CentOS is moving from a stable distribution to an upstream development release

Today, the CentOS project released the following news:

The future of the CentOS Project is CentOS Stream, and over the next year we’ll be shifting focus from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to CentOS Stream, which tracks just ahead of a current RHEL release. CentOS Linux 8, as a rebuild of RHEL 8, will end at the end of 2021. CentOS Stream ontinues after that date, serving as the upstream (development) branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Until this release, the mission of the CentOS project is to produce a stable RedHat clone:

The CentOS Linux distribution is a stable, predictable, manageable and reproducible platform derived from the sources of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Since March 2004, CentOS Linux has been a community-supported distribution derived from sources freely provided to the public by Red Hat. As such, CentOS Linux aims to be functionally compatible with RHEL. We mainly change packages to remove upstream vendor branding and artwork. CentOS Linux is no-cost and free to redistribute.

What does this mean in layman’s terms?

In 2021, CentOS will no longer be a stable production ready operating system with long term support.

CentOS will shift from a stable rebuild of the upstream RedHat release to the upstream release of RedHat. Moving to a development role will naturally reduce stability. Development builds introduce additional features and new bugs.

This is the opposite mission of the CentOS project. As news is released and internal documents are leaked, I will be curious to understand the motivations behind this change. CentOS combined with RedHat in January 2014, and IBM purchased RedHat in July 2019. I don’t believe these two events are related in anyway. IBM was not planning this take over for 5 years, where they?

For full disclosure; I have no skin in this game; I don’t like RedHat or any of the RedHat spin off distributions. For 20+ years, my operating system of choice is Debian and its derivatives. I am surprised by this news and sympathize for all the CentOS users who expected a stable long term supported OS.