Red Hat greases migration to RHEL for CentOS 7 holdouts

Insights tool aims to simplify conversion process, but it'll probably cost you

Red Hat has suggested that if customers are worried about the impending end of life for CentOS 7, they might wish to migrate to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) via its Insights service.

CentOS Linux 7 support ends on June 30, 2024, a decision Red Hat took in late 2020. Now the IBM offshoot is concerned about the fate of holdouts still clinging to the non-commercial Linux distribution.

CentOS tracked RHEL and was an alternative to paying Red Hat for a subscription to its software if the customer was willing to forgo official support. In 2020, the project directed customers to CentOS Stream, which is based on a development branch of RHEL and is not ideal for production workloads.

The death of CentOS triggered the creation of RHEL alternatives such as Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. However, Red Hat took steps to squash RHEL clones earlier this year by closing down access to RHEL source code for such purposes.

So what are all those CentOS 7 users to do when end of life arrives? Red Hat listed several Frequently Asked Questions around the issue, which, strangely, did not include the obvious "Why did you do this?"

Although Red Hat has long supplied a Convert2RHEL tool, the addition of the Red Hat Insights Tasks for system analysis and conversion is aimed squarely at customers that want to convert CentOS 7 systems to RHEL. The IBM subsidiary said: "This guided experience reduces the complexity, risk and time required for your conversion to RHEL."

Customers probably won't see a reduction in costs. Coders can pick up a developer subscription to RHEL for free – if it's for independent use rather than for using in an organization – and there's the possibility that a subscriber might qualify for a no-cost developer subscription. However, to use RHEL in production, a "competitively priced subscription" is needed.

Red Hat Insights simplifies the conversion process, although we doubt "how will I make the migration?" is the biggest concern of users eyeing the looming end of life date. Alternatives such as AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux exist, and for a fee, SUSE will keep the CentOS 7 lights on for a little longer.

This conversion tool is all about making the jump from CentOS 7 to RHEL, although Red Hat did say one future improvement would be "consideration for additional, compatible Linux distributions as needed." It'll be interesting to see what those distributions turn out to be. ®

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