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CentOS project changes focus, no more rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux – you'll have to flow with the Stream

Founder talks of plans for independent distro 'rebuild'


The CentOS project, a non-commercial Linux distribution that tracks Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), is changing to become only CentOS Stream, based on a development branch of RHEL and therefore less suitable for production workloads.

The implication may be that Red Hat has decided that the availability of CentOS undermines the commercial side of its business. "If you are using CentOS Linux 8 in a production environment, and are concerned that CentOS Stream will not meet your needs, we encourage you to contact Red Hat about options," said CentOS Community Manager Rich Bowen.

It is notable that today’s post by Bowen lacks much in the way of rationale for the change, other than that it “removes confusion around what ‘CentOS’ means in the Linux distribution ecosystem.” Bowen acknowledges that the change will mean “a major shift in collaboration among the CentOS Special Interest Groups (SIGs).”

In the past, CentOS has been a community build of the current RHEL source, providing a robust production distro for those willing to do without Red Hat support. When RHEL gets a fix, the project aims to have the same fix available for CentOS “within 72 hours” of its release, while new point releases of CentOS come “four to eight weeks after the release by upstream.” In other words, CentOS tracked RHEL.

CentOS Stream, by contrast, is a development preview of what is soon to come in RHEL, focused on the next minor release. Another distro, Fedora, is further ahead and more experimental.

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When CentOS Stream was introduced in September 2019 it was described by Red Hat as “a rolling preview” of future Red Hat Enterprise Linux kernels and features. It is useful for developers testing applications for the next Red Hat release, and useful for Red Hat for feedback on anything not working as expected, but not ideal for production use.

“Nothing changes for current users of CentOS Linux and services,” said Red Hat CTO Chris Wright, at the time; but a little over a year later, everything has changed.

Wright now says that “we will shift our investments to CentOS Stream exclusively on December 31, 2021.” The company “remain committed” to CentOS Linux 7 until its end of maintenance in 2024, but not to CentOS Linux 8.

Wright says the company plans “low or no-cost programs for a variety of use cases, including options for open source projects and communities and expansion of the RHEL developer subscription use cases.” Currently the RHEL Developer Subscription, which is free, is not licensed for use in production in the terms of use and is limited to one physical system and up to two processors.

It's complicated

The relationship between the CentOS Project and Red Hat is complex. The official statement is that "Red Hat curates the trademarks for CentOS and is providing initial guidance and expertise required in establishing the formal board structure used to govern the CentOS Project." and that "Some members on the CentOS Project Governing Board work for Red Hat, Inc." Today's announcement does perhaps suggest that it is Red Hat rather than the community that is guiding the project's direction.

A FAQ on the shift to CentOS Stream states that the source code for RHEL will continue to be published as before. The change “only relates to the binaries the CentOS Project is building,” we are told.

CentOS 8, the current version, will continue to receive updates until the end of 2021. It was supposed to end-of-life in 2029. There will be no CentOS Linux 9, only CentOS Stream 9.

There is a migration option from CentOS Linux 8 to CentOS Stream, and users are assured that since the release is just ahead of RHEL, rather than behind it, “CentOS Stream will be getting fixes and features ahead of RHEL,” the FAQ said, resisting the idea that it is now a beta release of RHEL; though it is hard to shake off the idea that it fulfils some of that role.

Can the community continue to rebuild CentOS Linux from the released source code? “We will not be putting hardware, resources, or asking for volunteers to work towards that effort, nor will we allow the CentOS brand to be used for such a project,” the FAQ said, though adding that “the code is open source and we wouldn’t try to stop anyone from choosing to use it or build their own packages from the code.”

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There is scope, therefore, for a new community build of RHEL to appear - and a post by Gregory Kurtzer, the founder of CentOS, states that "I am considering creating another rebuild of RHEL and may even be able to hire some people for this effort." - head here and join the Slack group for more details. "I've already had some people ask me to create another CentOS that tracks RHEL perfectly again. haha," he says.

What does the community think? It's early days, though one user remarks that it is “fitting for the general theme of 2020 … Beta testing for RedHat? Sure, can do so, but then why not go straight to fedora?”

Comments on Bowen’s post are equally unenthusiastic. “I guess my argument "Use CentOS, not Ubuntu if you want most stable production" is out of the window now. Ubuntu it is then from now on,” says one. Another remarks, "Terrible move by IBM/RH - the community is what has driven the success of RHEL Enterprise." There is also a claim from another that "This is a breach of trust from the already published timeline of CentOS 8 where the EOL was May 2029."

Red Hat was profitable before its 2019 acquisition by IBM so the existence of CentOS to date has not been a barrier to commercial success. The news now may win some new customers, but at some cost in goodwill and a likely negative impact on the CentOS community. ®

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This week in AI: Man arrested after cops say he rode in backseat of Autopilot Tesla

Plus: Non-profit ML groups snub sponsorship money from Google

In Brief Highway patrol officers in California arrested a man this week accused of riding in the backseat of his Tesla while it was under Autopilot.

The super-cruise-control software should have disengaged without him in the driver seat, yet it is claimed 25-year-old Param Sharma managed to bypass that requirement so that the vehicle would drive itself with him in the back. You're also supposed to have your hands on the wheel even while Autopilot is active so that you can take over from the computer system as necessary.

Following reports of a driverless Tesla Model 3, a highway patrol officer spotted the vehicle travelling east-bound towards the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, and attempted to stop it. It is alleged Sharma climbed back into the driver’s seat before he pulled over for the police.

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China says its first Mars rover Zhurong has landed on the Red Planet

'An important step in our country’s interplanetary exploration journey' – state media

Updated China's Zhurong rover today touched down on Mars from the Tianwen-1 orbiter, the nation's state media says.

We're told the machine will take carry out self-tests, and try to move itself to explore the Red Planet's surface.

"On May 15, our country’s first Mars exploration mission, Tianwen-1, landed in a pre-selected landing zone in the southern Utopia Planitia of Mars, leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time. It marks an important step in our country’s interplanetary exploration journey," Xinhua reported at 0837 in Beijing (1737 PT, 0037 UTC).

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Google leads Big Tech effort to ensure H-1B spouses can continue working in America

Coalition of 41 organizations oppose labor rule challenge

Google is spearheading an effort to save a visa rule that allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders awaiting green cards to work in the US.

On Friday, Google and 40 other companies and organizations filed an amicus brief supporting the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) H-4 employment authorization document (H-4 EAD) program, which faces a legal challenge by a group called Save Jobs USA.

Save Jobs USA, an association representing Southern California Edison workers who claim they lost their jobs to H-1B visa holders, is suing DHS in a Washington, DC court to undo the rule.

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AMD promises to spend $1.6bn on 12nm, 14nm chips from GlobalFoundries

Also wriggles out of exclusivity deal

Amid fears the global semiconductor crisis may last until 2023, AMD has opted to extend its purchase agreement with GlobalFoundries, giving it access to a greater proportion of the fabricator's output.

AMD disclosed the existence of the deal in an 8-K regulatory filing submitted to the SEC earlier this week. The company has committed to buy $1.6bn worth of 12nm and 14nm node silicon wafers between now and December 31, 2024. It did not disclose a breakdown of the costs nor the exact quantity of output it had secured.

Should AMD fail to meet its purchase obligation, it has committed to pay GlobalFoundries a portion of the difference between its planned and actual spend. AMD has also agreed to pre-pay for an unspecified portion of these wafers in advance.

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Audacity's new management hits rewind on telemetry plans following community outrage

Sorry for trying to add it or sorry for cocking up the comms?

Amid the smell of burning rubber, the new managers of open-source audio editor Audacity have announced a U-turn on plans to introduce "basic telemetry" into the product.

Audacity pitched up under the umbrella of Muse Group earlier this month and professed itself to be both "scared and excited."

Mere days later, an impressive number of users went for the former option and expressed alarm at a GitHub request introducing "basic telemetry."

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Apple's expert witness grilled by Epic over 'frictionless' spending outside the app

How easy would it be for customers to depart the walled garden, legal eagles ask economist

Epic Games' lawyers had a chance to put Apple's expert witness through the wringer in the latest from its California bench trial.

Counsel for Apple called to the stand Lorin Hitt, an academic from the prestigious Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania.

Hitt – who had been selected as expert witness for Apple – questioned whether iOS was as effective at locking in users as previously claimed, citing a 26 per cent switch rate. He also debated whether users remained loyal to a platform because of switching costs, or because they simply like it.

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Facebook Giphy merger stays on ice after failed challenge to UK competition regulator

Problem was of social network's own making, says unimpressed judge

Facebook has failed to neutralise an order from Britain's competition regulator freezing its buyout of Giphy after having "sat on its hands" and failed to answer questions, the Court of Appeal has found.

Judge Sir Geoffrey Vos said "the central problem in this case was entirely of Facebook's own making" as he dismissed its attempt to overturn an Initial Enforcement Order (IEO) made by Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year.

That IEO blocked the Mark Zuckerberg-owned social network from finishing off its $400m buyout of Giphy, a supplier of web tracking beacons cunningly disguised as funny little animated images used to spice up online chats and comment sections.

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10.8 million UK homes now have access to gigabit-capable broadband, with much of the legwork done by Virgin Media

That's 37% of the country covered, and BT is expected to pick up the pace too

A new Ofcom report shows the number of UK homes with access to gigabit-capable broadband hit 10.8 million in January, representing 37 per cent of households.

The figures were part of Ofcom's Interim Connected Nations report [PDF] and covered September 2020 to January 2021.

Overall, the number of gigabit-capable lines increased by 37 per cent against August's figure [PDF] of 7.9 million.

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Tor users, beware: 'Scheme flooding' technique may be used to deanonymize you

By probing for installed apps with custom URL schemes, it's possible to build a 32-bit unique fingerprint

FingerprintJS, maker of a browser-fingerprinting library for fraud prevention, on Thursday said it has identified a more dubious fingerprinting technique capable of generating a consistent identifier across different desktop browsers, including the Tor Browser.

That means, for example, if you browse the web using Safari, Firefox, or Chrome for some websites, and use the Tor browser to anonymously view others, there is a possibility someone could link your browser histories across all those sessions using a unique identifier, potentially deanonymize you, and track you around the web.

Doing this is non-trivial, it can be very inaccurate or unreliable, and so this is more of a heads up than anything else.

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NASA pops old-school worm logo onto Orion spacecraft

Will be visible from the launchpad ... when it finally gets there

NASA has slapped its worm logo on the side of the Crew Module Adaptor (CMA) for the Orion spacecraft as the first Artemis mission to the Moon inches closer.

The logo had already been stuck on the underside of the CMA last year, but sticking it on the side will ensure it is visible once the Orion spacecraft and its European-built service module are stacked atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and wheeled out to Kennedy's pad 39B.

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Hospitals cancel outpatient appointments as Irish health service struck by ransomware

Russia-based criminals pick soft target in hope of easy gains

Ireland's nationalised health service has shut down its IT systems following a "human-operated" Conti ransomware attack, causing a Dublin hospital to cancel outpatient appointments.

The country's Health Service Executive closed its systems down as a precaution, local reports from the Irish public service broadcaster RTÉ said, reporting that Dublin's Rotunda Hospital had cancelled appointments for outpatients – including many for pregnant women.

"The maternity hospital said all outpatient visits are cancelled - unless expectant mothers are 36 weeks pregnant or later," reported RTÉ, adding: "All gynaecology clinics are also cancelled today."

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