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Twitter: Stuck on CentOS 7

CentOS TwitterTwitter, like everyone these days, uses lots of open source software – from web development toolkits to frameworks to libraries to their operating systems.

Twitter today runs on CentOS 7.  According to a piece on ZDnet, they’re going to be stuck on it for a while:

Like almost all modern software companies, Twitter depends on open-source programs. The network itself runs on CentOS 7. This free Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone comes to the end of its life at the end of June 2024.  According to Twitter sources, the plan was to move to CentOS Stream. Now, there’s literally no one left to plan out, never mind oversee this operating system migration.

There’s a lot to unpack there.

First, servers don’t explode if you run old operating systems on them.  Many organizations routinely ignore EOL dates.  Twitter can certainly go past June 2024 on CentOS, but…Twitter isn’t “most organizations”.  Most organizations have most of their computing resources locked behind a firewall where billions of people aren’t beating on them.  Twitter’s business is public-facing, so any CentOS vulnerability will be swiftly exploited.  For them, June 2024 is a bit more important.

Second…Stream?  Really?  I can’t imagine why Twitter would want to run on Stream.  If you recall, IBM switched CentOS Stream’s role.  Previously it was downstream of RHEL – a sort of “sandbox of what’s coming”.  Now it’s upstream of RHEL, where CentOS is developed.  So if an organization is looking for a solid OS, Stream is not what they want.  I can’t fault Twitter for using CentOS instead of RHEL, but Stream?

And finally, this is what happens when you lay off lots of people.  Really, an OS upgrade is not that big a deal in the sense that you can hire people off the stream to figure that out and do the actual bit-shifting work.  It’s a lot easier to find a Linux sysadmin who’s upgraded from CentOS 7 to CentOS 8 in his career, than to find a developer who specializes in the specific code you are working on.  However, you still need managers with deep understanding of the environment who can handle questions like which systems can you group, which ones go first, which apps do we need to test/certify when, etc.

There’s a lot more in the article about Twitter’s FOSS relationships.  If it stops contributing to FOSS projects, that’s a shame for the world but won’t break Twitter.  But what about Twitter’s own FOSS projects?   People who’ve left Twitter had their GitHub revoked, but it’s been very choatic and there are still people who left years ago who have commit.  It’s a circus.



  1. Daniel15:

    For what it’s worth, it’s well-known that Facebook/Meta runs CentOS Stream (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8x4CIetnCc, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20iZEJFARZs). Meta is a major upstream kernel contributor though and has a dedicated Linux kernel team – usually in the top 15 companies contributing to the kernel, maintaining btrfs, zstd, PSI, and a bunch of other things, contributors to cgroup2, BPF, etc, and uses the newest features in prod, and so are probably running newer OS and kernel versions than companies like Twitter that don’t make as significant (if any) contributions to Linux and don’t use any of the newest features.

    December 5, 2022 @ 5:11 pm | Reply
  2. Rob:

    Just more signs that for the near future Twitter should be a last resort use. Running on an EOL operating system alone tells me their internal systems are likely in no better shape and won’t be dealt with anytime soon. That along with half the stuff gone and anything that does happen on the platform will not be dealt with quickly such as the case with the broken notifications systems that have been borked for weeks now.

    December 7, 2022 @ 11:58 am | Reply
  3. With the choice of young Americans, Twitter is still the most popular application.

    December 19, 2022 @ 2:22 am | Reply
  4. This, in addition to the fact that half of the content has been removed, and the fact that any issue that does arise on the platform will not be resolved soon, such as the situation with the faulty notification systems, which have been messed up for weeks at this point.

    January 16, 2023 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

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