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Seismic Industry Shift: Is RHEL About to Vanish From the Web Hosting Landscape?

Allow me to paint a picture of the past and future hosting industry, specifically shared web hosting.


  • Customers demand cPanel because it’s the dominant panel and it makes moving between hosts easy
  • To deploy cPanel, providers are required to deploy a RHEL-compatible OS because that’s all that cPanel supports
  • To deploy a RHEL-compatible OS, most providers deploy CentOS rather than pay hefty official RHEL fees

That’s right: in the past, if you wanted to run cPanel, you had to run a RHEL clone.  But as of March 2022, cPanel now supports Ubuntu.


  • Customers demand cPanel because it’s the dominant panel and it makes moving between hosts easy
  • CentOS is no longer a RHEL clone (IBM moved it upstream rather than downstream)
  • Despite Rocky Linux’s legal hack, IBM’s lawyers find a way to turn off the RHEL clone path, so the only way to run RHEL is to license it officially
  • Now that cPanel supports Ubuntu, providers deploy on Ubuntu to avoid the big financial hit of licensing from IBM

Who needs RHEL anymore?

We might be on the cusp of a seismic shift in the industry as providers flee RHEL.  Right now there’s a lot of inertia but once CentOS 7 goes End of Life eleven months from now, providers might be very motivated to make the move to Ubuntu.  We could see RHEL effectively vanish from the web hosting indutry – which would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Of course, if providers are selling DirectAdmin, this is all irrelevant because DirectAdmin has long supported non-RHEL platforms.

What do you think about the future of RHEL in the web hosting space?  Let us know in the comments below!



1 Comment

  1. Gordon Messmer:

    “CentOS is no longer a RHEL clone”

    This is broadly misunderstood. CentOS Stream is built from the current source code for RHEL, and as such, it is fully compatible with all of the user and application interfaces in the corresponding RHEL major release. If cPanel users (and the developers) want to continue running on a free RHEL-compatible self-supported system, then CentOS Stream is actually a better option than the old CentOS.

    July 23, 2023 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

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