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The popular enterprise Linux CentOS 7 will soon cease to be supported, but its hundreds of thousands of users still need support. That’s where CIQ and other third-party Linux support companies come in.

With only weeks left until CentOS 7 reaches its scheduled end of life (EOL) on June 30, 2024, hundreds of thousands of CentOS Linux users face a dilemma: Jump to another Linux distribution, run without security patches or seek additional support. For those who want to pick door number three, CIQ, a leading provider of next-generation software infrastructure solutions and a prominent backer of Rocky Linux, is offering to extend CentOS Linux 7’s operational lifespan by up to three years with a new offering, CIQ Bridge.

CIQ Bridge is available as an annual, fixed-rate subscription service that prolongs the life of CentOS 7 and includes critical updates and security patches. Subscribers will receive extended life package updates for three additional years and security updates for vulnerabilities rated Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) 7 and above, aka High and Critical. Higher-tier subscriptions covering CVSS 5 and 6, Medium, issues are also available for those requiring more extensive coverage.

This all came about because in December 2020, Red Hat, CentOS’s Linux parent company, announced it was “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.” For CentOS users, this meant CentOS would no longer be a stable, free RHEL clone, but a developmental Linux. Many businesses refused to switch to Stream or the commercial RHEL. They stayed on “classic” CentOS: CentOS 7.

When the news first broke that CentOS 7 was the end of the road, a CloudLinux survey found most CentOS users, 60.5%, wanted a CentOS fork. Since then, several such forks have sprung into existence. They include AlmaLinux OS and Rocky Linux. SUSE, the European Linux power, has also announced its own RHEL clone.

Still, even with these alternatives, many users have stuck by CentOS. According to SimilarTech, CentOS still powers a quarter of a million websites; over 350K businesses, mostly SMBs, by Enlygt’s count; and 2.4% of all websites by W3Techs reckoning. In other words, CentOS 7’s end of life may be soon, but for all that, it’s alive and well in businesses.

Why? It was the same reason CentOS took off in the first place, CentOS was a stable, free open source Linux. If you needed top-notch tech support, RHEL was your operating system of choice in the Red Hat family. But, if you can manage a Red Hat Linux variant without any hand holding, especially for the express purpose of web serving and related server applications in the Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl (LAMP) family, CentOS was all you needed.

Even though the CentOS clones have been available since 2021 as a direct replacement, transitioning has been challenging for many due to compliance requirements, resource scarcity and financial constraints.  As Gregory Kurtzer, CIQ’s founder and CEO, explained,. “As many organizations opted to maintain the last stable version of CentOS Linux for an extended period, it became evident that Rocky Linux was the successor they were waiting for.” Be that as it may, many haven’t made the move and so “CIQ Bridge is our response to the community’s need for more time to manage these migrations without the pressure of the impending EOL of CentOS 7.”

By offering CIQ Bridge, CIQ aims to provide a seamless pathway for organizations to eventually adopt Rocky Linux. The company claims this will ensure minimal disruption to existing operations while enhancing overall system security and stability during the transition phase.

CIQ isn’t the only company offering life support for CentOS. OpenLogic, a pure support play company, offers support not only for CentOS 7 but also for CentOS 6 and 8.  A similar company, TuxCare, also offers extended lifecycle support for CentOS 7.

Of course, in the long run, businesses really must switch to another operating system. AlmaLinux, CIQ, Oracle, Red Hat and SUSE all offer CentOS alternatives and migration plans. I know you don’t want to move, but even with these extended support plans, the day is rapidly approaching when you must retire CentOS. Take the time these support options give you to ready your move to the operating system for your next decade of business life.

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