Do I feel uncertain about CentOS's future now? Yes, a bit

October 31, 2018

I was going to write an entry about how CentOS remains quietly important to us because of its long support period, with CentOS 7 supported through 2024 or so for security updates (per the CentOS wiki and FAQ). Then I paused to think about that in light of IBM buying Red Hat.

The end of 2023 is five years from now. A lot of things can happen in five years after a company is acquired, and a lot of intentions and plans can change. IBM is probably not going to stop doing Red Hat 7 updates, so a CentOS can continue in some form, but at the same time the current Red Hat provides a certain degree of support and assistance to CentOS (see the CentOS wikipedia entry for one account of this). It seems likely that CentOS's activities would at least slow down if IBM decided that it wasn't going to, say, continue to fund as many people to work on CentOS as Red Hat currently does.

Of course, nothing was certain even when Red Hat was an independent company; although we may pretend otherwise, blithe projections of support for Linux distributions three or four or five years into the future are just that (for many of them, not just CentOS). But I can't help but feel that things are now a bit more uncertain than they used to be, and I'm not quite as confident at projecting support for CentOS 7 out to the middle of 2024 as I was a month ago. A month ago, Red Hat pulling away from CentOS would have felt cataclysmic; in the future, it will just be IBM conducting a strategic reassessment (although perhaps a drastic one).

CentOS is still going to continue to be our best option for certain things, but that's another entry (the one I was going to write before I started thinking). And we're certainly not going to migrate our current CentOS 7 machines to anything else any time soon. So in practice what we're going to do is nothing; we're going to carry on and hope for no changes any time soon.

(As far as what this means for Fedora, well, I have no idea (and I certainly hope nothing changes, since I don't want to change Linux distributions). But again things feel a little bit more uncertain now than they used to.)

Written on 31 October 2018.
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Last modified: Wed Oct 31 21:17:08 2018
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