In a statement on Tuesday, CloudLinux said it would devote US$1 million (A$1.32 million) to create "a free, open-source, community-driven, 1:1 binary compatible fork of RHEL 8 and future releases".
CloudLinux founder and chief executive Igor Seletskiy said the first release from Project Lenix could be expected in the first quarter of 2021.
"It is a standalone, completely free OS sponsored and maintained by CloudLinux, support of the future RHEL releases, governed by the members of the community," he said.
"When it was designed to be released to the public, it was originally coined as Caos-EL (Enterprise Linux) and it was renamed publicly in December 2003 to what it is known as today," Kurtzer says on his website.
But Red Hat took over the project in 2014 and since then maintained it, meaning that those who could not afford — or did not need — support contracts, could run a distribution the same as RHEL.
In its announcement killing off CentOS, Red Hat's community manager Rich Bowen said CentOS Linux 8, as a rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, would be decommissioned at the end of 2021.
Instead, Bowen said, "The future of the CentOS Project is CentOS Stream, and over the next year we’ll be shifting focus from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, to CentOS Stream, which tracks just ahead of a current RHEL release."
Project Lenix is the second effort to provide a replacement for CentOS; Kurtzer said last week he was setting up a new distribution called Rocky Linux, aiming to replicate what he did with CentOS.
Seletskiy, who started CloudLinux in 2009, said: "CloudLinux has all the infrastructure, software and experience to do this and a large staff of developers and maintainers that have a decade of experience in building an RHEL fork, starting from RHEL 5 to RHEL 8.
"We expect that this project will put CloudLinux on the map of open-source software, and allow people to discover our rebootless update software and Extended Lifecycle Support for end-of-life operating systems."
Seletskiy said CloudLinux planned to make all the build and test software free, open-sourced, easy to set up, "so if we ever go in the wrong direction, the community can just pick up where we left off".
"If you are running CentOS 8, we will release an OS very similar to CentOS 8 based on RHEL 8 stable. We will provide stable and well-tested updates until 2029 for free. You will be able to convert from CentOS 8 at any moment by running a single command that switches repositories and keys."