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Huh, it’s as if something happened that made people not like CentOS so much

Canonical is cock-a-hoop after Ubuntu snatched first place for OpenStack deployment from the CentOS Linux distribution – but according to some the victory might ring hollow.

The finding came from the 2020 OpenStack User Survey, organised by the Open Infrastructure Foundation, which queries respondents on a variety of topics, including the main operating system used for their OpenStack cloud deployments.

The 2020 survey kicked off after IBM’s $34bn purchase of Red Hat, and closed before Red Hat confirmed the community build of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), known as CentOS, would morph into CentOS Stream. The change to something perceived as not fit for a production environment left the knickers of many developers ever so twisted.

CentOS had ruled the roost in recent years, accounting for 39 per cent of respondents compared to Ubuntu’s 35 per cent in 2018. CentOS actually increased its share to 40 per cent in 2019 (Ubuntu remained second, at 35 per cent), but it was all-change at the top in 2020 as Ubuntu rose to a 40 per cent share and CentOS slumped to 28 per cent.

The blow may have been softened somewhat by the growth in RHEL’s share from 15 per cent in 2019 to 19 per cent in 2020.

However, while Canonical was quick to brag about its contributions to the foundation and its attempts to deal with the pain of installing and updating OpenStack, the loss of the top spot for CentOS perhaps speaks more to the woes of the distribution even before Red Hat’s move.

One senior figure in the open-source community who asked to remain anonymous told The Reg: “OpenStack is dying,” and highlighted the move to Kubernetes in the IBM and Red Hat world as a contributing factor for the relegation of CentOS in the survey.

There was also a decline in Kubernetes usage (from 72 per cent in 2019 to 66 per cent in 2020) in favour of rolling one’s own or OpenShift when it came to containers or Platform-as-a-Service tools for application management.

Igor Seletskiy, CEO of CloudLinux and the AlmaLinux Foundation, agreed that Kubernetes was indeed a factor, telling us that Red Hat and IBM were “moving away from OpenStack” in favour of OpenShift and Kubernetes. “There is going to be very limited out-of-the-box for OpenStack,” he went on, “We are looking forward to Kubernetes-like environments or other virtualisation environments that don’t involve OpenStack itself,” he said.

The backing away of Red Hat and IBM is clear in the figures for CentOS even if RHEL has enjoyed a slight surge.

We asked the Open Infrastructure Foundation why it thought CentOS had taken such a dive, and a spokesperson highlighted a more-than halving of respondents (down from 400 in 2019 to 197 in 2020) to the OS question as a factor and suggested that perhaps the latest survey had been promoted more to Canonical customers.

“Unfortunately,” the spokesperson added, “there’s not a clearer reason beyond that.”

OpenStack users can have a crack at the 2021 survey right now. ®


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