From the CentOS FAQ:

CentOS-6 updates until November 30, 2020

I was always suspicious about this claim, but I figured it’s based on RedHat, which is a serious company, and they can’t afford to screw with their customers too much.

I don’t know how (if at all) this story is related to RedHat. The problem is that maintaining a distribution requires maintaining not only the distro’s parts (build scripts, installation software, etc) but also every single package in that distribution.

You may think that’s not a big deal, you may think it’s “just security updates” but not everyone backports security patches to 10-year-old releases, in fact I can’t think of any project that does. And updating the software to the latest version is often impossible on an old system. Over years dependencies in an active project are likely to change to more current versions of languages and libraries, which you won’t have in an old OS. So you’re stuck backporting patches (or pretending there aren’t any security problems in your software just because it’s so old noone’s bothering to look for them.

Anyway, that was a long explanation for a simple thing, the long-term-support claims from CentOS. Here’s the problem, I’ll put it in chronological order as it happened to me:

  • CentOS is happily running a server I administer.
  • For a couple of months it claims it has nothing to install when I do a yum update.
  • I get suspicious because I’m subscribed to the security mailing list and I’m expecting to see some things updated in 6.5, even if not a lot of packages.
  • Somehow (don’t remember exactly what I did) I figured out that the repositories configured for yum use are not working.
  • I’m told by the guy maintaining our local mirror that all of CentOS 6.5 has been removed from the source mirror.
  • I try to update to 6.6, and I can’t, because you need the 6.5 update packages on the mirror in order to update to 6.6
  • Our guy finds a 6.5 mirror in some obscure place and restores the deleted files, which I use to update to 6.6

An interesting note where the 6.5 mirror used to be:

This directory (and version of CentOS) is deprecated.

Aha. What happened to support till 2020? They probably meant that major versions have long-term support, not minor ones? Ok, I could live with that argument, and perhaps they just had some bug somewhere that prevented yum update from working correctly after the 6.5 repos were cleared.

… later someone else somewhere else at Seneca …

Is teaching a course where last year we decided to use CentOS instead of Fedora, trading novelty for stability. For the first couple of weeks the students are required to have a Live DVD and an Install DVD. They have specific work to do because these two installation mediums are not the same.

It turns out the 6.6 repositories no longer have a Live CD or a Live DVD ISO. At all. Anywhere. What?

Listen, I understand that sometimes promises (especially ridiculous ones like support till 2020) are hard to keep. But I also know that building a live CD is easy. Especially so if you already have the build set up for a nearly identical version. This was not a circular dependency problem, this was an hour of work.

Did CentOS announce something? No. The only place I found that mentioned this problem was a DistroWatch release announcement that says the live media isn’t ready “yet”. Any explanation from anyone anywhere? No.

So what the fuck, CentOS and RedHat (who runs CentOS now)? You can’t even be bothered to explain? I guess by the looks of this thread there aren’t a lot of people who care, well, in that case – you should just claim 50 year support including earthquakes and solar flares, why not, noone will notice except for us at Seneca…