CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) is a Linux distribution based on the freely available source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The key differences between CentOS and CentOS Stream are as follows:


- Release Model

CentOS follows a traditional stable release model, where major versions are released periodically with long-term support. CentOS Stream, on the other hand, is a rolling-release distribution that provides continuous updates and is closely aligned with the development of the upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) releases.


- Upstream Relationship

CentOS is based on the source code of RHEL after it has been released. In contrast, CentOS Stream is based on the upstream development branch of RHEL, which means it receives updates and features before they are included in a stable RHEL release. CentOS Stream acts as a testing ground and provides feedback to the RHEL development process.


- Early Access to Updates

CentOS Stream users have early access to updates and improvements before they are incorporated into a stable RHEL release. This allows users to test and provide feedback on new features and updates, which can help shape the future development of RHEL.

- Focus on Continuous Integration

CentOS Stream emphasizes continuous integration and enables developers and users to be closely involved in the development process. It aims to foster a more collaborative relationship between the community and Red Hat by providing an early look at upcoming changes.


- Target Audience

CentOS is typically favored by users who seek a stable and predictable platform for production environments. CentOS Stream, on the other hand, is more suited for developers, enthusiasts, and users who want to be at the forefront of technology and participate in the testing and development process.


- Support and Lifecycle

CentOS offers long-term support for its major releases, similar to the support lifecycle of RHEL. CentOS Stream does not have the same long-term support guarantees as CentOS. Instead, it receives ongoing updates as part of its rolling-release nature.


It's important to note that the introduction of CentOS Stream has changed the landscape for CentOS users, particularly those who relied on CentOS as a stable downstream clone of RHEL. Users seeking a more traditional CentOS experience may consider alternatives such as AlmaLinux or Rocky Linux, which aim to provide a stable and community-driven distribution similar to the previous CentOS releases. Check this article for more on Alternatives to CentOS