CentOS has told developers that they can now get caught in Stream, a new Linux distribution that was created with the code planned for the next minor release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
Wait, you can think, right? Isn't it Fedora Linux that is based on the initial RHEL code? It's true, and Fedora is the free Red Hat distribution with a launch cycle twice a year intended to test and develop new features.
The Fedora Project dates back to the early days of Red Hat: it was announced in 2003. But Red Hat's relationship with CentOS is more recent. In 2014, Red Hat and the CentOS Project confirmed a collaboration in which CentOS is a community-backed distribution based on the RHEL code, although "open to variations."
The idea is that Fedora is more innovative, while CentOS is what you choose if you want a free but not RHEL certified equivalent.
Now Red Hat and CentOS have refined that relationship with CentOS Stream. The announcement describes how new components and features evolve, starting with the Fedora Project and then slowly incorporating it into RHEL.
What, then, CentOS Stream?
The idea is that if you develop for RHEL, CentOS Stream allows you to see what lies ahead so that it can solve problems or introduce new features and provide comments on errors or other problems, before they reach the main version of RHEL.
While Fedora preview the next major version of RHEL, Stream shows the next minor release. "CentOS Stream … exists as an intermediate flow between upward development in Fedora Linux and downward development for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)," the release notes say, adding that "this, for the first time, causes the CentOS Project is part of the development cycle of the RHEL platform ".
The introduction of CentOS Stream is apparently a response to "weeks of delays and compatibility issues" experienced by CentOS Special Interest Groups when new minor versions of the operating system were released. Since Stream presents updates more frequently, developers can keep up to date by making small incremental changes and contributing corrections.
The existing distribution of CentOS Linux continues as before, and along with Stream a standard CentOS Linux 8 has also been released, as well as an update for CentOS Linux 7.
The bottom line is that, unless you are a developer If you work in software for CentOS or RHEL, you probably don't want Stream.
You can think of Fedora and CentOS Stream as a way for Red Hat to have the community test its products before launch. It is similar in concept to the Microsoft Insider program for Windows, and almost as confusing. ®
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