EDA software and the CentOS 7 end of life

Electronic design automation (EDA) vendors develop software for the design of semiconductor chips and computer hardware. Being long running, distributed applications, customers will often use a grid of Linux servers to run EDA software. Information technology (IT) departments are responsible for keeping these servers running, with minimal downtime. Due to its free cost, and widespread vendor support, CentOS 7 is the popular choice among EDA customers.

CentOS 7 is the free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7), and offers close compatibility with its subscription-based counterpart. Many software companies explicitly support both RHEL 7 and CentOS 7, since they are considered functionally equivalent. Its minimal cost makes CentOS 7 preferable in large corporate deployments.

The GNU C Library, glibc, is the runtime used by most Linux distributions. Under active development, it offers backward compatibility so that software relying on an older glibc version will continue to run. Software compiled with a newer Linux distribution with a newer glibc will not run on a computer with an older glibc version. RHEL based system tend to have the longest release cycles, with their glibc version often being the oldest among the major Linux distributions. This makes it likely that a vendor can create software on a RHEL 7 system that will run on most Linux distributions out there.

glibc versions for different Linux distributions. Derived from here. Dates in parenthesis are the expected EOL of that distribution.
glibc Distribution
CentOS 7 (2024-06-30)
Oracle Linux 7 (2024-07-01)
RHEL 7 (2024-06-30)
2.26 Amazon Linux 2 (2025-06-30)
AlmaLinux 8 (2029-05-31)
Oracle Linux 8 (2029-07-01)
RHEL 8 (2029-05-31)
Rocky Linux 8 (2029-05-31)
Debian 11 (2024-08-14)
Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (2025-04-30)
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (2031-07-31)
AlmaLinux 9 (2032-05-31)
Amazon Linux 2023 (2028-01-01)
Oracle Linux 9 (2032-06-30)
RHEL 9 (2032-05-31)
Rocky Linux 9 (2032-05-31)
Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (2027-04-30)
2.36 Debian 12 (2026-06-10)
Ubuntu 24.04 LTS (2029-04-30)

CentOS 7 Linux distribution is end of life (EOL) on June 30, 2024. After this date, security updates and bug fixes will no longer be available. In addition, as EDA vendors move to newer Linux operating systems, CentOS 7 based servers will no longer be able to run newer versions of EDA software.

While using CentOS was once well regarded for being RHEL compliant. CentOS 8, now owned by Red Hat, was rebranded as CentOS 8 Stream. This new OS became the upstream for RHEL 8, providing a test bed with less stability than the RHEL 8 system, while offering more stability than Red Hat’s more experimental offering, Fedora. Developers quickly began looking for a more stable alternative.

Compounding the issue, Red Hat no longer publically provides the source code for its enterprise version, leaving other distributions to rely on the less stable CentOS Stream source code. This leaves many distributions, such as AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux, to offer their RHEL 8 with different targets for compatibility.

While other alternatives exist, software developers needing RHEL 8 compatiblity seem to be be moving toward either AlmaLinux or Rocky Linux. The popular manylinux provides Docker images which are based on AlmaLinux 8.

The EDA Industry OS Roadmap offers some insights into what their member EDA companies may be thinking in terms of compatibility. Their guidelines recommend RHEL 8 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 for running EDA software on Linux. They recommend reviewing individual EDA vendors support plans on their respective sites.

Synopsys explicitly supports AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux as supported platforms. Cadence lists them both as being under testing in their list. Other vendors, like Ansys, do not explicitly support these RHEL alternatives.

Update: Ansys appears to support both Ubuntu and Rocky Linux in their plans.

In conclusion, it appears that AlmaLinux 8 or Rocky Linux 8 are good choices for independent software vendors (ISVs) wanting to reach the largest Linux audience, with the fewest number of distribution specific installers.

By Juan Sanchez June 30, 2024 (updated July 2, 2024)




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