideas that people have been left with.

Written on 11 December 2020.
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Last modified: Fri Dec 11 00:57:17 2020
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